Williams is Heisman Worthy, But Will He Win?

Over the course of the season, Andre Williams has proven to be the pacemaker of the BC football team. With 16 touchdowns scored so far this season, he has helped BC win and make the team bowl eligible. The BC football team is currently 7-4, a huge improvement over last year’s disappointing 2-10 campaign. Williams has had an incredible influence on this team, and has put up record-breaking stats while doing it.

However, is his crusade enough to win the Heisman? He's certainly a worthy candidate. We took sides and broke down his chances of bringing home college football's most coveted hardware.

Carson Truesdell: Why Andre Williams wins the Heisman

Andre Williams is the real deal. He has the speed and lateral movement of Marshawn Lynch and the strength and power of Mike Tolbert. With his unique skill set and overall game performance, opposing teams know that they have to stop him in order to win. The strategy is simple: STOP Andre. However, BC’s opponents have been largely unsuccessful. Andre Williams has run for more than 100 yards in 9 out of 11 games and is one of 16 players ever to run for over 2,000 yards in a single season.

Two weekends ago against North Carolina State, Andre Williams ran for 339 yards, setting an ACC single game rushing record. That is a large number for any team’s offense, but that was just Andre. BC’s star running back carries the Eagle’s offense. Andre knows how to get to the end zone, typically with long breakaway runs. He leads the nation with 17 carries of over 30 yards.

Throughout the season, Andre Williams has performed on and off the field. Some of college football’s best players have struggled with upholding excellence in areas other than football. The current Heisman Trophy frontrunner, Jameis Winston, is dealing with allegations of sexual assault as we speak. There is an ongoing investigation; however, the result is unlikely to come out before the Heisman Trophy award ceremony. Will the Heisman Trophy voters be willing to give Jameis Winston, a potential criminal, college football’s most prestigious award?

Taking Winston out of the running, Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron is another viable Heisman Trophy winner. However, he plays on a quasi-pro team. With numerous people on the offense destined for the NFL, it makes McCarron’s job much easier.

Sure, Alabama is undefeated and ranked first in the nation. Undoubtedly, AJ McCarron is a major part of their success. But being on the best team doesn’t mean that he is the best player in the NCAA.

AJ McCarron is a favorite to win the Heisman. Some argue he's the best quarterback in college football, save Jameis Winston. Photo courtesy of carmine18 / Flickr.

AJ McCarron is a favorite to win the Heisman. Some argue he's the best quarterback in college football, save Jameis Winston. Photo courtesy of carmine18 / Flickr.

McCarron only has 329 more total yards this season than Andre Williams does. Yet, AJ McCarron is a quarterback. It is much less taxing passing the ball than having to break past the opposing defensive line and linebackers. Andre Williams' numbers become even more impressive when you compare him to the rest of the NCAA’s best players.

The Heisman Trophy is given to college football’s best player. Andre Williams has proven to be a viable candidate for this respected award. He has put up amazing statistics and has helped reinvigorate a degraded football program. Because of that, Andre Williams should be on the stage at the Heisman Trophy presentation in New York City on Dec. 14.

Bill Stoll: Why Andre Williams doesn't (gasp!) win the Heisman

There is absolutely no denying that BC running back Andre Williams is having a season for the record books.  Williams has 50 more carries than anyone else in FBS, 318 more yards, and has already surpassed the 2000-yard mark with one more regular season game to play.  He has crushed the BC records for single-season rushing yards and single game rushing yards, and tallied rushing yard totals of 204, 149, 263, 172, 166, 295, 290 and 253 in games this season.

He has, quite literally at times, carried BC on his back to victory after victory, and without Mr. Williams it is highly unlikely that BC would have a 7-4 record and be heading to a bowl at the conclusion of this season.  Having said all of that, it is also highly unlikely that he will walk away with the Heisman Trophy at the conclusion of this season.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m an unabashed Andre Williams fan, and I personally think he deserves the Heisman.  There hasn’t been a player this season that has meant more to his team than Williams, and I believe based on that alone he should take home the trophy.  Unfortunately, I do have to play devil’s advocate, and based on several factors it is hard to see Heisman voters naming Williams the best player in college football this year.

In my mind, Williams has three factors working against him. First, all of the other candidates come from bigger, more highly-touted programs.  Second, his best games have come against weaker opponents, and against the best teams on BC’s schedule he struggled at times.  Third, he’s a running back.

The other major candidates this year, including Florida State’s Jameis Winston, Alabama’s AJ McCarron and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel all come from storied football programs, rich in both history and hardware.  Let’s also not forget that each and every team is currently ranked, with Bama sitting at No. 1, FSU at No. 2 and Texas A&M at 21.

BC has yet to receive a vote all season to be included in the top 25.  Justified or not, voters are inclined to side with ranked teams, specifically contenders with a shot at the national championship.  Though BC has been nothing short of a pleasant surprise this season, no one could ever confuse them for a contender, even in their own conference.

Another issue with Williams’ candidacy is that his best performances have come against very weak opponents, and he has struggled against the stiffest competition.  The other candidates, specifically McCarron and Winston, have all shined against ranked teams and propelled their respective teams into the championship discussion.  Though Williams has ran through the weaker teams, as he should have, his worst two games came against teams that are currently ranked, as he tallied 70 yards and a paltry 2.9 yards per carry average against Clemson, and a meager 38 yards on 17 carries against USC.

It’s true that Williams averaged over 8 yards per carry on four occasions, while also tallying over 260 yards in each of those games, but those came against Army, New Mexico State, North Carolina State and Maryland, all who have a combined record of 13-30.  When voters go to cast their ballots, they have to consider both strength of schedule and how the candidate has played against the stiffest competition.  Unfortunately, Williams and BC are somewhat lacking in both.

Finally, Williams has recent history working against him.  Since 2000, a running back has only won the Heisman twice, the first coming when Reggie Bush won in it 2005 at USC, and the second coming with Mark Ingram at Alabama in 2009.  Every other Heisman winner? Quarterbacks.  Even between Bush and Ingram, both of those players made appearances in the national championship in their respective years.  Football has shifted to an increasingly quarterback-oriented sport, something voters have recognized the last several years.

Though Williams has provided a fresh throwback to the days of running back yore, AJ McCarron and Jameis Winston have been dominant at the quarterback position this year, and if history is any indication voters will tend to reward the field generals for their work.

In my mind, Andre Williams has done more than enough to become BC’s second Heisman winner, the first since Doug Flutie and his miraculous Hail Mary. I just don’t expect to see Williams walk onto the stage in New York to accept the famed stiff-arming trophy.

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Written by Bill Stoll/Assoc. Sports Editor and Carson Truesdell/Gavel Media Staff.

School, major and year: A&S, History/Poly Sci double major, 2014
Hometown Buffalo, New York
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