The Roundup Signal Caller Throwdown series looks at the most important position on the field for some of the Roundup's 12 FBS programs. This week, the Heisman hopeful himself, Patrick Mahomes.
If Patrick Mahomes has another season like his 2015 campaign, the Heisman voters are going to have a hard time keeping him out of New York. Well, we say that, the voters may not have a hard time keeping Mahomes out of New York, they can use the ready made, age old excuse that he's a system quarterback; if Tech's defense continues to be a soup strainer of yards and points they might say that because Tech's not a playoff contender, there's no way a good player on an average team should be in the running for such a prestigious award. We at the Roundup believe that Patrick Mahomes is different. He's not a Kingsbury, or a Graham Harrell, or even a B.J. Symons. He's different. We also think that he'll be the reason Tech is a dark horse for the Big 12, because no one in the conference has anything remotely like him. He's different.
Ask LSU. Ask that vaunted group of super-human athletes known as the LSU defense. That conglomeration of NFL talent. Ask that LSU speed about Patrick Mahomes. The Tigers blitzed and hit and chased Mahomes all over NRG Stadium that night. The Tigers won but Mahomes threw for 370 yards and four touchdowns.
Let's take a look at Mahomes' area graph for 2015...
Mahomes was elite level good in 2015, he was in the 80th percentile among quarterbacks with 100 or more attempts in three of five categories. He was in the 74th percentile in sack rate. His one area of difficulty was interception percentile. Mahomes' 15 picks were below average at the 49th percentile. Mahomes' 484 rushing yards were good enough for the 86th percentile. A true dual threat quarterback, Mahomes was second in all of college football in total offense in 2015. Ahead of Heisman darlings Deshaun Washington and Baker Mayfield. Still, he wasn't considered in the same class as those two because his team struggled. More specifically struggled to stop anyone. Tech scored 53 in a game at home against Oklahoma State. Oklahoma State scored 70.
If Mahomes could only play defense. Who are we kidding, he probably can.
Ahead of 2016, Mahomes loses his best receiver in Jakeem Grant and leading rusher in DeAndre Washington. He also loses three offensive lineman who combined to start 102 consecutive games. If the Red Raiders are going to be better in 2016, they'll have to rely on Mahomes even more.
Mahomes has one of the strongest arms in college football. It's intergalactic. His baseball background gives him the innate ability to throw from different arm angles and across his body with velocity and accuracy. Mahomes is at his best (and at times worst) when he's extending plays. He's able to break contain and with his running threat, he's able to gouge defenses through land or air.
How does Mahomes improve? His interception rate for one. Especially in big games. In losses to Big 12 front runners Oklahoma, Baylor, and OSU Mahomes threw eight of his fifteen interceptions. In spite of his ability to make plays on the run, it might be good if Mahomes spends a little more time in the pocket.
In the first six games (including Arkansas, Baylor, and TCU), Mahomes ran 34 times total and had a quarterback rating of 160.7. In the final seven games Mahomes tripled his rushing attempts with 97 and saw his rating fall to 137.0.
If Mahomes is close to his exceptional productivity in 2015 in 2016, Tech will be in good hands once again. If Tech can take advantage of that production and pair it with a defense that is improved, the Red Raiders will be a contender in the Big 12.