LSU’s Burrow has Heisman look

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Joe Burrow
(Photo: Joe Burrow)

LSU’s Joe Burrow continues to be promoted as a legitimate Heisman candidate. As he should be.

The senior leapfrogged Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence into the conversation with other well-known college quarterbacks. Once a 200-1 long shot prior to the 2019 kickoff, Burrow has become the darling of college football underdogs with a 4-1 odds based on Betonline. He trails Tua Tagovailoa (2-1) and Jalen Hurts (3-1) in the Heisman odds.

Burrow leads the nation with an eye popping completion percentage at 83.3 and ranks second in college football with 1,122 yards passing. He has 11 touchdown passes with only two interceptions. Burrow is fourth in QBR with a 92.0, behind Hurts (96.8), Tagovailoa (95.5) and Ohio State’s Justin Fields (92.9).

The game and the play that set the tone for this season came on his 61-yard touchdown pass to Justin Jefferson against Texas. He was 31 of 39 for 471 yards with four touchdowns on the grand stage in Austin. When Burrow climbed the pocket against the blitz to hit Jefferson in stride, the Tiger signal caller became a true Heisman contender.

If you look back over LSU’s history, no other star quarterback garnered much serious Heisman consideration other than Bert Jones in 1972. The Ruston Rifle finished fourth on the ballot behind the winner, Johnny Rodgers of Nebraska, and Oklahoma’s Greg Pruitt and Cornhuskers defensive tackle Rich Glover.

Y.A. Tittle, Tommy Hodson, Alan Risher, Rohan Davey, Josh Booty, Jamarcus Russell and Matt Flynn were among the fine passers in the conversation during their days in Tigertown. None of them ever gained true Heisman traction.

LSU head coach Ed Orgeron was on staff at other schools with three previous Heisman winning QBS – Miami’s Gino Torretta along with Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart of USC.

“I’ve seen a lot of similarities or maybe things even better that I remember those guys doing. So he could become that QB,” Orgeron explained.

I’ve given a lot of thought past stars Burrow resembled when it comes to leadership skills, athleticism and physical stature. Roger Staubach, the 1963 Heisman winner from Navy, became Captain Comeback with the Dallas Cowboys but he had already become a legend in college. Burrow is mobile, able to extend plays in some ways like Roger the Dodger did. Joe is listed at 6-foot-4 and 216 pounds while Staubach was 6-4 and 200. Here is another connection: both are native Ohioans with Burrow from Athens and Staubach from Cincinnati.

As for Burrow today, he has led LSU to the SEC’s top ranked passing offense (436.3 yards/game) and red zone offense (21 of 21 scoring rate). Burrow sits atop the SEC in total offense (387.3 yards), passing efficiency (223.9) and passing yardage per contest (374). It’s a remarkable development for a program known for ground-and-pound and maligned for it’s lack of passing game creativity.

Times have changed in Baton Rouge, thanks in large part to ‘Joe Heisman’.

CATCHING UP: Burrow is also taking advantage of receiving corp still underrated nationally. Terrace Marshall leads all SEC receivers with six scoring catches thus far. Dwayne Bowe set the LSU record of 12 touchdown catches in 2006 but the sophomore Marshall has nine games to match or beat that mark.

Leading wideout Justin Jefferson has 19 grabs for 374 yards and four score. Josh Reed had 94 catches for 1,740 yards in 2001, eventually taking home the Biletnikoff Award. Jefferson, a junior out of Destrehan, will continue to be Burrow’s top target although the presence of Marshall and fellow sophomore Ja’Marr Chase make it hard to imagine Reed’s LSU record going down.

OUT THE ‘DORE: When LSU visits Nashville, Vanderbilt will have some notable locals on the field Saturday.

Senior wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb (6-1, 201), a product of Jesuit in New Orleans, is the SEC’s active leader with 162 catches for 1,951 yards and 19 touchdowns. He needs five touchdown grabs to set a new Commodores career record.

Junior linebacker Kenny Hebert (6-4, 237), a Holy Cross alum, has 10 tackles this season with seven tackles for loss and four sacks in his career to date.

Deuce Wallace, Jr. serves as Vandy’s backup quarterack. HE played at Riverside Academy before leaving prior to his senior prep season. His older brother Chase is a pitcher for the Tennessee Vols.

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Rene Nadeau

Rene Nadeau

CCS/Fox Sports/ESPN/WFAN

Born and raised in the New Orleans area, Rene Nadeau has been involved in sports ever since his earliest memories. Rene played basketball, wrestled, ran track, and was an All-District running back in football at John F. Kennedy High School. He went on to be a member of the LSU football program, developing a passion for the game in even…

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