Mason Rudolph’s Heisman campaign has been in full swing since April. But with the season just five short weeks away, let’s talk about what Rudolph will have to do on the field in order to hoist the trophy in New York.
First and foremost, Rudolph can’t let the pressure and attention get to him. There's going to be a lot of talk and hype (there already is), and he’s going to have to find ways to focus on the task at hand. If he can stay sharp and win as many football games as he can, he’ll have an opportunity to be a finalist if not the winner.
He’s also going to have to go through Baker Mayfield not just once, but most likely twice. Mayfield is the only QB among Heisman front-runners that Rudolph will go against head-to-head, barring an unlikely early bowl-game matchup.
After posting a 70.9 completion percentage that led the nation and a 40:8 TD-to-INT ratio, beating Mayfield is a tall order. However, Mayfield lost targets Semaje Perine and Dede Westbrook after last season. Meanwhile, Rudolph keeps his favorite target James Washington as well as Justice Hill. Not only that, but he adds Tyron Johnson, gets Marcell Ateman back, Jalen McCleskey will be running along the seam, along with other options. A Big 12 championship is going to be necessary if Rudolph wants to have a chance, because he’s fighting against the perception that the Big 12 isn't seen as a competitive conference and he needs as many wins a possible to boost his chances.
Another major key to winning the Heisman for Rudolph is touchdowns. Last year’s winner Lamar Jackson finished the season with 51 total touchdowns, while Rudolph finished with just 34. While that’s not completely his fault, he’s gonna have to get better at finding his man. There would be times last season where he’d have a guy literally wide open and wait to throw it and end up either rushing the throw and it would be incomplete or Rudolph would take a sack. Heisman quarterbacks don’t do that. That must happen less this season. Rudolph has to play smarter football and get through his progression quicker and more accurately.
One thing Rudolph does have going for him is his completion percentage. He finished last season with a completion percentage of 63.4 percent. That’s not too shabby. And while he’s still a ways behind Mayfield (70.9 percent), Jackson’s was 56.2 percent last season. He’s gotta stay accurate and get the ball to his playmakers.
Rudolph is also going to have to come in clutch in a lot of games. He’s going to have to make himself the star of the show. With a receiving core that’s as good as Oklahoma State’s is, that could be really easy or really hard. Having great receivers makes your job look easy as a QB. However, in the eyes of Heisman voters, he’s gonna have to come out with some killer plays that are all him if he wants to impress enough to make it New York. There’s no doubt that Rudolph can throw. And while Rudolph has shown in the past that he can run, he’s gonna have to show that he can create opportunities for himself in any situation and extend some plays instead of taking that sack. While he is a pocket-passer by nature, showing the voters that he is able to use his legs (like he does in the clip below) to avoid the negative plays will go a long way in their eyes.
Rudolph has what it takes to get there by most of the stats, but it’s gonna take a lot of dazzling if he wants to get the Heisman judges votes.