For this week’s statistical study, I decided to focus on the game within the game – the players that lead their team on game day in various categories concerning passing, kicking and catching. Win or loss, regardless of the score, these players show up and show out on the field. And their game day efforts deserve to be celebrated. Here’s who took their game within the game to the next level this week.
Points Responsible For Per Game – 30.4
Houston quarterback D’Eriq King tops this week’s leaderboard not only because he is the man with a plan, but also because he is a key cog in the Cougars' 4-1 victory wheel. This season, King has thrown for 1,362 yards and 18 touchdowns with only three interceptions through five games. He also has defensive tackle Ed Oliver’s Heisman vot, so there’s that. King is responsible for a national-best 30.4 points per game – that’s like four touchdowns and some change or 10 field goals. In Houston’s 41-26 comeback win over Tulsa last weekend, King threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more, including a 61-yard run that no one saw coming, especially the Golden Hurricane’s defense.
“I’m a very confident person,” King told the Houston Chronicle. “I might not say a lot, but I’m pretty confident in myself. My expectation is to win every game, it doesn’t matter by a half-point or three touchdowns. Just win every game. Anybody that knows me, my teammates know I don’t care about (any of the stats). I just want to win. If I need to kick an extra point, I’ll do it just to win. I love winning.”
Field Goals Per Game – 2.67
Speaking of kicking, Syracuse freshman kicker Andre Szmyt leads the nation in field goals per game with 2.67. He has made 16 of his 17 attempts, boasting a 94.1 made field goal percentage. At 4-2, Syracuse sits 4th in the ACC, with Szmyt’s performance against Clemson two weeks ago earning him ACC Specialist of the Week honors.
Szmyt hit three field goals in the first half of a 27-23 loss at Clemson, including a career-long of 51 yards. He's the fifth Orange kicker to make multiple 50-yard field goals in the same season, joining Dave Jacobs (1975, 1976, 1978), Gary Anderson (1981), Don McAulay (1984) and Cole Murphy (2014, 2017). His consistency is what won him the kicking job this year, after walking on and redshirting last season. Fun fact: Szmyt’s great-great uncle on his mother’s side was the starting goaltender on the Soviet Union National Soccer Team.
Passing Yards Per Game – 403.7
Pac-12 football has been catching a lot of heat for its officiating lately, more than usual. Between the Larry Scott quotes and the Justin Herbert highlights, you are somewhat forgiven if you hadn't kept a close eye on the numbers that Washington State’s quarterback Gardner Minshew has been putting up. Not only does the senior QB leads the nation in passing yards per game with 403.7, he also leads in passing yards with 2,422 and in completions per game with 35.83.
The Cougars have quietly accumulated a 5-1 record, ranking them second in the Pac-12 North with their only loss coming to USC amidst a controversial non-call. Minshew has drawn praise for his quick ability to master the Washington State Air Raid offense combined with his quack for sensing pressure and adeptly avoiding it. Minshew has 19 touchdowns so far on the season and only four interceptions. The best thing about Minshew is that he completes the simple passes – limiting mistakes is a must in the turnover-hungry Pac-12.
WSU will enjoy a nice bye weekend before hosting the outstanding Oregon Ducks. Pac-12 After Dark anyone?
Rush Yards Per Game – 169.8
The pride of the Big Ten, the running back all teams dream of stopping, the senior who has helped Wisconsin achieve a 4-1 record, (first in the Big Ten West) – Jonathan Taylor. He has 126 carries for 849 yards and eight touchdowns. Oh and he leads the nation with almost 170 rushing yards per game. He simply cannot be stopped.
He’s patient and extremely fast, meaning that Michigan is going to have a hell of a time stopping him this weekend. Taylor’s per-game average is quite a bit more than the 96.5 yards the Wolverines allow on the ground total per game. In fact, he has not rushed for fewer than 113 yards in a game this season and he has rushed for more than 200-yards twice.
Receiving Yards Per Game – 141.6
Colorado wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr.’s name has been blowing up Heisman boards as of late and for very good reason – the sophomore wide receiver 51 catches for 708 yards and six touchdowns. He leads the nation in receiving yards per game with 141.6 and in receptions per game with 10.2. But more than numbers (I know you never thought you would hear me say that), he makes insane out-of-this-world catches.
The Buffs are a perfect 5-0, first in the Pac-12 South and Shenault has been a big part of what makes Colorado so hard to play – even UCLA head coach Chip Kelly said no matter what you do to prepare for him, he manages to shake coverage and get open. ASU’s head coach Herm Edwards commented on how hard Shenualt is to tackle. He’s versatile and can be moved anywhere the offense needs him, like some sort of Rocky Mountain superhero.
Can Shenault keep it going vs. USC on Saturday? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section. If you feel strongly about who will win, be sure to get to your favorite casino (ours is Casino770) or bookie cash in on who will be victorious!
Sports writer. Avid fan, former player, once-upon-a-time coach, reluctant referee. I do digital media things with my friends. I also jinx kickers. Bay Area born & raised.