Luck and Moore lead pro-style quarterbacks

This is the first of three posts that break down quarterbacks who will likely be Heisman Trophy contenders in 2011. See also our looks at spread-offense quarterbacks and dual-threat quarterbacks.

Although a record 38 Heisman Trophy winners have been running backs, quarterbacks have dominated the award recently, winning nine times since 2000. Two pro-style signal-callers go into 2011 as front-runners for this season's Heisman Trophy.

Andrew Luck, Stanford Cardinal

His stats from 2010 support the notion that he should be the Heisman favorite. Yet Luck will have to overcome extensive hurdles, including a new coach and new receivers, in order to become the first Heisman winner from Stanford since Jim Plunkett in 1970.

In 2010, Luck completed 70.7 percent of his passes, fifth-best in Division I, including 70.2 percent on third down. He also showed that he’s a threat to run, gaining 453 yards on the ground.

His 10.2 yards per rush (excluding sacks) was second-highest among quarterbacks with at least 10 rush attempts. Luck’s mobility forced defenses to respect his ability to run, and that translated into success in the passing game. On designed roll outs, Luck completed 69.2 percent of his passes for three touchdowns.

Andrew Luck Throws of 10+ Yards
Last Season

One area of concern could be Luck’s stamina. In the second half of games last season, he struggled to complete throws longer than 10 yards. In Stanford’s loss to Oregon, Luck completed 4-of-13 passes with two interceptions on throws longer than 10 yards in the second half.

Luck’s chances to win the Heisman may largely depend upon the players around him. He will have a new coach in David Shaw, new offensive linemen and new go-to receivers. Luck has the talent to win the award, but question marks surrounding his team could hinder his campaign.

Kellen Moore, Boise State Broncos

After finishing fourth in Heisman voting a year ago, Moore could climb higher in 2011. One area in which he separated himself from other quarterbacks is accuracy -- especially on deep balls.

In 2010, Moore completed 59 percent of his passes that traveled 15 yards or more in the air, with 21 touchdowns and two interceptions. When his distance increased to 30 yards, Moore’s completion percentage was 60.9 with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. (By comparison, Luck completed 39.1 percent of his passes thrown 30 or more yards, and Oklahoma’s Landry Jones completed 28.6 percent.)

The last three quarterbacks to win the Heisman ranked either first or second in pass efficiency and yards per attempt. Downfield accuracy is an easy way for Moore to put his name at the top of those statistical categories.

With the departure of Titus Young, Moore will have to find a new downfield receiver, as Young was the target on more than 85 percent of Moore’s 30-yard attempts last season. Boise State also has to replace Moore’s other go-to receiver, Austin Pettis, who was targeted more than any other Broncos receiver in the red zone and on third down.

Team success will be critical to Moore's campaign as well. Playing in a non-AQ conference, Boise State likely will have to run the table in order for Moore to win the award. Not since BYU’s Ty Detmer in 1990 has a player outside a Big Six conference won the Heisman.