It has come up now more than once in my conversations as guest on the Rich Herrera Show, 790 The Ticket in Miami, over the last couple of weeks. Let me preface this by saying that he broached the subject, not I. Still it was discussed, and with the way things are going, his views could be taking shape and I have one leg on the bandwagon.
The question bandied about: “Is it time to include Miami Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya in the Heisman Trophy conversation?”
He’s already convinced of it. I, on the other hand, am simply dipping my toe into those waters.
Could Kaaya become one of those players mentioned in that conversation? Certainly, the ‘Canes have the schedule to make it so; and sooner rather than later. The marquee game with Florida State is in two weeks at Hard Rock Stadium.
Kaaya and the rest of the ‘Canes will be wearing ‘Legend of the U’ Primeknit football uniforms for that game, a throwback to the dynasty years of the 1980s and ’90s. How appropriate would that be for Kaaya to put up customary numbers and propel himself into legitimate consideration for the Heisman Trophy?
It could happen. If the junior from California simply plays to his capabilities, he could begin to get some national publicity. The ‘Canes haven’t put together a Heisman package for Kaaya just yet, but if things go their way, the PR department at The U could find itself working overtime to catch up.
He’s not on the radar just yet, and there’s a reason for that. While it may not be a reason that helps Kaaya in any sort of Heisman bid, it will and already has helped the team win games. The Canes have an effective running game. It’s a trademark that Richt developed at Georgia. A solid run game, a better-than-average quarterback usually resulted in 9-to-10-win seasons for the Bulldogs on a consistent basis in the SEC.
He’s brought that toughness to South Florida and we are seeing the results. Don’t look now, but Miami ranks 12th in the nation in rushing offense, averaging 272 yards per game. You’d have to go back to the 2010 season to find the last time the Canes averaged more than 180 yards per game for a season.
Now you’ve taken the pressure of your quarterback and he doesn’t have to win games anymore like he had to in the past. Kaaya will still put up numbers. He’s too great a talent not to. But he’ll do so within the context of managing the offense rather than having to be the offense as he’s done in his first two seasons with the Canes.
Because of that, Kaaya isn’t among the top passing quarterbacks in the country. In fact, he isn’t even the top passing quarterback from Miami. That distinction goes to Billy Bahl, of Miami (Ohio), who ranks 21st in the nation with an average of 285 passing yards per game this season. Kaaya ranks 50th in the nation, averaging 231.3 yards passing per game.
That’s around 15 yards per game less than he threw as a freshman, and around 38 fewer yards on average from last season.
He doesn’t need to do as much for Miami to win football games. That will be beneficial down the road for the team as a whole and perhaps it could even offset the reduction in stats for Kaaya on the national stage. That’s, of course, provided the Canes continue to win games.