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Shane Buechele and Winning a Heisman in 2017

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Shane Buechele will enter the 2017 season with 35-1 odds to win the Heisman per Bovada.



When I went around and asked a few friends in the media what makes Shane good I was told his poise, his accuracy, and his toughness.


Shane’s toughness is unquestionable. The amount of huge hits he took over the course of the year where afterwards he stood up and dusted himself off was nothing short of jaw dropping, especially given his size.


On top of this, Shane had some impressive stats against P5 programs behind what was at times a shoddy offensive line.


When tossing the ball between 0-4 yards Shane hit his receiver 83% of the time, scored 2 TDs and accrued 541 yards (although 370 yards came after the catch). And when Shane threw to the boundary side of the field (the side closest to where the ball was placed between the hashes), he was unquestionably elite completing 83% of his passes between 0-4 yards, 72% between 5-9, 43% between 10-19, and 45% on balls 20 yards and over.


On top of that, his boundary ball completion percentage for deep balls was closer to 70% on the season before his injury against Kansas.


Shane proved his poise in his very first game against Notre Dame. Being able to take the Longhorns down the field multiple times and ultimately win the game in the end proved it. While he did regress a bit at the after that, his ability to give Texas a fighting chance late in games came back strong later in the season.


Shane Buechele played better than the stats indicated and he was exceptional as a freshman. However, a number of things will need to happen Shane to be anywhere near the Heisman conversation.


Be Better Under Pressure


Shane needs to work on his tendency to panic under pressure. He was under pressure around 30% of the time he was in the pocket (not including the times he decided to scramble). While he showed some flashes of brilliance under pressure, like throwing a beautiful deep ball touchdown against Cal in the midst of taking a huge hit, his numbers under pressure were not very good at all on the whole. Shane went 24-70 (34%) with 2 touchdowns and 6 interceptions under pressure. So that means that for 30% of each game Shane Buechele was less than stellar.


Improve His Own Game


While many said that Shane needed to work on his ability to throw over the middle, the real problems came when throwing to the field side. He left something to be desired with only a 55% completions and a 7/5 TD/INT ratio. Top that off with ineffectiveness on fade routes to the field (7% completions) and being struggling between 5-19 yards (40-80 with 5 interceptions). If he is going to be elite then his ability to attack both sides of the field (and the middle) will need to improve significantly.


Furthermore he needs to clean up things like running out of the pocket when there isn’t pressure or making a bad read and paying for it. Shane Buechele was at fault for almost 20% of his own sacks last season and when he got hit it was his fault 11% of the time. Those numbers are way too high. And of Shane’s 6 interceptions under pressure, each one of them was due to him trying to make something happen that wasn’t there.


Luckily, you can chalk both of these up to being a freshman and hoping he’ll progress in an upward trajectory. But beyond Shane…



Texas needs to pull a Washington


The Heisman has evolved into a team award that is awarded to a quarterback or running back. This was the main reason D’Onta Foreman was never really in the Heisman race, despite being the elite of elite RBs in the nation. For Shane to be in the Heisman conversation, Texas has to pull off what Washington did and have a huge turnaround.


A reason I think Shane even has 35-1 odds of winning the Heisman is due to the parallels between the two programs. Both were loaded with talents and displayed flashes of being a really good team, but just couldn’t get it done (Washington in 2015 and Texas in 2016), Shane’s numbers (vs P5 schools) is reminiscent (and actually better than) Jake Browning’s, and both had a lot of talent that was returning. Bovada is betting that Texas will be 2017’s Washington. If he made the same jump Jake Browning did due to a much improved offensive line and returning talent surrounding him Shane Buechele could surpass Browning because his ceiling is as high or even higher.


Get Past the Favorites


Although Shane may make a Jake Browning sized leap if everything goes right, he still has to actually beat Jake Browning who was just a Sophomore last season and has many key pieces returning. There are also guys who are coming back like Sam Darnold who was also a Freshman, but got his team to a Rose Bowl. Looking in the same conference you have a Heisman finalist in Baker Mayfield returning for another year. Not to mention Lamar Jackson is still playing college ball.


Overall, Shane Buechele could be primed to have a good year next year, but it will take a huge leap in his ability and the talent around him for him to be anywhere near the Heisman conversation.


Oh well, at least it’s fun to think about.



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Just looking back at these numbers, I feel like I didn't raise their prominence enough in the article. 


Let's look at what they might suggest.


The thing that stands out is how the Veer and Shoot offense affected his numbers. Now it could be the poor passing protection to his right side (Brandon Hodges and Kent Perkins were responsible for 40% of the sacks this season), and possibly worrying about his right side could hurt him looking to the left. However, I think the veer and shoot may have set him up to fail to throw to the field and middle.


Basically teams were funneling Shane towards a very difficult pass in the Veer and Shoot offense.


The Veer and Shoot dares teams to load up the middle of the field. It forces teams to spread out including the offense. But teams would load the box, play cover 3, maybe bracket the boundary side, and sit on the hitches daring Shane to throw to the outside of the field hash. Throwing outside the field hash is a very hard throw and no easy feat for a freshman. This feat was especially difficult due to the Veer and Shoots tendency to put WRs waaaaaaaaaaay outside the hashes and almost on the sidelines. It takes a lot of know-how, a bullet of a pass, accuracy, and good judgement to throw to the field side and it gives the defender a lot of time to react to the ball. With how long and difficult that pass was it made it an easy target for defenses to make Shane try to execute.



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