People have posed the question of what exactly Peppers would have to do stats-wise to be seriously considered in the Heisman race. I figured I would put his numbers up against the Honey Badger, a player who was comparable in terms of versatility on the defensive side and dynamic returning abilities. Mathieu gained considerable Heisman hype after an incredible year for a true freshman, and followed it up with an even better sophomore season, earning 34 first place votes for Heisman en route to a 5th place finish in the race.
Mathieu season stats:
Defense- 59 solo tackles, 17 assisted, 7.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 9 PBU, 2 INT, 6 FF, 5 FR, 2 FR TD.
Offense- No rushes or receptions.
Punt returns- 27 returns for 421 yards (avg. 15.6) with 2 TD.
Kick off returns- None.
Peppers season stats through 3 games:
Defense- 20 solo tackles, 8 assisted, 9.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks, 0 PBU, 0 INT, 1 FF, 0 FR, 0 DEF TD.
Offense- 2 rushes for 24 yards. 0 receptions.
Punt returns- 8 returns for 173 yards (avg. 21.6) with 1 TD.
Kick off returns- 2 returns for 81 yards (avg. 40.5) with 0 TD.
Some things that stands out is that Peppers is living in the backfield in his role as a hybrid LB, and he could finish with an ungodly amount of TFLs and sacks. But, in order to get into the Heisman race, he will need to make some special plays. The Honey Badger made his fame punching the ball out and getting in position to make big plays on defense. Peppers will need to get 1-2 defensive touchdowns in order to be considered. The lack of any INT is still a glaring hole in his collegiate resume, especially given that he dropped a sure pick 6 last year.
Where Peppers can make his move is on offense. He was deployed for the first time yesterday, and picked up yards with ease. If he gets 200 rushing yards and 100 receiving yards with 3 TD-- a slight improvement from last year--that would be a big boost to his resume. For comparison, Woodson had 231 receiving yards and 2 TD to go with 15 rushing yards and 1 TD.
Finally, on the kicking game, Peppers is off to an otherworldly start. If he can finish the year with Mathieu's avg return numbers, he will likely have popped off another punt return TD and be a freak of nature. If he can take a kick off return to the house, well then, we might have a real race on our hands.
Overall, this is just for fun and I'm going to enjoy watching Peppers regardless of how it all plays out, but I figured I'd add some perspective to give people a sense of what he needs to do to get into the discussion.