Connor Shaw Named to O'Brien Award Watch List

USA TODAY Sports

Connor Shaw has been named to the Davey O'Brien Award Watch List. Favorites for the award include Heisman-winner Johnny Manziel as well as A.J. McCarron, Aaron Murray, and Teddy Bridgewater. Given what looks like a fairly strong field of quarterbacks, Shaw's chances to win the award would appear somewhat bleak. History, too, shows that Shaw has a tough row to hoe. Manziel, Robert Griffin, and Cam Newton are the last three winners of the award, as well as the last three Heisman winners. That's a pretty high standard.

I do think it's worth noting, though, that Shaw in some respects has the look of a player who *might* be able to compete for this accolade. The last three winners share in common being dual threats in prolific offenses. Manziel passed for 3706 yards and ran for 1410. Griffin passed for 4293 and ran for 699. Newton passed for 2854 and ran for 1473. The dual threat QB with unbelievable stats seems to be the in-player for both the O'Brien and the Heisman right now.

Although a dual-threat QB, Shaw didn't come close to these numbers in his first full year as starter last year, throwing 1956 yards and running for 435. To improve those numbers, he needs to do two things. First of all, he has to stay healthy. There's no way to amass those kinds of numbers when you spend multiple games on the bench and are limited in some of the ones you play in. Second of all, he needs to become a more aggressive passer who shows more confidence in his receivers and himself to make big plays in the air against good defenses. We've seen many times that Shaw's tendency to hesitate to get the ball out of the pocket unless his receiver is uncovered can cost our offense.

That said, Shaw has shown flashes of being able to amass award-winning numbers, such as against Missouri, Tennessee, and Michigan. If he can play like he did against those teams consistently over the course of the season, he'll be in the conversation for, at the least, All-SEC consideration, if not more.

Of course, being on a winning team is also a requisite part of winning one of these awards, but if Shaw puts up these kinds of numbers, we'll win a lot of games unless the defense absolutely implodes.

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