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Mason Rudolph’s Heisman Campaign off to a Stirring Start

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Strangely, it’s sometimes easy to forget about Mason Rudolph. He has become automatic in the same way a coffee maker or the audio/visual team within a band is automatic — you only notice when things don’t go as planned.

Rudolph was 20/24 for 303 yards, 3 TDs through the air and another on the ground on Thursday against Tulsa in the first few yards of his Heisman campaign lap. He was on point with nearly every throw, and as has been the case his entire career, the deep balls were maybe even more accurate than the short ones.

I thought maybe his best throw of the night came on one of the four incompletions. A back shoulder dart to Marcell Ateman that was deftly broken up by a Tulsa defender.

Was it advised with Ateman’s length to throw back shoulder rather than just a fade? Maybe not, but it was still a terrific pass.

Rudolph spread the wealth as five receivers got three or more targets, and he did what he’s done as well as any QB in OSU history since he got the starting job: Checked down to his receivers and running backs in the flats. With OSU’s abundance of elite wideouts, it seemed like the middle of the field was more open than usual.

One interesting wrinkle that just wasn’t there last year was how many catches Justice Hill had. His three on Thursday represent 60 percent of his total from last year. Not only is he better at running back, but he’s a more versatile weapon for Rudolph to deploy.

It was everything you wanted to see from somebody launching a Heisman campaign against a non-Power 5 opponent. Maybe the most impressive part to me — and he’s done this more or less his entire career — was him stepping into throws. With Tulsa playing single coverage on some of OSU’s elite wideouts, all you have to do is get the thing in the air.

“He is a great quarterback,” said Tulsa safety McKinley Whitfield. “He is probably going to be a top-10 draft pick this year, in the first round, I would imagine. He passes the ball well and reads the defense well. He is probably one of the best quarterbacks I have seen or played against¬†in a long time. He is a competitor.”

Yes he is. He was last year. He is this year. He will be next year.

And the Heisman campaign rolls on.

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