top of page

Estime's Doak Walker Snub: Diving Into the Stats and Rationale

Written by Connor D'Aquila ⏐ Writer ⏐ Twitter/X: @ConnorDaquilaIT

Photo by The Irish Tribune


On Tuesday, the Doak Walker Award committee announced their semifinalists for the 2023 top running back in college football. Notably absent from the list of ten players was Notre Dame star back Audric Estime. Widely regarded as one of the best players in college football and a likely day-two pick in the upcoming draft, many were surprised to not even see him as a semifinalist. The ten that were honored include Michigan’s Blake Corum, Ollie Gordon out of Oklahoma State, UNC’s Omarion Hampton, Cory Schrader out of Missouri, Jonathan Brooks from Texas, and a number of other backs. Below, we’ll dive into the decision.


Statistical Merit

Estime’s numbers on the season thus far total 1,103 yards, 14 touchdowns, 185 carries, and six yards per carry. Total yards falls on the low end of the range of players, as Blake Corum is the only semifinalist with a lower number. This is more a result of lack of volume than anything else, however, as guys like Marcus Carroll and Tahj Brooks near 250 carries on the season. This means that in terms of efficiency, Audric falls right in the middle of the ten and far ahead of the other low-volume back, Blake Corum, at only 4.9 yards per carry, a substantial 1.1 yards fewer. In terms of touchdowns, Estime would also be in the middle of the pack, but in the upper half. At the end of the day, Audric is firmly in the mix with the group that made it in all categories, and it appears that total yards must be holding him back. Looking at a guy like Corum, who really only has touchdowns going for him, it feels like they must be using the eye test a little bit. If number seven can’t pass the eye test, though, I don’t know who can. At 5-foot-11, 227 pounds, he flashes incredible speed and athleticism for the size. The combination of barreling through defenders, breaking loose on the outside, and even hurdling players in space is an unprecedented combination. This has been reflected in more advanced stats, as PFF grades him out as the best running back in the country. Ultimately, the statistical justification for his omission appears to come from total numbers and not efficiency.





Who Gets Left Out?

To me, there are three obvious candidates here: Marcus Carroll from Georgia State, Kimani Vidal from Troy, and Blake Corum. The first two generally found success from very high usage and resulting high yardage numbers. Neither reach Estime’s performance in touchdowns or YPC, and Carroll falls far short at 5 yards per carry. My bigger problem with them is the level of competition. The only ranked team Georgia State has played was this past week, and they are currently on a four-game skid where Carroll has not played very well. Last week, against LSU, he was solid but gained the bulk of his total on a single 44-yard run. Troy has also played only one ranked opponent, against which Vidal also had the majority of his success on one run. Michigan has had a notably weak schedule thus far, but Corum certainly showed up against Penn State, gaining 145 yards and two touchdowns. This was a major help to his case, but the touchdowns and name recognition are also factors. When comparing the broader efficiency and yardage numbers, Corum's only argument is his 20 touchdowns. Admittedly, Estime struggled in Notre Dame’s four-game midseason gauntlet, but his touchdowns were instrumental in the wins over Duke and USC. Obviously, these are all top running backs in all of CFB, but leaving Audric off in favor of some of these other players feels wrong.


Notre Dame Bias?

I have never been a fan of the “Notre Dame gets disrespected” narrative, but it is always going to come up in a situation like this. The argument is certainly there in many situations, and there is reason for people to dislike the independence and staunch tradition of the school, but I don’t think that is the case here. We have recently seen Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Jaylon Smith win the Butkus Award, Golden Tate win the Biletnikoff, and Manti Te’o finish second in the Heisman. When players have exceptional seasons at Notre Dame, they get recognized for that, and while the argument can be made that SEC schools receive favor, it does not feel like ND is disproportionately excluded from these awards.





No matter what, Audric Estime has had an exceptional season for the Irish and will be one of the first running backs taken should he choose to enter the draft. Diving deeper than total yardage, it does feels like a major miss to exclude him from the semifinalist list for the Doak Walker. At the same time, however, a number of backs have had outstanding seasons, and based on statistics alone, it is hard to argue he would have been the winner come season's end. To me, Ollie Gordon appears to be the clear-cut leader with the most yards on the best efficiency. It can not be overstated, however, how much Audric has contributed to this team, and the season he has had. It is unfortunate and hard to explain why he was left off this semifinalist list, but there are bigger and better things coming for him. We can also hope he uses this to spark late-season domination.

Commenti


Like Our Content?
Enjoyed This Article?
Share Below
The Irish Tribune
The Irish Tribune
Enjoyed This Article?
Share Below
The Irish Tribune
Enjoyed This Article?
Share Below
The Irish Tribune
The Irish Tribune
bottom of page