The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

October 24, 2012

Smith’s Heisman hopes still alive

Following West Virginia’s 55-14 loss to Kansas State on Saturday, everybody, it seemed, officially declared Mountaineer quarterback Geno Smith’s Heisman campaign as dead.

I readily admit that I was one of the guilty parties. After seeing KSU’s Collin Klein outshine Smith, who struggled for the second straight game, I just couldn’t see any way that the Miramar High School (Fla.) product could end the season with the hardware, especially considering that Klein is now the frontrunner.

But as I’ve looked a little closer over the past few days, I’ve come to realize that Smith could still have a realistic chance.

Early in the year, it was popular to compare Smith to Robert Griffin III — the Baylor quarterback, and now Washington Redskin, who won the Heisman in 2011. The similarities were obvious. Smith and Griffin played in the same conference and in similar offenses, and their head-turning passing numbers were similar.

Everywhere you looked — SportsCenter, Heisman websites, national newspapers — there were graphics comparing the two, with Smith actually ahead of the pace set by RG3.

But after WVU’s recent struggles, those charts have suddenly disappeared. So thinking about the Heisman race Monday, I decided to look for myself.

After seven games in 2011, Griffin’s Baylor Bears were 4-3 and, ironically, coming off of two blowout losses — a 55-28 setback against Texas A&M and a 59-24 defeat to No. 3 Oklahoma State. Griffin, who started all of those games, had thrown for 2,375 yards. He’d tossed 23 touchdowns and four interceptions.

Compare those numbers to Smith’s at this point. His team’s record, 5-2, is better, even after coming off a pair of blowout losses to Texas Tech and Kansas State. His passing yardage, 2,414 is slightly above RG3’s, as are his passing touchdowns, 26. His two interceptions, after breaking an NCAA record with 273 straight passes without a pick, are half of what Griffin had through seven games in 2011.

When you look at the numbers, it’s clear the race is far from over.

But Smith obviously has a lot of work to do. Through the final five regular season games of 2011, Griffin led his team to a perfect 5-0 record, including wins over No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 24 Texas. He threw for 1,918 yards over that stretch, including 13 touchdowns compared to two interceptions. Heisman voters tend to remember recent history the most, and RG3 made sure he wasn’t forgotten.

The opportunity is there for Smith to do the same. Like Baylor a year ago, WVU still has Oklahoma left on the schedule in Morgantown on Nov. 17, a chance for Smith to shine against a marquee opponent in a game that’s sure to draw plenty of national attention. He’ll also face Iowa State and Kansas — the Big 12’s sixth and seventh rated defenses, respectively — with a chance to put up big numbers.

The door is still cracked for Smith. But he’ll have to swing it open and come crashing through it, just as RG3 did a year ago, to claim the prize. WVU is going to have to get hot, and Smith will have to put up numbers that make voters forget about the last two weeks.

If he’s able to do that, he’ll deserve the hardware. If not, it was never meant to be.

— E-mail: chuffman@register-herald.com and follow him on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.

1
Text Only
College Sports
  • Hamrick deserves praise for pursuit of D’Antoni

    Sometimes gambles don’t pay off, but some risks simply have to be taken.

    April 23, 2014

  • WVU post-spring depth chart filled with few surprises

    Although the contents brought about as much of a surprise as a over the hill balloon at a 40th birthday party, there were a few interesting nuggets in the post-spring depth chart that West Virginia University sent out Wednesday morning.

    April 23, 2014

  • Clutch hitting leads WVU over Marshall

    Junior catcher Cam O’Brien finished  a home run away from the cycle and scored three runs as the WVU baseball team defeated Marshall, 10-3, on Wednesday evening at Hawley Field.

    April 23, 2014

  • Gardner improving with broken neck

    Joedy Gardner, a well-known former West Virginia basketball player and coach, is much improved after having broken his neck in Phoenix, Ariz., several months ago.

    April 23, 2014

  • 042314 trickett Mountaineers have benefited from incoming football transfers

    Recruiting in college football seems to get more and more attention every season. Websites like Scout.com and Rivals.com stalk the high school sidelines and blow up potential recruits’ cell phones in search of the latest information. But there’s one important aspect that often goes ignored — transfers.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • WVU baseball pounds Terps

    The offense had 16 hits and sophomore left-hander Ross Vance struck out six as the West Virginia University baseball team routed Maryland 14-2 on Tuesday evening at Hawley Field.

    April 22, 2014

  • Crutchfield not interested in Division I job

    You would think Jim Crutchfield would be a great candidate for a head basketball coach’s job at an NCAA Division I university.
    But the Clarksburg native keeps saying that he’s perfectly content in that role at West Liberty, a Division II powerhouse. His 10-year record there is an absolutely amazing 272-49. Significantly, 10 of those defeats came in his first year at the West Liberty helm.

    April 22, 2014

  • Stepping up: Kelly racking up wins for Lions

    Sundays have become red-letter days for Chris Kelly.

    April 22, 2014

  • Paul Popovich, now 73, wishes he were playing baseball today

    If you’re a longtime baseball fan, you may recall Morgantown’s Paul Popovich.

    April 22, 2014

  • Hiring an interim while waiting on D’Antoni would be an injustice

    The search for Marshall’s new men’s basketball coach remained in a holding pattern over the Easter weekend while the Los Angeles Lakers put off their decision on coach Mike D’Antoni’s future until this week.

    April 21, 2014

AP Video