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
  • Mountaineers beat Buckeyes 4-1 in lefty Vance’s first career start

    In his first career start for the WVU baseball team, sophomore left-hander Ross Vance struck out 14 en route to a 4-1 victory over Ohio State on Tuesday evening at Hawley Field.

    April 15, 2014

  • Most plays good, some not so good in Gold-Blue scrimmage

    There appeared to be a fine mixture of plays, most good with some not so good, in West Virginia University’s Gold-Blue football scrimmage last Saturday.

    April 15, 2014

  • Wesleyan edges CU twice in softball

    The Concord University softball narrowly dropped a pair of games to No. 17 West Virginia Wesleyan, 2-1 and 4-3, Sunday afternoon at Culpepper Field.

    April 14, 2014

  • Concord baseball shuts out Cardinals

    The Concord University baseball team posted two shutout victories on Sunday, extending its winning streak to seven games by beating conference foe Wheeling Jesuit.

    April 14, 2014

  • dana Much still to be answered this fall

    In Saturday’s paper, I compiled a list of five things to watch at West Virginia University’s annual Gold-Blue Spring Game. Now, after watching the football scrimmage that concluded this year’s spring drills and taking some time to process what I saw, it’s time to go back and revisit those five points and how they turned out on Saturday.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • D’Antoni speculation now seems to have legs

    Kareem Canty got what he wanted, and Marshall fans should find out this week if they will get what they want.

    April 13, 2014

  • millard Specials teams shine at Gold-Blue Game

    The scoreboard said the Gold (offense) beat the Blue (defense) 37-27 in Saturday’s Gold-Blue Spring Game at Milan Puskar Stadium using a modified scoring system that rewarded the defense for stops and turnovers and the offense for scores.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • syvertson ‘Huey the Punter’ makes transition to LB

    The first reaction of the 10,000 fans in attendance at Milan Puskar Stadium for Saturday’s Gold-Blue Spring Game when No. 42 shot through the offensive line and put junior college transfer quarterback Skyler Howard on the ground in the second half was to ooh and aah.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • crutchfield Crutchfield again named Furfari Award winner

    Already the winningest men’s basketball coach in college history in terms of percentage — yes, better than guys like John Wooden, Adolph Rupp and Roy Williams — West Liberty’s Jim Crutchfield is heading into some lofty territory within the confines of his home state.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Five things to watch at WVU spring game

    Spring practice will come to an end for West Virginia University this afternoon when the Mountaineer football team hosts the annual Gold-Blue Spring Game at 1 p.m. at Milan Puskar Stadium.

    April 11, 2014