Hertzel’s Notebook: A Look At Heisman Race, WVU Newcomers
MORGANTOWN — Here are how the top contenders for the Heisman Trophy did through Saturday’s games:
Will Grier, WVU QB — Was the first quarterback ever to throw five touchdown passes and for as many as 429 yards against Tennessee in that school’s long history, leading WVU to a 40-24 win.
Grier’s 429 passing yards were second most in NCAA this weekend to the 444 yards Mason Fine of North Texas recorded while hitting 40-of-50 passes in a 46-23 victory over SMU.
David Sills, WVU WR — Caught seven of Will Grier’s passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns in WVU’s victory over Tennessee.
Bryce Love, Stanford RB — Did nothing to help his cause with an bad opening game, carrying 18 times for just 29 yards and no TDs while catching 3 passes for 18 yards in a 31-10 win over San Diego State.
Trace McSorley, Penn State QB — Led a fourth-quarter comeback to force the game to overtime and avoid an upset loss to Appalachian State in what turned out to be a 45-38 overtime win. McSorley was 21-of-36 for 230 yards and a passing touchdown that tied the game and ran 12 times for 53 yards and two TD.
Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin RB — Taylor had a workman-like game in a 34-3 over Western Kentucky, rushing 18 for 145 yards and two TD.
McKenzie Milton, UCF QB — Milton picked on poor, outgunned UConn in a 56-17 win, throwing five touchdown passes without an interception while completing 24-of-36 for 346 yards.
Justin Herbert, Oregon QB — Was prolific if not on target in an easy 58-24 win over Bowling Green, completing just 10 of 21 for 281 yards and 5 TDs with 2 interceptions.
Ed Oliver, Houston DT — Probably the best defensive lineman in the country and a force for Houston, helped them to a 45-27 victory over Rice with 13 tackles but did not have a sack.
Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama QB — Tagovailoa won the QB battle over Jalen Hurts at Alabama and went 12-for-16 for 227 yards and two TD without an interception while running five times for 26 yards and TD in a 51-14 victory over Louisville.
Jake Browning, Washington QB — Browning’s Heisman hopes took a hit as Washington lost to Auburn, 21-16, on the road as he completed 18 of 32 passes for 296 yards and a touchdown and an interception. He was under severe pressure all night and was sacked five times.
Let’s add a couple of players to the list:
Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M RB — He rushed 20 times for 240 yards, 12 yards a carry with three TDs as Texas A&M beat Northwestern State, 59-7. The 240 yards were third most on the week.
JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford WR — While Love faltered, Arcega-Whitside caught six passes for 226 yards and 3 TDs, a staggering 37.7 average, with a long of 80 in 31-10 win over San Diego State
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Led by the defense, which played 30 of 32 players it brought with it on the trip, WVU used 53 players in the opening victory over Tennessee.
A number of players made their debuts with the Mountaineers, so let’s rank them in terms of their impact:
- Kenny Bigelow— WVU now has a nose guard as Bigelow, a former 5-star recruit whose career was ravaged by injury at USC before he became a graduate transfer this year, dominated the inside when he was in the game. Bigelow made the season’s first defensive tackle and it ended in a 10-yard loss and a fumble and added another tackle for a loss.
- T.J. Simmons— A wide receiver who had the coaches and other players raving from the minute he walked on campus as a transfer from Alabama, Simmons made a lasting impression the first time he laid his hands on the ball, being on the receiving end of a 59-yard touchdown pass from Will Grier.
- Josh Norwood— Yet another transfer, this one from Ohio State and junior college, he, too, had a lot of buzz around him from the way he practiced. He proved it, moving in at the much needed cornerback spot in a nickel role, showed he could cover and had a couple of solo tackles and assisted on two.
- Charlie Benton— This was a negative impact. Benton came on and won the starting linebacker job and expected to be a big-time player but was injured. He sustained a knee injury and will not be able to play any more this season.
- Leddie Brown— A true freshman who, again, the coaches and other players tabbed as someone to watch, he came on and was a load to handle, running eight times for 33 yards as WVU’s second leading rusher.
5a. Alec Sinkfield — A slashing runner who played for the first time as a redshirt freshman and who almost broke his first run and who gives WVU a foursome at running back that allows them any number of ways to put together a running game
- Joe Brown— He is this low on the list not because his presence wasn’t felt but because it’s just hard to figure out what an offensive guard has done. All we know is he proved himself good enough to win the starting job and he was there most of the game.
- Jabril Robinson— This is a graduate transfer from Clemson who has come in and added much to the defense line, winning a starting job and shoring up the run defense to the point that it no longer looks to be the Achilles heel of the team.
- Dante Stills— Fairmont Senior’s gift to WVU, this four-star recruit is a true freshman who played in his first game behind Robinson, made his first collegiate tackle and joins brother Darius in holding the future of the Mountaineer defensive line in their grasp.
- Shea Campbell— A Morgantown High product who had gone into his junior year without playing in a game, he figured it all out this year, won a backup job and replaced Benton when he was injured and made a couple of tackles. He figures to start now that Benton is sidelined.
- Jovani Haskins— Another transfer from Miami, who plays H-back or tight end, if you prefer, he helped changed the look of the offense and also proved he could catch the ball. With him and Trevon Wesco, WVU can go jumbo while maybe even adding to the passing attack.
- Jacob Buccigrossi — A sophomore who battled down to the wire at center in a fight for the starting job with Matt Jones, who eventually won it, he did get to see action for the first time and gives WVU a strong option at that position.