If you’re amongst the handful of keyboard warriors that scratched out Will Grier’s name as a Heisman candidate after his three interceptions against Kansas, this article is not for you.
Admittedly, those three costly, frustrating interceptions left even the most optimistic Mountaineers fan with his head in his hands. But fear not.
Grier has several opportunities and games ahead to improve his Heisman stock.
Three first half interceptions during Saturday’s contest and a mediocre showing in the second half against Texas Tech will be difficult for Grier to overcome but not impossible. The race for college football’s most covetable individual award is not decided in the first five games. It’s decided during important, pivotal games throughout the season.
Luckily for West Virginia and Will Grier, plenty of those games lie ahead.
Before the Mountaineers welcome a brutal back-loaded four-game stretch that includes a trip to Texas and Oklahoma State and home contests against TCU and Oklahoma, West Virginia will walk into a hostile environment in Ames to take on the Cyclones. Iowa State may be the best 2-3 team in the country if there ever was one and are salivating at the opportunity to dismantle the league’s last undefeated team at home. Grier needs a “stat game” now more than ever and walking out of Jack Trice Stadium with four touchdowns and over 400 yards passing will do just that. Repeating that type of dominating performance against Baylor two weeks later won’t hurt either.
During the month of November, however, is when Grier can truly solidify his name as a Heisman front-runner.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Texas is apparently “back” after upsetting Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry and have supplanted the Sooners as the toughest remaining opponent for West Virginia. If the Mountaineers slip past Iowa State and Baylor unscathed, a blockbuster match up against Texas looms in week ten. Given the Longhorns are legitimately a contender in the Big 12, it will take a near perfect showing from Grier to make it out of Austin with a win. And if Grier lives up to the billing and supplies voters with a game-changing play or two, the Heisman becomes that much more of a reality.
After Texas, TCU and Oklahoma State, comes the only team West Virginia has yet to defeat as members of the Big 12 – Oklahoma. Statistically speaking, Mountaineers have incredible performances when playing the Sooners in Morgantown. Granted, even Tavon Austin’s and Justin Crawford’s historical nights didn’t equate to a win. But Grier can bump that trend and take a home a win on the back of a Heisman-esque performance.
Let’s pretend all these hypothetical pieces fall into place and West Virginia secures its second ever undefeated season and Will Grier posts video game like numbers along the way. That still may not be enough. At this point and most likely at the end of the season, Grier’s stiffest competition for the Heisman Trophy is Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. Though the Hawaiian phenom has yet to attempt a pass in the fourth quarter, the sophomore quarterback has already laid claim to a seat in New York City for the Heisman presentation.
An undefeated record is a valuable achievement to be celebrated for decades to come. It will take that (and then some) for Grier to become West Virginia’s first ever Heisman Trophy winner.