When Tom Herman served as offensive coordinator for Ohio State last season, the Buckeyes boasted a high-powered offense that helped guide them to a surprise national championship run. Both J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones thrived under center in Herman’s offense, leaving Ohio State with what seemed to be the most desirable quarterback battle in recent memory heading into 2015.
However, the Buckeye offense has looked much more lethargic in Herman’s absence, and more and more fans (at least those that didn’t know it already) are starting to realize just how integral Ohio State’s former offensive coordinator was to the team’s success.
Meanwhile in Houston, Herman is showing exactly why the Cougars were so excited to lure him to the Lone Star State.
Houston is off to a 4-0 start to the season, thanks in large part to the stellar play of quarterback Greg Ward Jr., who just might be setting himself up as a dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate.
It was always obvious that Ward possessed all the tools necessary to be an effective dual-threat quarterback, and he certainly stood to benefit by playing in Herman’s offense. However, the level of success that he’s achieved thus far in 2015 has to surprise even the most optimistic Houston fans. Ward is currently averaging 264.5 passing yards and 118 rushing yards per game. Exactly zero other players across the country are averaging 200 passing yards and 100 rushing yards per game.
In addition, Ward leads the nation with seven runs of at least 30 yards, as he’s provided a major spark to the Cougar offense. Through four games, Ward has thrown for 1,058 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception on 69.7% passing and has added an additional 472 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.
He’s been everything you could want out of a dual-threat quarterback so far this season, made clearly evident by his sensational showing in Houston’s 38-24 victory over Tulsa this past Saturday.
Ward passed for 273 yards and ran for 182 yards, a single-game school record for rushing yards by a quarterback, and three touchdowns. He utterly decimated the Golden Hurricane defense and caught the attention of more than a few people across the country in the process.
When you watch wrap tonight pay attention to Houston's Greg Ward Jr. Looks like he was plucked off tOSU's roster, running same offense.
— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) October 3, 2015
Fantastic drive by @UHCougarFB, specifically Greg Ward Jr
— Robert Flores (@RoFlo) October 3, 2015
Writing my CFB recap right now .. Greg Ward, Jr. deserves some Heisman "watch list" mention. Haven't seen him on any. I'm putting him there.
— Sean Pendergast (@SeanTPendergast) October 4, 2015
Heck, Stewart Mandel of FoxSports even put Ward at No. 5 in the latest edition of his Heisman rankings. Ward has put the rest of the AAC on notice with his phenomenal start, and the buzz surrounding him will only continue to increase if he continues his torrid pace.
At this point, it’s just about impossible for anyone to argue against the notion of Tom Herman being a quarterback whisperer. There’s a long list of quarterbacks that have thrived in his offenses, and Ward is just the latest example.
The Cougars have emerged as one of the favorites to win an AAC title, though they’ll have to contend with the likes of Navy and Memphis in the West division. Nevertheless, they should be feeling pretty good about their chances with Ward under center. If he keeps playing like he has these first four games, an AAC title and further Heisman consideration could lie down the road.