Gardner Minshew has been a revelation for Washington State since his transfer from East Carolina. Afforded the opportunity to play Pac-12 football in the Air Raid system of offensive wizard Mike Leach, Minshew has lived up to the tradition of high-production passers that have graced Pullman over the past half-dozen years.
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Through the first six weeks of the season, no quarterback has been more productive through the air than Minshew. The graduate transfer leads the FBS in passing yards, as he averages more than 400 yards per game through the air. Minshew also ranks in the top five in passing touchdowns, having thrown for 19 in his first six games as a Cougar.
Should Minshew be considered among the Heisman contenders this year? Given his play, it would be a logical inclusion. Whether he will actually be among the hopefuls, though, is dependent on a major shift in Heisman voters’ perceptions. In the past, we have seen Heisman voters look at Mike Leach gunslingers with a skeptical eye. During his time at Texas Tech, his quarterbacks put up record-breaking numbers but barely got a look for the top individual award in the sport.
Kliff Kingsbury finished ninth in the voting in 2002. B.J. Symons ended up 10th in the Heisman race a year later. Graham Harrell was fourth in 2008, but he split the vote with receiver Michael Crabtree and was still more than 1500 points of the pace of Heisman winner Sam Bradford. No other Leach player has come even that close to a Heisman since he took over in Pullman.
Skepticism from voters about Minshew being merely another “system quarterback” will probably doom any shot he might have at generating a Heisman bid in 2018. The quarterback certainly has the raw numbers to produce, but it would require Washington State to win the Pac-12 and Minshew to greatly improve on his 40th-ranked passing efficiency to vault up among the favorites in this year’s Heisman race.
What do you think, should Gardner Minshew be a Heisman Trophy candidate.