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Where Does Sam Hartman Go From Here?

  • The Draft Network
  • December 9, 2021
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Sam Hartman became a big name around midseason, but the way things capped off in the ACC Championship was a bit unceremonious. Hartman and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons suffered a tough 45-21 loss to Kenny Pickett and the Pittsburgh Panthers as Hartman completed 21-of-46 passes for 213 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions. 

While we’ve seen a lot of really big moments out of Hartman, and while he does check a lot of boxes as a dual-threat quarterback, it’s hard to ignore his underperformance in some of the big games down the stretch. 

The title game loss is just one of them—the two others that stick out the most are against UNC and Clemson. Wake Forest lost the game against the Tar Heels 58-55 on Nov. 6 and fell to a Clemson team that looked lowly for the better part of the season, 48-27, on Nov. 20. The Clemson game showed more of a lack of explosiveness on offense, as Hartman completed 27-of-43 passes for 312 yards with one touchdown and one interception, unable to get going with his mobility at all as he recorded a final rushing total of -37 yards on 14 carries.

The loss to UNC in which the Tar Heels came back from a large deficit saw Hartman complete 25-of-51 passes for 398 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions. While that’s a good stat line in some aspects, those interceptions were extremely costly and were what played the primary role in allowing the Tar Heels to get a win they didn’t have any business pulling off. 

It’s been odd for Hartman, especially down the home stretch. He seems to either have a forgettable day as a passer and does just enough to get the job done or tallies good numbers but it’s hard to feel good about the misfires he accompanies them with.

Looking at the front half of the season—the first six games—Hartman completed 116-of-184 passes (63%) for 1,615 yards with 14 touchdowns and three interceptions. Looking at the final six games and including the title game, Hartman was good for 160-of-285 passes (that’s 56.1% but the fact he’s throwing the ball more than 100 times more should be taken into account), 2,309 yards, and 22 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. That’s a drastically regressed touchdown-to-interception ratio. While not all of the incompletions and interceptions are fully blamed on Hartman, a lot of them have to do with the quarterback who has been labeled as a “gunslinger” needing to take better care of the football.

Hartman’s hottest stretch came between Oct. 2, when Wake Forest defeated Louisville, 37-34, to when it defeated Duke, 45-7, on Oct. 30. In those games, Hartman threw for 324 yards at the lowest and 458 yards at the highest and his touchdown-to-interception ratio was an outstanding 13:2. The opponents over that month were Louisville, Syracuse, Army, and Duke. The following month presented some tougher competition in UNC, NC State, Clemson, and Boston College. I’m those games, Howell completed 92-of-173 passes (53.1%) for 1,236 yards with 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He had just two games (UNC and Clemson, the only two losses of the month) in which he passed for more than 300 yards.

So, is it a level of competition thing or has Hartman just hit a rough patch and needs to work on keeping the ball out of harm’s way and being more accurate? He’ll have a chance to rebound in the Gator Bowl against Texas A&M, but all signs point to him needing to stay another year with the way his draft stock has plunged over the last month.

Hartman’s highs have been exceptionally high and there’s a lot to build on, but there’s no need for the redshirt sophomore to take the jump now when he still has time to get his feet back under him by not declaring.

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