Editor’s Note: This post was written by Stewart Flaherty, a Coach, Sports Psychologist, and Writer. His Twitter can be found here.
10 Snap Review: Sam Hartman, QB (Wake Forest) November 27th, 2021: 41-10 win at Boston College to clinch ACC Atlantic Division title
In our 10 snap review series, we evaluate individual players and break down the most important 10 snaps in a given game. In this article, we focus in on the performance of redshirt sophomore Sam Hartman, the quarterback of the #18 nationally ranked Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
Hartman rallied his team with an animated speech on the sidelines before kickoff at Alumni Stadium. The Demon Deacons would need little motivation for this game against the Boston College Eagles, already knowing that a win would clinch the ACC Atlantic Division for only the second time in program history, and for the first time since 2021.
The sun was shining in Chestnut Hill, but the weather was 41 degrees (felt like 30), with wind that gusted at a high of 33mph to provide a test to the arm strength of both quarterbacks. Lining up against Hartman for this game was Phil Jurkovec, a man that noted draft guru Mel Kiper had touted as a top 10 quarterback prospect for the 2022 draft as reported by USA Today.
Hartman and the Demon Deacon offense would likely set a high pace for Jurkovec to keep up with, with the offense ranked fourth for scoring in the country, averaging over 43 points per game.
SNAP 1 - 1st Quarter, 11:01. 1st & 10 at Wake Forest 41 yard line. Wake 0-0 Boston
With three wide receivers bunched on the right side of the formation, Hartman took the shotgun snap and opened his hips and shoulders to illustrate a throw to running back Quinton Cooley in the flat. The fake drew in Eagle linebacker Bryce Steele who charged towards Cooley, clearing out a passing lane for Hartman to zip a pass to A.T. Perry on an in pattern who caught the ball eight yards past the line of scrimmage and turned it into a 17 yard gain.
Hartman showed good body adjustment and ability to look off defenders on the play, before feeding star receiver Perry his 53rd catch of the season.
SNAP 2 - 1st Quarter, 8:40. 2nd & Goal at Boston College 7 yard line. Wake 0-0 Boston
After a false start penalty backed the Deacons up to the seven yard line, Hartman faked a handoff to Cooley and shaped to throw what looked like a screen pass out to tight end Blake Whiteheart. Boston College defensive end Marcus Valdez filled the passing lane, but Hartman sprinted out of the lineman’s grasp before splitting two defenders and breaking the tackle of Mike Palmer at the three yard line and barreling over the goal line with a tough second effort. Kicker Nick Sciba tacked on the extra point to put the Demon Deacons up 7-0.
ESPN announcer Tim Hasselbeck noted that the play was not a designed run, and Hartman had shown good improvisational ability to bring down the ball and make a good scoring run without a lead blocker. The score was Hartman’s 10th rushing touchdown of the season, meaning he joined an elite club of four ACC quarterback’s to pass for 30+ and run for 10+ touchdowns in a single season. The other notable gunslingers in that group being Tajh Boyd (Clemson, 2012 & 2013), Deshaun Watson (Clemson, 2015) and Lamar Jackson (Louisville, 2016).
SNAP 3 - 1st Quarter, 7:36. 1st & 10 at Wake Forest 25 yard line. Wake 7-0 Boston
This snap illustrated one aspect of Hartman’s game that will draw scrutiny of scouts at the next level. As ESPN announcer Hasselbeck pointed out on the broadcast, the Boston College defense had spent the week practicing getting their hands up at the line of scrimmage knowing that Hartman had thrown 50 balls so far this season that were tipped while in the air.
Behind good protection, Hartman dropped back and aimed a pass in the direction of wide receiver Donald Stewart who was running an in route. Defender Jaiden Woodley broke up the play by disengaging from his blocker and raising his left hand to bat the pass out of the air.
SNAP 4 - 1st Quarter, 5:03. 1st & 10 at Boston College 33 yard line. Wake 7-0 Boston
After Eagle quarterback Jurkovec threw an interception, Hartman and the Deacons took over at their own 40 yard line. A run from Cooley, pass interference penalty and then a 12 yard scamper from Hartman moved the ball to the Boston 33 yard line to set up this scoring play.
Hartman took the shotgun snap and drew in the defense by putting the ball in runningback Cooley’s stomach and taking two steps forward before drawing the ball back out and drilling a pass to a streaking Perry at the 21 yard line. Star receiver Perry did the rest of the work, outpacing the defensive backfield and diving past Elijah Jones at the pylon for his 12th receiving score of the season.
SNAP 5 - 2nd Quarter, 14:31. 4th & 3 at Boston College 36 yard line. Wake 14-7 Boston
The Eagles had trimmed the lead back to seven points with a scoring strike from Jurkovec to rangy tight end Trae Barry. After a long kick return from Taylor Morin, running back Christian Beal-Smith ran for seven yards in two plays before an incompletion brought up fourth down.
Coach Dave Clawson trusted his young quarterback to convert and Hartman responded by standing in the pocket calmly and zipping a first down strike to Brandon Chapman coming across the middle.
The conversion ultimately led to Wake restoring a two score lead as a 15 yard pass from Hartman to Ke’Shawn Williams on 3rd & 19 set up Sciba to knock over a 43 yard field goal, putting the Deacons up 17-7.
SNAP 6 - 2nd Quarter, 4:23. 3rd & 6 at Boston College 15 yard line. Wake 17-10 Boston
This was a negative play from Hartman with this snap, as he took a shotgun snap and looped an interception into the hands of defensive back Brandon Sebastian in the corner of the end zone. Hartman will get some leeway for the fact that Perry slipped on this play and was on the ground as the ball arrived, but the pass was not a tight spiral and was wobbling in the stiff wind as it arrived in the hands of Sebastian.
SNAP 7 - 2nd Quarter, 0:16. 3rd & 4 at Boston College 7 yard line. Wake 17-10 Boston
This play was a dagger to the Eagles, sending Wake Forest into halftime with a 14 point deficit. Hartman collected the shotgun snap and threw a quick release pass to Perry who was open in the end zone.
The play displayed the timing and rapport between Hartman and Perry, as did the fact that this score meant Perry now owned the outright school record for touchdown catches in a single season with 13. As the teams ran down the tunnel for halftime, the connection between Hartman and Perry had been the focal point of the game, with the star wideout having reeled in four catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns so far.
SNAP 8 - 3rd Quarter, 4:57. 2nd & 10 at Wake Forest 43 yard line. Wake 27-10 Boston
With the game now slipping away from Boston College, they played good pass coverage, forcing Hartman to scan his options on the right side of the field before tucking the ball away, making Donovan Ezeiruaku miss and running out of bounds on the left sideline for an 18 yard gain that sapped the morale of the defense.
While he certainly does not carry the running threat of Ravens quarterback Jackson, this play displayed the ability to move in the pocket and gain ground that gives opponents an added dimension to game plan against. Former NFL passer Hasselbeck described the impact such plays had on defenders during the ESPN broadcast. “You finally cover these big wide receivers and you force him to hold the football, then he’s able to escape, it’s such a back breaker.”
SNAP 9 - 3rd Quarter, 3:21. 3rd & 6 at Boston College 35 yard line. Wake 27-10 Boston
This was a snap that showed the chain reaction problems caused by the running ability of Hartman. After receiving the shotgun snap, Hartman felt the heat of the pass rush and escaped the pocket to scramble left while looking towards the end zone. Downfield, cornerback Jones stepped forward to play the run, allowing receiver Jaquarii Roberson to slip behind and catch a lofted throw for a 32 yard gain to the BC three yard line.
Hasselbeck again explained the conundrum faced by defenders when facing a mobile quarterback, observing that the defender was “thinking he’s gonna take off and run with it, and so he cuts his man loose and it creates a huge opportunity in the passing game.”
Wake Forest continued to put the game out of reach on the very next snap, when Christian Turner powered over the goal line to extend the Deacons lead to 34-10.
SNAP 10 - 4th Quarter, 11:17. 3rd & Goal at Boston College 2 yard line. Wake 34-10
As the Demon Deacons closed in once more for a score, Hartman faked a jet sweep handoff to Roberson and floated a touchdown pass to a wide open Whiteheart and brought the score to the final count of 41-10. The pass made Hartman only the ninth quarterback in ACC history to throw 34 touchdown passes in a single season.
While marshalling an up-tempo and high octane offense for the majority of the game and season, this drive showed game management ability from Hartman. With the game now out of reach for the Eagles, this score capped a 14 play, 62 yard drive that milked over six minutes off the clock. On the next drive, Hartman would be subbed out late in a 13 play drive that burned the final 9:41 of game clock.
After being withdrawn from the game, Hartman celebrated excitedly with the travelling fans who showed him even more love back, and coach Clawson expressed his fondness for his quarterback in the postgame interviews with ESPN.
“He’s just everything that’s right about college football. He cares about his teammates, he’s a great quarterback, he’s a great leader and he’s unselfish,” said Clawson.
When asked by Kelsey Riggs of ESPN postgame what it meant to play in the ACC championship game next week, Hartman replied “it means everything. I’m standing next to the guy that gave me an opportunity to do this. You hear our fans, it felt like a home game in some aspects and we’re so excited to get back to Charlotte (for the championship game). For coach, this is what he wanted to do and I’m just so happy for him.”
With two years of eligibility remaining if he chooses to use it, Hartman appears to be a high quality NFL draft prospect. Mastering the conditions that included a wind so strong it sometimes moved the ball as the teams huddled, Hartman went 20 of 32 for 236 yards and three touchdowns, also throwing the interception that came when Perry slipped to the ground. On the ground, the young gunslinger moved well in the pocket and also rushed for 51 yards and another score.
For perspective, opposing quarterback Jurkovec, a redshirt junior who transferred in from Notre Dame completed just three of 11 passes with one touchdown and also floated up two interceptions. Jurkovec had more success on the ground, leading his team with 66 rushing yards.
The leadership of Hartman has been a key part of what is a historic season for the Demon Deacons. On top of only the second ACC Atlantic Division title, the team has won seven ACC games for the first time in school history, and posted 10 wins overall for only the second time in school history.
Statistically, Hartman has also written himself into the Wake Forest history books, setting the pace for career touchdown passes, touchdown passes in a single season and also posting the highest ever passing yardage total in one season.
When looked at by NFL scouts, they will be impressed with his character, ability to move into the pocket and make plays with his legs. There are stronger armed quarterbacks but his ability to make the right read and get the ball to its destination is beyond question. One area that would have to improve is the number of passes batted at the line of scrimmage, be that through better decisions or a higher release point.
Next week, Hartman will face off with another highly rated quarterback on NFL draft boards, with ESPN draft analyst Kiper naming Pitt signal caller Kenny Pickett as the number one quarterback prospect in November.
Hartman and the Demon Deacons will face off against Pickett and the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte on Saturday at 8pm US eastern time (ABC).