After five weeks of play, the ACC‘s set a pretty high standard for who belongs on this list. Among the criteria: have zero losses (as four — sort-of five teams do), be your team’s undisputed best player and in one case, giving us what could be a “Heisman moment.” Have other nominees? Submit your ballots below.
Boyd’s made a habit of making opponent demolitions look easy, and that goes double for Saturday’s win over Wake Forest. Throwing just 24 passes, he still managed 311 yards and three scores. Rushing an uncharacteristic 17 times, he still ended up amassing 69 yards on the ground, with another TD thrown in for good measure. As everyone well knows by now, he’s a machine. And we’re so used to his success for the past three years that the gravity of his performances don’t even register anymore. It’s unfair, but it also sets you up well to be a Heisman frontrunner at times (like this one).
A bye week may have actually done Bridgewater a favor, as most players got a full week to catch up to his astronomical statistics, yet still couldn’t. Through four games, he’s been absolutely clinical in his execution — easily one of the best playmakers in the country, even in what amounts to half-games for the most part. If he’s going to move up in the national conversation though, he needs the rest of the teams on Louisville’s schedule to pick it up a little bit. You can’t amass a Heisman resume blowing out a team destined for 2-10 every week, even if your numbers are as good as his have been.
That sloppiness that’s been hinted at over the past couple weeks? Still there for the entire FSU team, Winston included, as we saw in last week’s oddly close victory over Boston College. And as much as that game may have given way to some doubts about the ‘Noles, it actually ended up pleading the case for Winston’s abilities above all else, and maybe even handed out what could be his “Heisman moment.” Tied at 17 with just a few seconds left in the second quarter, Winston unleashed a pressured Hail Mary to Kenny Shaw, which he completed for a touchdown. The feat of pure athleticism was a microcosm of what makes the true freshman such a force on the game, and a leader for this team.
Brown and Maryland have had it pretty easy up until now, but that all changes in a few days against Florida State. Though FSU’s had some defensive struggles, they’re still a top-notch group, the likes of which this team hasn’t really faced yet. If Brown can dissect them the way he’s done to everyone else, well, then we’re talking about a truly special season. Both he and the Terps have only received moderate praise thus far, but a win here would help solidify the resumes of both in the national conversation.
Johnson’s been quietly assembling another solid season, and due to his team being undefeated, he gets the nod here over some of the league’s other skilled playmakers. He’s also suffering from some of the same issues as our other top stars — stellar performances that seem ho-hum (we’re too used to them) and half-games on account of blowouts. On top of being the second-leading rusher in the ACC, he’s been piling up kick return yardage, and would have more if not for a holding call against USF. Early in the second quarter, a nearly 100-yard dash was completely negated due to the penalty — a fact that Johnson’s probably keenly aware of.