With fifth-year starter Sam Hartman out for an undetermined amount of time, the Mitch Griffis era at Wake Forest has begun. How long the era lasts is to be determined. He was named the number one quarterback on Wednesday morning just hours after Hartman underwent a surgical procedure to fix a non-football-related medical condition.
The Mitch Griffis Era At Wake Forest Has Begun
Things have been a bit of a blur in Winston-Salem over the last 72 hours. Hartman, the undeniable team leader, was experiencing physical issues after a workout Tuesday. The consultation progressed from the team trainer to the Wake medical staff, to surgeons at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital. The team was informed by head coach Dave Clawson Tuesday of Hartman’s medical issue, prior to the surgery, and then updated later. Hartman was at Wednesday’s practice in street clothes and addressed the team even as the athletic department was putting out an opaque statement on his status.
The things we do not know are the specifics of his condition and the cause of the procedure. Those are Hartman’s details to tell, and his alone, and he may choose to never reveal them. And we do not know how long he will be out. We anticipate knowing a more definitive timeline in three to four weeks. That does not imply he will be recovered by then. But it is a reasonable approximation with the intel we have to work with, that a more definitive timeline can be garnered by then. Hartman has a benefit that could accelerate his process over others who had similar procedures. He has the entire Wake Forest University medical community at his disposal to get him through recovery and rehabilitation.
It’s Griffis’ Offense
Among the things we do know is that until that return, whenever it may be, this is Griffis’ offense to run. In all likelihood, he will be the man in charge on the field through at least the first three games. Out of conference games against VMI, Vanderbilt, and Liberty are surely his to manage.
Clawson said Wednesday he would have liked for the quarterback competition for the number two spot between Griffis and Michael Kern to have continued. But Hartman’s sudden absence necessitated an immediate decision with the season opener about three weeks away. “We kind of wanted that competition to go on, but with what happened, we kind of felt like Mitch was ahead. You’ve got to get those one reps and get him ready,” Clawson said Thursday.
His in-game stats over his two years at Wake Forest are limited, to say the least. He has appeared in eight games, redshirting two years ago. In those games, he is four of 15 passing for 56 yards and a touchdown.
Preparing To Be QB1
Griffis met with the media Thursday, his second day as QB1. He admitted that the first day was a little shaky. “Yesterday I was still kind of shell shocked. I was feeling bad for Sam. We weren’t sure what was going on,” he said. “It was a crazy 16 hours.” Thursday went better. “Today I feel like I settled in a little bit better. It kind of became a reality for me now.”
He admitted that becoming the starting quarterback in this fashion is not quite what he had envisioned. “This is definitely not how I wanted it to happen,” he said. “Especially how much I love and respect Sam.” He also acknowledged the theory that Hartman will be back at some currently unknown point of this season. “This is his team. This will be his team this year. My job and my goal is that when he’s ready, give him the keys back, ready to play in Charlotte, (for the conference championship game).
Help From Hartman
Griffis said his approach to practice remains unchanged, even as the new leader of the offense. “I’ve always prepared like I was going to one day be the starter. I feel like Sam set a good example of that. I feel like I’ve worked the hardest I can. So I can honestly say I don’t think I could have put in any more work this off-season.”
He got some words of wisdom from his predecessor. Before he left the practice facility Wednesday, Hartman gave Griffis some advice. “He said to trust the coaches, trust the system, trust your teammates, and most importantly trust yourself. That really meant a lot to me.”
Aside from preparing for VMI, there is another big change coming for Griffis. It started with the phone call to his family telling them he was the new starter for the time being. Since they go to every home game, they will now be going knowing they are going to see him as the starting quarterback. Just maybe not the entire family. “I don’t know if my mom is going to come,” he said. “I think she will be a little nervous. And I think she’ll be more nervous now that I am out there.”