Greg Ward Jr. doesn’t just have a killer name for a NASCAR driver — he moves like one on the football field, too.
After Ward’s saved the day during last season’s historic comeback at the Armed Forces Bowl, Houston head coach Tom Herman learned what type of player he had.
“He’s a dynamic dude back there,” Herman said after the spring game. “I’ve coached a few dynamic guys, and I know the defense gets pretty frustrated at times.”
The Cougars trailed 34-13, before scoring 29 in the fourth quarter to earn the win. However, Herman is still hesitant to give him the keys to his offense.
Ward is competing with senior transfer Adam Schultz to lead the Cougars next season.
Though Herman said he has no doubts about Ward’s talent, he said he wanted to see the junior quarterback develop in the film room.
“Greg’s issue is that he’s got to study more and learn to be a quarterback. You can’t just be an athlete taking snaps, running and throwing. You have to be a quarterback — you have to study, lead and know the offense and the defense inside and out. You have to be Tom Brady,” Herman said.
Herman compared Ward to highly touted Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller of Ohio State, a guy that has “grown up his entire life showing up a few minutes before the game starts, laces the cleats up, goes out on the field and (becomes) the best guy out there.”
Ward now has a new, more complicated offense to learn.
“It’s a big difference,” Ward said. “Last year I didn’t have to flip the protection. This year, I have to know what everybody is doing — the linemen, the receivers. There’s a lot of different reads on different plays. It’s just a lot.”
Ward has a full offseason to master his craft, and Herman knows it’s going to be a process.
“The preparation for those kind of guys is a bit foreign because they’ve never had to do that. We’re slowly but surely showing him how to prepare like a division one quarter back,” Herman said.
Ward shifted the tides of Houston’s 2014 season. Making his first start against conference contender Memphis,
UH found itself down 14 points on the road. Ward kicked off a comeback showcasing his ground game in a 65-yard touchdown run.
Ward led the Cougars to a 5-3 record, while completing 67.3 percent of his passes and throwing for 2010.
If Ward continues to work to be the guy who knows when to cut, when to change his pace, when to slide, and learns Herman’s offense, his future could be bright in the Third Ward.