Sunday, February 28, 2010
Quest for 2000- Dion Lewis
What is the term that Mr. Vitale uses to to describe a phenomenal freshman? Oh, that's right! Diaper Dandy. Well consider Dion Lewis of the Pitt Panthers to be just that. All this 'diaper dandy' did in the year after he graduated high school was lead the Big East in rushing, lead all freshman (redshirt or true) in rushing, and finish third in the country in rushing yards with 1,799 to go along with 17 touchdowns.
That is utterly amazing for anyone but even more impressive considering last year this guy was playing football in high school. What makes his performance even more spectacular is that he played in a major conference and stand 5'8 and weighs just 195 pounds!
Dion Lewis was expected to help Pitt with the sting of losing LeSean McCoy to the Philadelphia Eagles, along with the help of several other more highly recruited 'backs. At the end of the year, people were definitely not feeling any loss at all.
Lewis is just another example of this rash of scatback-sized tailbacks who are small, quick, and thickly built. They are small enough to hide behind their blockers, quick enough to burst through the smallest seams, and strong enough to shoulder some carries.
With that said, here is a breakdown of the pros and cons on Dion Lewis becoming the next 2000 yard rusher in college football:
Averaged 25 carries per game
Returns 3 Offensive Line starters
Returns former starting quarterback (P. Bostick) and top receiver
1 47 carry game
100+ yard games- 10 20+ carry games- 11 Avg. yards per game- 138
Returns top fullback
Good defense allows him to run deep into games
Analysis: Lewis is the true definition of a workhorse. One thing Lewis has to look forward to next year is that he returns 3 offensive lineman, returns a former starting quarterback in Pat Bostick, the team's top receiving target in Jonathan Baldwin, and even his bruising fullback, the Polish Plow, Henry Hynoski.
Lewis showed that he could handle the bulk of the carries by averaging 25 carries per game topping off at 47 carries against Cincinnati. He had ten 100+ yard games, 11 with 20+ carries, and averaged a monstrous 138 yards per game. Another point is that with a good defense, he should be getting carries deep into a game to eat up some clock instead of having his quarterback wing the ball around to get back in the game.
No 200 yard games
Loses starting quarterback
Loses top two TEs (Dickerson & Byham)
Analysis: Now not having a 200+ yard game will not mean the end to a possible 2,000 yard rushing season but it certainly helps to build a cushion. Lewis is a very quick back and had his fair share of long runs which helps him to keep a good YPC. Losing Bill Stull could end up hurting Dion more than anything else. Having the ability to throw on defenses to keep them honest definitely helped Lewis. Another possible setback is that Pitt loses their top two TEs in Dorin Dickerson and Nate Byham. Now Dickerson was more of a receiver but is still quite a loss with his ability to keep defenses from crowding the box. However, losing Byham could hurt more because of his excellent blocking.
Overall I think that Lewis got the workload to show that he could make it to 2,000. His team will most likely go to a bowl game which helps his chances. Also his team likes to run the ball heavily. However, with a new quarterback in place, teams might be keying on him a bit more. I still think he has an excellent chance to break the 2,000 yard barrier in his second year.