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Thread: Heisman Factor: Pitt's Dion Lewis

      
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    Default Heisman Factor: Pitt's Dion Lewis

    Heisman Factor: Pitt's Dion Lewis

    By Anson Whaley - Contributor
    http://pittsburgh.sbnation.com/2010/...tor-dion-lewis


    Jul 15, 2010 - Entering 2010, Penn State, Pitt and West Virginia all have players they hope can have special seasons, carry their teams and, at the end of the year, be in the running for the Heisman Trophy. Evan Royster, Dion Lewis and Noel Devine have all positioned themselves well for runs at college football's most enduring symbol of greatness. Over the course of the week, we've looked at each running back, how he's positioned now, what he needs to do to keep himself and a prediction of what might ultimately happen. Today, SB Nation writer Anson Whaley takes a look at Dion Lewis.

    What has Lewis done to put himself in the Heisman discussion to this point?

    Lewis' 2009 record-breaking season catapulted him to superstar status. He rushed for 1,799 yards, breaking the freshman record of 1,686 by Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett, Pitt's best player of all time. Lewis' 18 touchdowns also broke Lesean McCoy's record of 14 set in 2007. Lewis was a workhorse last year, carrying the ball 325 times, good for second most in the nation. Since Toby Gerhart and Ryan Matthews are now in the pros, Lewis is college football's top returning rusher in terms of yards. With a first-year quarterback, Tino Sunseri, at the helm this year, Lewis will be expected to again shoulder the load and will get a chance to put up similar numbers this season.

    What does your player need to do to win the Heisman?

    Lewis will need to again put up monster numbers and likely will need to lead the nation in rushing. To do that, he'll need to stay healthy and figure out how to work behind a retooled offensive line. Part of the equation, however, will depend on Pitt. The team will need to have success to keep the nation's spotlight on Lewis, and if Pitt falters early, it could cost him. The voters are impressed by big numbers, and Lewis will want to make sure he gets into the end zone when Pitt is down at the goal line to rack up touchdowns.

    What might keep Lewis from winning the Heisman?

    Other than injury, the factor most likely to keep Lewis from winning is Pitt's record. If the Panthers lose too many games, voters might look to stars on better teams. I think Lewis can stay in the hunt with two or maybe even three losses. Remember, Larry Fitzgerald finished second in 2003 when Pitt lost five times.

    Alternatively, if Pitt jumps out to big leads against teams early, Lewis will likely be rested. Panther fans saw an example of that several times last year when Lewis averaged 25 carries per game, but only rushed 20 times in a 38-3 win over Youngstown State, 21 times in a 31-10 win over Louisville, and 18 times in a 37-10 victory over Syracuse.

    To a lesser degree, Lewis could also be hurt by the presence of fellow Pitt running back Ray Graham. Graham would start for many D-I teams, and Wannstedt will surely give him some carries this year. Last season, he received 61 carries and that number could have been higher if not for some fumbling issues. Graham will get his share of looks this season and that might hurt Lewis in the long run.

    Finally, Lewis will need to deal with a new quarterback and a new offensive line.

    Predictions

    In order to have a shot at winning the Heisman, Lewis needs to stay healthy, Pitt needs to succeed, and Sunseri needs to make the passing game a viable threat. In addition, the offensive line will feature three new starters, and defenses will focus on Lewis even more this season. When it's all said and done, I expect Lewis to be a finalist this year in New York at the Heisman presentation, but guaranteeing a player will win the award before the season has even started is a bit foolish. I'll place his chances at somewhere between 30% - 40% to bring home the trophy.
    Last edited by Skeeter; Jul-16-2010 at 11:20 AM.

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    Default Re: Heisman Factor: Pitt's Dion Lewis

    Heisman Factor: West Virginia's Noel Devine

    By Aaron Hawley - Contributor
    http://pittsburgh.sbnation.com/2010/...or-noel-devine


    In part two of SB Nation Pittsburgh's "Heisman Factor" series, we take a look at West Virginia running back Noel Devine and his chances at winning the Heisman Trophy in 2010.

    What has Devine done to put himself in the Heisman discussion to this point?

    Four years ago Noel Devine arrived on campus in Morgantown as arguably the most high-profile recruit in the school's history. In his first three seasons Devine grew from a change of pace back to the featured runner in Bill Stewart's offense, filling highlight reels with long touchdowns and ankle breaking moves. Simply put, Devine is one of the most exciting players in not just the Big East, but in all of college football. The 1,465 rushing yards that Devine posted last season is the fourth most in school history, and Devine currently sits at fifth all time on WVU's career rushing list. Barring injury, Devine looks certain to finish his career as one of WVU's top three rushers of all time.

    What does Devine need to do to win the Heisman?

    The first step is to get Devine the ball early and often. He has only averaged 17 carries a game throughout the last two seasons, something Bill Stewart has taken quite a bit of flack for when the team's not winning. There have always been doubts about Devine's size and durability, so WVU has always shied away from giving him the 25-plus carries per game his talents deserve. For Devine to even be invited to New York at the season's end he has to put up gaudy numbers, something along the lines of 1,600 yards rushing and 20-plus touchdowns. The yardage could come if WVU gives him the ball enough, but the touchdowns might not. Ryan Clarke looks to handle the goal line duties this year, so we could see a lot of Mountaineer drives that are propelled by Devine but finished by Clarke.

    What might keep Noel Devine from winning the Heisman?

    The first strike against Devine is that his jersey says "West Virginia" on the front. While the best player on Texas, Florida, USC or Oklahoma may start the year on top of the Heisman leader board, Devine will have to work his way into the discussion. A scintillating early season performance in primetime against LSU could put his name into the discussion early, but to stay there, he'll have to post great numbers week in and week out. I'm not talking "very good" numbers, I'm talking borderline science-fiction numbers. Many college football pundits and Heisman voters won't be watching the ‘Eers, so Devine's stat lines will need to be so impressive they jump out of the box score the next day. If Coach Bill Stewart decides to go with a 50/50 platoon with Devine sharing the carries with power-back Clarke, then Devine may not get the touches to make it happen. Devine also needs to lead the Mountaineers to a one-loss season, or better, to be considered. Heisman voters don't flock to players who lead their teams to 8-4 records and third place conference finishes.

    Predictions

    I would love to say "this is going to happen" or even "I could see this happening", but I just can't. West Virginia has never had a Heisman winner, and I just don't expect to see it happen in 2010. While the ‘Eers definitely will field a squad capable of a Top Ten finish, I just don't see good ole number seven hoisting college football's most prestigious trophy. The best ‘Eers fans can ask for is that Devine is in the running for the Heisman throughout the season, which would send an important message to potential recruits: come to WVU and run the football. The true test of Noel Devine this season won't even come on the field, but in the locker room. It's now his turn to be the Mountaineers' leader and hopefully lead the team to a Big East Championship and a return to the bright lights of a BCS bowl game.
    Last edited by Skeeter; Jul-16-2010 at 11:19 AM.

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    Default Re: Heisman Factor: Pitt's Dion Lewis

    Heisman Factor: Penn State's Evan Royster

    By Adam Bittner - Contributor
    http://pittsburgh.sbnation.com/2010/...r-evan-royster

    What has Royster done to put himself in the Heisman discussion to this point?

    Adam: Simply put, if Evan Royster repeats the production he's provided for Penn State over his first three years, he has the potential to graduate with the best career by a Penn State running back ever. With all the talented running backs who have played for the Nittany Lions, that's quite a statement. Sure, many have posted better seasons than Royster has to this point, but he stands only 480 yards from Curt Warner's Nittany Lions career record of 3,398. Does a career track record like Royster's win a Heisman Trophy? No, but he could be in the discussion at year's end.

    Jeff: Royster has been Penn State's featured running back for the past two years. In 2008 he rushed for more than 1,200 yards while scoring 12 touchdowns. Last year his yards stayed steady while his number of carries increased, but his six yard per carry average over his career remains extremely impressive. In addition to his obvious rushing abilities, Royster is a leader on and off the field, heading an impressive corps of running backs in Happy Valley. Without Royster, whose return was uncertain at the end of 2009, the offense would be on even shakier ground for 2010.

    What does your player need to do to win the Heisman?

    Jeff: Not to take away from Mark Ingram, Sam Bradford, or other recent winners, but the Heisman trophy has become a glorified "Most Popular Player" contest in recent years. The trophy will go to the biggest name on a top-10 team. Still, Royster is close, statistically (his 2008 stats were only 400 yards and five touchdowns fewer than Ingram's 2009 Heisman-winning numbers), and if he stays above six yards per carry and gets his double digit touchdown tally, he could be in the hunt come December.
    Adam: He's going to have to put up video game stats. Let's face it, the 2010 Nittany Lions probably won't compete for a national title like they did in 2008, and perhaps not even a Big Ten title like they did in 2009, so Royster needs to stick out to be in the conversation with key players on teams in the national title hunt. He's been around for a long time, and he'll likely have an outstanding season as Penn State's offensive workhorse, but the Heisman is a level that's difficult to reach for a player not on a championship-contending team. Unless Penn State is better than expected, Royster needs to have a year like the one Larry Johnson had in 2002.

    What might keep Royster from winning the Heisman?

    Adam: As we both mentioned above, the success of his team will play a role. Royster might be ruled out of the Heisman race quickly if Penn State drops early contests against Alabama and Iowa.

    Jeff: Two major factors will keep Royster from winning, neither of which are within his control. First, although Penn State's offense focuses on the ground game, it doesn't focus on one player. Joe Paterno isn't one to run up the score, and if a game is out of hand, the starters will have long been pulled for the reserves. Because of this, Royster will not get the number of touches necessary to take home the trophy. Second, players like Stephfon Green, Curtis Dukes and Silas Redd are too good to not be on the field, and every touch they get is one less for Royster. Outside of that, there is really nothing Royster doesn't do on the field; his only real flaw is his lack of breakaway speed.

    Predictions

    Jeff: Each week during the year, ESPN's "experts" cast first-through fifth-place Heisman mock ballots. In 2005, Michael Robinson had a fair number of votes, but no one that year was going to top Reggie Bush and Vince Young on the leaderboard. In 2010, provided Royster stays healthy and produces like usual, he'll likely get a couple fifth- and fourth-place votes in ESPN's poll, but he probably won't be invited to the New York trophy presentation in December. This is disappointing, since few can argue Royster's importance to the 2010 Nittany Lions team.

    Adam: If Penn State turns out to be the team most expect it to be (somewhere between 8-4 and 10-2), it's going to be tough for Royster to get enough momentum early on to be considered a candidate from the start. With early tilts against Alabama and Iowa, both teams that should throw stout run defenses at him, it's difficult to see him putting up attention-grabbing numbers. Of course, if he plays a significant role in beating one or both of those teams, it could propel him to the front of the Heisman class early in the year, and with a softer schedule the rest of the way, he'll have the opportunity to stay there. Ultimately, though, the chances of Royster getting that New York invite appear unlikely.

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