LeSean McCoy for Heisman? Why not?

By Darrell Laurant  |   Thursday, November 06, 2008  |  Comments( 0 )

Pittsburgh Panthers
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This week, it was announced that Pitt running back LeSean McCoy had been named one of 15 semifinalists for the Maxwell Trophy.

Why not take that a step further? LeSean McCoy on the short list for the Heisman? Why not?

Certainly, no one who saw McCoy's performance against Notre Dame in last Saturday's 36-33 Pitt victory would argue. It wasn't just that McCoy rushed for a career-high 169 yards -- it was the way he did it.

At the end of the first quarter, the sophomore from Harrisburg had 5 rushing yards on three carries. At the end of the third, he had 68. A lot of backs would have allowed frustration to take them over at that point, but McCoy just kept running hard and looking for holes. Eventually, they appeared, and he shredded the Irish defense down the stretch.

As a running back, McCoy has it all -- speed, balance and brute force at the point of attack. What he didn't have, early in the season, was a smoothly functioning offensive line. With All-Big East tackles Mike McGlynn and Jeff Otah and a starting guard having graduated, Dave Wannstedt had to mix and match some younger players early on in an effort to find the right combination. That learning process resulted in an embarrassing loss to Bowling Green in the season opener, as McCoy gained only 71 yards.

It wasn't until the fourth game of the season that last year's leading freshman rusher started finding the room he needed to operate. He gained 149 yards against Syracuse, followed by games of 142 (South Florida), 156 (Navy) and 146 (Rutgers).

The front-runners for the Heisman are all quarterbacks -- Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow, Graham Harrell -- with Georgia's Knowshon Moreno generally the first running back mentioned.

But McCoy has outgained Moreno this season, even with the slow start, and he has risen to the occasion in the big games -- South Florida, Notre Dame. In Georgia's two losses, against Alabama and Florida, Moreno managed 36 and 65 yards, respectively.

The 5-foot-11, 210-pound McCoy can also catch the ball out of the backfield, snagging 19 passes for 229 yards. And he has demonstrated a determination to get into the end zone, scoring 15 touchdowns.

Pitt still has a shot at the big East title, but this hasn't been a marquee season for the Panthers -- nothing like the glory days of Tony Dorsett in the late 1970s.

Although, there was this quote from Dorsett after watching McCoy play: "This is the first player who has come along who truly reminds me of me."

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