Saquon Barkley, Baker Mayfield, and Derwin James have all been brought up in the preseason Heisman trophy conversation, and for good reason.
None of them are going to win because of one reason: Derrius Guice.
On 183 carries last season, Guice rushed for 1,387 yards over 12 games and 15 TDs. Half of those games were for over 100 yards, and he really burst onto the scene and made a name for himself with the national crowd. There were plenty of nights where he had to put LSU’s offense on his back, especially with the poor quarterback play. While the numbers may not suggest Heisman hype, there is one other major factor that still needs to be taken into account: Guice did all of this while being Leonard Fournette’s backup.
Sure, Fournette only played seven games, but he still put up 843 yards on 129 carries while dealing with ankle issues the whole season. And although he did not always play for the duration of games and had less carries than Guice, no one was questioning who the tigers’ main man was. Now, with Fournette having moved on to the NFL, this is officially Guice’s team, and it’s his year to take home the Heisman trophy.
Not convinced Guice should be the Heisman favorite? Consider his numbers if you take Fournette off of last year’s team and add them onto Guice’s:
312 carries, 2,230 yards, 23 TDs 7.1 YPC.
Those numbers are eerily similar to 2015 Heisman Trophy winner, Derrick Henry:
395 carries, 2,219 yards, 28 TDs, 5.6 YPC.
Now, I’m not saying Guice is definitively going to put up that specific stat line; LSU has other running backs (including Fournette’s younger brother), and that stat line would be a lot to ask for from any college player. Nevertheless, it’s feasible to see him getting 300+ carries with over 2,000 yards in a run-heavy offense, no? If that happens, the only thing standing in his way of CFB’s biggest prize is someone else having a similarly dominant statistical season.
Others will put up great seasons. I find it hard to believe there is a precedent for anyone to have nearly the type of season Guice is lined up to have for LSU.
All stats courtesy FoxSports.
Cover photo courtesy tiggerrag.com.