Posted by Tom Fornelli
Last year Dion Lewis lit the Big East on fire, spending his freshman season running away from tacklers to the tune of 1,799 yards and 17 touchdowns en route to winning the Big East Offensive Player of the Year Award. He entered 2010 as somebody to keep an eye on as far as the Heisman Trophy was concerned, but through Pitt's first two games the Lewis that was so electrifying last season is yet to show up.
Through Pitt's first two games Lewis has 102 yards. Now, at first glance, that isn't horrible. It's not good, but at least he's averaging 50 yards a game, right?
Yes, but too bad it's taking him nearly 25 carries to get there as he's averaging only 2.9 yards a carry.
Lewis' lack of production is a big reason why the Panthers enter tonight's game against Miami -- a pivotal game for both teams -- with a record of 1-1. Lewis played well enough in the Panthers' opener against Utah, rushing for 75 yards, but how does a player so good wind up with only 27 yards on ten carries against New Hampshire ?
Lewis' play has been so lackluster that he's even in danger of losing his job, something which seemed impossible only three weeks ago. Ray Graham didn't have nearly the same troubles as Lewis did against New Hampshire, rushing for 115 yards and two scores. Now, going into tonight's game, Dave Wannstedt has called his two backs "interchangeable" and said there's no set plan on splitting carries between the two.
"We’ll go in this week knowing that they’re both going to play," said The Wannstache during this week's press conference . "But with no specific plan that Dion (Lewis) will get so many carries, and Ray (Graham) will get so many carries. If we get a hot hand, we’ll play the hot hand."
In other words, if Lewis struggles against a Canes defense that has allowed 116.5 yards a game on the ground -- 181 against Ohio State -- he could find himself on the sidelines watching Graham tonight. Which is definitely not something Dave Wannstedt wants to see. If Pitt is going to live up to the preseason hype in 2010 and have a shot at winning the Big East and get to a BCS bowl, then Dion Lewis is going to have to return to his 2009 form.
Tonight is just as good a night as any to get started.