Friday, November 30, 2012
Big East: Who will transform tomorrow?
By Andrea Adelson
Who has a chance to transform tomorrow with an impact performance in the final week of the regular season?
Let's go with Pitt running back Ray Graham.
First and foremost, Graham deserves an inordinate amount of credit for coming back from a torn ACL last season and being as productive as he has been. Graham has 948 yards rushing this season, on the verge of the first 1,000-yard season of his career. His opponent Saturday is USF.
I was at the game between these two schools last season and saw Graham bust up the Bulls defense to the tune of 226 yards -- an average of 8.7 yards per carry. It was one of the finest rushing performances I had seen in quite some time.
Headed into this game, Graham has 100 yards in three of his past four contests. That includes his best performance of the season, a 172-yard rushing day against Notre Dame. That is the best rushing performance on the Irish defense all season.
Graham will finish his career as one of the most productive running backs in school history, currently ranking second in all-purpose yards (4,849), third in rushing (3,177) and eighth in scoring (204 points).
"Each guy has a story, and Ray’s story this year is not just what he’s done, but where he’s come from with a significant injury last year," coach Paul Chryst said this week. "In a team sport, anything individual is as much an acknowledgement of the team as the individual. Granted, guys do it and he’s run for so many yards and you appreciate that, but no one does it on their own, and that’s the neat thing. The teams I’ve been around and groups I’ve been around, they’ve got that. I think Ray would also admit that. I’ve seen a lineman be more proud of a 1,000-yard rusher than the back. That’s the great thing when you have a good team -- the feeling is that this is our reward. All the good teams and all the good players I’ve been around there’s been that sense. Certainly it’s still a significant milestone. He hasn’t done it yet, and we’ve got a lot certainly as a team to play for and some of these individual things that come are byproducts. The thing I love about it is you’ve got to go do it.”