Monday, October 17, 2011
Richardson deserves Heisman supremacy
By Edward Aschoff
I found out something very interesting this morning when I went to check my overcrowded Gmail inbox.
Sitting there was a message from friend, colleague and soccer enthusiast here at ESPN informing me that fellow SEC blogger Chris Low and I were the only ones to have Alabama running back Trent Richardson at the top of our Heisman ballots for this week.
(Full disclosure: he’s been at the top of mine for the past two weeks.)
Jokes went back and forth between us as he let me know that our SEC bias was showing and I simply told him that I put the best player in the country at the top of the list for the most prestigious award in the sport.
Trent Richardson ran around and through the Ole Miss defense on Saturday.
How only two people could see that at this point is baffling. Yes, Andrew Luck continues to be spectacular and Kellen Moore probably doesn’t -- and won’t -- get the respect he deserves.
But to put them, or anyone, ahead of Richardson right now is totally bogus.
After his 17-carry, 183-yard, four-touchdown performance against Ole Miss, he leads the SEC and is fourth nationally in rushing (912), yards per game (130.3) and is third in the nation with 15 rushing touchdowns and with 13.7 points per game.
Seven of his rushing touchdowns have come against SEC opponents and he’s currently averaging 149 yards against conference foes.
However, if that wasn’t enough to nail his name to the top of a ballot, how about his scintillating 76-yard touchdown run against Ole Miss? Every candidate needs his Heisman moment and Richardson had his Saturday when he showed off all the tools that make him great.
First, it was his strength and agility that got him to shake a defender -- who had the audacity to try to arm tackle Richardson deep in his own backfield -- and cut to his left. Next, with his legs churning, his explosiveness took over; guiding him through two more tackle attempts before he even crossed the line of scrimmage.
With him in total flight, his keen eyesight kicked in, allowing him to see the Ole Miss defenders fading one direction so he cut to his right about 30 yards away from where the play originated.
But it wasn’t until he made everyone’s jaw fall to the floor that he had his moment.
Right at about the 14-yard line, Richardson saw Ole Miss cornerback Senquez Golson trying to stop him. Instead of running out of bounds or trying to bowl him over, Richardson faked like he was going to cut around behind Golson, but right as Golson went right, Richardson juked back toward the end zone and sprinted into the end zone. He left Golson stumbling to the turf -- ankles removed -- and throwing his arms up in disgust once Richardson scored.
The only thing that would have made Richardson’s run better was if Duke Tango from the AND1 Mixtape Tour breaking out an “OOOOOOOOOHHHHHHH BABY!!” after Golson was shaken out of his cleats.
And what did Richardson say about his tantalizing play? He said it wasn’t even his best run. That he could have done better. That he was proud of his blockers.
“I had to get in the end zone some type of way,” Richardson said. “I couldn’t let them blocks go to waste.”
Come on! Showboat a little!
No boasting or bragging. He never really complimented himself other than to say that it was a nice run.
It is so hard to find such a humble individual who is blessed with such talent, but we have Richardson.
The junior, who has now rushed for more than 100 yards in six straight games and needs one more to break Shaun Alexander’s school record of seven set in 1999, is built like a tank, but runs like a track star and is proving to be the best player the SEC has to offer.
The scary thing is that he thinks he can get better … and he’s probably right.