BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The following is a commentary blog from WBRC FOX6 News Sports Anchor Rick Karle:
What with the home stretch of the college football season upon us, it's about time for Heisman voters like me to start crunching the numbers to get a better idea about what three players will be written on that Heisman ballot in late November. As I look over the statistics as well as various Heisman polls, I have come to two obvious conclusions: Alabama tailback Derrick Henry is lacking the love, and that November 7 game between the Crimson Tide and the LSU Tigers will go a long way toward separating the Heisman contenders from the pretenders.
Let's crunch some numbers. I think it is fair to say that you, like me, would put LSU's Leonard Fournette at the top of your Heisman list. Throw in names such as Derrick Henry, Ezekiel Elliott, Trevone Boykin, and Christian McCaffrey and you have quite a list. My gripe? Henry is either lying on the fringe or AWOL from many Heisman prediction lists. How about some comparisons?
SEC Rushing Leaders through October 24:
1. Leonard Fournette: 1352 yards, 15 touchdowns, yards/carry: 7.68
2. Derrick Henry: 1044 yards, 14 touchdowns, yards/carry: 5.80
3. Alex Collins: 787 yards, 7 touchdowns, yards/carry: 5.25
NCAA National Rushing Leaders through October 24
1. Leonard Fournette, LSU: 1352 yards
2. Tyler Ervin, San Jose St: 1158 yards
3. Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State: 1130 yards
4. Brian Hill, Wyoming: 1061 yards
5. Derrick Henry, Alabama: 1044 yards
There's no denying that Fournette has been sensational, but Henry is perhaps just as impressive in an offense that is more dimensional than LSU. And Henry continues to pound away, putting up better numbers through eight games than Heisman winner Mark Ingram. Take a look at some of Henry's other superlatives:
*His 2,416 career rushing yards ranks him 12th in Alabama history
*Henry has scored at least one touchdown in 13 straight games, the longest current streak in the nation
*The streak of a TD scored in 13 straight games is three more than the previous UA mark set by Terry Davis in 1971-1972
*After rushing for 143 yards vs. Tennessee, Henry has rushed for over 100 yards five times this season and ten times in his career
*Those 10 games of 100 yards or more ranks Henry 8th on the all-time Bama career list
*As a starting tailback, Henry has rushed for 1,252 yards and 16 touchdowns in his career and hailed in 11 catches for 132 yards (12 yards/catch)
With all of this (and he's not done), the big guy seems to be lacking some love from the Heismanologists. Take a look at the ESPN Heisman Watch poll through last Saturday:
1. Leonard Fournette, LSU RB 50 Pts
2. Trevone Boykin, TCU QB 38 Pts
3. Christian McCaffrey, Stanford RB 17 Pts
4. Corey Coleman, Baylor WR 16 Pts
5. Ezekial Elliott, Ohio State RB 14 Pts
6. Derrick Henry, Alabama RB 9 Pts
While Fournette stands a unanimous number one in the ESPN poll, Henry could muster only a few third place and a slew of fifth place votes. While I know these other candidates are talented young men, I'm putting Henry #2 on my list (for now) with Boykin third (Boykin's numbers are ridiculous: 297 yds of offense and 30 TD's).
So who wins the Heisman in 2015? It may all come down to November 7 in Tuscaloosa. A big game from Fournette against the nation's top defensive line (average rushing yards allowed per game: 70) will pretty much crown the big guy from LSU the Heisman winner. But what if Fournette runs for say, 70 yards while Henry breaks loose for 180 yards and 2 TD's? Then, my friend, we will have more talking to do. Both of these fine young men will be on the national stage on November 7 with more than the SEC's western division race at stake. If I'm Henry, I'm sucking up to my defensive line over the next ten days. If the Alabama "Great Wall" can shut down Fournette, (while Henry does his thing), don't be surprised if #2 hoists the Heisman come early December. Then Derrick Henry can take all of those big linemen out to dinner.