Dion Lewis missed the entire FIU game because of a previous undisclosed/embargoed shoulder injury (“…He didn’t practice all week but as per policy, we weren’t allowed to write about it, ask about it, hint it…”).
Ray Graham ran wild over FIU. As soon as the game was over, Coach Wannstedt tried to defuse any controversy by declaring that Lewis would be the starter against ND if he’s healthy. Though, he did hedge to say that Graham had earned the right to an equal number of starts.
Naturally that did nothing to diffuse any controversy.
You have a tailback that ran for 1799 yards last year, was a workhorse and while his production has been poor behind the weak O-line and teams keying on him; his work-ethic and effort has been there. Lewis missed the game because of an injury and the unwritten rule — especially for old-school football guys — is you don’t lose your job after an injury.
Then there is Ray Graham. He has been highly effective in relief. There are plenty of caveats about a change in the offense, and less pressure on him. But you can’t ignore his production, which has been Lewis-esque of last year. In the start versus FIU, he still put up 104 yards just in the first half. This despite ineffective passing and FIU stacking against the run.
I’m a big Dion Lewis fan. He has a great story as the unheralded recruit that stunned everyone. He has done nothing but good things on and off the field. He has not complained in the face of a pathetic O-line, play-calling that keeps him running up the middle into a brick wall, and an offense that takes no pressure off of him.
That said, I would go with Ray Graham to start. He’s hot right now, and it might give Lewis more of a chance to come in as the change-of-pace back rather than the starting, featured back. Something that might help Lewis really get on-track.