Commentary

Icing On The Cake

Originally Published: November 19, 2007
By Bruce Feldman

1. The Heisman is about dominance. Take a look at the field of hopefuls: Would every coach take Dennis Dixon over Tim Tebow? Not likely. Is Darren McFadden even the best running back at Arkansas? Debatable.

But there's no question Glenn Dorsey is always the most dominant player on the field. Says an SEC coach, "There isn't much difference between the top running backs or quarterbacks, but the gap between Dorsey and every other D-lineman is huge. There is no one as good at what they do."

2. Defensive tackles aren't supposed to rack up big numbers. Their job is to hunker down in the middle of the line and take on all comers. For example, Charger Jamal Williams had just two sacks the past two seasons and was a Pro Bowler each year. But the 6'2", 305-pound Dorsey, despite double-teams on nearly every play, is LSU's sixth-leading tackler and is tops with five sacks. Says one SEC head coach: "He's the most explosive big man we've had in the league in a very long time. If you don't account for him on every play, you're crazy. He'll ruin your day, and you'll never get plays off."

3. During the past two seasons, LSU is 19—3 while playing in the toughest conference in college football. Dorsey is literally in the middle of that success. "Most of the plays we make as a team are because of him," says defensive end Tyson Jackson.

4. Last year, Dorsey and Jackson combined to make 18.5 tackles for losses. But this season, as opponents overload to stop the duo (they have 12 TFLs through eight games), LSU's back seven have 28 TFLs, already surpassing their total from 2006.

5. "The guy is the total package," says Bo Pelini, LSU's defensive coordinator and a former assistant for three NFL teams. "He has the athleticism of a 275-pounder and the power of a guy 320." Adds LSU head coach Les Miles, an ex-Cowboys assistant: "I saw the Reggie Whites and Michael Strahans, and Dorsey fares well in those comparisons. Period."

6. Playing defensive tackle is like fighting three guys in a Mini Cooper. Against Middle Tennessee State, Dorsey beat a triple-team for a sack, although he didn't know he beat three guys or how he did it until he saw film. "Everything comes so fast, and there's not much space," says Dorsey. "I make a move on a guard, and the center's ear-holing me. I get past him, and the fullback cuts me. It's tough."

7. "Glenn plays his position to perfec … well, he rarely gets blocked, and yeah, no one's perfect," says Pelini. "But he's always where he's supposed to be, and he plays so hard and does it with the right attitude and toughness. He'd get my Heisman vote."

8-14. Eric Crouch won the Heisman. Rashaan Salaam too. And Gino Torretta. And Andre Ware. And Danny Wuerffel. And Chris Weinke. And Jason White.

15-18. No defensive lineman since the two-way era has won a Heisman. Neither Reggie White nor Bruce Smith got a vote. Warren Sapp was sixth in 1994. Hugh Green was second in 1980.

19-23. The value of the Heisman diminishes when the winner isn't drafted, so give it to a player with NFL potential. Mel Kiper Jr. thinks Dorsey will be the sixth D-lineman since 1990 to be taken No.1 overall. The others: Russell Maryland, Steve Emtman, Dan Wilkinson, Courtney Brown and Mario Williams. 24. The Heisman should go to a man who generates this kind of praise from one NFL scout: "He's more disruptive than a small-town divorce."

25. Last season against Auburn guards Ben Grubbs, whom the Ravens took in the first round, and Tim Duckworth, Dorsey had eight tackles, three for losses, and 1.5 sacks. This season, it looked like Auburn decided its best chance was to take out Dorsey. Tackle Lee Ziemba blocked high as guard Chaz Ramsey barreled into Dorsey's right knee. The block ended Dorsey's night. "I thought stuff like that went out in the '70s," Miles says.

26. Every pundit wants a Heisman statement. Florida QB Tim Tebow had five scores at Kentucky. Dennis Dixon drove Oregon past USC. Well, Dorsey has his too. Before he was taken out of the Auburn game, Dorsey pancaked Ramsey five yards deep in the backfield and planted running back Brad Lester for a loss, setting the tone for a 30-24 Tigers win.

27-29. Character matters to Heisman voters. And Dorsey is full of it. Most guys who are first-round locks as juniors hold media circuses to announce their intentions. When Dorsey decided to stay in Baton Rouge, LSU sports information had to confirm the reports. Most guys with NFL dreams pattern their games on those of superstars. Dorsey's role models are two ex-teammates, Claude Wroten and Kyle Williams, because they work hard. And most players would be out for revenge if those dreams were almost stolen from them by a vicious chop-block like the one at Auburn. Not Dorsey. "I don't feel like I'm owed an apology," Dorsey said. "I'm not even concerned about that."

30-34. Still stuck on numbers? The Tigers are No.1 in the SEC in scoring defense, turnovers forced, rushing defense, total defense and sacks.

35. With Dorsey leading the way, the Tigers have recorded sacks in 27 of their past 28 games.

36. Thirteen different Tigers have recorded sacks, and seven have made at least three tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

37. "Our opponents know where Glenn is on every snap, and plays are called based on where he lines up," says Miles. "Now I don't know if that's a Heisman Trophy winner or not, but that's a fact."

38-53. If ever there was a season for a defensive lineman to win the Heisman, this is it. McFadden averages 5.9 yards per carry, 3.4 less than his backup; Mike Hart's Wolverines lost at home to FCS Appalachian State and then got blown out of the Big House by Oregon, 39-7; John David Booty threw 4 INTs in USC's loss to Stanford; Colt Brennan and Hawaii play the nation's third-easiest schedule; Texas Tech lost as Graham Harrell threw four picks against Missouri; West Virginia's Steve Slaton gained just 54 yards at South Florida; that same game, Pat White ran for 36 and passed for 100; Andre' Woodson is 2—3 with six turnovers in Kentucky's five SEC games; Tebow's Gators are 3—3 in conference; Rutgers' Ray Rice didn't gain 100 yards in losses to Maryland and Cincinnati; Dixon threw two picks in Oregon's lone loss, to Cal, the 88th-ranked pass D; Cal's DeSean Jackson has six games with less than 50 yards receiving; Brian Brohm has Louisville at 5—4 with losses to powerhouses such as Utah, Syracuse and UConn; Matt Ryan's Eagles have beaten one top-10 team (VaTech, 14-10, which LSU beat 48-7); Mizzou's Chase Daniel had 2 INTs in a loss to Oklahoma, his only top-20 foe.

54. Dorsey has beaten five top-17 teams, one fewer than Tebow, Hart, Ryan and Dixon combined.

55. Earl Lane, LSU's D-line coach, says he never grades a player with a perfect score of 100. Dorsey has three 98s this year based on the criteria of alignment, assignment and effort. "He never has a bad game," says Lane. "The thing you really love is he practices every day the way he plays."

56. Heisman statement No. 2: Dorsey did a little of everything against Tebow, Florida's do-it-all QB, with five tackles, a sack, two quarterback hurries and a pass deflection. After LSU won, 28-24, Dorsey made it a point to grab Tebow one last time—to shake his hand.

57. Even though he was often double-teamed, Dorsey finished 2006 as the Tigers' third-leading tackler, with 64 stops.

58. "He holds teammates accountable," says Pelini. "He's a mentor to them all. And so he sets your team up for a long time. He's an example of how to carry yourself off the field and in practice. Young guys see that, and it becomes your culture."

59. LSU defensive tackle Marlon Favorite calls Dorsey the Peyton Manning of DTs. "He anchors everything and yet is humble in how he does it."

60. He's overcome adversity. When Dorsey was a toddler in Gonzales, La. (pop. 8,156), his legs bowed so severely he wore orthopedic shoes and leg braces connected by a chain. His family remembers him sitting around with a sad look on his face, watching the other kids play. Says Dorsey: "Some of my cousins never wanted to hold me because I would cut their arms with the braces."

61. Dorsey is disciplined. When he was 10 and on the brink of outgrowing his youth football league's weight limits, he had to be weighed in his boxers in the stadium's press box before every game. Dorsey would eat only melon at team dinners the night before while his teammates dined on steak.

62. Dorsey, who's studying psychology and sociology, gives several speeches a year to kids.

63. When he was 15, Dorsey visited his mom at the community center where she works with people who have special needs. He developed a bond with Bart Bourgeois, an autistic man in his 40s. "Bart and I were always clowning around," says Dorsey, who visited weekly while in high school. "He'd try to teach me about classical music." Says Bourgeois' mom, Eva: "Bart has a special connection with Glenn. When he comes in, Bart just lights up."

64. Last Christmas, Dorsey, Bourgeois and others from the program sang "Jingle Bells" on a parade float.

65. Dorsey's humble. "I'll be somewhere and I'll see people staring, and I'll be like, Why are they staring? And then I'll think, Oh, I forgot. I forgot. I still think I'm just regular old me."

66. He's earned opponents' respect. "I tip my hat to him," Duckworth said after last year's Auburn game. "I felt like he came off every play as if it were his last. That's the guy I want on my team."

67. He can take big hits. "I cut him one time," Duckworth said. "He got up off the ground and made the tackle. He was just the Energizer Bunny. When a guy can come upfield full speed and spin and never lose his balance, that's the kind of player I'm going to see in the NFL.

68. And he can dish them out. "I recall against Auburn, he hit Kenny Irons, and I felt sorry for him," ex-Tiger back Justin Vincent told USA Today last season. LSU held Irons to just 2.8 ypc.

69. Opponents' leading rushers average 54 yards per game less against LSU than they do against the rest of their schedules.

70. Heisman statement No.3: Bama left guard Justin Britt knew what he was up against before LSU visited on Nov. 3. "Dorsey's serious, he really is," Britt said the week of the game. "I expect him to be up there at the top for that Heisman Trophy, definitely." With the score tied, 34-34, Dorsey blasted Britt into Tide center Evan Cardwell, creating a massive lane so safety Chad Jones could burst through and strip QB John Parker Wilson. The Tigers recovered at the Bama 4. Two plays later, LSU scored the game-winning TD.

71. Six of the past seven Heisman winners played for a national title.

72. They say defense always wins championships, so isn't it time for it to win the Heisman?