Marqise Lee reacted to Heisman talk at the beginning of the season by deferring to Matt Barkley as the hopeful and stating simply to ESPNLosAngeles.com in August, “I don’t really worry about accolades.” Reading through Marqise Lee’s bio and his plethora of awards so far, it’s understandable why he focuses more on the field. His jaw-dropping performances usually garner all of the accolades.
A Biletnikoff and newly minted Heisman candidate, Lee leads the FBS with 98 receptions and 1447 receiving yards. The sophomore wide receiver ranks third in receiving touchdowns with 13. The every prep All-American list, Serra HS standout might even step back in time and step across the line of scrimmage into the Trojans depleted defensive backfield, a place he has been lobbying to play all-season. He obliterated the Pac-12 single season receiving yardage record by 52 with a 345-yard effort in a heartbreaking 39-36 loss against Arizona two weeks ago. His encore performance cemented his versatility, a well-regarded NFL commodity, as Lee showed off his returner skills by racking up 251 return yards in another loss against Oregon.
On Saturday, Lee faces a UCLA defensive backfield that has given up some big gains through the air in both wins and losses. The Bruins endured pigskin storms of 457 and 315 yards respectively in wins over ASU and WSU. Oregon State put 379 yards through the air, and after an early interception, Cal threw for 295 yards in UCLA’s only losses.
Expect senior corner back Sheldon Price to blanket Lee with safeties Tevin McDonald and Andrew Abott close behind. Linebacker Anthony Barr represents another concern, ready for any slants or crossing routes when he isn’t chasing Matt Barkley adding to his 11 sacks for 4th best in the FBS. As for special teams, UCLA should kick away from Lee, especially after watching him run as the proverbial goose around the Ducks. Head coach Jim Mora is well aware of his exploits and will not let Lee add another stat line to his haul of accolades.
Given Marqise Lee’s football history, it might be a moot point.