2021 Delaware vs Rhode Island

Dejoun Lee Spearheads Vaunted Delaware Rushing Attack

Dejoun Lee Spearheads Vaunted Delaware Rushing Attack

Delaware's Dejoun Lee earned CAA Offensive Player of the Week honors after gashing URI for a career-best 221 yards and a pair of touchdowns last week.

Apr 1, 2021 by Roger Brown
Dejoun Lee Spearheads Vaunted Delaware Rushing Attack

Delaware coach Danny Rocco said he entered last Saturday’s matchup against Rhode Island confident his team could have success running the ball against the Rams. Turns out he was right.

The Blue Hens gained 361 yards on the ground and had a 41:34 to 18:26 edge in time of possession during their 35-21 triumph over previously unbeaten Rhode Island.

“I thought it was important for us to be able to run the football,” Rocco said. “Maybe with the mindset of trying to wear them down a little bit. … We did that pretty methodically with a lot of big bodies. Some larger personnel groupings, and Dejoun Lee was really terrific. His performance was really outstanding.”

Lee, a 5-foot-7, 185-pound senior running back, was named the Colonial Athletic Association’s Offensive Player of the Week after he gashed the Rams for a career-high 221 yards and two touchdowns on 22 rushing attempts. Delaware (3-0) rose to No. 8 in the FCS Top 25 following the victory.

“It was a testament to our O-line,” Lee said. “Coach (Rocco) challenged them. Pretty much told them, ‘Handle the D-line. We can handle the rest.’ I feel like that showed (against Rhode Island).”

Lee is in his fourth season with the Delaware program after transferring from Army. He ran for 606 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games during the 2018 season, and gained 463 yards and two TDs in 2019, when he appeared in nine games. He’s also Delaware’s primary kick returner and opened the spring season by returning a kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown against Maine. 

Lee enters Saturday’s home game against Albany (1-3) ranked second among CAA players in rushing with 341 yards on 44 carries (7.8 ypc).

“Dejoun is hard to find,” Rocco said. “He’s hard to see. He squirts out of places sometimes and holes that don’t appear to be there. It’s hard to fit a run when you can’t see the ball carrier.” 

Against Rhode Island, Lee capped Delaware’s opening drive with a 35-yard touchdown run and scored his second TD on a 74-yard run with 7:31 to play. It was the 15th time a Delaware player has run for at least 200 yards in a game.

Both touchdowns came in short-yardage situations. The 35-yard run came on a fourth-and-two play, and the 74-yard TD run came when he wiggled free in a third-and-two situation. 

The Blue Hens also received 88 yards rushing on 15 carries from redshirt junior running back Khory Spruill. 

“I think the biggest thing was just our offensive line played hard, physical,” Rocco said. “They played well. During the course of the week of practice, as we were watching the film and kind of studying our scout team and the pictures we were getting -- and then studying Rhode Island’s defense -- it became really apparent to me that if we could just stay on their defensive linemen and not let them roll out of blocks or dip and rip and ricochet back into a play, if we can get Dejoun and Khory to the second level they’d be able to make some big plays and make some people miss.”

Lee’s effort was the first time a Delaware player has rushed for at least 200 yards in a game since 2016, and is the third-highest rushing total at the FCS level this season.

“It’s exciting,” Lee said when asked about his TD runs. “When you make that first guy miss and nobody else is there, the job is to score at that point. I just did what I needed to do.”