The LSU football team is slated to report to campus this Sunday, Aug. 4, and kick off Fall Camp in preparation for the 2013 season the following day.
In advance of the Tigers getting on campus and getting underway, TSD's Ben Love and Hunter Paniagua will answer a question a day this week on the 2013 squad.
Today's Question: What does LSU's running back situation look like with and without Jeremy Hill?
BEN LOVE: As we enter August later this week, there's still no clarity on Jeremy Hill's legal situation. He's due back in court on August 16 for a probation revocation hearing and, pending that outcome, Les Miles is still likely to weigh in on his status with the team. The only thing that is certain right now is that Hill is currently indefinitely suspended and not involved in team workouts.
If Hill somehow miraculously makes it back for the opener versus TCU, consider him the offense's No. 1 back with senior Alfred Blue a close 1-A. Hill definitely separated himself from the rest of the running back pack as the 2012 season drew to a close, but that was a group that didn't include Blue. With Blue back from his knee injury, look for him to have a major impact on this year's team regardless of what happens with Hill. At 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, Blue gives the offense a physical option that can still run and has exceptional pass-catching skills. With both of those guys available, there's a noticeable gap between them and the next two in line, juniors Kenny Hilliard and Terrence Magee.
In the more likely scenario that Hill is out for at least the first few games, the dynamic changes a tad. Blue becomes the unquestioned lead back, but the role of at least one of the next two has to expand. The logical choice is Magee, who had a strong spring after moving back from receiver. In this new Cam Cameron offense, Magee can take quick-hitting run plays, catch balls from the backfield or from the slot and, maybe most importantly, is a good pass-blocker. Hilliard won't be forgotten about in this scenario, but Magee makes a lot more sense as a change-of-pace back.
HUNTER PANIAGUA: This Jeremy Hill decision will continue to hover over LSU for at least the early part of August. That leaves the Tigers in a state of flux as to what they'll do at the running back position in 2013. Obviously if Hill gets reinstated before the opener, he'll be the Tigers' No. 1 back against TCU. But having him in uniform for Week 1 seems an improbable outcome at this point.
That leaves three veteran backs to pick up the load. Alfred Blue shined in 2012 before suffering a season-ending leg injury. We haven't seen much of him since, but the word is that he's returned to full strength. Having him 100 percent healthy would provide a smooth transition in a Hill-less offense. Hill's possible absence could also be an opportunity-in-disguise for Kenny Hilliard and Terrance Magee. Hilliard had his moments last season, but for one reason or another, he fell off the face of the Earth toward the back end. He has the big physical body that LSU won't have with Hill gone, so his role could expand if Hill's not there.
But Magee's chance may be the biggest of the bunch. I saw him work in 7-on-7 with the first team offense last week, and he appears to be LSU's best receiving threat out of the backfield. Expect him to pick up that role from the departed Spencer Ware, and he could have a breakthrough year, whether or not Hill's in the lineup.
Camp Question 1: Life with and without Hill?
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