“Salty” was the word LSU coach Les Miles used when describing his running back group at SEC Media Days. The Tigers have a star studded backfield lead by Leonard Fournette. This handful of backs is probably the best group Miles has had. Josh previews the position group for the 2016 season.
Incoming players: None
Departed players: None
As a team LSU lead the SEC in rushing yards per game and was seventh in the nation. The ground game is the bread and butter of this offense, eight times last season the Tigers rushed for more yards than passing against opponents.
The number one goal for every team LSU faces next season will be to stop the LSU running game, particularly, Fournette, which is easier said than done. However, even with a talented back as Fournette, Miles still loves to use multiple running backs. In both of the Tigers two championship runs under Miles, LSU had different types of backs.
Fournette will be in line to break multiple records this season and might hear his name called in New York next season. This group may be his best collection of tailbacks with Derrius Guice being the perfect compliment to Fournette. The combination of the two will form a dangerous one-two punch, to go along with Darrel Williams, who is a bruiser and isn’t scared to get an extra yard or two.
Fournette is hands down starter of this group. He’s also of the leaders of this team and trying help win LSU’s first championship since 2007. He’s dropped a few pounds per Miles request and is poised to nearly better than last year. After having the heisman locked up for about eight weeks last season, he’ll be one of the frontrunners for the trophy this season. Fournette — who lead the nation in rushing yards per game last season — will have his “flashlight” J.D. Moore back healthy at fullback he’ll surely produce on the same level as last season.
We already know how good Fournette is at running the ball, but one thing to look out for is if LSU tries to get Fournette involved in the passing game. He caught 19 balls out of the backfield last season, but this missed opportunity against Alabama shows how much of threat he could be in the passing game. If Brandon Harris puts that ball right on the money, then Fournette gets the first down and is probably headed toward the end zone.
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Behind Fournette there is a slight drop off in talent, but not much. Guice (above) and Williams would be starters and likely 1,000 yard rushers at any other power five school. Whenever Fournette needed a breather Guice was nearly as dynamic as Fournette, finishing on the team in rushing and averaged 8.5 yards per carry.
Guice had his coming out game against South Carolina last season when he ran for 161 yards and this highlight reel run. That game solidified his spot on the depth chart as the No. 2 back, but Darrel Williams is no slouch himself. At times, LSU lined Williams up at fullback with Fournette and hand him the ball up the middle. Neither one of these guys will be the starter next season, but to keep Fournette fresh down the line Williams and Guice to see their fair share of time in the backfield.
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Nicholas Brossette played well on special teams last year, but a leg injury against Ole Miss sidelined him for the rest of the season. He seems to be on the right track after receiving the Overcoming Adversity Award, for his rehab and recovery work in the spring. Miles also said Brossette is healthy and should be ready for fall camp.
Although the Tigers are in good hands with Fournette, Guice and Williams, a healthy Brossette could add another weapon for Miles’ offense. Brossette isn’t a speedster, but is a patient running back with great vision and is pretty shifty. Coming back ACL surgery isn’t easy, but if Brossette can return healthy he’ll give LSU a nice ‘change of pace’ back.
Leonard Fournette will break Derrick Henry’s single season SEC rushing record
LSU played three less games than Alabama’s Derrick Henry last season, who had more than 266 yards rushing than Fournette. Last season ran for 200 yards four times and if weren’t for the opening game of the season against McNeese St. being canceled, Fournette could’ve reached Henry’s number.
With the Tigers in the hunt for a championship next season, Fournette should get his opportunity to break Henry’s record later in the season.