This week is unlike any Stevan Ridley has had during his three seasons at LSU.
Against Louisiana Tech on Saturday, the redshirt sophomore could get his first career start at running back.
No longer just a special teams contributor, Ridley said that he is ready to jump into the spotlight of the backfield.
“I have a lot of work to do,” he said. “But, am I ready for the opportunity? I would say I am ready.”
Last Saturday, when running back Charles Scott suffered a broken clavicle against Alabama, Ridley got his first taste of Southeastern Conference football – and he made it count.
Trailing 10-9, the 6-foot, 226-pound tailback took his first touch of the game, bounced off nose tackle Terrance Cody and dashed outside for the 8-yard touchdown.
There was the redshirt sophomore, who had previously carried the ball in garbage time of four non-conference games over two seasons, bucking senior Keiland Williams, and others, for the goal line touches against undefeated Alabama.
“For them to call my number down in the red zone, it was shocking,” Ridley said. “But, you have to come back to reality real fast. They are not calling your number to make the formation and have 11 people on the field. They call it for you to make something happen.”
After Ridley made six points happen, LSU fans wanted more.
Without Scott, someone needed to step in and carry the workload. Most felt Miles would ride Williams, but it seems that might not be the case.
Even before Scott went down, Ridley said he had the feeling his time was getting near.
“Coach Porter told me in the second quarter [against Alabama], ‘Ridley, you stay by me because we need you in the fourth quarter to come finish this off for us.’”
This weekend against Louisiana Tech, don’t be surprised when Porter and Miles elect for Ridley again, this time early and often.
“I like Stevan Ridley,” said Miles on Monday. “He makes a really accurate cut. He’s a physical runner, and I think he is getting better. I am not ready to say that Keiland Williams won’t get some more carries, but I think Ridley has proven that there is some exciting things that he can do.”
After practice on Wednesday, Miles said that Ridley and Williams would likely split carries. He did not name the starter.
Coming off an ACL injury and subsequent surgery last spring, Ridley’s first touches of 2009 came just two weeks ago against Tulane. On LSU’s final drive of the game, the Natchez native carried the ball eight times for 73 yards and a touchdown.
After the quick taste of SEC ball that followed, the sophomore said that he is pleased to be back in non-conference play as his big-stage debut nears.
“Everyone knows defense is first in the SEC, so I would much rather come in and start against a Louisiana Tech-type than an SEC team. It is all God’s timing, and this is when it happened. I just have to get prepared mentally. The physical part is taken care of.”
For tips of the trade, he has turned to Scott.
“After Charles found out [his clavicle] was broken, he leaned in and told me it was my show,” Ridley said. “He told me I had to make it happen. They know I have been hungry.
“I look forward to seeing a lot of playing time and finding out where I stand as a player.”
Despite the loss in Tuscaloosa, this LSU team seems poised to write a more positive ending than that of 2008.
It begins with the attitude of players like Ridley.
“Nobody is folding camp,” he said. “Nobody is giving in because we have two losses. We lost to two great football teams. At the same time, there are three more teams out there that we have to beat to prove who we are.
“When emotions are high and you are a little nervous, you have to go in there and keep your head.”