clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2016 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl Preview: LSU Running Backs

Leonard Fournette got all the hype as the star running back on this team, but injuries allowed another star to emerge.

NCAA Football:  Florida at Louisiana State Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

LSU runs a pro-style offense that relies heavily on strong running back play. This season started off with high expectations as Leonard Fournette was coming off of a huge year and Brandon Harris had an entire offseason as the starting quarterback. That all changed when Harris struggled against Wisconsin in their first game and the Badgers were able to key on Fournette and slow him down. The Tigers again struggled to run the ball in game three against Mississippi State. Fournette had a better game, but his name and skills bring attention and LSU barely beat a team it should have beaten easily. Teams focused on Fournette and the passing game didn’t do enough to take that focus away early on.

Leonard Fournette won’t be playing in the bowl game due to the nagging ankle injury that he’s been dealing with all season. That injury paved the way for Derrius Guice to become a future household name. Guice has two games this year with over 250 yards rushing, including the LSU record of 285 yards. That broke the record that Fournette set earlier this season. He is also averaging 7.9 yards per carry on the season which is the best average of any power 5 back that is averaging double-digit carries. So, Guice’s numbers are helped some by the fact that he shared time with Fournette, but he still carries the ball more than most running backs.

I didn’t get to see Guice play a lot during the season, so I thought he was just a speed back that broke a lot of big runs. I got to watch much more of him over the last week or so and I couldn’t have been more wrong. Guice is a guy who can run away from a defense, but he’s likely run through an arm tackle to get to that point. Or he’s read a cutback lane perfectly and blown a good angle by a safety. I think the best way to describe his running style is “violent”. He never seems to slow down or wear down and it’s genuinely fun to watch. It would be fair to say that Guice is the second best back Louisville will face this year behind Dalvin Cook.

Guice and Fournette had the privilege of running behind a very good offensive line but I would say that their fullback was more important to their success. Fullbacks aren’t utilized much these days, but J.D. Moore is definitely the best of what’s left. Moore is a punishing blocker who understands blocking angles very well which helps to seal gaps in the offensive line. LSU likes to run a good amount of zone runs and that always leaves the possibility of linebackers shooting gaps to cut down the running back. Moore really does a great job of seeing lanes and clearing them. He can also be used as a short yardage back and a decoy for LSU’s “Vegas Flip” running play where they fake the dive to the fullback and flip it to the running back on a pitch. It’s one of their favorite plays to run and it works well against aggressive defenses.