Derrius Guice should be happy with rushing workload
Derrius Guice should be very happy with how the LSU football season has begun.
Of course, the primary thing is that the 13th-ranked Tigers got a solid victory, beating BYU 27-0 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome last Saturday. But Guice’s role in that victory should enhance his positive feelings.
When asked recently about new coordinator Matt Canada’s affinity for using running backs in the passing game, Guice replied, “I’d rather just run the ball, but you’ve got to do what the coach wants.”
What the coach and the running back wanted were in perfect harmony Saturday.
Against the Cougars, Canada chose to run Guice and run him again and run him some more — 13 times in the first quarter alone, 27 times overall. The junior and reigning SEC leading rusher finished with 122 yards and two touchdowns.
To put that workload in perspective, Guice is on pace to surpass the Herculean workload that Leonard Fournette had two years ago when he rushed for a school-record 1,953 yards and a remarkable 22 touchdowns.
Assuming LSU goes to a bowl and thus plays 13 games, Guice is on a pace to carry the football 351 times and easily surpass Fournette’s 300 carries from 2015. It’s worth noting that the Tigers’ season opener against McNeese State that season was canceled because of severe weather, but it’s also worth noting that a 12-game projection for Guice’s pace after one game would have him still surpassing Fournette with 324 carries.
Best single-game rushing days, LSU history
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Though Guice’s start has him ahead of Fournette’s pace for carries, it leaves him well behind Fournette’s pace for yardage. At this rate, Guice would finish a 13-game season with 1,586 yards, well short of Fournette’s record total but beyond Guice’s total of 1,387 last season.
Let’s remember that Guice, who made just his seventh career start last Saturday, is capable off adding a monumental number of yards to his total in any given week. He’s the only player in LSU history to rush for 250 yards in a game on two occasions. He had 252 yards, which included a school-record 96-yard touchdown run, against Arkansas last season. Twelve days later he surpassed that total and Fournette’s school record when he rushed for 285 yards against Texas A&M.
Now, back to the pass-catching thing. Against BYU, Guice caught just one pass for 4 yards. That’s consistent with the pre-Canada days.
In the 11 games in which Guice has had significant playing time, meaning he had at least 10 rushing attempts, he has caught exactly one pass in seven of those games and had more than one catch in just one game.
In Guice’s career, he has had one three-catch game (his career high against Louisville in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl after last season), one two-catch game, 10 one-catch games and 12 games with no catches.
Now, one game doesn’t constitute a trend — either for carries or receptions — and after the game against BYU, head coach Ed Orgeron estimated that Canada had used only 10 percent of his offense.
Also, the Tigers ran the ball 57 times and passed it 18 and Orgeron has said that generally he wants a 50-50 run-pass split.
And though, on paper at least, BYU represented a a stronger challenge than a lot of ranked teams faced in their season opener, there was no reason for Orgeron or Canada to tip the offensive hand that they will show to teams such as Florida, Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee down the road.
So much could change for LSU, which plays its home opener Saturday against Chattanooga.