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Spring Football Five Things: Running Backs

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A great position group works to maintain this spring.

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Depth Chart

Running back

7 Leonard Fournette (Jr.)

6-1, 230

300 carries for 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns (both school records), 6.4 yards per carry. 19 catches on 33 targets for 253 yards and 1 touchdown. Consensus All-American.

34 Darrel Williams (Jr.)

6-0, 232

60 carries for 296 yards and 4 touchdowns, 4.9 yards per carry. 4 catches on 6 targets for 31 yards.

5 Derrius Guice (So.)

5-11, 222

51 carries for 436 yards and 3 touchdowns, 8.5 yards per carry. 4 catches on 6 targets for 24 yards. Freshman All-SEC selection (coaches).

4 Nick Brossette (So.)

6-0, 218

12 carries for 65 yards in 9 games.

27 Lanard Fournette (RS-Fr.)

5-10, 187

Redshirted.

Fullbacks

46 John David Moore (Jr.)

6-4, 235

Caught 1 pass for 1 yard in six games.

47 Bry'Kiethon Mouton (So.)

6-1, 255

Caught 2 passes in 4 targets for 21 yards 11 games with 5 starts.

41 David Ducre (So.)

6-0, 239

1 catch for 4 yards in three game appearances.

What's Good?

Gosh. Can't imagine what would be good to talk about at this position. No idea. A little help here, folks?

For real though. LSU returns some 2,750 rushing yards at this position, including one of the preseason favorites for the Heisman Trophy, who will have a real chance to chase history this season. Leonard Fournette is joined by a veteran role-player in Darrel Williams, a short-yardage specialist who could almost certainly handle a larger role if needed.

And there's also an electric counterpunch in sophomore Derrius Guice, who broke LSU's single-game rushing record for a freshman against South Carolina and proved himself to be a dangerous combination of a big-play, open-field runner in a 220-pound frame. Fellow sophomore Nick Brossette is still on the comeback from a late-season knee injury, and could be in for a redshirt year to try and create some more space at the position. Little brother Lanard Fournette is also looking to find a role after redshirting.

At fullback, John David Moore and Bry'Keithon Mouton both bring starting experience back. The former was a lights-out lead blocker for the first half of the season before a knee injury. The latter struggled to find his rhythm a bit, but closed out the season with strong games against Texas A&M and Texas Tech. And then there's David Ducre, who is basically an oversized tailback still trying to find his way. He might have the most potential of anybody at the fullback spot to be more of a weapon.

What's Bad?

It's not so much a negative so much as a question mark: LSU has a new running backs coach for the first time in six seasons, and Jabbar Juluke has some incredible shoes to fill.

Frank Wilson has been one of, possibly the, most valuable pieces of Les Miles' program for the last few years. His recruiting chops are well-known, but he came to serve as one of Les Miles' true confidants in the operations building, and did a pretty damn good job of coaching up his position as well. Of the eight tailbacks Wilson coached prior to Fournette's arrival, six were drafted and every single one at least spent time on an NFL roster. His backs blocked and caught well when asked and almost never fumbled, plus he had a great feel for in-game rotations. That, particularly, was something Wilson immediately upgraded over his predecessor Larry Porter.

It would be a cliché to say that Juluke has been handed a Ferrari and asked not to crash it, but he's also been asked to keep that sucker rolling through the winding road that is the SEC without dropping speed. Fournette just had the single greatest season any LSU running back has ever had, and Juluke has to find a way to help him build off of that.

Juluke already has a different practice demeanor from Wilson, much louder and more vocal with his players. We'll have to see what kind of results that yields.

What is the goal this spring?

Injuries would be obvious -- if Fournette stubs a toe, he'll be fine to miss a practice or two. Really, the challenge for Juluke and the rest of the offensive staff will be to continue to round out the game of the other backs on the team so that the workload for everybody can be optimized.

I wouldn't go so far as to call Fournette overworked last year, but I do think that his 300-ish touches could be made a little more efficient. Likewise for Guice and Williams. There's no real way to figure any of this stuff out now, but rounding out the games of the other backs is a good start.

What am I watching for?

There's not much in the way of competition here, so the key is just to continue to develop depth. We know what Guice and Williams can do and, more or less, what their roles will be in 2016. Give them the chance to show you if there's more there -- Lord knows Fournette doesn't need the extra work.

Can somebody like Lanard Fournette contribute on special teams? Can Ducre carve himself out a place? Can Mouton become more consistent with his assignments?

And then there's the variable of Juluke. While most will be watching his work in the recruiting cycle, how he and Fournette work together is definitely something I'll watch. He doesn't get "sophomore hungry to prove he can meet the freshman hype" Fournette, he gets the All-American who will get questions about sitting out his final year and pro prospects. It's a different animal, and a different situation.

No pressure, right?