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LSU Spring Football 2018: Running Backs

Well, fans wanted an offensive reboot...

NCAA Football: Texas A&M at Louisiana State Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in five, to maybe seven or eight seasons, depending on how you look at things, LSU will head into a football season without a bell-cow running back.

No Leonard Fournette. No Derrius Guice or Jeremy Hill. Not even a Kenny Hilliard or Alfred Blue.

2018 LSU Spring Running Backs

Position Player Ht/Wt Rushes Yards TD Yards/ Carry Hlt Yds/ Opp. Opp. Rate Fumbles (Lost) Misc.
Position Player Ht/Wt Rushes Yards TD Yards/ Carry Hlt Yds/ Opp. Opp. Rate Fumbles (Lost) Misc.
Running Backs 4 Nick Brossette (Sr.) 6-0, 218 19 96 0 5.1 2.6 52.60% 1 (1)
27 Lanard Fournette (Jr.) 5-10, 201 Appeared in 5 games, had 1 attempt for 7 yards.
22 Clyde Edwards-Helaire (So.) 5-8, 208 9 31 0 3.4 2.6 33.30% 0 (0) 3 catches for 46 yards
25 Tae Provens (Fr.) 6-0, 187 Three-star recruit.
41 David Ducre (Sr.) Appeared in all 13 games, caught 1 pass for -2 yards.
Fullbacks/H-Backs 44 Tory Carter (So.) 6-1, 258 Appeared in 12 games with one start and caught 6 passes for 61 yards and 1 touchdown.
Stats via Football Study Hall.

That isn’t to say there isn’t talent here — both Nick Brossette and Clyde Edwards-Helaire were blue-chip running back recruits. But we’re talking about a combined 127 returning rushing yards, and no rushing touchdowns from any tailback.

What’s Old?

Technically, LSU returns four scholarship tailbacks, plus a fullback — although there are really just two of any consequence: Brossette and Edwards-Helaire.

And neither has proven much as of to date. Most people’s lone impression of Brossette was a fumble on the first play of the Troy loss, which for many people, defined the 2017 LSU season. Now, as a senior that’s seen a lot, both on and off the field, it’s the hope that 2018 can be a season of redemption. And a hope that a new offense might be a better fit.

Edwards-Helaire might be the best bet for a breakout player. He’s definitely not the typical LSU tailback, but at 208 pounds he’s hardly diminutive. Maybe not the kind of player you want to pound up the gut for 20 carries, but a weapon that can get to the edge and make some plays in space. The kind of player that could also be useful in the slot or in the screen game.

There’s also Lanard Fournette and David Ducre, who asked to move back to tailback after working at F-back last season. Both will likely be jumped in the pecking order by the incoming freshmen.

Speaking of fullbacks, sophomore Tory Carter returns after getting on the field as J.D. Moore’s backup at the F-back spot last year. While reports on the new offense indicate that Steve Ensminger will keep some aspects of the Canada F-back spot, in terms of some slot/wing tight end sets, Carter is too natural of a lead blocker not to see some I-formation work. Carter is an attitude player — he brings a physicality and an intensity to the field on both offense and special teams that the rest of the team seems to feed off of. And he does have a little versatility as a receiver.

What’s New?

For this position, the biggest development is the word that the new offense will focus more on the Alex Gibbs wide/tight zone blocking scheme. It’s a running style that has led to great production for a lot of different backs, including some that weren’t priority draft talents. It’s a style that puts a premium on one-cut type runners, who can be patient while a play develops, then put a foot down and attack down hill.

In theory, that would be a style that fits Brossette, based on his recruiting evaluations.

It could also be a nice fit for freshman early enrollee Tae Provens, who flashed some of the vision that you want to see in a zone runner. Early reports have been positive on Provens, and how he does this first year, when there should be ample opportunity for carries, will say a lot about running backs coach Tommie Robinson’s skills in talent evaluation.

What’s the Story?

The tailback position is an unknown for LSU, much like what the Ensminger offense will look like.