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2019 LSU Football Preview: Running Backs

Are LSU’s backs moving into a new era in a new offense?

Georgia v LSU Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

For the past few seasons, LSU has relied on a veteran stable of tailbacks. From Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice to Guice and Darrel Williams to Nick Brossette last season.

This year, the Tigers return just one experienced runner, and will look to a talent infusion from freshmen to, hopefully, spark a return to the explosive running games we’ve gotten used to in recent seasons.

2019 LSU 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 22 Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Jr.) 5-8, 209 146 658 7 4.5 3.99 47.30% 0 (0) 11 catches (14 targets) for 96 yards.
27 Lanard Fournette (Sr.) 5-11, 200 12 106 1 8.8 13.3 41.70% 0(0) 6 catches (11 targets) for 55 yards.
24 Chris Curry (Fr.-RS) 6-0, 215 8 2 Redshirted
4 John Emery (Fr.) 6-0, 203 Five-star recruit.
3 Tyrion Davis-Price 6-1, 226 Four-star recruit.
Fullbacks/H-Backs 44 Tory Carter (So.) 6-1, 250 Recorded no rushing attempts, but caught 4 passes (on 6 targets) for 39 yards and 1 touchdown.

Juniors Clyde Edwards Helaire and Tory Carter will be the starters here nominally, but those roles won’t exactly mean what we’ve been used to in recent years.

Carter already moved into more of an H-back tight end role who occasionally lines up in the backfield, and this spring we saw that Joe Brady’s influence will see him line up all over the field, which should just fit his skill set fine. He’s already a devastating blocker and a real tone-setter for the offense, but Carter has soft hands as a receiver as well. He’s no big-play threat, but he can certainly serve his purpose and give Steve Ensminger a chess piece to move around to create leverage in certain sets.

Edwards-Helaire was a solid backup to Brossette last season, and could be a better fit in the spread style we saw in the spring where he can be used more as a receiver and weapon in space. He’s not the biggest back, but he’s a tough runner that doesn’t go down easy. Likewise, he’s also not the fastest, but still tough to handle in a short area. Not a true lead back, but a nice complementary weapon.

The hope is that freshmen John Emery Jr. and Tyrion Davis-Price will add more punch. Emery, a five-star recruit that was the subject of a very heated recruitment between LSU and Georgia, is one of the more explosive multi-purpose backs Louisiana has produced in a while. He’s a gifted receiver, an electric runner and willing blocker as well.

The fact that his and Edwards-Helaire’s skillsets are so similar should make it easier to make things relatively interchangeable at times with them in the game. We may see them make impacts early as pass-catchers underneath as well, to help set up the receivers down the field.

Davis-Price is much more of the one-cut, power/speed combination we’ve been used to seeing, and it would not surprise me at all if he carves out a role in this offense more quickly.

If LSU’s passing game really does get things going fast this season, Davis-Price is the ideal back to step in for short-yardage scenarios, and to help salt away big leads. He flashes a vision and burst similar to former Tiger Jeremy Hill, which could be deadly in a wide/tight zone scheme out of spread sets.

Redshirt frosh Chris Curry gives another power back similar to Davis-Price, which again, brings some interchangeability to the offense. I was bullish on his prospects as a true freshman but things never quite broke his way, leading to the redshirt. But I would not give up on him yet.