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September 9, 2010

LSU Running Backs: I like Mike, and Spencer, and that Gore kid too

There used to be a head coach at LSU that despised fumbles so much that he would not only make running backs carry a football around with them all week after fumbling in a game but he would also sit those running backs down for a series or two at the beginning of the next game.  I can't remember whether that was Les Miles or Nick Saban but it was definitely a coach that found success for LSU football.

Stevan Ridley certainly looked strong in LSU's opener against North Carolina but he fumbled twice and the second fumble nearly lost the game for LSU.  I want Richard Murphy to do well this year but as a starter, Murphy officially earned -1 rushing yards.  By the time you get to the level of playing college football if you don't produce, you don't play.  If it is an unemotional strictly business decision based on what is best for LSU football,  Ridley shouldn't be given the first shot at running back and Murphy should only get in the game if LSU gets way ahead in the score.

The decision might be different if LSU was thin at the running back position but, LSU is loaded with potentially great running backs that should be given a chance to prove themselves on the field.  Finally, Russell Shepard got a few touches in LSU's opener. Shepard should get the ball more but at least he got the ball enough to make two touchdowns against North Carolina.  However, Shepard is a wide receiver this year and LSU needs to focus also on finding a successful running back.

Michael Ford, Spencer Ware, and Jakhari Gore are three running backs that deserve a chance to prove themselves on the field.

Two years ago there were three great running back recruits: Trent Richardson, Christine Michael, and Michael Ford.  In the opening week Trent Richardson started for Alabama for Mark Ingram, the injured Heisman Trophy winner.  Richardson earned 112 all purpose yards including two rushing touchdowns.  Christine Michael, a starter for Texas A&M, earned his team 151 all purpose yards including 2 rushing touchdowns.  Michael Ford, LSU's redshirt freshman running back, earned a trip to the Georgia Dome but did not actually get to lineup at running back despite less than stellar performances from the two backs in front of him on the LSU roster.  Christine Michael must be thanking his lucky stars that LSU passed on him in favor of Ford.  Let's hope that after redshirting one of the most promising running backs in his class, coach Miles will insist that Ford not only gets considered as an after thought if LSU gets up by more than 20 points but becomes a regular part of the rotation and maybe even starts.

Spencer Ware, a five star running back recruit from this class, is not likely to be redshirted considering that he played on special teams in LSU's opener.  Ware has the all the tools this year to make a positive difference from the running back position.  Miles needs to insist that Ware gets a shot.

Jahkari Gore, a four star running back out of Miami, is not just a relative of NFL running back, Frank Gore, he is the Rivals 6th ranked all purpose running back from this year's freshman class.  Let's hope LSU's coaches don't waste his talent because of some misguided loyalty to more senior running backs.

LSU has a lot of talent available at the running back position and looking at next year's freshmen class, it is hard to ignore the name of Hilliard.  Kenny Hilliard is considered the third best running back recruit in the nation by Rivals.  Back when I was a student at LSU I can recall that another Hillard got to start as a freshman because of a premium placed on putting players on the field that gave LSU the best chance for success. I am no expert but that sounds like a good idea to me.  But what do I know, I think Chris Faulk ought to get a whole lot of playing time on LSU's offensive line.


Anonymous said...

Yes, you are right,what wrong with giving the other good RB, on this LSU team a chance at running the ball?
Is it true,what some LSU fans say about Les Miles...That he favors the
Teamsters Union rules.."seniority first"...Is Les Miles really a goof ball?

Anonymous said...

We have good depth at RB, but it's not just about running the ball. These young guys usually need time to learn the playbook, their blocking assignments, etc. While I am a fan of getting the younguns some experience early on, there is a good reason why Ridley is the starter. Enjoy your insight.

Anonymous said...

It did not take that long for Trent Richardson and Christine Michael. How hard could it be run to daylight or block the first guy that gets through. They call running back a "skill position" but to play O-line takes more knowledge and learning time.

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