Let this moment sink in, Tiger fans. Really savor it. You ready?
Doesn’t that feel good? I don’t mean to overhype the return of arguably the most hyped player in LSU history, but it’s hard not to. With the way Derrius Guice has been playing in Fournette’s absence, it’s hard not to imagine what a full-strength Fournette plus a full-strength Guice will look like.
That’s a potent pairing. But it got me thinking: Would that even make for the best backfield in the SEC right now? So, I very subjectively and not-at-all scientifically decided to rank the top 5 backfields in the SEC that aren’t coached by Nick Saban. Why am I not including Alabama? Because the Tide already are at the top of every other list. I doubt the Tide will feel left out if they’re not included on this one.
No. 5: Tennessee
Tennessee has an absolute surplus of backfield talent, but not enough production. Running backs Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara, as well as quarterback Josh Dobbs, are combining to average 159.07 yards per game and have scored 10 touchdowns. And while that’s impressive, virtually no other Vols contribute to the rushing attack, landing this trio at No. 5.
No. 4: Auburn
Auburn is the only school that has two different running backs in the top 10 in the SEC in rushing yards per game. Kamryn Pettway is leading the way with 101 yards per game, and Kerryon Johnson isn’t far behind with 90 yards per game. Throw in a combined 10 touchdowns and you’ve got yourself the SEC’s No. 3 rushing offense in 2016, but my No. 4.
No. 3: Georgia
Georgia sees Auburn’s two-headed monster and raises them a Cerberus. Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and Brian Herrien average more than 200 yards per game collectively, but haven’t scored quite as many touchdowns as Pettway and Johnson. Still, for a team with a true freshman quarterback and few downfield threats at receiver, compiling those rushing numbers is pretty impressive.
No. 2: LSU
The only reason that Fournette and Guice aren’t No. 1 is that we haven’t seen them playing together yet. If you look at their raw numbers from games they’ve played independent of one another, they’re astounding, putting up 222.67 yards per game. But it’s yet to be seen if these two can play nice together or if they’ll try to hog the spotlight from one another.
No. 1: Texas A&M
I know, it feels weird to say, doesn’t it? But Texas A&M has the most dominating rushing attack in the SEC. Freshman Trayveon Williams leads the SEC in yards per game with 117, and quarterback Trevor Knight leads all SEC passers in rushing with 84 yards per game. Not to mention Knight leads all SEC players in rushing touchdowns with 9. He isn’t Johnny Manziel, but he also hasn’t been that far off.
If you could only have one …
There’s probably a couple of Debbie Downers among you that would like for me to point out that LSU has played its two best games of the year without Fournette, and entering him back into the fold might mess with whatever rhythm the Tigers are in.
I’m here to tell you that that’s not necessarily wrong. I, for one, think that while Fournette is by far the better running back, the Tigers are a better team with Guice in the backfield. Guice is good, but he’s not good enough to command attention every play, giving LSU more play-calling freedom than it otherwise might have. In my mind, this is as big of a reason for why LSU has spread the ball out recently as the change in offensive coordinator and head coach.
But hey, that’s just one man’s opinion. What’s yours? If you could only have one running back, Guice or Fournette, which would you choose? Do you stick with the status quo that’s averaging more than 40 points per game, or do you bring in the Heisman Trophy front-runner and projected top-5 draft pick? I’ll recap your answers in the Briefing on Wednesday.
Oh Andy, we hardly knew ye
Fournette wasn’t the only injured Tiger who returned to practice Monday. Offensive guard Will Clapp, who missed the Southern Miss game with a shoulder injury, returned to his post at left guard in Monday’s noncontact practice.
Coach Ed Orgeron didn’t give a declarative yes or no about whether Clapp will play this weekend, but seeing Clapp back in practice is a good sign for fans of the status quo.
If Clapp does return, the LSU offensive line will revert to a more normal appearance. This means Ethan Pocic will be back at center after his week-long flirtation with right tackle, and Maea Teuhema will bump back outside to right tackle from out of Clapp’s left guard slot. (Also, right guard Josh Boutte was absent from practice. He was replaced by Garrett Brumfield.)
This leaves Andy Dodd as the Dodd-man out. Sorry. Odd-man out. The junior started at center for Pocic, and did a fine job, but during practice Monday he was back to primarily practicing with the twos. He’s a versatile and composed backup to have, but a backup nonetheless.
Patrick Peterson lost a bet.
Patrick Peterson is warming up in a T-Rex costume because the Cardinals are weird pic.twitter.com/VRyOlbUr5s
— The Cauldron (ICYMI) (@CauldronICYMI) October 17, 2016
Apparently, Peterson — a former LSU cornerback — competes in a contest with the Cardinals’ quarterbacks. The losers have to wear silly costumes. And Peterson lost.
There’s really not much else to say about this. Except that it’s very funny. And it’s even funnier if you watch it with the theme from Jurassic Park playing in the background.
Arbitrary Analysis, part 2
As I discussed in Monday’s edition of the Briefing, this weekend represents a big reunion for Orgeron. In Ole Miss, he’ll be facing the school he led for three season from 2005-07. And rather than dwell on the negatives of Orgeron’s near-disastrous head coaching tenure, I want to focus on the good times. Which is why this week I’m counting down the five best and most memorable players from Orgeron’s tenure at Ole Miss.
We resume the countdown today at No. 4.
No. 4: DT Peria Jerry
A A first-team All-SEC and All-American performer while at Ole Miss, the elder of the Jerry brothers was a menace in the trenches. His best year might’ve come after Orgeron was fired, but he was also spectacular in ’07 when he recorded 3.5 sacks, 14 TFLs and an interception. Those numbers earned him second-team All-SEC honors.
Jerry went on to be selected in the first round by the Atlanta Falcons in 2009. He has 5.5 career NFL sacks.
Why is Jerry notable? Well, he was pretty much the perfect Orgeron football player. A nasty defensive lineman who was renowned for his work ethic and high-energy streak. Throw in a Cajun nickname and you have yourself Orgeron’s dream lineman.
By the standard of the rest of this season, it’s been a slow couple of news days at LSU. But that isn’t saying much. There’s still plenty of news that you might’ve missed since Saturday. Here’s a smattering of the best and most notable LSU links from across the Internet:
- Ed Orgeron will be facing his former team …
- … but that former team maybe shouldn’t be so excited to face him …
- … and Orgeron might be coaching for a full-time job
- Malachi Dupre is earning his nickname of “Mike Tyson”
- Fournette’s teammates are unsurprisingly very happy he’s going to play
- The always-theatrical Arden Key predicted how many sacks he’ll have this weekend
- 4-star QB commit Lowell Narcisse gave SEC Country some details on his ACL rehab
Let’s close out the column by trying out something new. Below here, there’s a screencap from LSU’s win over Southern Miss. In the comments below or on our LSU Insiders Facebook page, caption the photo with what you think either Danny Etling or Malachi Dupre is saying here. The best answers will be featured in the Briefing you’ll read on Wednesday.