BATON ROUGE, La. — In a sudden turn of events, LSU running back Derrius Guice is back in the starting lineup for Saturday’s game against Syracuse.
Guice was ruled out by coach Ed Orgeron on Wednesday, but was able to practice for the first time all week on Thursday. Orgeron was impressed with what he saw and said that Guice will be able to play.
“He came up to me this morning and said, ‘Coach, I feel better. I want to practice,’ ” Orgeron said. “He practiced pretty good today. It’s great news for us that guys who are hurt, questionable, come out and want to play.”
Guice wrenched his left knee getting gang-tackled by multiple Mississippi State players in the third quarter of last week’s 37-7 loss.
Guice has 300 yards and 4 touchdowns on 57 carries this season.
His injury status has shifted all week. On Monday, Orgeron described the injury as “minor” and Guice said he was simply “nicked up.” As of Wednesday morning, Orgeron downgraded his status to “very questionable.”
When Guice was unable to practice Wednesday, Orgeron ruled him out entirely. That changed Thursday morning, though Orgeron still needed convincing evidence in practice that Guice was ready to play.
“Derrius practiced pretty good, so he will play,” Orgeron said.
The situation somewhat mirrors last season’s Florida game in which Tigers running back Leonard Fournette was ruled out but ended up playing against the Gators. There is a significant difference, however. Fournette didn’t even warm up prior to that game and made an emotional decision to play based on a pregame fracas with the Gators.
In this case, Guice has enough to time be fully prepared.
Syracuse coach Dino Babers is not surprised. Even after learning about Guice’s status on Wednesday, he expected to see No. 5 in the backfield for LSU.
“That guy’s a competitor,” Babers said on the ACC coaches teleconference. “I expect to see him out there.”
The Syracuse game could represent an opportunity for Guice to jump back into Heisman Trophy consideration. Two years ago, Fournette torched the Orange for 244 yards and would have cracked the 300-yard barrier had Travin Dural not been called for an illegal formation penalty prior to what would have been an 87-yard touchdown run.