Will LSU’s running game thrive next season behind veteran offensive line?
SEC Country reporter Alex Hickey will answer your LSU Tigers sports queries each weekday in our LSU Question of the Day. Join the conversation by sending your questions via Twitter to @SECCountryLSU, @bigahickey or by email to Alex at email@example.com.
Question of the Day: Wednesday, Dec. 6
A lot of our recent questions have had to do with what LSU will look like next season, whether it’s along the offensive line or behind center.
Frequent questioner Jake Higginbotham (you too can become a frequent questioner, just follow the instructions up top!) is wondering about the backfield.
@bigahickey would you agree that LSU running game should be in good shape next year with the O-line pretty much staying in tact? Looks like a Edwards-Helaire / Brossette with possibly a true freshman or two rotation?
— Jake Higginbotham (@Jakelsu622) December 3, 2017
If Will Clapp returns for his senior season, LSU’s offensive line is poised to have five returning starters. In general, this bodes well for a running game. But that said, the 2018 LSU rushing attack could be the weakest the Tigers have seen in years.
That has nothing to do with the line and everything to do with the fact that Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice are not running backs who are easily replaced. Darrel Williams stepped up in a big way this season with Fournette gone, but now the Tigers have to find a way to replace both him and Guice.
For the next two seasons, LSU fans likely will be lamenting the inability to seal the deal on Travis Etienne, the Jennings, La., native who is having a breakout freshman season for Clemson. Etienne has 744 yards and 13 touchdowns on just 103 carries.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire has a chance to be a home-run hitter, much in the same way Guice was in 2016 when Fournette was healthy. His size and speed are reminiscent of Darren Sproles, but the question is whether he can be a feature back or just an incredibly dangerous change-of-pace guy.
If LSU lands Harold Joiner in the recruiting class, he certainly seems like the type of back who could vie for immediate playing time along with Edwards-Helaire and Nick Brossette.
There’s also the possibility, though remarkably remote, that Derrius Guice elects to return to LSU for his senior season rather than declare for the NFL draft. Guice recently announced that he’s not making any pronouncements about his future until after the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1. His return would be a massive game-changer for the Tigers.
If Guice doesn’t come back, I see the running game being a major question mark for LSU next season. But it is possible that a veteran offensive line will make the drop-off less noticeable.
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