Last season, the eyes of LSU Tiger fans fixated on running back Leonard Fournette, who went on to be drafted No. 4 overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars in last April’s NFL Draft. But as the season progressed, it was Derrius Guice who began to steal some of the spotlight.
Guice eventually beat out Fournette and led the team (and the SEC) in rushing with 1387 yards, despite having five or fewer carries in four games a year ago. Guice added 15 touchdowns, averaged a whopping 7.6 yards per carry and had NFL scouts wondering if they were scouting the wrong LSU running back.
When Fournette sat out last year’s Citrus Bowl against Louisville, Guice produced one of the most memorable plays of the season when he ran over Louisville’s kicker on his way to a 138-yard performance in an LSU blowout win.
Those numbers have come back down to earth so far this year. Guice has 364 yards, five touchdowns, and is averaging just 4.4 yards per carry through five games.
Guice began the season with two consecutive 100-yard rushing games against BYU and Chattanooga, but he has struggled in his last three games, posting 76, 14, and 50 yards against Mississippi State, Syracuse, and Florida respectively.
Part of that drop off could be due to a left leg injury he suffered in the third quarter against Mississippi State. Guice did not have any carries in the second half against Syracuse, sat out the loss against Troy, and did not have a full workload against Florida. He is listed as probable for Saturday’s game.
Things won’t get any easier for Guice this week as he prepares to face an Auburn run defense that just held Ole Miss to 83 yards on 30 carries and is giving up just 2.95 yards per carry, which ranks 22nd in FBS and third in the SEC.
Guice checks in at only 5’11”, 218 pounds, but he runs like every carry might be his last. That determination was on full display in his final run of last week’s game against Florida.
Up 17-16 with six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, LSU was looking to run down the clock as much as possible. Facing a 2nd and 3 at his own 30, Guice takes the ball on a simple dive play up the middle. He tries to run through a hole on the left side, but is almost immediately wrapped up by Florida safety Shawn Davis.
Guice keeps his legs moving and drags Davis all the way to the sideline before being brought down by two defenders. The gain of eight yards allowed LSU to run four minutes off the clock on the drive and give the ball back to the Gators with just 4:01 to play.
“Hopefully we can see more of that,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron told reporters after the game. “Is he hurting? Yes. Is he limited right now? Yes. But he is getting better.”