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LSU'S 2023 RUNNING BACK ROOM IS A FEAST FOR GROUND GAME FIENDS

Updated: Jul 15, 2023

By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN

@LonnPhillips


On the cusp of yet another season, Frank Wilson's 2023 running backs room appears to be one of, if not the #1 strength for the Tigers' offense.

Since Wilson's return in December 2021, LSU's rushing game has transformed....

In comparison:

During 2021 without Coach Wilson, LSU's rushing game was abysmal; behind a veteran offensive line group (including Deculus & Ingram), Ty Davis-Price may have barely hit the unthinkable 1,000 yard mark, yet his 1,003 yards was almost all of LSU's entire 2021 tally.

That year, the Tigers just mustered 3.3 yards per rush on the season; Even deeper, across 10 of their 13 contests, LSU rushed for under 3.5 yards per carry, including 8 times the Tigers failed to crack more than 2.7 per touch.....the nadir arriving at home vs Auburn where LSU gained a paltry 33 overall yards from 25 attempts for a starving 1.3 yards each rush.....

Noah Cain

In 2021, LSU's running backs only rushed for 8 touchdowns altogether as an entire unit...

Since Frank Wilson's return, things have changed greatly for the fortunes of LSU's ground and pound baptism:

Behind an offensive line rooted by two freshmen tackles, multiple centers, injury issues, and some shuffling at guard, while Wilson utilized most of the same backs from LSU's 2021 unit, the Tigers' backfield battlers rushed for 1,687 on the ground off 331 attempts, earning 5.1 yards per carry as a group, gaining 19 more first downs than the year prior, and topping it off by scoring 28 touchdowns.

John Emery Jr

Headlined by John Emery Jr (375), Josh Williams (532), Armoni Goodwin (267), and Noah Cain (409), the Tigers leaned on their quadruple-headed backfield monster, all gaining 4.9 yards per carry or more while scoring 5-10 touchdowns (Goodwin 5 scores in 7 appearances, Emery and Williams at 6 TDs apiece, and Noah Cain leading with 10).

Though QB Jayden Daniels led the way regarding rushing yards, missed tackles forced, first downs earned, runs of 10+ yards, yards after contact, and rushing touchdowns, the Tigers were far more varied, explosive & dependable in 2022:

Throughout 2021, Ty Davis-Price led the way with 30 runs of 10 or more yards...with only 14 rushes of 10+ coming from the other 5 running backs; to compare, Wilson's 5 backs produced 23 more explosive runs than 2021.

Armoni Goodwin

Due to Frank Wilson's underrated coaching acumen, the intelligence and toughness of Brad Davis' young offensive line, alongside Jayden Daniels' own 186 rushing attempts wearing down defenders, this past fall LSU were able to line up and hit teams in the mouth, running the ball down their throats until they established the line of scrimmage.

It was far from just the Jayden Daniels show:

Aside from their quarterback's sensational output, Wilson's backs were able to record 100+ yards on the ground in 10 of the Tigers' 14 games.

Likely Starter Josh Williams

Between the backs and Daniels' 885 yards last fall, there won't be too many preseason worries regarding LSU's rushing attack, especially considering Trey Holly and Kaleb Jackson now back up the front four of Williams, Emery Jr, Cain, and Goodwin, (July update) the dual transfer arrivals of Logan Diggs & the return of Tre Bradford, with walk-on Corren Norman now back from an ACL injury, and iconic Tiger running back Nick Brossette on staff to assist Wilson.

Most fans or analysts will be focused squarely on Daniels' progress as a passer, LSU's new look receiving corps, and which offensive linemen grab starting or rotation spots, yet after 2022, any Tiger fan has to feel supremely confident Brian Kelly and co have begun to prove themselves in the meat and potatoes department of LSU's offensive identity.

With some moments of failure to help motivate, innovate, and perfect LSU's running game, like mustering only 47 total rushing yards vs Georgia, or recording under 50 vs both Florida State & Tennessee respectively, as Emery Jr, Williams, Cain, and Goodwin mature & develop, there is no shortage of iron clad options or directions for the Tigers' ground game to traverse.


By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN

@LonnPhillips

©️ 2023 Uninterrupted Writings Inc

Author with LSU icon Frank Wilson

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4 Comments


Hoping Goodman returns better than ever. He could be the big surprise of the year back there.

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Lonn Phillips Sullivan
Lonn Phillips Sullivan
Mar 05, 2023
Replying to

Goodwin should be ready to go 100% for the season, however injuries have always kept him from the field. He's missed a lot of football where he would've otherwise played.

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BayouTigerGal
BayouTigerGal
Mar 02, 2023

Great photo Lonn! Got to love Frank Wilson. My McNeese Cowboys’ loss was my LSU Tigers’ gain. But I’m not complaining! I’ll take it!

💜💛💜🐯 #GeauxTigers

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Lonn Phillips Sullivan
Lonn Phillips Sullivan
Mar 04, 2023
Replying to

Had a random, lengthy and unreal talk with Uncle Frank as he left LSU Football Ops. He actually said "you've come all this way, let's get a photo!" After we talked recruiting and he'd mentioned he saw our writings. He was incredible, said that he just talked with Mathieu, that was the day Tyrann came to LSU Ops. It was a wild day.

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