Back Guice Better Than Fournette?

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Guice Better Than Fournette?

By Jim Johnson
SouthernPigskin.com
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It would be absurd to expect Derrius Guice to top Fournette’s 2015 production, but don’t be surprised if he comes close.

Leonard Fournette was the perfect running back -- six feet tall, somewhere between 230 and 240 pounds, cut from agate touched by Hercules, fast, fearless, and functionally unstoppable.

Ultimately, unforgettable.

In 2015, he had one of the greatest single seasons in SEC history, going for 22 touchdowns and just shy of 2,000 yards, a mark surpassed only by Derrick Henry, curiously enough that same year, who did it with 95 more carries.

It would be absurd to expect Derrius Guice to top Fournette’s 2015 production, but don’t be surprised if he comes close.

That said, his own teammate, defensive lineman Christian LaCouture, when forced to choose, said, “I would probably say Derrius is harder to tackle than Leonard. He’s a little more shifty, more elusive.”

He does have a secret weapon that his predecessor never got to enjoy: new Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada.

I already went in depth on “The Canada Effect”, back when the hire was announced.

The short version is that James Conner, at Pitt last year, in Canada’s offense, scored 20 touchdowns (eighth in the country), mere months removed from undergoing chemotherapy treatments for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Conner, certainly, deserves the lionshare of the credit, as well as every other gift life has to offer, forever, but Canada’s contributions can’t be understated.

In 2016, even without Canada, whilst also sharing a backfield with the aforementioned superhuman we refer to as Leonard Fournette, Guice got busy breaking records.

In last year’s game against Texas A&M, in November, Guice broke Fournette’s single game rushing record with a 285-yard showing.

Against Arkansas, his 96-yard touchdown became the longest rush in school history.

He also became the fastest LSU Tiger to ever get to 1,000 career rushing yards, doing it in only 113 touches.

Suffice it to say, even if Guice isn’t quite Fournette, he’ll be the most talented player that Canada has ever had at his disposal -- a list that includes the likes of Conner, Jaylen Samuels, and Montee Ball.

Guice is already an all-purpose dynamo, averaging a league-high 143 yard yards per game last year. However, one area that he could serve to improve is his ability as a pass catcher out of the backfield. He had less than ten grabs, barely cracked the century mark in yards and scored just one receiving touchdown, a year ago.

Similarly, James Conner had nine career receptions, prior to Canada’s arrival at Pitt. He more than doubled that, though, en route to over 300 yards and four touchdowns in his final season.

That added element, should he expand his game to the same or an even greater extent, might be the difference in him going from the best running back in the SEC to the best running back in college football.

At SEC Media Days, Guice confirmed an increased role in the passing game saying, “I’ll have to.”

He went on to describe Matt Canada’s offense, “We even have our defense confused sometimes. It’s a fun offense.”

Canada puts guys in motion and utilizes plenty of misdirection, concepts that play quite perfectly into Guice’s strengths, as he is, in no uncertain terms, deadly in space.

Coach Orgeron believes that, under Canada, “By the end of the year, Derrius Guice will be one of the best players in America.”

With his star player’s natural ability, and his offensive coordinator’s track record, Coach O might be right.

Derrius Guice will never make LSU fans say, ‘Leonard who?’, he’s just going to make himself unforgettable, too.

Jim Johnson - Editor of Southern Pigskin, Producer of "Three & Out", and host of "Explosive Recruiting" on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. E-mail: jim@espncoastal.com Twitter: @JimJohnsonSP