In 2013, LSU’s running game was sparked by Jeremy Hill, who finished the season with 1,401 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. Since Hill entered the NFL Draft, it will be up to Leonard Fournette, Terrence Magee, and/or Kenny Hilliard to lead the Tigers in the backfield. Since the Tigers have had some good running backs and very average quarterbacks of late, logic has dictated that LSU rely on the rushing attack more often than the passing game in recent years. If Fournette, Magee, and Hilliard could each gain around 850 to 900 rushing yards in 2014, that could be the key to another national championship.
Many people expected Zach Mettenberger to be the star player at LSU last year since Cam Cameron took over the offensive coordinator position. It seemed as though Cam Cameron wanted the rushing attack to be key for victory last season, instead of the passing attack. But didn’t Cam Cameron lead Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl? His experience working closely with quarterbacks should help LSU, even though he will probably call more running plays again this season than passing plays.
Many expect Anthony Jennings to be the star at LSU this season, but we all know how it turned out the last time a quarterback was expected to be the star at LSU. The Tigers still relied on the running game. The strong rushing attack from the Tigers last season led them to a very respectable 10-3 record and an Outback Bowl victory over Iowa. LSU has become one of the top rushing teams in the nation.
The tough and physical power of running backs that LSU will have in 2014 could lead them to an amazing season. With Leonard Fournette expected to be the main rusher this season, it will be fun to see if the Tigers can maintain the running game like they have in recent years. LSU has been relying on the rushing attack for decades, going back to when Billy Cannon played there and won the Heisman Trophy in 1958- the same year the Tigers claimed their first national title.
In 2007, Les Miles’ Tigers did depend on the play of quarterbacks Matt Flynn and Jamarcus Russell a little more than they have on subsequent quarterbacks Jordan Jefferson, Jarrett Lee, and the aforementioned Mettenberger. When necessary, the coaching staff hasn’t been hesitant to go to the air, but the results have been mixed. In 2011, when LSU played Alabama in a rematch game for the national championship, the Tide did a noteworthy job shutting down the Tigers’ run game. LSU was forced to let quarterback Jordan Jefferson throw much more than usual, and Alabama won 21-0. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger had some outstanding performances in 2013, but is graduating. With two untested quarterbacks battling for the starting job this spring, it is safe to say that the Tigers should lean on a power running game that has been their key to victory for many years now. With the depth they have at the position, a national championship in 2014 is not out of the question.
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