It’s not like Alabama has yet to face an elite LSU running back before. For the last three seasons, its defense has been tasked with stopping former All-American Leonard Fournette. The Crimson Tide answered the call each time, limiting the now Jacksonville Jaguar tailback to two and half yards per carry.
But this season, the Alabama defense has the pleasure of tackling Derrius Guice: the 220-pound wrecking ball, who sat in the shadows of Fournette for the last two season but now leads this LSU Tiger offense.
“He’s a good back,” defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick said. “He’s one of the best in the SEC. He runs really hard, runs really fast, makes good cuts and has good vision. Probably one of the most talented backs we’ve faced this season and we’re just going to do our jobs to try and contain him.”
Guice has racked up 711 yards and six touchdowns so far in 2017. For anyone else in the conference, that is a great stat line through nine games. But, the junior tailback has been hobbled by a knee injury he sustained against Mississippi State, and as a result saw limited action against Syracuse and Florida.
Guice was voted a preseason first team all-conference running back. He was on the short list of preseason Heisman candidates but has been a shell of himself so far due to the injury.
But last week, he showed flashes of his former glory. He ripped through the Ole Miss Rebels’ defense for 276 yards on Saturday. The talented Tiger showed the world just what kind of running back he can be when he is 100 percent.
“You can definitely see that he’s getting back to his old self,” linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton said. “Running through tackles, breaking tackles, that burst. Their offense is really starting to hit its stride now, they are used to their new offensive coordinator, and they are really playing good ball now.”
Even though Guice is a junior and saw action in the last two meetings against the Crimson Tide, he has not been able to unveil his full arsenal of talent. He returned kicks as a freshman against Alabama in 2015, and last season only carried the pigskin twice for eight yards. But as the college football landscape has come to expect from Nick Saban, he and the Crimson Tide defense are not taking any chances against an opponent – especially one on Guice’s level.
“I think first of all, he’s a great competitor,” head coach Nick Saban said. “When you watch him, he runs with a lot of toughness. He’s got power, change of direction. He’s got a burst of speed. He’s a good receiver. So he’s really just a really good all-around player.”
As has been the case for all of the Saban coached Alabama teams, respect for the opponent comes before all else–respecting the opponent so that your preparation is about as good as it can get. But, do not let the praise and politeness of the Crimson Tide defense fool you. It has not forgot the comments Guice made last year about how the Alabama defense, and others in the SEC, is scared of the LSU run game.
Guice will get his shot to face the defense that ranks first in the country in run defense Saturday night. Whether or not it will be scared is an answer we will receive when the clock hits double zeroes.
“You definitely get excited,” Hamilton said. “He’s one of the best backs in the country. So you’ve got a chance to play against a really good back, so we’ll see how we respond.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports