Here’s more good news for LSU fans: Just in time for the finishing stretch, Derrius Guice is getting back to his devastating best.
Coach Ed Orgeron said Guice is in his best condition of the season during the SEC coaches’ teleconference Wednesday. Orgeron said Guice is “the healthiest he’s been” and that Guice began returning to full strength around the Ole Miss game, a 40-24 Tigers victory on October 21.
The numbers bear that out: Guice, the SEC’s leading rusher during the 2016 season, clearly is trending in the right direction. Because of injury, Guice gained just 14 yards against Syracuse and didn’t play at all in the home loss to Troy.
It’s taken him a few games to return to full speed, but the progress is clear.
Guice gained 50 yards on 17 carries in his first game back against Florida, boosted that total slightly to 71 yards on 20 rushes against Auburn, then exploded against the Rebels: 22 carries for 276 yards and a touchdown.
Although he couldn’t match those numbers last week – 71 yards on 19 carries – he still performed capably against Alabama, which has the nation’s top-ranked rushing defense. The Crimson Tide defense has allowed, on average, just 75.8 yards per game this season.
With Guice healthy, LSU fans can get ready for him to hit defenses for serious yardage in the next two games, against Arkansas and Tennessee. The Hogs are 96th in the nation in rushing defense, allowing 190.2 yards per game. Tennessee is even worse, yielding 237.3 yards per game to rank 123rd.
The Tigers close the regular season against Texas A&M, which is 53rd in rush defense.
Winning all three games would give the Tigers a shot at second place in the SEC West behind Alabama, which almost certainly would mean a a prominent bowl game.
Guice, who has 782 yards, has work to do to match last season’s SEC-best total of 1,387 – he would need to average more than 150 yards in his three remaining regular-season games and a bowl. If he even comes close, though, he can give LSU a chance to end Orgeron’s first full season at the helm on a high note.
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