During LSU football spring practice, running back Derrius Guice is sometimes reminded of his performance in a high school all-star game more than two years ago.
You may remember that game — the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio in January 2015. Guice, a Baton Rouge native and Heisman Trophy hopeful for 2017, was named MVP.
His stat line: two receptions, 153 yards, two touchdowns. Guice volunteered to play slot receiver because his team's roster was loaded at running back.
So why the heck is he reminded of that during spring practice?
“I’ll be at receiver a lot now,” Guice said, describing his changing role in new coordinator Matt Canada’s scheme. “Those linebackers are in for a treat. That’s all I got to say.”
Guice has missed the past week of practice after twisting his ankle, coach Ed Orgeron said, during the Tigers’ first scrimmage of spring drills March 18. His practice participation isn’t a top priority. He’s a rising junior who has started six games, played in 24 and ran for 1,387 yards last season.
That said, he has more to learn this spring than, say, last spring. The running backs’ roles aren’t changing as much as those at receiver or quarterback or even tight end. But Canada’s system includes a few tweaks for Guice, Darrel Williams and the other backs. Most notable: motioning out or lining up at receiver.
“Takes me (back) to the All-American game,” Guice laughed. “Got to go back out and get the MVP again.”
The running backs have many plays where they motion out to the receiver position, but most of the presnap shifting is done by receivers, Guice said.
“I don’t know how much he’s going to call those plays with me motioning out,” Guice said, “but the receivers will be motioning a lot.”
Runs out of the backfield aren’t so different from LSU’s old offense, Guice said. The big change is running without a fullback. LSU is rarely practicing in the I-formation, and Canada has combined the fullbacks and tight ends into a new spread-friendly position group: H-back.
The H-back can line up at the traditional fullback spot, but he mostly plays off-set of the tackle or in the traditional tight end spot. He also can split out wide or line up in the slot.
“It’s not weird,” Guice of the fullback-less looks. “How I look at it, there were a lot of instances (last year) where we didn’t have a fullback — like in shotgun. I just take it how it is.”
Xavier Lewis is used to being near the box.
‘Long way’ to go in QB battle
LSU’s quarterback competition is a long way from being over, Canada told The Advocate last week.
Danny Etling is the “clear” leader for the job, Orgeron said earlier this spring, but other coaches, especially Canada, are treating the position as if it’s up for grabs. Justin McMillan, Lindsey Scott and Lowell Narcisse are all in the race.
“Great kids who are working hard. I appreciate how hard they work,” Canada said from the LSU coaches clinic last week. “Quarterback is a hard position. You’ve got the ball in your hand. Everybody’s looking at them, talking about them. We’re a long way from making any kind of (decision on) how we are and what we’re doing.”
Etling, McMillan and Scott are receiving most of the reps during scrimmages and practice, Orgeron said Saturday. McMillan and Scott are splitting some of the snaps with the No. 2s.