Derrius Guice’s 155-yard rushing night against Jacksonville State on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium could have been even better if not for one play.
Guice, who wound up just six yards shy of his career-best 161 yards he piled up as a freshman last October against South Carolina, also caught one pass for 16 yards in the 34-13 rout of Jacksonville State.
It would have been a perfect night for Guice, a former Catholic High star, had he been able to reel in a long pass down the right sideline in the third quarter.
Running a wheel route out of the backfield, Guice sped past Jacksonville State linebacker Joel McCandless and had seven yards on the Gamecocks defender when he tried to pull in Etling's pass with his right hand.
But when Guice couldn't gain control of the pass at the JSU 25, it fell harmlessly to the turf.
Guice continued running and as he neared the goal line, he tapped his chest to tell the crowd that he should have had it.
“I told Danny that was on me … I kind of messed up his stats there,” Guice said of Etling, who finished 6-of-14 for 100 yards. “But it hurt me, too, to see I dropped a wide-open ball like that. I’m going to make it up to him."
Don’t play Danny Etling in Madden.
That begins Saturday night in a game against Mississippi State (1-1) at Tiger Stadium.
With Leonard Fournette's status remaining up in the air from an ankle injury suffered in the season opener, Guice, his backup, could see significant playing time.
That opener against Wisconsin is also on Guice's list of things he wants to make amends for this season.
He lost a fumble on his first carry of the game in the second quarter and the opportunistic Badgers turned the takeaway into their first field goal in a 16-14 victory.
Guice had a constant reminder of it in practice last week.
Coach Les Miles had him doing multiple ball-security drills — including holding the ball “high and tight, even while he is watching from the sideline when other backs ran plays.
“He (Miles) knows I’m one of the best ball-security guys on the team, but as a coach he did what he had to do to make sure I prevent it as a player,” said Guice, who had 76 touches as a freshman without putting the ball on the ground. “I can't let it happen again.
“He’s going to make me do those drills the rest of the year because it’s one of those things that can cost you a game,” he said. “That was one of the reasons we lost that game, the turnover margin, so I’m trying to make that up.”