BATON ROUGE, La. — Only Bo knows the SEC record LSU running back Derrius Guice is on the precipice of setting this Saturday at Tennessee.
Ever since he played his last game at Auburn in 1985, Bo Jackson has been the SEC’s career leader in yards per carry. Jackson, who won the ’85 Heisman before becoming a star in both the NFL and Major League Baseball, averaged 6.62 yards per carry over his four-year career.
With just two more carries, Guice will be at 400 for his career. And in the SEC record book, that qualifies him to be the league’s new all-time leader in the category. Guice heads into the Tennessee game averaging 6.91 yards a pop on his 398 career carries.
“It means you’re a stud of a running back,” said LSU tight end Foster Moreau. “And he’ll be a stud of a running back for a long time to come. I’d bet on Derrius for a long time to come — if that was a legal thing I could do.”
Despite being on the verge of breaking a mark held by one of the biggest names in sports history, Guice seems to be flying under the radar this season. National conversations about the best running back in the country have revolved around Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, Stanford’s Bryce Love or Notre Dame’s Josh Adams. Guice is the forgotten man.
The left knee Guice sprained at Mississippi State in Week 3 is no doubt a major factor in his absence from that discussion. He put up pedestrian numbers as he played his way through the injury, but there is no question he is back now.
Guice finally broke through with a monster 276-yard effort at Ole Miss in October. Last week against Arkansas, he made a career day for most other backs — 147 yards and 3 touchdowns — look like just another day at the office.
It’s gotten to the point where Moreau believes he or another blocker is likely to blame on a Guice carry under 4 yards.
“You just have to block for the guy,” Moreau said. “If Derrius isn’t getting those long runs, either they are dialing something up that we can’t handle, or we’re just beating ourselves up front.”
Guice’s ability to hit the long ball once he gets to the second level is a major factor in his gaudy yards per carry average. Since 2015, Guice is leading the SEC with 33 carries of at least 20 yards. Georgia’s Nick Chubb is the next-closest player with 28 gains of at least 20 yards in the same span.
Without breakout runs like his school-record 96-yard touchdown at Arkansas last season, Guice wouldn’t be able to break Jackson’s record. But it’s not just the big runs that impress Guice’s teammates and coaches.
Ed Orgeron’s favorite run from the Arkansas game last Saturday actually falls below Guice’s career average. It was his 6-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, the final 3 yards of which were spent driving two Razorbacks tacklers with him into the end zone.
“I think it sends a message of physical football,” Orgeron said. “And he’s done that several times. And when he does that, I think it uplifts the team.”