Most coaches don't like to enter the college football season with burning questions staring them in the face.
In Les Miles' case, he faces one of those questions just about every day. But in this case, it's a great "problem" to have.
"How are you going to distribute carries among four talented running backs," coach Miles?
If the Mad Hatter had a quarter for every time he's probably been asked that question, well, he'd probably have a nicely-sized piggy bank in the making.
LSU enters the 2012 season with a four-headed monster at running back. Michael Ford, Spencer Ware, Alfred Blue and Kenny Hilliard combined to run for more than 2,300 yards and 30 combined touchdowns last season, and all four will return this year.
So again, how does Miles plan to use this talented group of backs?
Well, for starters, each of one these backs have their own unique dynamic.
Ware and Ford are the most experienced of the group, both entering their junior seasons, and both totaling more than 700 rushing yards last season. They will likely share the starting tailback duties in this loaded backfield.
Ware is a bruising back who uses his 223-pound frame to pick up yards after contact. However, he also has solid speed and quickness, which made him one of the top recruited backs in the nation back in 2010. Ware started 10 games last season while scoring a team-high eight touchdowns.
Ford, who is the other likely candidate to start in this LSU backfield is a complete back with elite quickness, balance and cutback ability. He started two games last season, but ended up leading the Tigers in rushing with 756 yards. Ford was LSU's most consistent back, never rushing for more than 100 yards in a game, but topping the 50-yard mark on nine separate occasions, including seven rushing touchdowns.
The other two backs, Blue and Hilliard, are specialty backs, who will likely be used in certain situations.
Blue is the fastest among the Tigers' running backs. When the Tigers need a home run threat out there, look for Blue to enter the football game. He averaged an eye-popping 6.9 yards per carry last season, including three runs of 45 or more yards in his final three games of the regular season.
Then there is Hilliard, who has the body of a middle linebacker, the power of a defensive end and the quickness of a running back. Put those all together and LSU has the ideal goal line back in Hilliard. Whenever the Tigers call for a short-yardage situation, Hilliard is their man, no doubt about it. He tied Ware with a team-leading eight rushing touchdowns in 2012, two of which came against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game.
The best way for Miles to use this talented group of RBs is to play to their specialties. Stick with Ware and Ford as your lead, do-it-all back, go to Blue when you need a big play and give it to Hilliard in goal line or short-yardage situations.
That formula right there is perfect for a dominant backfield, and if Miles plays his cards right and follows that formula, maybe he'll stop hearing that same burning question so much in the future.
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