LSU Football: Projecting Stats for Tigers' Superb Committee of Running Backs

Sean MerrimanCorrespondent IJune 29, 2012

LSU Football: Projecting Stats for Tigers' Superb Committee of Running Backs

0 of 5

    While a number of college coaches are in the process of preparing ways to replace their stud running back from the 2011 college football season, LSU's Les Miles has to be sitting back with a smile on his face.

    LSU had four running backs who combined to run for more than 2,300 yards and 30 touchdowns last season, and fortunately for Miles and this LSU team, all four are returning in 2012.

    Spencer Ware, Michael Ford, Alfred Blue and Kenny Hilliard should form what many believe to be the top backfield in the nation this season.

    The question is, how does Miles go about spreading the love between four talented backs, each one of which could be a starter on just about any team in America?

    Let's figure it out as we go ahead and project stats for the Tigers' superb committee of running backs in the upcoming season.

Spencer Ware

1 of 5

    Projected 2012 Stats

    Carries: 180

    Yards: 750

    YPC: 4.2

    Rushing Touchdowns: 10

    Spencer Ware is the workhorse of the group. He's the guy who will probably end up starting more games than any other runner in the LSU backfield.

    Ware carried the ball a team-high 177 times last season, which is a number that we should expect him to match in 2012. His 707 yards ranked second on the team, and his eight rushing touchdowns were tied for the lead.

    Ware was the most highly-touted of these backs coming out of high school, and obviously scouts were right to believe that he has a tremendous amount of talent.

    He won't lead the SEC in rushing yards by any means, but he is a top-notch starting back in a backfield that is absolutely littered with talent from top to bottom.

Michael Ford

2 of 5

    Projected 2012 Stats

    Carries: 155

    Yards: 975

    YPC: 6.3

    Rushing Touchdowns: 8

    Michael Ford is the most steady back on this team, with a solid size/speed combination that allows him to break off big plays at any time.

    Ford isn't a guy who is going to rush for 150-plus yards in back-to-back games, but he will run for 50-80 yards in just about every game he plays in for the Tigers in 2012.

    When it gets to the fourth quarter and LSU is driving for the winning score, don't be surprised to see Ford get the call. He is as reliable as they come, and chances are good that he will end up leading this team in rushing in 2012.

Alfred Blue

3 of 5

    Projected 2012 Stats:

    Carries: 85

    Yards: 570

    YPC: 6.7

    Rushing Touchdowns: 5

    When this LSU team is looking for a spark plug to come into the game and provide a big play, they look no further than Alfred Blue.

    The 6'2", 215-pound back averaged an eye-popping 6.9 yards per carry last season for the Tigers. That included three runs of 45-or-more yards in the final three games he played in the regular season.

    Having said that, Blue's carries were very inconsistent in 2011, so it's difficult to project his stats.

    For example, he received 14 carries in a big SEC home game against Florida, but received only four carries the following week against Tennessee. He also had eight carries in the SEC Title Game against Georgia, but didn't receive a single carry in the BCS Championship Game against Alabama.

    Chances are, with the combination of a first-year starter under center in 2012 and Blue's big-play ability, you will see him get more carries and keep that solid YPC average up.

Kenny Hilliard

4 of 5

    Projected 2012 Stats

    Carries: 78

    Yards: 450

    YPC: 5.8

    Rushing Touchdowns: 10

    Kenny Hilliard had an outstanding freshman season for the Tigers last year, scoring a team-high eight rushing touchdowns in addition to his 336 yards on the ground.

    Hilliard is a bruising back who uses his 240-pound frame to pick up extra yards after contact. He was used in short yardage situations last year, which should be a role that he will keep in the upcoming 2012 campaign.

    It's hard to envision a scenario where Hilliard would top 100 carries, but make no mistake, whenever the Tigers get in third-and-short or goal-line situations, Miles will call on his big back to carry the load.

    Don't be surprised to see Hilliard lead the Tigers in touchdowns in 2012.

Terrence Magee

5 of 5

    Projected 2012 Stats

    Carries: 30

    Yards: 160

    YPC: 5.3

    Rushing Touchdowns: 2

    Terrence Magee is one of the top athletes on this LSU roster, but because of the talent ahead of him on the running back depth chart, he could have a tough time getting carries.

    Nevertheless, Magee is too talented and showed enough promise in limited time last season to be kept off the field altogether. Look for LSU to use this speedy back when they are winning big in games, or when they just need a change of pace.

    Totalling 30 carries and 150-plus yards isn't bad for a kid who is listed as the fifth running back on this talented depth chart.