South Carolina vs. LSU: Why Have Tigers Been Hiding Jeremy Hill?

Ian BergCorrespondent IOctober 13, 2012

October 13, 2012; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers running back Jeremy Hill (33) runs past South Carolina Gamecocks safety D.J. Swearinger (36) on a touchdown during the third quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

LSU had a secret weapon Saturday. It was freshman running back Jeremy Hill. With the crowded backfield found in Baton Rouge, it hasn’t been surprising to see Hill’s carries limited—until now.

Jeremy Hill exploded onto the scene against the Gamecocks Saturday night, carrying the ball 17 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns. That is a 7.3 yards per carry average against what was the No. 9 rushing defense in the country.

LSU had five different backs tote the rock against South Carolina, but only Hill had explosive success. Spencer Ware had some big runs, as did Michael Ford, but Hill stole the show.

Hill is a true freshman from Redemptorist High School in Baton Rouge, La. He was a Parade All-American selection in 2010, enrolling at LSU this past spring after off-the-field legal issues delayed enrollment.

Through the first few weeks of 2012 fall camp, Hill emerged as one of the top backs on the Tigers roster. With Michael Ford facing academic issues to start the year, Hill was expected to be a mainstay in the Tigers offensive attack.

Ford was ruled eligible, and Hill was promptly pushed back down the Bayou Bengals depth chart. With Michael Ford, Kenny Hilliard, Spencer Ware and Alfred Blue, the Tigers were set at tailback.

An injury ended Blue’s season last month, opening the door again for Hill.

A loss to Florida on October 6 coupled with the injury to Blue had LSU scrambling to find a life on offense. They may have found it in Jeremy Hill.

Having Hill listed as the fifth-string back was no surprise with the talent that was listed ahead of him. Hill had been off of the field for a year prior to this spring, so there were a lot of questions that he had to answer before he became a viable option for LSU.

With the performance that happened before the country tonight on ESPN, Hill answered those questions and he may have moved into the primary back role for the Tigers.

When the Tigers needed tough yards, they went to Hill. Hill got the tough yards and a few more with consistency. It was great to see this young back develop in 60 minutes.

The most impressive play that Hill made all night was not a run. Surprising as it may be, it was an effort play that gets Hill the biggest pat on the back.

Zach Mettenberger threw an interception early in the first quarter and it looked to be a pick-six for the Gamecocks. 60 yards later, Hill hustled from the backside of the play and made the touchdown saving tackle. Helmet sticker earned.

Little things make football teams great. Hustle plays are a part of that greatness and Hill gave the Tigers one tonight. Add in the impressive rushing performance by the freshman, and he was the most impressive player on the field Saturday night in Baton Rouge.

It was fitting for Hill to land his first big game in front of the home crowd. Tigers fans get ready, he is the future of the backfield.