This Saturday, Texas A&M will be in Baton Rouge to face LSU in the SEC Game of the Week. Both teams’ running games are similar in the fact that they both use four running backs effectively. Both teams have four running backs with at least 200 yards rushing, and three on each team have at least five touchdown runs.
Johnny Manziel is the Aggies’ leading rusher and is not even part of the statistics mentioned above. The reigning Heisman winner has a team best 611 yards on the ground and 8 touchdown runs, second most on the team.
Ben Malena has the most rushing yards on the team next to Johnny Football. Malena has 476 rushing yards this season and a team best nine rushing touchdowns, but he has really struggled recently. In the past four games he has averaged a mere 28 yards per game with only one touchdown.
Trey Williams has continued to play well as the second option at running back and is third on the team in both rushing yards and touchdowns with 326 yards and six touchdowns. As a result of Malena’s struggles he has been the top performing running back for the Aggies of late picking up a touchdown in each of the last three games.
Tra Carson began the season on a tear with two touchdowns in each of his first two games, but once the competition became tougher his carries decreased dramatically and so did his production. Since the first two games, apart from his 64 rushing yards against Arkansas, he has been almost non-existent. He suffered a frightening neck injury against UTEP but is said to have recovered well.
LSU has struggled in stopping the run this season and rank 61st in the nation in rush defense as the Tigers traditionally strong defense has uncharacteristically allowed 159.7 yards per game on the ground. To make matters worse they are coming off a performance in which they allowed Alabama to run for 193 yards in a game they were able to impose their will on the LSU front seven.
The Tigers have been slightly better at home this season as they only allow 135.5 yards per game on the ground, but the level of competition, with the exception of Auburn, has been very weak. Furthermore, LSU has not seen a running quarterback like Manziel this season who was limited to 17 yards in the meeting last year, but is capable of rushing for 100-yards on any given day or defense.
However, if Malena continues to struggle and the Tigers are able to bottle up Manziel as they did last year they can turn the Aggies into a one-dimensional team–albeit a great one dimension–and let John Chavis run more nickel and dime sets to slow down a potent passing attack.
Expect a lot of points to be scored on Saturday afternoon in a game that may be decided by the team with the ball last.