One of the biggest talking points during LSU football’s loss to Florida State in Week 1 was the lack of any real rushing attack. The Tigers—well, anybody not named Jayden Daniels—struggled to run the football against the Seminoles in the 24-23 defeat. This aspect of the offense was something that Brian Kelly and his staff needed to work on. The Bayou Bengals did so against Southern, but there was no telling how the run game would hold up in SEC play.
The Bayou Bengals gave fans a preview of how it’d fare against conference opposition when they squared off against Mississippi State last weekend. The reason it’s classified as a preview is because there is still time to improve on Saturday when LSU hosts New Mexico. The Tigers will use this non-conference game as a tune-up before getting into the thick of their schedule.
LSU football: RB John Emery’s return to the field will lead to more chances
LSU’s running game was far from perfect in its first test against a Southeastern Conference foe. The Tigers struggled to get anything going for a majority of the first half on offense as a whole, never mind on the ground. Mike Denbrock’s iffy play calling and a new offensive line finding its groove can be explanations for this slow start to the game.
However, one major positive takeaway from the win revolved around John Emery Jr. The veteran running back returned to action for the first time in over a year following his academic suspension. LSU’s No. 4 got a majority of the carries as he handled the ball on 11 of the team’s 21 rushing attempts. He didn’t look like a world-beater in his first game back, but his return to action is a huge positive for the Tigers’ offense going forward.
Emery Jr. brings with him the experience to lead an SEC backfield. He’s also probably the most versatile back on the team. Emery Jr. is arguably the most talented too. Armoni Goodwin has emerged as a fantastic, young prospect, and he now has a veteran to perfect his craft under. Emery Jr.’s return gives LSU a true No. 1 option in the backfield. Once he gets a few more touches under his belt and he’s back to full speed, he’ll have the running game clicking in no time.
In turn, the talented wide receivers will benefit greatly. The Bayou Bengals will be able to spread the ball out more and become a true two-dimensional offense once the running game establishes some consistency. This will be music to Denbrock’s ears as a man who has come under fire from fans for his questionable playcalling early on in the season.
LSU’s offense—specifically the rushing attack—has been a mixed bag thus far. Emery Jr. opens up new doors and allows the Tigers to open up the playbook a bit. He showed flashes of his old self when racking up almost 50 yards of total offense last weekend. Now, it’s time for the senior to put it all together and be a difference maker for the Bayou Bengals.