LSU football will lean on its offensive line to replace Jayden Daniels’ rushing yards

LSU football's offense will have to find a way to replace Jayden Daniels' rushing ability. PHOTO BY: Jonathan Mailhes

In his two seasons at LSU, Heisman-winning quarterback Jayden Daniels rushed for over 2,000 yards and 21 touchdowns. He was LSU’s leading rusher in both seasons. Now he’s gone, and LSU’s offense will have to adjust.

Garrett Nussmeier is the heir apparent at the quarterback position. He has flashed his arm talent over the years, but he’s not going to run the ball like Daniels did. Nussmeier has just seven career rushing attempts and didn’t run the ball once in his only career start.

“Each year is going to have a little bit of a change,” LSU head coach Brain Kelly said. “This is still going to be about finding the best playmakers and getting them the ball like it was last year. Garrett is a different quarterback than Jayden, so we’ll look to do things that highlight him.”

LSU routinely relied on Daniels ability to run and utilized zone read concepts last season. Daniels also generated rushing yards with his scrambling ability. Kelly said that the team will have to get creative with replacing the rushing yards that Daniels had.

“You’re looking to make up for those yards that you’ve lost with a Jayden Daniels,” Kelly said. “You can do it in a number of different ways. You can do it with perimeter throws that Jayden gave us with perimeter runs and you can do it not simply with the running backs, but how you use your offensive line.”

Kelly said he believes LSU’s offensive line is one of the best in the country and the athleticism of the line will allow the Tigers to do more with the rushing attack. Being able to utilize offensive lineman that can be moved around and get into space will help LSU create a running game that “strikes on a much wider front.”

The group features Will Campbell, who wears the coveted No. 7 jersey for the Tigers, as the leader. He was joined by Garret Dellinger, DJ Chester, Miles Frazier and Emery Jones on the first team offensive line during the second LSU spring practice.

“Certainly, the running backs will play a part in this, but I think the focus needs to be much more on how the offensive line will play a much larger role in what we do to enhance our running game,” Kelly said.

Josh Williams and Kaleb Jackson are currently the only two scholarship running backs at LSU’s practices right now. They will be joined by four-star running back Caden Durham later this offseason.

Joe Sloan will be the new play caller for the LSU offense after Mike Denbrock left for Notre Dame at the end of last season. He might look to the short passing game to replace yards from the running game. Sloan was the play caller in LSU’s bowl win over Wisconsin and the offense didn’t seem to miss a beat without Denbrock or Daniels.

LSU put up 492 yards of offense and scored 35 points. Nussmeier threw for 395 yards and attempted 45 passes. Daniels only attempted 45 passes once in his LSU career. The Tigers also rushed for 97 yards.

“I just felt like [Sloan] had the leadership capabilities, the intellect, the understanding of what I was looking for in terms of offensive identity and philosophy,” Kelly said. “I think he’s well supported with Cortez [Hankton]. I think that we’ve put an offensive staff around him and built an offensive line that’s really going to support him.”

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