LSU head coach Ed Orgeron didn’t mince words when discussing the difference in the Tigers’ 31-21 victory against Louisiana Tech on Saturday night.
He said it all came down to the rushing game, and second-string running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire had a career night against the Bulldogs.
Edwards-Helaire amassed 136 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Louisiana Tech, out-rushing starting running back Nick Brossette (22 carries, 78 yards, three touchdowns) for the first time since the duo became the primary ball carriers for the Tigers this season.
“We’ve been waiting for that,” Orgeron said after the game. “We saw it in (preseason) camp. Clyde had a couple injuries in camp, and obviously Nick took the bull by the horns in the first few games. But we thought Clyde was right there with Nick step by step. And I was glad to see him run the ball like he did today.”
Edwards-Helaire remained humble after his first 100-yard game, deflecting praise toward the offensive line.
When asked to identify his favorite moment of the game, he spoke about Brossette’s first touchdown because he predicted his teammate would score in the goal line package.
He seems to enjoy tag teaming the running duties with Brossette more than he would carrying the load himself.
“That’s something we’ve talked about since last year,” Edwards-Helaire said of his and Brossette’s takeover of the run game. “I love him. He’s like a brother to me. Being able to do this with him is something that’s unexplainable.”
But there’s no denying Edwards-Helaire stepped up against Louisiana Tech. His 20 carries nearly doubled his season total, and passing the century mark for rushing yards puts him in elite company at a program known for manufacturing NFL-caliber running backs.
He said he’s confident he hasn’t had that many carries since he played for Catholic High School.
“I don’t know how many carries it was, but it felt like a decent amount,” Edwards-Helaire said. “Everything went well, and we made it happen.”
Edwards-Helaire’s climb to becoming a regular part of LSU’s offense has proved a gradual but steady trajectory upward. He played in all 13 games last season, most notably as a kick returner, but he spent most of last season on the scout team along with Brossette.
He said he knew his time would come, and he’s been preparing for that moment since he arrived at LSU, both physically and, perhaps more importantly, mentally.
“A person has to get ready,” Edwards-Helaire said. “You have to watch film. You have to do everything that you need to do in order to imagine yourself and put yourself in those situations. You have to imagine yourself making those plays and getting those yards.”
But there would be no Edwards-Helaire career night like Saturday if it weren’t for the mentorship and friendship of Brossette, at least the way Edwards-Helaire tells it. The duo formed a tight bond while waiting in the wings last season, and they view their successes as tandem rather than individual.
“Being able to have those touchdowns in our running back room and rush for more than 200 yards combined, it’s kind of like we both did it,” Edwards-Helaire said. “We were the guys who got our numbers called that night, and we produced. Now it’s etched in stone.”