By JAMES MORAN | Tiger Rag Associate Editor
Derrius Guice’s days of playing a supporting role in the LSU offense are long gone. With Leonard Fournette bound for the NFL, there’s no question who is LSU’s lead tailback heading into 2017. The rising junior’s standout sophomore campaign positions Guice as one of the season’s early Heisman Trophy candidates. Guice met with reporters for the first time this spring on Thursday and opened up about the ankle injury that’s kept him out of practice, the process of learning Matt Canada’s offense and expectations for the year ahead.
Question: How is your mindset different than it was going into last spring?
Derrius Guice: Basically that I’ve just got to have an open mind toward learning this whole new offense. Last year we were already pretty familiar with what we were doing and basically just perfecting the offense. Now we’re trying to learn the new offense, get everybody on the same page and be a leader out there now that I’m the No. 1 guy. Just keep everyone on the same page out there. Don’t let anybody go separate ways because it is kind of tough for everyone to learn the new offense, but in all it’s going to be fine. We’re pretty much done installing, so now we’ve got to keep repping and repping it and keep learning and perfecting it right now.
Q: How different is what you have to do in this offense compared to the old offense?
DG: A lot of things are similar, just different names. The running backs aren’t doing as much as the wide receivers, so the receivers have to do a lot of the adjustments that’re different than last year and the running backs are kind of the same. We don’t have that much of a change, but it’s going to be fine.
Q: So there’s not as much pre-snap shifting for the backs as the receivers?
DG: We have a lot of plays like that. The majority of the time it’s mainly the receivers, but the tailbacks have a bunch of plays like that as well. It’s just I don’t know how many of those plays he’s going to call with me motioning out, but the receivers will be motioning a lot.
Q: Are you looking forward to being the guy next year that other teams are game planning to stop?
DG: No (laughs), I’m looking forward to winning and learning this new offense right now. Everything else will fall into place. That’ll all come with the new offense, because I’m pretty sure, and you can ask my coach. Is he looking forward to all the hype coming in around him with this offense as one of the best coordinators? Again, we just have to perfect it and all be on the same page, and the rest will come with itself.
Q: How weird is it to line up in the backfield and not have a fullback in front of you?
DG: It’s not weird. I look at it that there was a lot of instances where we didn’t have the fullback, like shotgun. I just take it how it is. Adjustments are made. You know you’ve got to live with them and just make the best of the situation.
Q: You’ve got the H-back back there with you sometimes. Does that change things for you?
DG: It doesn’t change nothing for me. I just hope they have the same vision J.D. (Moore) had. J.D. is still out there sometimes. It’s going to be hard not having him out there, but like I said, you’ve got to make adjustments and you’ve got to do what you got to do.
Q: Coach (Orgeron) said you weren’t out there the other day because of a swollen ankle. Is your ankle ok?
DG: I’m fine. I’m not going to be out there today, but I’m fine.
Q: Does the new offense showcase your versatility? Do you do more things out there than just run the ball?
DG: I’ll be at receiver a lot now, and those linebackers are in for a treat. That’s all I’ve got to say. As far as me running the ball from out the backfield, it’s not really different. The only difference is me going out to receiver and putting moves on those linebackers like (Devin) White. That’s pretty much it.
Q: So that takes you back to your days at the U.S. Army All-America game?
Yeah, takes me back to my All-America days. I’m going to have to go out and get the MVP again.
Q: What have you seen out of Devin White? How’s the transition going for him?
DG: He’s maturing. I remember somebody asked me earlier about being the guy; he knows he’s the guy. He’s got to mature faster than I had to because going into my sophomore year, I was still a backup, It’s different for him because he’s basically got to be a the leader out there. He’s the linebacker, he’s the heart and soul of this defense. So for him, I’m just proud of how he’s maturing through this whole process and just stepping up to be a leader out there now. I’m proud of him for that.
Q: How’ve you helped him with being a freshman and then, boom, all of the sudden being a starter?
DG: Well I can tell you at practice I’m helping him because I’m messing over him right now. So he better be ready come time for fall.
Q: You guys collide a lot in practice?
DG: We thud up. We make contact a lot, but we don’t bring it to the ground. So he’s got to field me sometimes. Scrimmages, that’s full contact right there.
Q: What’s your early impressions of (running backs coach) Tommie Robinson?
That’s one funny, yet talkative, aggressive man. He comes at you hard. He’s not soft at all, like physically or mentally, and when you’re at practice, you can hear the way he talks to us. For me it’s just funny. I laugh when he yells at me, but when he yells at Nick (Brossette) or something, I just think it’s the funniest thing. He’s serious, but I just think it’s funny. But I like T-Rob though. He does a lot with us, coming from a guy who has been in programs of every level and he knows what it takes to be a great because he’s coached a lot of greats. With him coming out there and bringing his extra momentum and aggressiveness to us, I think that’s what we need. The things he has us doing, I think that’s one of the shakes to this offense that we need. I wish everybody that feeds off his energy could be like that. Just like Coach O. Coach O is an energy powerful guy, and that’s the same with T-Rob. He’s a high-energy loud guy, and it’s kind of hard now to get going when they yell at you and get on you. If you can’t get on from that, then I don’t know what’s wrong with you.