September 22, 2015

(AP) - Even as Leonard Fournette grabs headlines for his powerful and prolific performances, No. 8 LSU is proving that its running game is no one-man show.

While Fournette is averaging a nation-best 193.5 yards through a pair of victories to open the season, LSU's three backup running backs and quarterback Brandon Harris have combined for a not-so-shabby 136.5 rushing yards per game.

''We have elite backs we can shift into the game when we want to give Leonard a break and freshen him up,'' coach Les Miles said. ''Then, we have a mobile quarterback. That is always an issue for the defense when the quarterback can go up the field.''

The Tigers' high-powered rushing attack makes its first trip to the Carrier Dome on Saturday to face a Syracuse team that has one of the nation's best run defenses but has yet to face a program as talented as LSU.

Darrel Williams and true freshmen Derrius Guice and Nick Brossette round out LSU's quartet of running backs who've seen playing time this season. Williams has picked up 86 yards on 20 carries and is Fournette's primary backup. Williams also has the versatility to line up at fullback.

Guice and Brossette got the first carries of their LSU careers in last Saturday's 45-21 win over then-No. 18 Auburn. Guice, who broke off a 29-yard run, gained 55 yards on six attempts. Brossette, a hometown product like Guice, contributed 13 yards on four carries. Guice and Brossette also caught a pass.

''It's amazing the number of running backs we have,'' offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins said. ''They are all great running backs. It surprises the offensive linemen each week at how well they do. One of them comes in and it's like we don't miss a beat.''

LSU runs a very diverse offensive system. The Tigers will be in the I-formation at least 50 percent of the time. LSU can use a three wide-receiver set. Then, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron can call plays out of the zone-read playbook. Harris ran an old-fashioned option play for a touchdown against Auburn.

''Our running back group is the most talented in the country,'' offensive tackle Vadal Alexander said. ''All of our backs can make plays. All of them can gain yards.''

The Orange are third in the FBS in rushing defense at 46.7 yards per game and their opponents' 1.5 yards per carry ranks second, but they've padded their stats against Rhode Island, Wake Forest and Central Michigan. The Chippewas are the worst rushing team out of the 127 FBS schools while Wake ranks 101st and Rhode Island is the 18th-worst run team in the FCS.

Off to its best start since starting 4-0 in 1991, Syracuse will likely be without quarterback Eric Dungey, who suffered an apparent head injury in a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit in last Saturday's 30-27 overtime win over Central Michigan.

''He's doing well," coach Scott Shafer said. "We'll just take it each day at a time."

Pressed into action when senior starter and captain Terrel Hunt suffered an Achilles tendon injury in the first quarter of the season opener, Dungey had performed well above expectations. He has a 204.0 pass efficiency rating, which would lead the nation if he had enough pass attempts. Dungey, who is shy of qualifying by nine attempts, has completed 21 of 36 passes for 428 yards and five TDs with zero interceptions and no lost fumbles. He also has rushed for 106 yards and one score.

After Dungey left last week, backup Austin Wilson was 4 of 7 for 49 yards with one TD and one interception, while walk-on Zack Mahoney finished 4 of 4 for 19 yards.

Mahoney is in line to start Saturday, as offensive coordinator Tim Lester said he is ''the guy that's shown the most'' and can execute all facets of the offense.

This will be the first meeting between these programs since the Orange won the 1989 Hall of Fame Bowl. LSU beat Syracuse in the 1965 Sugar Bowl in the only other matchup.

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