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Football: McGuire providing big-play punch

Tim Buckley, Daily Advertiser, November 11, 2013

UL running back Elijah McGuire reaches out to hand the ball to a referee after scoring a touchdown during the Cajuns' win over Troy on Thursday.

UL running back Elijah McGuire reaches out to hand the ball to a referee after scoring a touchdown during the Cajuns’ win over Troy on Thursday. / Leslie Westbrook/The Advertiser

Anyone wondering whether practice really pays needs only to look at two plays from UL’s 41-36 win over Troy last Thursday night – both involving true freshman running back Elijah McGuire, perhaps not so coincidentally – to erase the doubt.

The first came about six minutes into the game, with the now 7-2 Ragin’ Cajuns – who take a seven-game win streak into Saturday’s visit to winless Georgia State – trailing 3-0 at the time.

Center Andre Huval pulled right and took his man out with a perfect block. Right guard Daniel Quave, and sealed his man with a perfect block as well.

Quarterback Terrance Broadway handed off to McGuire, who darted into the huge hole created by Quave’s and Huval’s hard work and scampered 38 yards for his sixth touchdown run of the season.

“Once you see the Xs and Os move the exact same way as on the board,” Quave said, “you’re gonna have a great outcome.”

With letters dancing to perfection, the end result indeed was favorable for the Cajuns.

“It’s always a good feeling when you know you’re doing a part of a successful play,” Quave said. “But, you know, it’s normal.

“The best thing is just seeing him go across the pylon. That’s the greatest feeling ever. You can’t even describe it. I’d be wasting my time to try to describe it.”

That Cajuns practice that particular play a lot, and much more often than not it works.

Even more than that of his own offensive line, though, Quave was excited to simply see the success McGuire continues to enjoy.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder from Vandebilt Catholic High in Houma went into Thursday’s game ranked fourth in the Sun Belt Conference in rushing yards per game at 62.1.

After gaining a team-high 82 yards on seven rushes against the Trojans, an average of 11.7 yards per carry, McGuire now has 64 runs for 579 yards.

That’s an average of 64.3 yards per game, just ahead of Troy’s Brandon Burks (63.5) and still fourth in the Sun Belt behind teammate Alonzo Harris (79.9), Texas State’s Robert Lowe (85.4) and runaway leader Antonio Andrews of Western Kentucky (140.7).

That includes two 100-yard rushing games for McGuire, with 137 and three touchdowns coming in a win over Nicholls State and 110 including a career-long 70-yard TD in a win at Western Kentucky.

With a current average of 9.0, 0.3 more than Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk, McGuire also leads the nation in yards per carry.

That’s 1.3 more than, and on pace to break, F.G. Mixon’s 1951 UL school-record 7.7 yards per run.

“Just to see the way he’s progressing as a player, the way he’s just growing up and understanding the game,” Quave said, “it’s just an honor to be in a position to block for a great young running back like him.”

McGuire is the speed back balancing the power-back role of workhorse junior starter Harris, who has 12 rushing touchdowns and averages 5.0 yards on 143 carries this year.

But McGuire has hands too, evidenced by a 60-yard TD reception that helped put UL up 21-6 late in Thursday’s opening quarter.

Though he occasionally lines up at slot receiver, this one came on a wheel route out of the backfield – just like a 31-yard catch he had in the Cajuns’ season-opening loss at Arkansas.

The 60-yarder marked McGuire’s seventh play that’s gone for at least 30 yards this season, and its completion was spurred by practice work prior to UL’s ESPNU-televised win over Troy as well.

In this instance, though, it stemmed from something that didn’t work rather than what did.

“We had the same situation … right before practice was over, and I didn’t throw it because he (McGuire) had a man on him,” quarterback Broadway said. “Coach Hud (Mark Hudspeth) pulled me over and was like, ‘If he’s even, he’s leaving.’

“So I knew he was gonna be even with (his defender),” Broadway added, “and I just trusted him to make the play.”


UL true-freshman running back Elijah McGuire currently leads the country in yards per carry. A look at the top five, according to ESPN.com:

1. Elijah McGuire, RB    UL    9.0    64, 579
2. Lache Seastrunk, RB    Baylor    8.7    102, 888
3. Terry Baggett, RB    Army    8.5    116, 991
4. Melvin Gordon, RB    Wisconsin    8.1    143, 1,160
5. (tie) Shock Linwood, RB    Baylor    8.0    78, 625
5. (tie) Marcus Mariota, QB    Oregon    8.0    62, 495

UL at Georgia State:

Game: 1 p.m., Saturday, GeorgiaDome.
TV: None.
Online: None.
Radio: 107.9 FM/1420 AM.
Records: UL 7-2, GSU 0-9.

* Qualifying minimum: At least 6.25 attempts per team’s games played