Five things to know: Running backs

It's never too early for a primer on LSU running backs because there is so much to know.

For most teams, knowing a starter and maybe a key backup is enough.

Not at LSU.

When studying Tigers backs, you need to think in terms of a deep stable, exactly what the Tigers have this season. So here are five things to know:

1. Les likes more: A season ago, the Tigers had four running backs – Spencer Ware, Michael Ford, Alfred Blue and Kenny Hilliard – who averaged at least five carries a game. All four had moments when they seemed to be the go-to guy.

It wasn't an anomaly. Only three times in Miles' seven seasons as LSU's head coach has one back accumulated 200 carries in a season. Miles likes fresh legs both over the course of a game and a season. Conversely, he likes to wear opposing defenses down.

With that in mind, don't expect any one back to emerge from this year's stable that has four proven guys coming back.

2. Big men on campus: The LSU backs that have emerged as 200-carry workhorses for Miles – Jacob Hester (2007), Charles Scott (2008) and Stevan Ridley (2010) came with similar builds: All were listed at 6-foot, and weighed between 223 and 234 pounds, averaging 227 pounds.

In other words, they were the big, physical types, including one in Hester who had a future as an NFL fullback.

Most of LSU's running backs fit that bill this year, including the newest member, 225-pound bruiser Jeremy Hill. Ware (707 yards in 2011 in 10 starts) and the late-emerging Hilliard, a 240-pound monster who became a factor late in the season, are also cut from that mold.

Ford, who led LSU in rushing with 756 yards, is more of the speed back, but even he checks in at a healthy 215 pounds.

3. Don't assume story's over: After four games last season, you probably thought you had the LSU running back rotation figured out.

Ware, who had three 20-carry games in the first four outings, was the workhorse. Ford was the change-of-pace guy. Blue was the third back.

It didn't end that way.

Without a major injury coming into play, Ware fell out of favor following a mid-season suspension, Blue's carries increased and Hilliard went from a non-factor to the Tigers' hot back at the end of the season.

The lesson? Always keep the entire stable of backs fresh in mind, because things do change quickly.

4. The full story: Fullback is not a forgotten position at LSU.

Miles loves two backs behind his quarterback. Sometimes, it's the modern battering ram, like last year's starter, departed senior James Stampley, a high school offensive lineman who earned his role as a walk-on. He'll be replaced this year by converted defensive lineman J.C. Copeland, who made an impression last season with an enormous, 280-pound presence as a lead blocker.

But Miles isn't just about converting linemen. Many of his big backs take their turns as fullback. Before Hilliard emerged as a tailback late last season, he was in the fullback mix. Hester, Scott, Ridley and Ware all had their share of snaps at fullback.

5. What's next: The LSU stable, which also includes sophomore Terrence Magee, is still young, lacking a senior, though there are three juniors.

The Tigers have offers out to Katy, Texas running backs Adam Taylor and Jamel James. LSU also has a blocking fullback pledge from Kennard Swanson of Lakeland, Fla./Lake Gibson, a prep defensive tackle.