LSU coach Les Miles loves this football team.
He can get going on just about anything LSU Tigers-related, and most of what he says is pure gold.
But get him talking about Spencer Ware, and there is a different sort of tone in his voice. His eyes light up and a boyish smile covers his face.
It isn’t hard to believe when he has that 225-pound running back bullying his way through defenses.
“Physical. Oh, man is he physical,” Miles said of Ware. “He can just pound it in there and pound it in there. I love the way he gets extra yards. Basically, he works on the defense’s resolve to tackle him.”
Stopping Ware is almost like stopping a train, and if you’re the (un)lucky one to halt his movement, you feel far more pain than he did.
LSU’s defense and the quarterback play have gotten most of the attention this year, but Ware has been an important element for this team.
Before Florida took on Ware and LSU’s offense, the Gators dedicated most of the week leading up to the game concentrating on stopping the Tigers’ running game. After Alabama’s Trent Richardson gutted the Gators, the goal was to make sure history didn’t repeat itself.
However, Ware felt otherwise, abusing Florida’s defense with his powerful runs and even stronger spin moves. One tackler was rarely enough to stop Ware, and most of the time he would spin around or even on top of defenders in order to get extra yardage.
“He’s like a Roly Poly. He just bounces off, goes into a ball and keeps getting more yards,” LSU offensive lineman Will Blackwell said. “I love to block for Spencer.”
That feeling is certainly mutual for the rest of the Tigers’ offensive linemen. Ware has made their jobs easier and made them look even better. Ware currently ranks sixth in the SEC with 512 rushing yards and has scored six rushing touchdowns. He has also caught seven passes for 52 yards and another score.
It isn’t just Ware’s physical nature that makes him such a tough opponent. He also has great field vision, which comes from his days of being a high school quarterback. Bringing that element to the running back position has made Ware that much better in LSU’s offense.
“That gives someone a certain moxie and understanding of the game,” Miles said. “The thing that I am learning in whatever number of years that I have been in coaching is that those quarterbacks have great view of the line scrimmage. Guys that have run the ball in their high school career generally make few bad cuts. They understand where the front is. They understand what the seam looks like and why that seam is there. He runs with a want. That is why Spencer is so valuable to us as a runner.”
He is also valuable because he allows the other running backs in the offense to be almost as effective. Ware starts the beating, while Michael Ford and Alfred Blue finish it off to give defenses a nightmarish rushing enemy. Add in the legs of quarterback Jordan Jefferson, and the Tigers are averaging 191 rushing yards a game.
“The longer we have the ball, the longer we’re grinding it out, the less time [opponents] have to throw it deep.
“We feel like anytime we can run for 200 and have the ball for over 30 minutes then we’re going to be in great shape to win.”
It also causes opposing defenses to look out of shape and that all comes back to Ware, who Miles said is an enormous reason for the physicality his offense is displaying right now.
“Spencer Ware continues to be a physical force running the football and gets tough yards,” he said.
“Spencer Ware brings 225 pounds to the table and that’s important because football is a physical sport and he plays that way.”