LSU RB John Emery Jr. out for season; Orgeron updates on Goodwin, Bradford
LSU's backfield continues to face major shuffles early this season.
Most notably, coach Ed Orgeron confirmed Monday that junior John Emery Jr. will be unavailable for the rest of the regular season.
"John Emery is out the year, and my saying is he's unavailable," Orgeron said.
The Destrehan product entered this fall as Tigers' second-most experienced running back, behind fellow junior Tyrion Davis-Price, and a pivotal player from which the staff envisioned a breakout campaign.
Instead, Orgeron said he was informed the Friday prior to the season opener that Emery would be unavailable against UCLA — with sources citing an academic issue.
"You know, I think compliance, I think that academics do a great job of communicating with us," Orgeron said when asked whether those teams could work better with the football staff. "We meet with academics every week, so that's all I'm gonna say about that. But I think they do a great job."
The coach had remained vague and largely uncertain about the running back's timeline prior to Monday's announcement.
Emery rushed 39 times for 188 yards and four touchdowns in 10 appearances as a freshman during LSU's national championship run.
He nearly doubled those opportunities to 75 carries for 396 yards and three touchdowns in nine games, including three starts, as a sophomore.
Emery also caught 14 passes for another 73 yards as the team's top receiver out of the backfield.
"You know, right now, he's unavailable," Orgeron said when asked for further clarification. "Now, things could change. If they do change, we'll play him. But right now, he's unavailable. Could they change? Yeah, but that's out of my control."
The Tigers struggled to just 48 yards on 25 rushes (1.9 yards per attempt) in the opener Sept. 4 against the Bruins.
Those numbers jumped notably in Saturday's home opener against FCS McNeese State, due in no small part to a spark provided by the freshman duo of Armoni Goodwin and Corey Kiner.
"I do believe that they need to touch the ball more," Orgeron said. "And that's the same thing I saw in camp. Those guys are dynamite, man. I think that both of 'em are gonna be great backs.
"Now, we also like Ty Davis. He runs the ball well. He's a bull in there. He can run inside, outside. We need to use all three of those backs."
Goodwin got loose early and showed his quickness for a 21-yard gain — easily the team's longest of the season at that point — before limping back to the sideline.
He finished with 23 yards on two touches.
Orgeron updated Goodwin's status as "questionable" on Monday.
"It's a shame, because he's an outstanding running back," the coach said.
Davis-Price carried eight times for 37 yards, including an impressive and powerful 21-yard run in the second quarter, to improve his average to 4.6 yards for the game and 3.2 for the season.
And Kiner put the finishing touches on the performance with 11 rushes down the stretch for 56 yards (5.1 yards per carry) and a 23-yard touchdown.
The backfield anticipates another much-needed boost with the return of second-year player Kevontre Bradford after nearly three months with Oklahoma this offseason.
The four-star speedster out of Lancaster, Texas, signed with the Tigers as part of the 2020 class and began his college career last fall before transferring to the Sooners in June.
He rushed 10 times for 58 yards and caught three passes for 13 yards, including a 12-yard score from fellow freshman Max Johnson in a pivotal 37-34 win at Florida on Dec. 12.
Bradford re-entered the portal at the end of August and did not play in the Oklahoma's season opener against Tulane, then returned to Baton Rouge and LSU practice last week.
The program awaited confirmation on his eligibility, and Orgeron said Monday he expects Bradford available Saturday against Central Michigan.
"As I know, he will be eligible for the game," Orgeron said. "We have to see how the week goes and hopefully we can play him this week."