Spartan Backs Can Become The Weapon Everyone's Expecting

Spartan Backs Can Become The Weapon Everyone's Expecting

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Spartan Backs Can Become The Weapon Everyone's Expecting

There appears to be potential for a two-headed backfield that could become a powerful weapon for Michigan State. With some time and strategic scheming, LJ Scott and Connor Heyward might be able to produce yet another special Spartan backfield tandem.

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In 1990, Michigan State won a Big Ten Championship with tough defense, a scrappy and savvy leader at quarterback (Dan Enos), and a one-two punch in the backfield that featured two bruisers in Tico Duckett and Hyland Hickson.

Duckett and Hickson each ran for 1,000+ yards that season and formed one of the best backfields in the nation for what was a pretty fearsome Spartan team that defeated #1 ranked UMAA and beat USC in the Sun Bowl to end the season with a overall record of 8-3-1 (6-2 in the Big Ten) and a final ranking of 16th in the AP Poll and 14th in the Coaches Poll.

Hickson finished the season with 1,196 yards on the ground.

Duckett wound up with 1,394 rushing yards.

Opposing tacklers ended games against the Spartans with body blows and bruises.

That was an astonishingly powerful backfield.

Hickson, of course, tragically passed away back in 1996 at the age of 27 after bouts with a long series of illnesses.

Duckett remains a Spartan legend and is part of yet another brother-tandem that has become such a special dynamic of the Michigan State football program.

What does all of this mean for today?

In looking back at the season opening win over Utah State, and in noticing a lot of reasonable and predictable talk about how Connor Heyward provided a burst and a boost to the running game on Friday night, there isn’t any reason why Heyward and LJ Scott can’t form a powerfully productive backfield together in 2018.

Can these guys amass 2,600 yards on the ground between them in a single season?

Probably not – Hickson and Duckett formed a very special tandem.

But, for all of the consternation about the running game against Utah State, it’s fair to think about LJ and Heyward forming a one-two punch that can, over the course of four quarters and over the course of a full season, beat down opposing defenses while also keeping opposing defense on their toes since the two Spartans present different styles and challenges.

LJ had 84 yards on the ground against Utah State – and Heyward had 42 yards on the ground.

If a single back had 126 yards rushing, there’d be a lot of talk about a pretty good performance from that back.

Of course, there must be more production from the running game – that goes without saying.

But, perhaps it’s reasonable to look ahead and think that the Spartan attack might be able to pile up yards as the offensive line continues to develop, as the scheme for 2018 continues to evolve, and as these two guys realize they’ll each get plenty of carries and opportunities to shine.

And here’s something else to think about when it comes to the play of the Spartan backs –

LJ Scott had three receptions for 57 yards Friday night.

LJ did not crack the 100-yard mark on the ground – and that, again, needs to happen.

But, LJ’s overall production, upon close inspection, was pretty good if you consider that he accounted for a total of 141 yards of offense.

Let’s not forget, too, that LJ had a touchdown called back due to a holding penalty – and that touchdown was a beautifully-executed play all the way around (except, of course, for that pesky holding call).

Let’s see how these guys do this Saturday night against an Arizona State defensive front that isn’t going to confuse anyone with the Alabama front seven.

Let’s give the offensive line a chance to get into a bit of groove.

Let’s see how Dave Warner approaches things now that he sees that Connor Heyward has the potential to be much more than just a guy who can spell the featured back.

The combination of LJ Scott and Connor Heyward maybe appears to be a true weapon that the Spartans can throw at opponents throughout the season.

The trick is going to be figuring out the best way to use the weapon.

This Saturday night’s game at Arizona State gives Mark Dantonio and Dave Warner a great opportunity to take the weapon out for a drive.

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