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Being apart of the Sports of Boston team, sometimes I feel left out. Unlike the majority of SoB writers and editors, I’m not in the New England region. For the most part this serves as a disadvantage. I can cite multiple stories where I had to watch Patriots and Celtics games online.
But, for once and maybe for only this once, I am in the right position for Patriots news. It just so happens that I live in Baton Rouge, La., and study at Louisiana State University. The place new Patriots running back Stevan Ridley has called home for three years. So, yes in a long-winded introduction I feel like I know a thing or two about Ridley seeing as I’ve watched (live) the majority of games he’s played in over the last two seasons.
Simply put, Stevan Ridley is a workhorse.
Ridley carried the ball over 20 times on four occasions last season, including a three game stretch against West Virginia, Tennessee and Florida where he ran the ball for a combined 70 times for 322 yards (4.6 yards-per-carry). In that Tennessee game, which was as bizarre of a finish you will ever see, Ridley scored the game-winning touchdown.
You can point to three or four different contests last season that LSU would have lost if it wasn’t for Ridley. It was his three touchdown performance against Ole Miss in November, his hard running style that opened up the passing game against Alabama, and his 159-yard performance at Vanderbilt.
To say LSU relied on Ridley is a vast understatement.
Folks, if you didn’t watch LSU last season, let me emphasize something for you right away. LSU’s did not have a passing game. Literally. Between Jordan Jefferson and backup Jarrett Lee, the Tigers passed for an incredibly poor nine touchdowns in 2010. Even better. Jefferson went seven straight weeks, after week one, before throwing his second touchdown pass.
Ridley, a team captain, was LSU’s offense in 2010.
He rushed for 1,147 yards — 732 yards of that was against SEC opponents — with 15 touchdowns good enough to land Ridley on the Coaches All-SEC first team alongside South Carolina’s freshman sensation Marcus Lattimore. For the record, Alabama’s Mark Ingram, who went No. 28 to the New Orleans Saints, appeared on the second team.
Ridley’s role with LSU will help him adjust to being a member of the New England Patriots. At LSU, Ridley got carries from both a pro-style set and shotgun formation, both of which New England runs.
In terms of his attributes on the field, nobody will mistake Ridley for a world beater. He won’t run away from a safety in the NFL, heck probably not even a linebacker, but if you need four yards, he’s your man. Ridley runs exceedingly well between the tackles as he’s a one-cut and go runner.
He is a tough runner to bring down as Ridley possess terrific lower body strength. What he provides in the running game he equally turns out in the receiving game as a blocker. Ridley has the blocking ability of a fullback and very rarely will you see him miss a block.
For the Patriots, look for Ridley to be that bruising type back. He’s a guy, like I’ve said, that can take 15-20 carries a game. He’ll average around four yards-per-carry and be an asset in the redzone.
I know he’s not the flashiest player. But he’s that blue-collar prospect New England always covets.
Check out a this highlight video of Ridley.
Follow me on Twitter: @M_Marcantonio