LSU junior running back Leonard Fournette has been named one of the 10 semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award, the PwC SMU Athletic Forum announced Wednesday.
Fournette is also a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award and Ed Orgeron praised Fournette on the SEC Coaches Teleconference on Wednesday for his work ethic and being a great teammate. There are a few things that struck Orgeron as soon as he arrived at LSU about Fournette.
"His practice habits and one-cut ability to get up the field. How tough he was to tackle, how hard he practiced, team player," Orgeron said. http://www.scout.com/college/lsu/story/1728558-lsu-resting-players-valen...
Orgeron recalled the Auburn game last season when Fournette ran for yards in an LSU win and then the Ole Miss win this season, where Fournette broke the LSU single-game rushing record.
"That was one of the most dominant games I've seen and then the Ole Miss game this year, there was another dominant game," Orgeron said. "Dominant football player and one of the best I've been around."
With Fournette battling through injuries all year to keep playing, Orgeron said Fournette has earned even more respect from his teammates after this season.
"Means a lot. Means a lot that he's a team player. He puts the team first. He loves Louisiana. He's not unselfish and sort of what we're talking about, he's a great example of one team, one heartbeat," Orgeron said.
Florida coach Jim McElwain praised both Fournette and Derrius Guice for what the duo brings to the field.
"It's like thunder and lightning. These guys are real. They're great players and SEC backs that will play this game for well beyond this conference," McElwain said. "They're fun to watch. I enjoy watching good players play. This can be said about this whole team."
- LSU quarterback Danny Etling and Florida quarterback Austin Appleby will face off. Both were at Purdue battling for the quarterback job before transferring. "I think the guy that evaluated them did a good job. Whoever recruited those young men did a good job," Orgeron said. "It's an unusual situation, but we happen to have Danny and coach McElwain happens to have Austin. They're both very good quarterbacks."
- Orgeron called Florida well-coached and that the Gators have an outstanding defense thanks to Jeff Collins, who Orgeron said on the call has had great defenses wherever he's been. Mike Summers, the Gators offensive line coach, is a coach Orgeron has a lot of respect for and can use a lot of the speed and talent at the playmaker positions to get a strong run game going.
- "This is a rivalry game," Orgeron said. LSU's coach expects this to be a tough, physical football game that will need all hands on deck.
- Florida coach Jim McElwain said that plenty of young players will get an opportunity to play in a great environment as the Gators visit Tiger Stadium even if there will be some players that might not be ready just yet. "I've been toying with the idea of playing 8-man football and go at it that day. We'll put 11 out there and they can do what they do."
- McElwain said on the call that it's fun to watch the enthusiasm LSU has been playing with, especially on defense. "There's a ton of talent there and they've got them playing at a high level."
- "We've got a group of older guys that have really committed to something and affected new faces in a positive way. It's about so much more than yourself," McElwain said about the mix of older and younger players on this Florida team that is on the cusp of potentially an SEC East title.
- McElwain said that defensive lineman CeCe Jefferson has returned to practice and is expected to play as much as he can. "He's one of the team leaders. That's rare for a guy that age. A guy that really wants to play. He'll give everything he can to get out there."
- Florida will have offensive lineman Tyler Jordan should be available for the game, but to what degree, McElwain wasn't sure.
- McElwain credited Pete Jenkins for a lot of LSU's defensive success, "He's one of the best in the business."
- LSU lineabckers Duke Riley and Kendell Beckwith remind McElwain of injured Florida linebackers Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzalone. "They know where they're supposed to be and play downhill."
- McElwain said he expects his team to be motivated because this is the next game, not because of the circumstances surrounding the rescheduling.
- Duke Riley was the fourth LSU player to receive an invite to play in the Senior Bowl, joining Tre'Davious White, Ethan Pocic and Kendell Beckwith.