Missouri Focused On LSU's Leonard Fournette

Missouri will be looking to slow down LSU running back Leonard Fournette on Saturday night.

University of Missouri middle linebacker Michael Scherer was asked the question a few times on Monday during the Tigers’ media availability. 

How does LSU running back Leonard Fournette compare to some of the top players he’s seen during his time at Missouri? 

“I think he’s right up there — he might be the best, close to the best,” Scherer said. “I remember we played Alabama. They had Amari Cooper and Derrick Henry. Those guys were pretty good, too. I just got done watching a lot of Fournette. I hadn’t watched him, really watched him, like I did today, ever. He hits the hole quick and gets going and when a big guy like that gets going, it’s not pretty to get in front of him.”

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LSU interim coach Ed Orgeron has said this week that Fournette, a 6-foot-1, 235-pound junior, will be a game-time decision on Saturday night because of an ankle injury, but the Missouri Tigers know that the New Orleans native makes the LSU offense go when he’s on the field. 

“He’s really good,” Missouri coach Barry Odom said. “That’s an understatement. I think he’s listed at 235. I don’t know really how big he is, but if you said it was 260 I’d say, yeah, he kind of looks it. He’s got tremendous speed. You see them run outside zone and if they get the edge blocked he’s out the gates and he’s an impressive player. Runs with really tremendous pad level. He runs angry. That’s usually a combination of being a really good player.” 

There are some good running backs in the Southeastern Conference, including Georgia's Nick Chubb and Tennessee's Jalen Hurd, but Fournette may be the best of the bunch. 

In three games this season, Fournette has rushed for 386 yards, averaging 5.8 yards per carry, and scored two touchdowns. He had 1,034 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns as a freshman in 2014 and then 1,953 yards rushing and 22 touchdowns last season as a sophomore. 

“You play against a lot of really tough, good backs in the SEC and he’s probably the best one,” Scherer said.

What’s different about LSU’s lead back? 

“He’s bigger,” Scherer said. “And the way he hits the hole. He hits the hole quick and when he gets to rolling he’s going and not much is going to stop him. It’s important to not let him get that head of steam and get going.”

Missouri senior defensive tackle Rickey Hatley has watched Fournette over the years and now may get to see him in person.

“He breaks tackles,” Hatley said. “He’s got some speed to him. He tries to run you over. I’m not trying to let that happen though.”

Some of the Tigers were asked who might try to simulate Fournette on the scout team during practice this week.

Donavin Newsom, a redshirt senior outside linebacker for Missouri, had an idea.

“I say we put big Josh Augusta back there and let him run the ball and simulate it that way,” Newsom said. 

Augusta, Missouri’s 6-4, 355-pound senior defensive tackle and part-time fullback, has carried the ball three times for four yards this season in short-yardage situations. 

“He’s three times Fournette’s size,” Missouri sophomore defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr. joked. 

How do you simulate Fournette in practice? 

“You can’t. Plain and simple,” Scherer said. “I don’t know what we’ll do. We may get someone — it could be an offensive player or a defensive player — who will get in there and run the ball hard during the week, at least during the Tuesday practice, but in terms of that there ain’t nothing you can do.”

You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter at @NateLatsch or email him at natelatsch@gmail.com

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