LSU running back Leonard Fournette brings lethal arsenal to Carrier Dome

first_img Published on September 24, 2015 at 8:16 pm Contact Matt: mcschnei@syr.edu | @matt_schneidman Facebook Twitter Google+ Once Leonard Fournette got to the 17-yard line, it was all over. His right shoulder lowered into the chest of Auburn defensive back Blake Countess, dropping him to the grass and leaving two outstretched arms flailing inches behind Fournette’s left foot. The LSU sophomore running back pranced into the end zone, pounding his chest twice.That was Fournette’s most recent cakewalk, in a 24-point trouncing of Auburn. His 228 rushing yards on 19 attempts were topped off by three touchdowns, a week after he ran for 159 yards on 28 carries against Mississippi State to go along with another trio of scores.Next up is Syracuse. Head coach Scott Shafer compared Fournette to NFL great Earl Campbell. Defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough to the college version of Minnesota Viking Adrian Peterson. Defensive line coach Tim Daoust to former Boston College running back and Heisman contender Andre Williams.Fournette, standing at 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds, is a 20-year-old freight train with legs, barreling downfield with no regard for anyone between him and the end zone. The Orange’s youthful defense will be charged with getting a body in the way, halting the combination of 4.35-second 40-yard dash speed, brute strength and shiftiness that will be coming its way when No. 8 LSU (2-0, 2-0 Southeastern) visits Syracuse (3-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) at noon on Saturday.“You like games like this,” sophomore linebacker Zaire Franklin said. “You like playing against the No. 1 running back in the nation.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAgainst Auburn last week, Fournette averaged 5.11 yards per carry before any form of contact, per an ESPN film review.The Tigers’ offensive line that paved the way for a harmless first burst stands, from left to right, 6-foot-6 and 305 pounds, 6-foot-5 and 303 pounds, 6-foot-7 and 309 pounds, 6-foot-5 and 327 pounds and 6-foot-6 and 329 pounds.“That offensive line is as good as I’ve seen in years,” Daoust said.This week in practice, SU freshman hybrid Tyrone Perkins, who missed his entire senior year of high school with a torn ACL, has been mimicking Fournette. Redshirt freshman walk-on Keaton Darney, a 6-foot-3, 280-pound offensive tackle, has been playing the role of scout team tailback.Perkins weighs 22 pounds less than Fournette, but may be a more accurate representation of what the Orange will actually see, or see run by, in the Carrier Dome.“He’s probably around 230 but he runs like he’s about 175,” said Cyril Crutchfield, Fournette’s high school coach. “He’s quick, he has real good feet, he’s shifty.”With a bald head and thick black beard wrapping from his left ear to right, Fournette may look more along the lines of how he plays. Crutchfield says he’s a man among boys, the best he’s ever coached or watched in his 20 years on the sideline and it’s not close.In a high school game against national powerhouse John Curtis (Louisiana) High School, Fournette had almost 30 carries for over 200 yards. The other team knew the play every time, Crutchfield said, but could do nothing about it.His intangibles trump the predictability of most play calls, often forcing linebackers or the secondary into a mass number of tackles, or missed ones, after the defensive line is penetrated.“They are going to come downhill and really challenge who you are up front,” Shafer said. “We want to try and contain their best player and be aware of all the others on the offensive side.”To counter Fournette, Franklin said all the Orange can do is gang tackle. The sophomore has talked to elder defensive players Luke Arciniega and Wayne Morgan to get an idea of how Williams ran against SU in 2013, when he was held to a season-low 29 rushing yards before leaving with a shoulder injury in the third quarter.But the LSU back is a different animal. Crutchfield says the best way to stop him is kryptonite. Tigers’ head coach Les Miles says teams who can keep the ball do best. Shafer says he’s the best running back he’s faced in 26 years of coaching.For now, Syracuse has hope the formula it’ll unveil Saturday will work, but like most teams, that’s all it may materialize to be.“He’s a special player,” Bullough said. “You better bring the big-boy pads and go out there and give it to him.” Commentslast_img

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