When Auburn faced LSU’s Leonard Fournette last year in Baton Rouge, its defense ended up on a highlight reel that will undoubtedly be broadcasted to football fans across the country when the junior running back is taken with one of the top picks in April’s NFL Draft.
Look away, Rudy Ford. Auburn fans…viewer discretion is advised.
If Fournette does in fact decide to go pro at the end of this season, he’ll probably reflect on his 228-yard, three-touchdown performance against Auburn in 2015 as one of the defining moments of his young career. For me, it was one of the most dominant games I’ve seen from a running back since Tre Mason rushed for 304 yards and four touchdowns in the 2013 SEC Championship Game.
Kevin Steele probably has had a few sleepless nights this week trying to figure out how to stop him — attempting to come up with a game plan against a running back of Fournette’s caliber is a nightmare within itself.
Here are three reasons Auburn should be concerned that nightmare becomes a recurring one:
3. Pure Power
No. 7 isn’t afraid to run a man over — just ask Blake Countess and Tray Matthews.
Fournette’s physical style of running combined with his 6-foot-1, 235-pound frame makes him an absolute bulldozer of a tailback. The junior runs with authority every time he gets his hands on the football, breaks tackles with ease, initiates contact and always seems to fall forward.
Arm tackles won’t get the job done against this guy. Defenders have to wrap up with some purpose (and a little ill-intention), or else they’re the ones who usually end up on the ground while Fournette high-steps his way into the end zone.
In his first game back from injury last week against Mississippi State, Fournette’s power and toughness was on full display — especially on this play.
Fournette finished the game with 147 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries.
2. Elite Speed
If Fournette isn’t running through defenders, he’s usually dancing around them — the All-American has great patience and vision at the line of scrimmage.
Fournette’s quick feet allow him to make defenders miss in traffic, and once he finds a running lane, he possesses the elite speed to burst through it and gash the heart of a defense for chunk yardage — which makes him the most effective north-south runner in college football.
1. Ultimate competitor
An athlete can have all the physical talent in the word, but none of it means a thing if they don’t have the mental makeup to put it to good use.
What makes Fournette so difficult to stop is the fact that he’s the ultimate competitor, and truly believes he’s unstoppable — it’s a mentality that only the greats can relate to.
His unwavering confidence strikes fear into his opponents, and as good as he’s been over the past two seasons, he still believes that his best is yet to come.
If that’s true, football fans are in for a treat. But let’s just hope for Auburn’s sake, it doesn’t come Saturday night.