Jim McElwain welcomes the challenge that LSU running back Leonard Fournette presents.
As relayed by SEC Country’s Ryan Young on Monday, the Florida coach said he didn’t see Fournette’s return to health as a negative for the Gators. In fact, McElwain considered the development a positive in advance of the game between the Gators and Tigers on Saturday at Tiger Stadium.
“To me you want to go play somebody at their best,” McElwain said. “I don’t ever want to have an asterisk behind a win.”
Fournette has 803 yards rushing on 117 carries this season. He has struggled with an ankle injury for much of the season, and he missed games against Missouri on Oct. 1 and Southern Mississippi on Oct. 15. But he has shown an ability to be a factor on the ground in recent weeks, producing 284 yards on 16 carries against Ole Miss on Oct. 22 and 98 yards on 17 carries against Arkansas last Saturday. (He was held to 35 yards on 17 carries against Alabama on Nov. 5.)
You have to like McElwain’s perspective. Why not embrace the chance to face an opponent’s best? Had the Florida-LSU game — originally scheduled for Oct. 8 — not been postponed because of concerns related to Hurricane Matthew, then it’s possible that Fournette would have been less healthy than he is now.
It will be interesting to see how Fournette fares Saturday.