BATON ROUGE, La. — It turns out that Leonard Fournette is still really good at football.
After Derrius Guice filled in admirably in his place the past two games and established himself as one of the better running backs in the SEC, No. 7 returned to the field in a marquee matchup to reassert himself at the top.
Fournette rushed for an LSU-record 284 yards and three touchdowns in the team’s 38-21 defeat of rival Ole Miss. Much of that damage came via explosive runs of 59, 76 and 78 yards.
Let’s step into the LSU film room to examine what propelled Fournette for the record-setting night.
LSU’s offense lined up in a basic I-formation with Colin Jeter lined up to the weak side of the field and two wide receivers to the left. Bry’Kiethon Mouton is the fullback in place of injured J.D. Moore.
Danny Etling gives Fournette a short toss to the weak side. Jeter cracks down on the left defensive end while right tackle Maea Teuhema makes the kick-out block on the left outside linebacker (No. 10). The remaining would-be tackler is handled effectively by a diving Mouton, who clears the path for Fournette.
The blocking is superb. That’s enough to spring any running back for at least a first down, if not more. Where Fournette makes the difference is when he kicks it into a second gear.
Once Fournette gets past the first line of defense, he goes from 0 to 60 and outruns every other player on the field. Neither of the Rebels’ defensive backs can come within 5 yards of Fournette as he races down the right sideline for his first touchdown in more than a month.
Again, LSU isn’t using a sexy formation. It’s another I-formation, this time with two tight ends and twin receivers split out right to the weak side of the field. Gone is the fullback, leaving Fournette as the single back.
Teuhema is pulling again, and he’s joined by center Ethan Pocic as Etling races back deep before handing off the rock to Fournette, allowing the blocks to take shape.
An Ole Miss defender gets past Teuhema and is at the point of attack when Etling is giving the ball to Fournette, but a poor angle allows No. 7 to race right past him with ease.
Pocic is out in space after his initial block and gets in the way again, which springs Fournette to make an easy juke and look ahead. Both wide receivers deserve legitimate credit for keeping their blocks down the field. Travin Dural and D.J. Chark both are especially timely delivering blows to the opposing defensive backs, which creates added space for Fournette to navigate through once he reaches the second layer of the defense.
Stop me when you’ve heard this one before.
In the first touchdown run, LSU lined up in an I-formation with the two wideouts split to the weak side of the field and a tight end on the strong side. The next one, there were two tight ends on the field and no fullback, and the receivers were split out to the weak side.
This time around, LSU is back in a basic I-formation with twin receivers out to the weak side of the formation. Mouton is back in the game as the up-back.
This forces Ole Miss to devote much of the attention toward the weak side of the field, with an outside linebacker in between the slot receiver and left tackle to prevent any running lanes for Fournette to open up.
With that much attention being devoted to the weak side, LSU attacks the open side of the field. Left guard Josh Boutte pulls to the right and Mouton is right behind him as Fournette takes another pitch from Etling.
Boutte and Mouton are coming down the same lane. Boutte drives the middle linebacker outside, while Mouton attacks the outside linebacker navigating toward No. 7.
Fournette, who is reaching that top-end speed again, handles the last would-be tackler by single-handedly thrusting him to the turf. From there, he’s off to the races with a clear path into the end zone for the Tigers’ first touchdown of the second half, which set the tone for a 17-0 score over the final two quarters.
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