BATON ROUGE, La. — With just more than 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter Saturday night, a song by The Black Crowes blared over the Tiger Stadium PA. The song? “Hard to Handle.” The subject? Leonard Fournette, probably.
Fournette was nearly unstoppable in LSU’s 38-21 victory over Ole Miss on Saturday night. The junior, who missed LSU’s last two games with an ankle injury, rushed for an LSU-record 284 yards and 3 touchdowns, gashing the Ole Miss defense for 59-, 76- and 78-yard scores.
It’s hard to quantify what this game does for Fournette’s stock, since it’s never been particularly low. But one thing is certain: No. 1 Alabama better prepare for a healthy Fournette two weeks from now. His ankle is ready, and the LSU offense is clicking.
Ed Orgeron: Orgeron is coaching like his job is on the line, and that’s only because it is. The way LSU beat Missouri and Southern Miss in Orgeron’s first two days was impressive enough, but that’s lower-quality competition. Now that Orgeron has a ranked win, and a rather decisive one at that, Orgeron is only improving his chances to retain the post as LSU’s head coach full time.
Duke Riley: Kendell Beckwith is the star of this LSU linebacking corps, but Riley had himself a game Saturday. Riley finished with a team-high 14 tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-losses and an interception. This is Riley’s third game this season with 10 or more tackles, and the interception was the first of his LSU career.
Derrius Guice: Don’t get me wrong, Guice had a good game. But Fournette is healthy. And this inherently drives down Guice’s stock, because a healthy Fournette means Guice will touch the ball much less frequently than he has over the past month. Guice finished LSU’s win with 57 yards and 1 touchdown on 16 carries.
LSU’s run defense: LSU’s run defense still is as stingy as they come. Ole Miss averaged 3.0 yards per carry Saturday night, the team’s worst mark since its season-opening loss to Florida State. Riley and Beckwith combined to record 23 tackles, a huge reason why Ole Miss couldn’t get a ground game going.
Jamal Adams: In addition to shutting down tight end Evan Engram, one of the most formidable pass catchers in the SEC, and notching 5 tackles in the run game, Adams also had a stellar special teams game. The safety unleashed a bone-rattling block on a Tre’Davious White punt return and downed a Josh Growden punt on the Ole Miss 3-yard line with less than two minutes remaining to effectively ice the game.