By JIM ENGSTER
Tiger Rag President
LSU erupted with an offensive frenzy under the new sheriff in TigerTown. Coach Ed Orgeron orchestrated a 634-yard exhibition that established a new record in an SEC game as LSU pounded Missouri 42-7 in the first date of the post-Les Miles era.
Derrius Guice, Darrel Williams and Nick Brossette combined for 43 carries for 366 yards as LSU also showed promise for the post-Leonard Fournette era.
Fournette is no longer a candidate for the Heisman Trophy, but he is a prospect to be drafted first in the 2017 NFL cattle call. His gimpy ankle makes him a risk for further injury, and it is apparent that a healthy Guice is better than Fournette at 75 percent. The great one can take his time returning to the line-up and might be wise to call it a career for college and get well for the NFL.
From his first day on campus, No. 7 has been in relentless pursuit of NFL gold. It is within reach, so why put multi-millions on the line when his replacement may be a better college back?
Fournette, like basketball’s Ben Simmons, has about as much chance of graduating from LSU as Les Miles does returning as football coach. Fournette has rushed for 3,373 yards with 35 touchdowns and will be remembered fondly by Tiger partisans, but his work may be done at Death Valley.
The careers of Fournette and his former coach intersected last Nov. 7 at Tuscaloosa where No. 4 Alabama beat No. 2 LSU 30-16. Fournette was held to 31 yards on 19 carries as his Heisman stock plummeted. The loss dropped Miles to 3-7 against Nick Saban while the Tide’s Derrick Henry emerged from nowhere to take the Heisman. The Hat’s fate was sealed that night as Miles dangled precariously for another eight games that produced a 4-4 record.
Fournette is a special creature with a blend of power, size and speed that exceeds previous LSU Supermen Billy Cannon and Charles Alexander. But he is just one player on a team with an array of gifted athletes at his position. He is now about the past while Guice and Brossette are the backs who will be the foundation for excellence over the next few years.
The record shows Guice has produced superior numbers to Fournette in 2016.
Fournette is being outperformed by Guice in similar fashion to Dalton Hilliard taking glory away from his more heralded teammate Garry James more than three decades ago.
James and Hilliard were members of the same 1982 class with James the most highly sought recruit in the land and Hilliard an after-thought. James racked up 3,211 all-purpose yards with 30 touchdowns not including three bowl games) at LSU, numbers comparable to those of Fournette, who has 3,822 all-purpose yards to go with his 35 scores.
James was an exceptional college back, but he was no Dalton Hilliard, who departed LSU as the school’s all-time leading rusher with 4,050 yards and 50 touchdowns (also not including three bowl games) with a notable 120 receptions out of the backfield.
At 5-foot-11, 212 pounds, Guice is not as big and not as swift as Fournette, but he may be a superior ground gainer. Quite similar to the days of Hilliard and James.
If Orgeron continues to win and manages to whip Alabama on Nov. 5th, it will be hard to make a case to secure a coach from elsewhere. Each contest presents peril and opportunity for O. Should LSU beat Florida Saturday, Orgeron is destined to be 3-0 heading into a grudge match against his former employer. Suddenly, LSU is looking like a favorite against Ole Miss and only a slight underdog vs. Alabama.
Miles was ultimately judged by his record vs. Saban. Against the Crimson Tide, Miles was 5-2 going into the BCS Championship Game on Jan. 9, 2012. Since then, he was 0-5 vs. Bama, but Miles left LSU with the most wins of any Tiger coach against the Red Elephants.
Miles has nobody to blame but himself for his stock rising and falling on how his teams played against Saban’s troops. When Saban was hired at the close of 2006, Miles went before the masses at Bayou Bash a few months later and pronounced with vigor, “We are going to beat F***ing Alabama.”
It took more than a decade, but that statement was the beginning of the end of the trail in TigerTown for Leslie Edwin Miles.
Miles departed LSU as the oldest coach to lead the Tigers while Orgeron assumed the role as the second oldest coach to make his debut as head coach of the Tigers.
Oldest LSU Head Football Coaches in first games
Hal Hunter, 1999,40
Mike Archer, 1987-90,34
Paul Dietzel,1955-61,31 [/table]
Familiar names are now elder statesmen
At 75, LSU’s Defensive Line Coach Pete Jenkins is now working under his fifth head coach with the Tigers. Jenkins began his career at TigerTown in 1980 with Jerry Stovall, then worked under both Bill Arnsparger and Mike Archer and in 2000-01 with Nick Saban.
Jenkins is one of the oldest assistant coaches in NCAA history, but he retains the fire that made him a legend with players and sportswriters. The locker room should be lively with him and the equally volcanic Orgeron.
Steve Ensminger has assumed the role of offensive coordinator exactly four decades after his freshman debut at LSU. His 1976 recruiting class also featured David Woodley, John Ed Bradley, Carlos Carson, Greg LaFleur, John Adams and Willie Teal.
Ensminger started at LSU when he was barely 18 years old in his freshman year. Other teen quarterbacks for LSU include Herb Tyler, Bert Jones, and Tom Hodson, but they were slightly older than Ensminger was when he took the starting job from Pat Lyons in 1976.