By CODY WORSHAM
Tiger Rag Editor
Ready for the understatement of the season?
“I’m good,” LSU tailback Leonard Fournette told the media Monday afternoon, a smile on his face.
Fournette, of course, was referring to his ankle, sprained earlier in the month during practice after a tackle from behind, courtesy of junior linebacker Donnie Alexander. According to Fournette, the practice fell silent. Even the music stopped.
“It wasn’t nothing too serious,” Fournette said. “Donnie pulled me from the back, fell on my ankle.”
Did Fournette consider exacting revenge? Not quite.
“I couldn’t do nothing to him at the moment,” he laughed. “I was mad at him at first, but at the end of the day, that’s my brother. It was all love.”
And Fournette is all good. His health is fine, and his numbers — 2,987 career rushing yards, 32 touchdowns, two healthy ankles — are exceptional. The junior from New Orleans enters his third season on campus within reach of a number of school and conference records, needing 1,570 yards to catch Kevin Faulk atop LSU’s career rushing leaderboard. At last year’s nation-leading 162.75 yards per game clip, he could approach that number 10 games into the season. We’re keeping track, but Fournette says he’s spent no time reflecting on last year’s historic campaign, in which he rushed for 1,953 yards, a school record.
“I haven’t shattered everybody’s records,” he said. “Kevin Faulk has a lot of records here. My whole job is to be better than last year.”
Better than last year? If he is, he’ll break Faulk’s record, and if he gets to 14 games and matches his per-game average from last season, he’ll break Herschel Walker’s SEC record of 5,259 career yards, and Derrick Henry’s single-season record of 2,219, set last season for Alabama.
That’s a lot to live up to, so surely Fournette is feeling the pressure.
“Nah,” asked if he thinks about besting his efforts last season. “No pressure is on me. My team always says, just do your job, everything else will take care of itself. No pressure at all.”
Here are a few more highlights from Fournette’s Monday media session. Stay tuned for Tiger Rag’s cover story on Fournette from this year’s Football Preview, available for purchase at http://tigerrag.com/subscribe.
On this year’s team staying out of trouble in the offseason…
“It starts with the leaders on the team. We know we have the talent. We know it’s easy to get in trouble out here, and hard to get out of it. So we try to prevent as much as we can.”
On the coordinators being on the sideline this season, instead of the press box…
“When things go wrong, instead of us having to go to the phone, they’re right there, telling us what’s going on.”
On if he has talked with the coaches about a carry count this year…
“As coaches they’ve been doing a great job since I got here. Nothing should change.”
On his memories of 2014’s matchup with Wisconsin…
“I didn’t really play. I’m just excited for the first game. It’s slower now. I’m used to the speed.”
On football being a helpful factor during Louisiana’s struggles…
“With everything that’s going on in Louisiana right now, LSU football — I think, and the team thinks — will help the community out, just to bring their hopes up high.”
On visiting Lambeau…
“We’re coming there for business, to play a game. I ain’t trying to leap. That’s where Aaron Rodgers is at. Brett Favre. That’s the GOATs. ”
On Greg Gilmore…
“He’s ready. He just sweats a lot.”
On Travonte Valentine…
“Valentine’s always been good. He’s been talented since he’s been here. He’s slimmer. Well, I don’t know. He looks fat to me. I think he’s going to be one of the most important (pieces of the) puzzle for us.”