By CODY WORSHAM
Tiger Rag Editor
Buga is back.
LSU junior tailback Leonard Fournette should be good to go this week, head coach Les Miles said Monday at his weekly press luncheon.
“I think he’ll practice, if not every day, certainly four of those days or three of those days,” Miles said.
Fournette sat Saturday’s 34-13 win over Jacksonville State with an injury suffered on his final carry against Wisconsin. The Heisman hopeful carried 23 times for 138 yards in the Tigers’ 16-14 loss in Lambeau, but watched from the sidelines in LSU’s home opener.
In his stead, sophomore Derrius Guice starred, with 155 yards and a score on 19 carries. Darrel Williams added 40 yards on the ground and 27 yards receiving, and Nick Brossette, off a knee injury suffered last season, got five carries for 40 yards.
“Considering that Leonard was gone, we thought Derrius Guice, 155 yards and a touchdown, Darrel Williams, not only leadership and played him in a bunch of different situations, but added 40 yards, as well,” said Miles. “And Nick Brossette in five carries had 40 yards. We expect Leonard to be back and ready to go in this game.”
Guice offered no drop off from Fournette, proving himself an electric back capable of running inside the tackles or out. He said he didn’t find out until kickoff he was getting the nod, but said though it felt good to be the go-to back for a game, he’ll handle whatever role he’s handed this week, should Fournette return.
“I understand why we do what we do,” he said. “I’m comfortable with it. I’m just doing what I do to help us win. I’m not a selfish person, like, ‘Oh, I need more carries.’ I look at it like, the guy that’s in is going to get us a win, I’d rather him be in.”
It’s been a tough start to the 2016 for Malachi Dupre. A presumed first round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Dupre has just three catches for 24 yards in two games this year, and had none against Jacksonville State. He’s also had multiple drops and loss 50-50 battles a 6-foot-4, high-jumping athlete would be expected to win.
Fans may be concerned, but Miles and Guice aren’t.
“I can tell you this: He’s as talented as there is, and he’s a guy that’s a good person,” Miles said. “He’s going to care. But I’ve had some really good receivers, I mean, guys that have played in the NFL, and I probably should not use their name, but who had some troubles, and what they do is they go back to the basics. They fix it. They tie their mind to their hands, and they go make plays.”
Guice, who is close with Dupre, said he’s talked to him a lot over the last two weeks, as recently as Sunday night.
“Malachi, to be honest, I don’t have the answers,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going through his mind, or what’s wrong with him. But I know he’s going to work today and practice and be ready to improve.”
Brossette’s return to the field came after he tore his ACL as a freshman in 2015. One of the top backs in the state for the 2015 signing class, Brossette’s been through his share of adversity, losing his brother in the spring of 2015 and missing most of last year with the injury.
For Guice, a close friend of Brossette since their days as high school rivals in Baton Rouge, seeing his friend back in action was cause for a huge smile.
“I’m really happy for Nick,” Guice said. “I told him, you’ve been through some adversity, and just to see you out there running and breaking tackles and looking like the old you, it felt great. He’s been donw, feeling like he needs to play more or get more reps at practice. But I have to keep reminding him, ‘You just came off a devastating injury.’ When I saw that, with the situation he’s in with his family, he really needs it, and I’m happy for him.”