By JAMES MORAN
Tiger Rag Associate Editor
Buga is back.
Leonard Fournette is expected to return to practice Monday afternoon and play in Saturday’s SEC West showdown with Ole Miss, LSU coach Ed Orgeron said at his press luncheon Monday.
“I expect Leonard to be back this week,” Orgeron said. “I expect him to practice today and practice all week.”
Fournette has missed LSU’s past two games and hasn’t practiced since the Auburn game due to a lingering ankle injury that dates back to fall camp.
How much Fournette does Saturday will depend on how he feels and what he can do in practice as the week progresses, Orgeron said.
The extended absence has been tough on Fournette. In fact, the coach said the All-American tailback was in his office early Friday morning to chat about the Rebels.
“You could feel the fire in him,” Orgeron said. “He wanted to help his team and be part of the news things that are going on.”
It’s plausible that both he and Derrius Guice, who has rushed for 100-plus yards and multiple touchdowns in every game Fournette has missed, will find themselves in the backfield together.
“We want to rotate our guys and keep them fresh,” Orgeron said. Remember, position coaches now have managerial autonomy over their personnel groups.
Starting left guard Will Clapp is also expected to return to practice this week after missing the Southern Miss game with an arm injury, Orgeron said. Depending on how practice goes, he could return for the Ole Miss game.
The prognosis isn’t quite so clear for right tackle Toby Weathersby (ankle) and tight end Foster Moreau (illness), both of whom Orgeron classified as “questionable.” He did leave the door open for a “slight chance” both could play against the Rebels.
On the non-injury front, Orgeron said nose tackle Travonte Valentine is fully healthy, and the reason he didn’t play against Southern Miss is he “just didn’t practice well enough.”