Leonard Fournette’s injury not believed to be serious
By JAMES MORAN
Tiger Rag Associate Editor
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The most replayed part of Brandon Harris’ fourth-quarter interception, the one that essentially sealed No. 5 LSU’s 16-14 upset to unranked Wisconsin at Lambeau Field Saturday afternoon, won’t be the pressure he evaded or the wobbly pass he uncorked.
It’ll be the de-cleating that came next.
Wisconsin safety D’Cota Dixon picked off Harris’ throw with less than two minutes remaining on the clock and immediately went to the ground, ending the play and allowing Wisconsin to knee its way to victory.
Dixon than popped up and began sprinting toward the sideline with the football extended in celebration. That’s when LSU right guard Josh Boutte, sprinting full speed, shoulder-charged through Dixon, leaving the smallish safety laid out on the ground for a few scary moments.
Tempers nearly boiled over on the field, but the officials stepped in quickly and ejected the senior lineman for what a personal foul the referee called “a flagrant late hit.”
Les Miles, asked about the incident, defended his player while acknowledging he’d need to watch the film before offering an educated assessment.
“I grabbed him right away and I kind of knew what had happened,” Miles said. “I’ll have to see the film, but it was an offensive lineman in protection, and what happens downfield sometimes, you can be protecting beyond the play with the idea that you don’t know that the ball is even thrown. And again, I’m going to have to check this.
“It’s very logical that he didn’t even know the guy had gone down and was just running. And then he just came up on a guy that was returning the ball and make the tackle. And that’s what he said. And until I see the film, I believe him because he’s not a malicious guy and I just can’t imagine he saw him go down and then went and made the tackle.”
Unlike a targeting foul, Boutte won’t incur an automatic suspension because of his ejection, an SEC representative confirmed to reporters after the game. However, the league will review the incident to determine if any suspension or further disciplinary action is warranted.
With LSU driving for the potential game-winning score, Leonard Fournette exploded up the middle and did a mini-flip to finish a 15-yard run at the Wisconsin 30-yard line.
Only LSU’s Heisman-hopeful didn’t land quite right and immediately limped to the sidelines. One false start penalty later, Harris’ interception essentially ended the game. It appeared he’d reinjured the ankle that had him in a walking boot just two weeks prior.
However, if the drive continued or LSU somehow got the ball back, Miles said his tailback would have went back into the game.
“I didn’t see the injury,” Miles began, “but I don’t think it would be anything that would keep him out for some time.”
After an uncharacteristically slow start, Fournette finished his outing with 138 yards on 23 carries and three catches for 38 yards. During that quiet first half, however, the junior tailback did make a bit of history.
Fournette became the fourth running back in LSU history to ever rush for 3,000 career yards. He’s also the fastest to do so, having accomplished the feat in just his 26th collegiate game.
LSU’s all-time rushing leaders are, in order, Kevin Faulk (4,577), Dalton Hilliard (4,050) and Charles Alexander (4,035).
Travonte Valentine made his long-awaited LSU debut, and thanks to an NCAA rule, it didn’t take the 350-pound nose tackle long to get into the game.
Starting nose tackle Greg Gilmore lost his helmet during Wisconsin’s first offensive series, meaning he had to exit the game for at least one play. Valentine entered and made his presence felt in the middle, so much so that he went back out to begin the second drive.
Valentine, splitting time with Gilmore and rotating at the nose, finished his first career game with three total tackles (one solo).