Dig Baton Rouge

Running Wild

By Andrew Alexander, DIG Sports Editor
@TheOtherAA

President Theodore Roosevelt is often remembered in history for his Big Stick ideology, which described his foreign policy: “speak softly, and carry a big stick.” The idea being that simply put, actions speak louder than words, especially when one can back up those words with the might of a nation’s military, or a dominant LSU rushing attack.

LSU sophomore running back Leonard Fournette introduced the Auburn defense to his own Big Stick policy on Saturday, rushing for 228 yards and three touchdowns on only 19 attempts, while embarrassing any Auburn defender foolish enough to attempt to tackle him.

Ever the humble Tiger, the New Orleans native’s career day started off with a bang when he burst through the line and ripped off a 71-yard run on the very first play of the game.

“I was just feeding off the crowd, the loud noises,” Fournette said. “Coach Frank (Wilson) told me to get in that zone. The o-line said they were counting on me, so I put the team on my back.”

The 6-foot-1, 230-pound sophomore found the zone, punishing Auburn defenders in exhilarating fashion on touchdown runs of 40 and 29 yards.

Fournette eclipsed his previous career high of 159 rushing yards (set last week against Mississippi State) by halftime, and dished out enough hits during his 19 rushes and three touchdowns for the performance to have its own separate highlight film.

“He did some things today where I said ‘wow,’” LSU coach Les Miles said. He took one of their tacklers and threw him into another tackler and still came out the other end. When you have a big back who can really move his feet, at times it can be very difficult to tackle him.”

Fournette’s first victim was Auburn senior defensive back Blake Countess, serving as the last line of defense in the Tigers’ secondary on Fournette’s 40-yard touchdown run. Fournette demolished Countess with a simple lowering of his shoulder, trampling the Auburn defender en route to the end zone.

But Buga was just getting started.

Although the decimation of Countess’ body and psyche was impressive, the most memorable Fournette moment came in the third quarter when the sophomore running back flipped Auburn sophomore safety Tray Matthews over his shoulder during his 29-yard touchdown run.

Auburn defender Blake Countess attempted to corral Fournette during the LSU running back’s 40-yard touchdown run. #Unsuccessful
Auburn defender Blake Countess attempted to corral Fournette during the LSU running back’s 40-yard touchdown run. #Unsuccessful. Photo by Drew Story

“I can’t explain that one,” Fournette said. “I was about to jump over him. I thought he was going to come low. Actually, he jumped over me.”

Though Buga Nation logic dictates that the college football world would have been privy to one of these sensational performances by Fournette eventually, the genesis of Saturday’s evisceration of the Auburn defense lies in the words of Tigers’ safety Rudy Ford.

Ford made the now-infamous observation last week that it, “shouldn’t be difficult, that much of a challenge,” to stop LSU’s sophomore running back. Ford should have paid more attention to early 20th century American presidential foreign policies in history class. His words were the antithesis of “speak softly.”

Even though Ford’s comments words were printed out and taped to his locker by teammates during the week, Fournette insists no extra motivation was necessary for Saturday’s clash of SEC Tigers.

“I laughed at it,” Fournette said. “Words are words, and this game is about playing.”

Fournette did finally concede that he was looking for Ford on the field, although it was evident Ford was certainly not looking for him.

Through two weeks, Fournette leads the SEC in rushing (193.5 ypg) and all-purpose yards (198 ypg) per game and trails only Georgia sophomore Nick Chubb in total rushing yards. Coincidentally, LSU also leads the conference with 338.5 rushing yards per game.

To put into perspective how truly historic Fournette’s performance has been the past two weeks, consider this: only two players have rushed for 150 or more yards and three touchdowns in consecutive SEC games this decade.

Leonard Fournette and Cam Newton.

The latter went on the win the Heisman Trophy and lead his Auburn Tigers to a national championship in 2010. The former? Only time will tell.

One thing is for sure, though, another thrilling chapter in the legend of Leonard Fournette was written Saturday against Auburn, one filled with hard-hitting runs, shifty moves and a signature Heisman moment.

What will No. 7 do next?

Be sure to check out The A Game with Andrew Alexander Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on WUBR 910AM CBS Sports Radio.

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