Leonard Fournette at LSU’s media day last week. (HILARY SCHEINUK)
This is the second part of a seven-part blog series leading up to Aug. 31, the start of the first official game week.
Topic: RB Leonard Fournette’s average rushing yards per game following the season
Over/Under: 112 yards
Why You Should Pick Over: Leonard Fournette is leaner and expected to be faster. He’s been in the program a year longer now, and he should have a better understanding of things.
All of that said, here’s the primary reason to pick Over: He’ll get lots of carries. Most expect coaches to ride Fournette for upwards of 20-plus carries a game, specifically in those eight SEC games.
Fournette’s evolution last season from underwhelming rookie to dominant rusher happened, partly, because coaches gave him more carries. Fournette averaged 11 carries a game through the first six games. He averaged 17 carries over the final seven games. His average per carry remained the same (5.5) for both halves of the season, but his average per game soared from 60 in the first six to 95 in the last seven.
Leonard Fournette during LSU’s preseason camp. (AP)
So, if coaches give him 17-plus carries a game, the thought is, in Year 2, he can well surpass that 95-yard average. The 112-yard mark would have put Fournette as the 25th-best in the FBS last season. That’s probably much worse than some people expect from a guy who’s in the top five among Heisman Trophy odds entering 2015.
Also, LSU’s non-conference schedule is much weaker than it was last season. The Tigers’ major conference foe this year is Syracuse while last season it was Wisconsin. Fournette averaged 79 yards a game over the course of the entire season last year and had 10 or fewer carries in five games, something not likely to happen this season.
LSU’s passing game improving – that’s still up for debate – could help the running back rack up more yards, too.
Why You Should Pick Under: First off, 112 yards is a ton for an SEC running back to average a game in a season. For instance, only two SEC running backs bettered that number in 2014: Auburn’s Cameron Artis-Payne (123) and Georgia’s Nick Chubb (119).
In 2013, again only two SEC running backs averaged more than 112 yards a game: Auburn’s Tre Mason (129) and LSU’s Jeremy Hill (116). It just doesn’t happen often.
It’s a tough thing to do again SEC defenses. Last year, three SEC defenses (Alabama, Arkansas and Florida) held opponents to less than 120 yards rushing a game as a TEAM. The Tigers, oh by the way, play all three of those teams each year.
LSU’s passing game might be better this season, but it’s tough for many to see it being good enough that opponents are caught off guard by a Fournette run. They’ll he honing in on the sophomore. After all, everyone now knows his name and knows what he’s capable of doing. Any kind of surprise factor is gone.
Derrius Guice is making waves during preseason camp. (HILARY SCHEINUK)
And one other thing: Derrius Guice. Guice seems to be making a pretty hard run at a significant role this season. Guice has flashed his athletic ability in scrimmages and at practice.
Coach Les Miles caught himself mid-sentence last week when asked about Guice. It sure sounded like Miles wanted to say that Guice was pushing Fournette hard – real hard. How many carries does Guice take for Fournette? It sounds like he’ll get his fair share.
Are you gonna go Over or Under? Give feedback to Ross Dellenger on Twitter by tweeting at him: @DellengerAdv.
- Monday: QB completion percentage
- Tuesday: Fournette’s per-game average
- Wednesday: ?
- Thursday: ?
- Friday: ?
- Saturday: ?
- Sunday: ?