COLLEGE STATION, Texas — For the first time in three seasons, the brightest star on LSU’s sideline was not present.
Junior tailback Leonard Fournette watched on television as No. 25 LSU dismantle Texas A&M 54-39 on Thanksgiving night at Kyle Field. He was relegated to tweeting encouragement to his teammates from a distance.
Nursing a season-long ankle injury that forced him to miss his fourth game, Fournette, a semifinalist for the Maxwell and Doak Walker Awards, is expected to bypass on his senior season to enter the NFL draft.
As one era of LSU football may be coming to an end, a new one has already begun: the Derrius Guice era.
Guice ran roughshod over the Aggies, accumulating a school-record 285 yards on 37 carries with four touchdowns. Guice bested the LSU single-game rushing record of 284 yards set by Fournette against Ole Miss on Oct 22. Fournette needed just 16 carries to set that record.
Trouble viewing video below? Click here.
"This is a game of inches," Guice said. "If you don't wrap up and secure your tackle, I'm going to get an extra inch."
Guice had a pair of 45-yard scoring runs, one of which came on the game’s fourth play. He broke his own career-high rushing mark (252) set two games earlier at Arkansas, where he set the mark for the longest play from scrimmage (96 yards) in school history.
He's just the fourth player in SEC history to record multiple 250-yard rushing performances, joining Bo Jackson, Herschel Walker and Moe Williams. Guice and quarterback Danny Etling became LSU's first 200-yard rusher and 300-yard passer in the same game.
The first slippery touchdown scamper put him over 1,000 yards for the season. On the season, the Tigers’ leading rusher has 1,249 yards with 14 touchdowns. His season total, with a bowl game still looming, is sixth in school history. Kevin Faulk owns the fourth (1,289) and fifth (1,279) place spots on LSU's single-season rushing list.
The sophomore’s performance was redemption for two costly gaffes in a 16-10 home loss to Florida last week.
With the Tigers leading 7-0 in the second quarter against the Gators, Guice coughed up the ball inside the Florida’s red zone. On the fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Guice stepped the wrong way on a toss play and was stopped short of the goal line as time expired.
"He is resilient," LSU interim coach Ed Orgeron said. "It was an opportunity to bounce back."
In the days leading up to the Texas A&M game, the Catholic High product voiced his motivation on Twitter.
“It’s all about how you bounce back … character is key,” he wrote.
The short week certainly helped him bounce back, he said.
"Like I was telling people, you can't let one play in a game define me because that's not how I'm built," Guice said. "You see what I can do. You saw it tonight. So, like I said, that's just for all y'all who doubted me from last week."
He attempted to prove those who said he “fumbled too much” wrong on Twitter by sharing his career statistics. He has fumbled just twice — once in the season opener against Wisconsin and once against the Gators — on 157 career carries.
"He wanted this game to kind of be a rebound from last week, especially after a lot of the blame was placed on him," fullback J.D. Moore said. "He knew he needed to come out and ball out, and that's what he did."
With Thursday being Thanksgiving, Guice tweeted he was “thankful for his role model” — Fournette, whom he has spoken glowingly about the influence he has had on him.
He wasn't even concerned about breaking his teammate's record after the game.
"I miss him," Guice said of Fournette. "He was supposed to be out here with us tonight."