LSU interim coach Ed Orgeron said Monday he expects running back Leonard Fournette to practice this week in advance of LSU’s home game against Ole Miss at 8 p.m. Saturday in Tiger Stadium.
“I expect Leonard to be back this week,” Orgeron said. “He was in the office. I expect him to practice today and practice all week, and we’re going to see how it goes throughout the week”
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Following the No. 25 Tigers’ 45-10 win against Southern Miss, Orgeron said he thought Fournette could play against the No. 23 Rebels (3-3, 1-2) but wasn’t certain when he would be able to practice.
The junior tailback sustained a high ankle sprain during a preseason practice and has reinjured it twice during the season. Fournette has missed three games this season, including the last two, and has not practiced in three weeks.
At this point, Orgeron said he doesn’t know how much Fournette will be able to play Saturday, but the running back came to his office last Friday and said he would be ready for the Ole Miss game.
After a 45-10 win against Southern Miss, LSU is sitting at No. 25 in the Associated Press po…
“He’s in,” Orgeron said. “He’s was in my office on Friday morning. He was the first one in there. He sat down in my office and said, ‘Coach, how you’re going to use me next week? Let’s talk about some stuff.’’ He said, ‘Coach, I’m ready to go.’ You can feel the fire in him.”
Though he said the injury has been difficult on Fournette, Orgeron acknowledged the star running back fired up his teammates at halftime of last weekend’s game. The Tigers (4-2, 2-1) and Golden Eagles were tied at 10 at the break.
“I guess the injury took to a toll on him mentally and physically,” Orgeron said. “He felt like he couldn’t help his team. He wanted to help his team. He wanted to be a part of the new things that are going on. He did help me at halftime. He was helping on the sideline. I know he’s going to help us with that ball in hands.”
Even with Fournette returning, Orgeron said LSU will still have a healthy rotation at running back, including Derrius Guice. Guice ran for 162 yards on 16 carries with two touchdowns against Southern Miss, becoming the fastest player in school history to reach 1000 yards.
Orgeron also reiterated that Fournette and Guice could be in the backfield at the same time.
“I don’t know how much (Fournette’s) going to be able to do, to be honest with you,” Orgeron said. “We’re going to have to watch him in practice. We’re going to let him do all he can. He’s going to tell me, ‘Hey, coach, I’m 100 percent, 80 percent, 90 percent. These are the things I can do.’
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"We’re going to run the plays that he can run. The plays that he’s not able to run, we won’t run them. But we will play both (Fournette and Guice). I think they’re both outstanding backs.”
Here are a few other nuggets from Orgeron’s press luncheon on Monday:
Clapp: Orgeron said he expects left guard Will Clapp to return to the practice field this week. Clapp hurt his right shoulder during LSU’s 42-7 win against Missouri on Oct. 1 and has missed the last two weeks of practice. Orgeron, though, couldn’t say definitively how much Clapp would play. “We expect Will Clapp to be back at practice this week,” Orgeron said. “How much he can do, we’ll see. And, obviously, having Will back helps up – not only his toughness but his leadership.”
Weathersby and Moreau: Orgeron said right tackle Toby Weathersby and tight end Foster Moreau were still “questionable” at this point, but there’s a chance they both may play this week. Weathersby hasn’t practiced or played since he sprained his ankle against Mississippi State on Sept. 17. Moreau was dealing with an illness and hasn’t practiced or played in two weeks, missing his first game of the season against Southern Miss. “I talked to (head athletic trainer) Jack (Marucci) this morning. Toby’s feeling a lot better. He’s going to go out and do a couple of things this week. Questionable for the game. There’s a slight possibility both of them may play. I don’t know yet.”
Valentine: Orgeron said nose tackle Travonte Valentine did not play against Southern Miss because he didn’t practice well enough or long enough last week. Valentine, a junior college transfer, participated in the first five games of the season and recorded 10 total tackles. "Just wanted to set a standard with him that he needs to practice better to play,” Orgeron said.
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