Les Miles’ instructions were clear during his weekly press conference this past Monday afternoon.
Just be patient.
When the Tigers battled Wisconsin on Aug. 30 in NRG Stadium in Houston, LSU fans desperately awaited the debut of the freshman running back who was the talk of Baton Rouge throughout fall camp.
But when Fournette was able to muster only 18 total yards on eight carries against the Badgers, doubts arose.
Miles assured the media there was no reason to fret: Fournette’s time would come.
So when Fournette exploded into the end zone from 4 yards out with four minutes remaining in the first quarter on Saturday night against Sam Houston State, Tiger Stadium erupted with the confirmation that the prodigy had arrived.
Fournette even struck a Heisman pose — a gesture that has garnered its share of criticism — in the end zone to officially spread the word.
“Fournette had a big night, and that’s what we expect from him,” sophomore quarterback Anthony Jennings said. “He does his thing in practice, and he comes in and works hard. I’m glad to see him get his first touchdown in Tiger Stadium.”
That being said, the New Orleans native’s night began just as the Wisconsin game ended.
On his first carry against the Bearkats, he tried to sprint toward the Sam Houston State sideline, only to be stopped for no gain by senior safety Michael Wade and freshman defensive end P.J. Hall.
His second attempt was much of the same: Wade again collapsed on Fournette, holding the freshman to a 2-yard gain.
It wasn’t until his fourth carry that Fournette proved why fans have been clamoring for his arrival since he signed his letter of intent back in February.
After appearing to be stopped near the line of scrimmage, the freshman cut toward the middle of the field, breaking through the secondary and rumbling 40 yards, breaking a tackle on his way to the ground.
He pounded the ball into the end zone on the ensuing play.
After his Heisman celebration, Fournette could be found getting an earful from Miles. He had been praised as a humble newcomer to the program since Miles took the podium at Southeastern Conference media days.
“I think it’s a little premature to launch a Heisman candidacy,” Miles said. “He needs to realize, too, that this is a team. It’s not to do with any personal liberty. There’s a lot of guys blocking … to help that man score.”
Fournette later made his first career reception, a 15-yard strike from Jennings for the final play of the first quarter. He had two catches for 32 yards.
The St. Augustine High graduate finished with 92 yards rushing on 13 carries.
He also returned one kick for 22 yards.
“It was his first time in Tiger Stadium, and he had some nice runs,” senior right guard Evan Washington said. “I bet you he’ll be even better next week. He’s working hard in practice every week. And on Saturday, he’ll get another chance to shine.”