Yesterday brought us this quote:
Caught up w/LSU coach Les Miles earlier before a TigerTour stop in Houston. He said Leonard Fournette is "lighter, faster, stronger." Scary.— Sam Khan Jr. (@skhanjr) May 12, 2015
That is scary.
Fournette had five games last year where he had no more than 10 carries, which is part of the reason why he was only ("only") seventh in the SEC in total rushing yards last year as a true freshman. Even so, he carried the team to a win over Florida with 27 rushes for 140 yards and a pair of touchdowns and factored heavily in LSU's 10-7 win over Ole Miss with 23 totes for 113 yards.
His best game might have been his last in the bowl against Notre Dame. The Irish may have won in the end, but it did so in part by adopting a strategy to keep the ball out of his hands. Brian Kelly said after the game, "Obviously, if LSU has the football with No. 7, he's a game changer. We certainly couldn't give them the football back." Fournette had 143 yards on 11 carries, with an 89-yard TD run and a 100-yard kickoff return TD. Even taking out the 89-yarder, he averaged 5.4 yards per carry. The 11 carries sounds low, but the Tigers only ran 52 plays in the game. Him running the ball was more than 20% of the plays the team ran.
Last year he split carries with Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard, but both of those guys are on NFL rosters now. Darrel Williams will get some too this year, but it's not hard to imagine Fournette getting a load of over 200 carries after 187 last year. If he truly is lighter, faster, and stronger, then his 5.5 YPC rate is going to go up. I suspect LSU's passing game will be better with the receiving corps not being mostly freshman again and the quarterbacks being a year more experienced. Maybe neither is separating from the other still, but based on the spring game, both are better than they were last year.
So if the pass game can take any kind of focus off of the run game, then we might see Fournette pull off a 2013 Jeremy Hill-like 6.9 yards per rush rate. Fournette already had more yards, carries, and yards per carry than Hill did in his first year of work, so projecting Fournette's second year to be in the range of Hill's second year is not outlandish.
If that comes to pass, don't discount LSU in the SEC West race on account of the offense. Fournette sounds like he's ready to dominate.