Feinswog: Fournette, O-Line 'Fun to Watch'
When he looked up, Leonard Fournette was long gone. And big William Clapp was so happy. He and senior right tackle Vadal Alexander sealed off the back side as their star running back broke through for a 71-yard run on the first play from scrimmage.
“It was a great feeling,” Clapp said with a big smile. “When you see the running back run by you and he’s off to the races, it’s something that makes you feel good. All the hard work paying off.”
Don’t think it wasn’t appreciated by Fournette, who left no doubt who the Heisman Trophy favorite is after his 228-yard, three-touchdown afternoon in a 45-21 rout of Auburn.
“Everything I’ve been waiting for, they (the O-line) did it in this game,” said Fournette, who ran for 159 last week in LSU’s victory at Mississippi State.
“His success is our success,” said Clapp, the 6-foot-5, 305-pound redshirt freshman from New Orleans whose dad, Tommy, was a defensive lineman and captain of the 1987 LSU team. “We all love the way he runs and all the way all our backs run. But I came off to the sidelines after one of his runs and I just said, ‘The kid’s a freak.’ He’s a special back. The things he’s able to do, he’s able to run around you, run over you, he’s a special back.”
He’s even more special with the kind of blocking he’s getting from an offensive line that includes two first-year guys in Clapp and freshman left guard Maea Teuhema.
‘I think we play extremely hard and I think our guys love blocking for Leonard Fournette,” said 11th-year head coach Les Miles, himself an offensive lineman at MIchigan in the 1970s. “There were some plays that were not perfect and Leonard got some yards. And then there were some plays that got made perfect because that offensive line wanted to please that running back.
“And it was fun to watch.”
Fun is the key word.
“We’re just having fun out there,” said junior center Ethan Pocic, another monster of a young man at 6-7 and 309 pounds. “The goal is to get better from last week. And we did that. We had a good game last week, but I thought we did better today.”
Nowhere is more evidenced than in Fournette, who averaged an LSU-record 12.0 yards per carry against Auburn and his two-game total of 387 yards is the most in the first two games in school history. Also against Auburn, five other teammates combined for 189 yards.
“It was a good group effort and we feel pretty goos,” said Pocic, a product of Lemont, Ill. “We could have gone another game.”
Perhaps but it was pretty hot in Tiger Stadium, where the sun beat down all afternoon. But except for the last series, when the entire line was subbed out, Clapp missed just one play late in the second quarter. For that matter, the entire fivesome, that also included junior left tackle Jerald Hawkins played basically the entire game.
“I didn’t think it was that hot. It’s South Louisiana. We had way hotter days than that in camp,” said Clapp, the right guard from Brother Martin High School. “Being here and playing a day game, we thought it felt good out there. We had way longer and hotter practices. So we really thought the heat worked to our advantage.”
Pocic said he wasn’t even surprised about Fournette’s first run and not even some of his highlight-film efforts throughout the game.
“With his talent and with any of our backs it can happen any time,” Pocic said.
Said Fournette, when asked about his favorite plays of the game, “No favorite play. My favorite was my O-line.”
Miles had a lot of praise for second-year offensive line coach Jeff Grimes, who, interestingly, was the offensive line coach at Auburn when those Tigers won the 2010 national title.
“Grimes has done a great job with those guys,” Miles said. “They have a very positive outlook and we’re much deeper because of him. Things are good.”
Which is why even a youngster like Clapp sees a bright future.
“We’re really improving,” Clapp said. “and I’m excited to see what we can do in the coming weeks.”