Missouri’s defense is gearing up for LSU junior running back Leonard Fournette at practice this week, but DeMontie Cross’ crew may never have to tackle him Saturday under the lights at “Death Valley.”
Interim LSU coach Ed Orgeron, who stepped in when Les Miles was fired Sunday, said during the weekly SEC Football Coaches’ Teleconference on Wednesday that Fournette’s status for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff Saturday at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La., remains uncertain.
“That’s up in the air right now,” Orgeron said. “I can’t say. In all likelihood, he’ll try to play. It will be a game-time decision, but obviously, if there’s any further injury, we won’t play him.”
Fournette aggravated a left ankle injury, which he originally suffered during a training-camp scrimmage, during LSU’s season-opener against Wisconsin. He sat out Sept. 10 against Jacksonville State but churned out 100-yard games against Mississippi State and Auburn in the last two weeks.
He appeared to aggravate the injury again late in a heartbreaking 18-13 loss last Saturday at Auburn, a game LSU thought it had won before a game-winning touchdown on the final play was overturned by replay review.
Despite the nagging injury, Fournette, who finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting last season, ranks 10th in the Football Bowl Subdivision in yards per game.
He’s totaled 386 yards rushing with two touchdowns on 67 carries and has rushed for at least 100 yards in 15 of his last 17 games, dating back to the final two games of his freshman season in 2014.
DE Davon Godchaux reinstated
Junior defensive end Davon Godchaux was reinstated by Orgeron on Wednesday, barely 48 hours after he was suspended indefinitely following his arrest on suspicion of domestic abuse/child endangerment and false imprisonment.
Godchaux, 21, was involved in an incident early Monday morning with his girlfriend as she attempted to leave his apartment with the couple’s 10-month-old child.
The East Baton Rouge district attorney announced Tuesday it would not pursue charges against Godchaux, a three-year starter, “because of physical evidence at the scene and inconsistent statements by the alleged victim,” according to NOLA.com.
“We’re happy that the charges have been dropped,” Orgeron said. “Davon is an excellent young man. I’ve coached him for a couple years now. He will return to the team today. We’ll take it day by day, and we’ll make sure we have all the information available before we make a decision (about his playing status), but he will be with the team today.”
Godchaux ranks fifth on LSU with 20 tackles and third with two sacks.
LSU leery of Mizzou’s ‘explosive’ offense
More than once, Orgeron likened Mizzou’s offense to Baylor and the nigh unstoppable air-raid offense it built under disgraced former Art Briles.
Asked what stands out regarding Mizzou’s performance through four games this season, Orgeron said, “The speed of the game and there’s a lot of big, big plays. Those guys make big plays, they’re very explosive, they’re very well-coached and they have a passing game that will test you.”
Similar to Baylor, the Tigers count numbers in the box and have a run-pass option on most snaps, it’s all done at a breakneck tempo and sometimes utilizes only half the field with receivers on the other side acting as decoys — not running routes at the snap as a way to get rest yet still stretch the defense’s personnel.
Mizzou ranks 12th in FBS with 50 pass plays of 10 yards or more and are tied for third with eight pass plays of 40 yards or more.
Sophomore quarterback Drew Lock’s 1,508 yards rank second in FBS and his 14 touchdown passes are tied for second. He’s completed 73 of 111 passes, a robust 65.8 percent, during the last three games.
“Those guys in the quarterback room, basically since we started in January, they’ve outworked everybody in the program,” Odom said. “To play really well at that position, you’ve got to have 10 guys playing well around them also, but there’s ownership in protecting the football, there’s ownership in making sure that you have done everything throughout the week to prepare yourself to lead and offense. Those guys have embraced that.”