LSU football: Why Leonard Fournette can win the Heisman in 2015

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Nov 8, 2014; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette (7) is grabbed by Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Jarran Reed (90) during the first quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Fournette will be the feature back of a high-powered rushing attack

Part of the reason why it took Fournette so long to breakout in 2014 is because the LSU football team had two senior running backs ahead of him on the depth chart to start the season in Kenny Hilliard and Terrence Magee.

Fournette carried the ball 187 times last season, while Hilliard and Magee combined for 202 carries.

The other two running backs who are considered among the top Heisman contenders in 2015, Elliott and Chubb, both carried the ball more than Fournette last season, 273 and 219 times, respectively.

Due to LSU’s running-back-by-committee system, Fournette did not rack up carries like Elliott and Chubb did. As a freshman, he needed in-game experience to get adjusted to the college game. Due to this lack of touches, it took him longer to hit full stride.

Fournette recorded 20 or more carries just three times last season. Meanwhile, Elliott carried the ball 20 or more times on seven occasions, and Chubb hit the 20-carry mark five times.

Miles is known to use different running backs throughout the game in order to keep his players fresh for the fourth quarter. Although he has never had a running back average 20 carries per game, the head coach has noted that it is not out of the question with Fournette.


"“There’s reason to say that Leonard could be that 20‑carry back, but I think there’s a point in time too where you don’t want to wear him out, and you do not want an injury,” Miles said at LSU Media Day."

With Fournette being the veteran back on the roster, along with fellow sophomore Darrel Williams, he will see significantly more carries than he did last season.

In 2014, Fournette became just the second freshman running back in LSU history to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark. If he carries the ball more than 250 times this season, he could rush for well over 1,500 yards.

Fournette’s veteran leadership will be vital for the Tigers this season, and Miles will weigh heavily on him to be their workhorse back. Even if Fournette is not carrying the ball, he will be used as a weapon in the passing game.

And let’s not forget about his abilities as a return specialist. Fournette was one of the best in the nation at returning kicks in 2014, averaging 26.0 yards per return. Neither Elliott nor Chubb took on return duties for their respective teams last season.

So whereas Chubb and Fournette both received preseason first team All-SEC accolades at the running back position, it was only Fournette who received second team honors as an all-purpose player and return specialist.

This will create even more opportunities for him to get the ball in his hands and make plays.

Next: He will be running behind a talented, veteran offensive line