From: The Advocate
Number of sources: Two
Word Count: 465
Date of Publication: December 29, 2016
ORLANDO, Fla. —On paper, Leonard Fournette’s decision to not play in the Citrus Bowl looks like a huge advantage for Louisville.
The junior running back, who already announced his decision to enter the NFL draft, rushed for 843 yards and eight touchdowns despite only playing in seven games.
But Louisville defensive coordinator Todd Grantham knows better. Fournette’s absence hardly means the Cardinals got a break.
Grantham has seen Derrius Guice on video.
Although Guice may not have grabbed as many national headlines as Fournette, the sophomore has certainly grabbed the attention of No. 15 Louisville’s coaching staff.
“I see a guy that’s really hungry, a guy that wants to prove himself, a guy that’s really talented in what he’s doing,” Grantham said Thursday in a news conference at Camping World Stadium, site of the Citrus Bowl. “He’s got some people around him that complement him very well.”
Guice has had a superb season for the No. 19 Tigers, rushing for 1,249 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also helped LSU stay afloat while Fournette was out. Guice had 765 yards, 10 touchdowns and helped the Tigers to a 4-0 record in games that Fournette missed.
“LSU has great players. They’re a great, physical football team,” Louisville senior linebacker Keith Kelsey said. “With Fournette being out, Guice is a great running back as well that we’re prepared for. So it’s going to be a battle, but we’re looking forward to it.”
Guice is just one part of a dangerous LSU offense, which ranks 19th in the nation in rushing yards per game. The Tigers have done especially well since Ed Orgeron took over as interim coach, averaging 475.0 yards and 32.4 points per contest over their last seven games.
“So we understand that they’re talented,” Grantham said. “We understand that they’re very good at running the ball, and any time you’re good at running the ball, though, you’re going to have the ability to throw the ball down the field. We understand that’s going to be something that we have to emphasize and stop and work on.”
LSU’s offense has looked different in its last seven games. The Tigers have gone 5-2 and raised their scoring average by 11.4 points per game. The Cardinals are also 5-2 over that stretch and have held their opponents to an average of 23.3 points per game this season.
“Really when you go back to it, the only two losses are the two teams that play in the SEC Championship Game in Alabama and Florida,” Grantham said. “The Alabama game, it’s a one-possession game in the fourth quarter. They got the ball on the 1-yard line against Florida … so they’re obviously a talented team. They can run the ball, and anytime you run the ball, you have the play-action passes off of it. So we understand that, and we’ve just got to go play.”