OXFORD, Miss. – Marquis Haynes remembers chasing down LSU’s Leonard Fournette in last season’s game inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, and on Monday the junior defensive end said he looks forward to another opportunity to face the talented Southeastern Conference tailback.
Before this week, there was doubt Fournette would play against No. 23 Ole Miss (3-3, 1-2 SEC) after missing practice for the past three weeks. The junior running back sustained a high ankle sprain during a preseason practice and has re-injured it twice during the regular season.
Fournette has missed three games thus far in 2016, including the last two.
But according to a report from The Advocate, Fournette will, indeed, practice all week and play against the Rebels Saturday night in Baton Rouge.
Marquis Haynes seems relatively sure the Tigers’ star will participate when the two teams square off in the Magnolia Bowl.
Ole Miss DE Marquis Haynes on Leonard Fournette
Rebels look to maintain possession of Magnolia Bowl Trophy
In last season’s 38-17 victory over the Tigers (4-2, 2-1), Ole Miss’ Landshark defense made LSU’s offense one-dimensional, forcing the Tigers to throw the football more than they wanted to after falling into a deep hole. Then-LSU quarterback Brandon Harris threw 51 times, completing 26 of his passes for 324 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
The Rebels’ defense held Fournette to 108 yards rushing on 25 carries, averaging just 4.3 yards per carry. Haynes recorded four tackles, one tackle for a loss and recovered a fumble in that game.
Tigers have new coach, new energy
Fournette is back in the fold and joins a revamped LSU offense that is averaging 43.5 points per game since defensive line coach Ed Orgeron took over the head coaching duties from Les Miles. The Rebels will now have to try and contain two excellent running backs — Fournette and Derrius Guice.
Guice rushed for 126 yards and two TDs on 16 carries in the 25th-ranked Tigers’ 45-10 win over Southern Miss last Saturday, becoming the fastest running back in LSU school history to reach 1,000 career yards. The sophomore back is averaging 9.1 yards per carry, second in the SEC.
Haynes thinks Guice will draw even more attention than Fournette, thanks in part to his explosiveness up the middle. Guice has 564 rushing yards this season.
Marquis Haynes on facing Derrius Guice
LSU’s passing game has also improved since Danny Etling has taken over this season for Harris as the team’s starting quarterback. Etling has passed for 925 yards in five games.
Defensive changes for the Rebels
Coach Freeze announced at Monday’s press conference there would be a few changes made on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive staff assistant Christian Robinson will coach the Rebels’ middle linebackers moving forward. Defensive coordinator Dave Wommack, who had been coaching the middle linebackers, will now focus his attention on the outside linebacker (stinger) position.
Robinson, who played linebacker for Georgia, is in his second year as a defensive graduate assistant at Ole Miss. Prior to his position with the Rebels, Robinson was an assistant on the Georgia staff.
Ole Miss surrendered 429 total yards of offense to the Razorbacks in the Rebels’ 34-30 loss in Fayetteville last Saturday, ranking the Ole Miss defense 104th in the country in total defense.
The Rebels are giving up an average of 446 yards per game, which places them at 104th in the nation in total defense. Ole Miss’ opponents are scoring an average of 30.3 points per game.
“I haven’t really focused on the fact we’ve been giving up points and stuff that much, but it’s mainly because our eyes are in the wrong spot most of the times that we give up explosive plays,” Haynes said.
“Sometimes we try to go to the sideline and fix it, and when we fix it, the teams go to their sideline and counter what we’re doing,” he explained.
Marquis Haynes on facing LSU’s offense
One move Haynes hopes he sees is Leonard Fournette taking the field for the Tigers.
Ole Miss and LSU will square off in the Magnolia Bowl at 8:00 p.m. (CT) at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. The game will be televised by ESPN.
(Feature image credit: Dan Anderson, The Rebel Walk)