8/18/18 5:40 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
The LSU football team will have its second preseason game (scrimmage) in Tiger Stadium today, and it should be very telling. Down to two scholarship QBs, each should get significantly more reps than in last week’s scrimmage where four guys spent times with the first and second strings. Coach Ed Orgeron will meet with the media afterward to dish out a few stats and take questions. What we’re most interested in learning – even more so than the quarterback stats – is whether the offensive line shows improvement. Last week, the unit drew Orgeron’s ire for giving up far too many sacks and committing a bunch of penalties. Of course, what we want to hear more than anything is that it’s an injury-free scrimmage. With the season just two weeks away, now is a tricky time when the staff needs to see what guys can do without exposing them to more risk than necessary (hence so many “precautionary absences” in this week’s practices).
Here are a few quotes the school released in advance of the scrimmage:
“Execution,” Orgeron exclaimed when asked what he’s hoping to see the offense improve upon from a week ago. “We had way too many penalties – offsides and holding – which put us in some long yardage situations.
“We have to do a better job of catching the football. I think having only these two quarterbacks (Joe Burrow and Myles Brennan) scrimmage will help us out as far as execution is concerned. It will keep the intensity up on defense. The defense had an excellent scrimmage (last) Saturday. Then the offense handed it to us on Monday so we need to do it every day.”
Look for a full recap of Coach O’s post-scrimmage comments in tomorrow’s report. In the meantime, let’s continue the series we started yesterday comparing the 2018 Tigers by position with the 2017 team and touch on a few newsy tidbits.
LSU FOOTBALL 2018, BETTER OR WORSE?
Part 2: Running Backs
There’s no question LSU’s running back situation appears to be a step down from last season. Fan favorite Derrius Guice was one of the best running backs in the country, and Daryl Williams put in the time and effort to trim down and become a durable second option. Together they combined for more than 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns. Both backs will be missed sorely. If you look at who is returning, Nick Brossette had the most rushing yards a year ago with 96. Brossette, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and Chris Curry seem to be the three most likely candidates to start for
the Tigers this fall. Going into the season here are our preconceptions – Edwards-Helaire is the most elusive, dynamic back of the bunch, Brossette is the goal line back option, and Curry has the potential to be the bell cow. Smart money is on Edwards-Helaire to start after what we witnessed in the spring game, and though many have likened his style to the great Kevin Faulk, it would be irresponsible to predict that this unit will be better than the group LSU had last season. That said, it’s safe to say that this year’s LSU offense with its spread concepts and greater focus on the passing game will put less emphasis on the smash mouth running game long synonymous with LSU football. These backs could surprise some people, not only for their efficiency in the run game but also as receivers out of the backfield.
Part 3: WR and TE
Whenever you can lose a game-breaker like D.J. Chark and an athletic, versatile Russell Gage and still view the position as an upgrade, you know you have some high expectations for newcomers. If you’re going off of returning experience, Foster Moreau has the most production returning with 278 yards and three scores. That’s right; a tight end is LSU’s leading receiver back in purple and gold. But when you consider the Jarvis Landry/Odell Beckham hype Ja’Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall have generated as incoming freshmen, as well as Jonathan Giles now being eligible, the argument that this position is in a better state in 2018 doesn’t seem so irrational. Giles received the No. 7 uniform for a reason. This player has been a nightmare to cover in practice since last season, and already has a 1,000-yard receiving season to his name when he was at Texas Tech. Now add to the mix playmakers like Chase, Marshall and even Justin Jefferson, whom we saw glimpses of in the spring game (and boy were those impressive glimpses!). Depth won’t be a concern either with experienced players Dee Anderson, Derrick Dillon, Drake Davis, and Stephen Sullivan joining the fray with Kennan Jones, Jaray Jenkins, and Racey McMath. Steve Ensminger called this the strength of the offense, and after looking down the depth chart, it’s hard to disagree.
Stay tuned. Next up in the series: The Trenches.
In other football news, I’m happy to report that Johnny Robinson’s wait for the Hall of Fame call is coming to an end. The former Tiger who was a big part of LSU’s 1958 national championship team learned yesterday that he is the 2019 Pro Football Hall of Fame’s sole senior wing finalist, which we at DandyDon think is outstanding. That essentially assures him that he’s in, as the rest of the process is pretty much just a formality.
Our own Jake Martin met with Robinson earlier this summer and picked the brain of the 1960s All-Decade team member. Robinson switched over from offense to safety in the AFL/NFL and NFL.com senior analyst Gil Brandt said Robinson is one of the 100 best football players ever, regardless of position. Robinson will turn 80 in September and will become the last member of that 1960s All-Decade team to get the nod from Canton. The process of getting into the hall of fame has been a long one due to only one senior member going in per year. Robinson told The Ouachita Citizen in July, “It’s a little frustrating. “The main thing is they have a lot of guys that should be in that are not. Be honest with you; I haven’t seen anybody that’s gone in on the senior list that shouldn’t be there.” Today, Robinson’s family runs a boys home in Monroe that Robinson started in 1980. Congratulations to Robinson on a well-deserved and long overdue honor.
Now some news on the baseball front about a few changes coming our way: Earlier this week, the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved giving baseball coaches two video review challenges per game and several other changes that will go into effect for the 2019 season. It did not, however, approve a recommendation from the Baseball Rules Committee to add two visible 20-second play clocks, which was proposed as a way to speed up the game. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t too big on that proposed change anyway, although I’m all for speeding up the game. You can check out the complete list of approved changes here, and below are the highlights:
• The third to first pickoff move is no longer allowed.
• Pitchers will no longer be required to throw four pitches for intentional walks. Instead, the defensive team can just inform the umpire that it is walking the batter.
• Defensive players are no longer allowed to block a base without the ball.
• If a batter makes a move to be intentionally HBP, a strike will be called. And any ruling on an intentionally hit batter cannot be argued.
• There are several changes regarding what plays are reviewable at the crew chief’s discretion or with the use of a coach’s challenge.
On a related note, there’s been a lot of chatter about the NCAA allowing teams to hire a third full-time assistant. Evidently, that was not something voted on this time around although Kendall Rogers of D1Baseball.com tweeted that he is “very confident” that it will pass within the next year.
Jumping back to football… with just 15 days remaining until LSU’s season opener against Miami, let’s continue our countdown with a look at a special Tiger quarterback who wore No. 15 – Matt Flynn. The quarterback position is probably the most competitive position in football because only one usually plays while backups are typically used in games where the scores become lopsided. This was very much the case for Matt Flynn who came to Baton Rouge in 2003 along with highly heralded JaMarcus Russell, who was a consensus top five national pro-style quarterback by all the major recruiting publications.
After redshirting along with Russell on LSU’s 2003 National Championship team, Flynn accumulated just 36 passes in his redshirt freshman and sophomore seasons before being thrust into action in the Tigers’ 2005 Peach Bowl. With Russell injured from the 2005 SEC Championship game, Flynn surprised many with a solid bowl performance that included 196 passing yards, two touchdowns and 39 rushing yards in a 40-3 victory over Miami that capped an 11-2 season.
Flynn again served as a backup in 2006 but finally got the starting quarterback role in 2007 when Russell forwent his senior season for the NFL. The 2007 Tigers were loaded with talent that included senior running back Jacob Hester, speedy athlete Trindon Holliday, and wide receivers Early Doucet, Brandon LaFell and Demetrius Byrd. LSU’s offense was depending on Flynn, a fifth-year senior, to lead them on their quest to a National Championship, and the Tyler (Tx.) native did not disappoint. There were several exciting victories in 2007 that included Flynn leading a fourth quarter comeback victory over Florida (28-24) that included a five-for-five conversion rate on fourth downs, throwing a 22-yard game-winning touchdown pass in a 30-24 win vs. Auburn, and driving the Tigers for a game-winning touchdown in a 41-34 victory at Alabama.
After missing the SEC Championship game, which the Tigers were still fortunate to win 21-14 over Tennessee, Flynn led the Tigers against the No. 1 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2008 BCS National Championship. Playing arguably the best game of his collegiate career, Flynn tied a school record with four touchdown passes as he led the Tigers to 31 unanswered points in a resounding 38-24 victory that was not as close as the final score indicated. For his career, Flynn was a member of two national championships, a Peach Bowl victory and a Sugar Bowl victory, as the Tigers compiled a 56-10 (.848) record. Many would say this was the best five-year period in school history, and Flynn got to enjoy every bit of it.
Flynn went on to enjoy an eight-year NFL career that included stints with the Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, New York Jets and New Orleans Saints. Nowadays, Flynn still hunts, fishes, stays in shape and has his own business called MyHy (My Hydrology), which uses proprietary sweat testing to help athletes and others optimize their hydration.
Side note: In today’s countdown, I would be remiss not to give a shoutout to another LSU QB: this year’s No. 15, Myles Brennan. Might he follow a similar path as Flynn
• LSU Athletics announced on Friday that Dave Haskin has joined the department as Assistant Athletics Director for Marketing. Haskin comes to LSU after serving as the Associate Athletics Director for External Affairs at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa since 2013. He will manage the Athletic Marketing efforts in all 21 sports for LSU Athletics and oversee the Marketing and Fan Experience staff at LSU.
• Looking for LSU tickets to buy? I added quite a few to our Ticket Exchange last night.
• Lastly, I heard from quite a few of you asking about a recipe for the Boudin-Stuffed Chicken Breast that I tweeted about. Confession: I bought those ready to cook and just popped them in the oven. But… I have prepared stuffed breasts (and pork chops too) with everything from boudin to sausage to spinach and cheese, and there’s really nothing to it. I’ll make plans to do stuffed chicken breast (maybe boudin & pepper jack?) sometime next week and document the steps to share in our Recipes section for those of you who aren’t fortunate enough to have a Cajun grocer down the street that sells them oven-ready.