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LSU vs. Miami - September 2nd, 6:30 PM CT
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8/19/18 5:40 am CT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

The LSU football team wrapped up its last day of “camp” with the second of three preseason scrimmages. Just like the first scrimmage, this one was highlighted by a dominant defense. We’ll get to that in a bit, but first, we have to touch on the unpleasant topic of yet another player being suspended indefinitely, the third in the last two weeks.

Yesterday morning news broke of wide receiver Drake Davis being arrested on one count of second-degree battery. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound junior is alleged to have beaten his girlfriend on multiple occasions between May 2017 and this past June, to the point of breaking one of her ribs. The alleged abuses also include punching the victim, ripping an earring from her ear during an attack, and sending a text message that read, “I might kill you.” WBRZ reports that even though the alleged abuses date so far back, they weren’t reported to LSU Police until this past Thursday. Davis was arrested the next day. My quick thoughts: I’m glad LSU took swift action to suspend him indefinitely, and if the charges prove true then he needs to be immediately dismissed from the team. There’s absolutely no defense for any of the alleged abuse and as the father of three daughters this type of stuff makes me sick to my stomach.

Interestingly, this story took a twist yesterday evening. According to The Advocate, Davis’s attorney, Marci Blaize, said her client’s accuser provided a statement retracting the allegations. “I have been contacted by the victim and she has provided me a statement that the allegations are, in fact, false,” Blaze reportedly said. Davis has been released from the East Baton Rouge Parish Jail on a $5,000 bond. 

Alright, enough about that. Let’s move on to LSU’s scrimmage. I’ll give you a rundown of what Coach Orgeron said about it in a bit, but first here’s a quick summary of a report I received from someone who witnessed it: Nose tackles Ed Alexander and Tyler Shelvin were “beasts in the middle.” Linebackers Jacob Phillips and Devin White were “killing people out there.” K’Lavon Chiasson looked really good, and Kelvin Joseph was “a stud” at cornerback. As for the quarterbacks, Joe Burrow “put the ball right on the money” but had a ton of drops. Running back Chris Curry “ran the ball hard” and looked impressive.

As for Coach Orgeron’s comments, here are the key takeaways:

• It was a really rough day for the QBs statistically speaking. Burrow went 10-of-24 for 124 yards, one touchdown, and an interception. Brennan went 5-of-19 for 47 yards and an interception. Dropped passes hampered both quarterbacks. “I thought they threw the ball well,” Orgeron said. “They made some good decisions in two-minute situations. I thought a lot of passes were on the money, but we dropped too many balls.” 

• Orgeron implied that the drops were from the young receivers, which likely means Ja’Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall since they seem to be two of the top-four receivers. The other two are Justin Jefferson who only scrimmaged “a little bit” and Jonathan Giles who sat out.

• Marshall led all receivers with three catches for 44 yards, including a 25-yard TD reception from Burrow. Tight end Foster Moreau caught a pair of passes for 28 yards, and a host of Tigers had one reception.

• Freshman running back Chris Curry rushed for 35 yards on eight carries.  “He’s a power runner and he showed us some things today,” Orgeron said of Curry. “He can run the ball between the tackles, but he has enough speed to go outside. I thought he lowered his shoulder pads and he made a lot of plays in between the tackles today.” Senior Nick Brossette rushed for 16 yards on six carries, while sophomore Lanard Fournette carried the ball five times for 13 yards.

• Last week the biggest takeaway was that the offensive line struggled. This week, it sounds like the unit made strides. “We cut down the penalties and gave up fewer sacks. I thought we made some improvement there today.” The defensive stats provided told of only one sack, though Orgeron admitted that they weren’t allowing the QBs to be hit and weren’t calling sacks, so there might have been more in live circumstances. 

• The one reported sack was by freshman linebacker Damone Clark who led the team with five tackles including one for a loss. Sophomore linebacker Jacob Phillips continued to have an impressive camp, registering five tackles, while sophomore DL Tyler Shelvin added four tackles and a tackle for loss in what was “his best scrimmage since joining the Tigers.” Orgeron said junior linebacker Michael Divinity also had a big day.

• The team practiced most situations, including all situations on special teams except punt returns, which they’ll be doing this week. Kicker Cole Tracy was 1-of-2 on field goal attempts after going a perfect 3-for-3 last week. The distance of his missed attempt was not provided.

• One other interesting tidbit is that Orgeron responded to a question about OG Ed Ingram’s suspension by calling it “a legal matter.” That’s the first time he’s described it that way since his suspension.

• The good news is that there weren’t any new reported injuries and Orgeron said most of the guys injured right now are just dealing with typical minor camp injuries and should be good to go.

With school beginning tomorrow, preseason camp is officially over now and the team will begin turning its attention to game planning for Miami. They’ll hold one more final scrimmage next Saturday.

Now let’s close out today’s report with our countdown to Game Day, which is exactly two weeks away. For No. 14, let’s look back a former Tiger great who wore the number, wide receiver, Michael Clayton. Clayton played at LSU from 2001 to 2003 and was a member of the 2003 National Championship team. An argument could be made that he was one of the best all-around players to ever play at LSU as he not only excelled as a receiver but also as an excellent downfield blocker and a hard-hitting speedster on special teams kickoff coverage. He also served as LSU's holder. Of course, Clayton's forté was clearly as a wide receiver where he caught 182 passes for 2,582 yards and 21 TDs in his three years at LSU. When his time as a Tiger was all said and done, Clayton held the record for career TD receptions with 21. (The record was later broken by Dwayne Bowe in 2006.) To this day, he is the only player in LSU history to have at least 700 yards receiving in three consecutive seasons. After his junior season, Clayton entered the NFL draft and was selected by Tampa Bay in the first round of the 2004 draft. He had a tremendous rookie season with the Buccaneers, but his football career went downhill from there. Clayton spent six years with the Buccaneers before a brief stint in the United Football League, and then closed out his career with the New York Giants where he earned a Superbowl ring in 2011. While with the Giants, Clayton began sharing his Christian faith with his teammates and led them in prayer. Clayton now continues his ministry through a foundation he started in 2005 called the Michael Clayton Generation Next Foundation, whose mission is to give back to the community and help make a difference in the lives of young people. For a reminder of what a versatile and talented football player Clayton was, check out the first half of this video (which I've added to our Media Gallery.) 

In closing, I invite you to send your comments and questions for tomorrow’s Mail Call. As usual, I’ll choose several to share along with our responses.

Have a great Sunday, Tiger Fans.





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8/19/18 5:40 am CT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

The LSU football team wrapped up its last day of “camp” with the second of three preseason scrimmages. Just like the first scrimmage, this one was highlighted by a dominant defense. We’ll get to that in a bit, but first, we have to touch on the unpleasant topic of yet another player being suspended indefinitely, the third in the last two weeks.

Yesterday morning news broke of wide receiver Drake Davis being arrested on one count of second-degree battery. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound junior is alleged to have beaten his girlfriend on multiple occasions between May 2017 and this past June, to the point of breaking one of her ribs. The alleged abuses also include punching the victim, ripping an earring from her ear during an attack, and sending a text message that read, “I might kill you.” WBRZ reports that even though the alleged abuses date so far back, they weren’t reported to LSU Police until this past Thursday. Davis was arrested the next day. My quick thoughts: I’m glad LSU took swift action to suspend him indefinitely, and if the charges prove true then he needs to be immediately dismissed from the team. There’s absolutely no defense for any of the alleged abuse and as the father of three daughters this type of stuff makes me sick to my stomach.

Interestingly, this story took a twist yesterday evening. According to The Advocate, Davis’s attorney, Marci Blaize, said her client’s accuser provided a statement retracting the allegations. “I have been contacted by the victim and she has provided me a statement that the allegations are, in fact, false,” Blaze reportedly said. Davis has been released from the East Baton Rouge Parish Jail on a $5,000 bond. 

Alright, enough about that. Let’s move on to LSU’s scrimmage. I’ll give you a rundown of what Coach Orgeron said about it in a bit, but first here’s a quick summary of a report I received from someone who witnessed it: Nose tackles Ed Alexander and Tyler Shelvin were “beasts in the middle.” Linebackers Jacob Phillips and Devin White were “killing people out there.” K’Lavon Chiasson looked really good, and Kelvin Joseph was “a stud” at cornerback. As for the quarterbacks, Joe Burrow “put the ball right on the money” but had a ton of drops. Running back Chris Curry “ran the ball hard” and looked impressive.

As for Coach Orgeron’s comments, here are the key takeaways:

• It was a really rough day for the QBs statistically speaking. Burrow went 10-of-24 for 124 yards, one touchdown, and an interception. Brennan went 5-of-19 for 47 yards and an interception. Dropped passes hampered both quarterbacks. “I thought they threw the ball well,” Orgeron said. “They made some good decisions in two-minute situations. I thought a lot of passes were on the money, but we dropped too many balls.” 

• Orgeron implied that the drops were from the young receivers, which likely means Ja’Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall since they seem to be two of the top-four receivers. The other two are Justin Jefferson who only scrimmaged “a little bit” and Jonathan Giles who sat out.

• Marshall led all receivers with three catches for 44 yards, including a 25-yard TD reception from Burrow. Tight end Foster Moreau caught a pair of passes for 28 yards, and a host of Tigers had one reception.

• Freshman running back Chris Curry rushed for 35 yards on eight carries.  “He’s a power runner and he showed us some things today,” Orgeron said of Curry. “He can run the ball between the tackles, but he has enough speed to go outside. I thought he lowered his shoulder pads and he made a lot of plays in between the tackles today.” Senior Nick Brossette rushed for 16 yards on six carries, while sophomore Lanard Fournette carried the ball five times for 13 yards.

• Last week the biggest takeaway was that the offensive line struggled. This week, it sounds like the unit made strides. “We cut down the penalties and gave up fewer sacks. I thought we made some improvement there today.” The defensive stats provided told of only one sack, though Orgeron admitted that they weren’t allowing the QBs to be hit and weren’t calling sacks, so there might have been more in live circumstances. 

• The one reported sack was by freshman linebacker Damone Clark who led the team with five tackles including one for a loss. Sophomore linebacker Jacob Phillips continued to have an impressive camp, registering five tackles, while sophomore DL Tyler Shelvin added four tackles and a tackle for loss in what was “his best scrimmage since joining the Tigers.” Orgeron said junior linebacker Michael Divinity also had a big day.

• The team practiced most situations, including all situations on special teams except punt returns, which they’ll be doing this week. Kicker Cole Tracy was 1-of-2 on field goal attempts after going a perfect 3-for-3 last week. The distance of his missed attempt was not provided.

• One other interesting tidbit is that Orgeron responded to a question about OG Ed Ingram’s suspension by calling it “a legal matter.” That’s the first time he’s described it that way since his suspension.

• The good news is that there weren’t any new reported injuries and Orgeron said most of the guys injured right now are just dealing with typical minor camp injuries and should be good to go.

With school beginning tomorrow, preseason camp is officially over now and the team will begin turning its attention to game planning for Miami. They’ll hold one more final scrimmage next Saturday.

Now let’s close out today’s report with our countdown to Game Day, which is exactly two weeks away. For No. 14, let’s look back a former Tiger great who wore the number, wide receiver, Michael Clayton. Clayton played at LSU from 2001 to 2003 and was a member of the 2003 National Championship team. An argument could be made that he was one of the best all-around players to ever play at LSU as he not only excelled as a receiver but also as an excellent downfield blocker and a hard-hitting speedster on special teams kickoff coverage. He also served as LSU's holder. Of course, Clayton's forté was clearly as a wide receiver where he caught 182 passes for 2,582 yards and 21 TDs in his three years at LSU. When his time as a Tiger was all said and done, Clayton held the record for career TD receptions with 21. (The record was later broken by Dwayne Bowe in 2006.) To this day, he is the only player in LSU history to have at least 700 yards receiving in three consecutive seasons. After his junior season, Clayton entered the NFL draft and was selected by Tampa Bay in the first round of the 2004 draft. He had a tremendous rookie season with the Buccaneers, but his football career went downhill from there. Clayton spent six years with the Buccaneers before a brief stint in the United Football League, and then closed out his career with the New York Giants where he earned a Superbowl ring in 2011. While with the Giants, Clayton began sharing his Christian faith with his teammates and led them in prayer. Clayton now continues his ministry through a foundation he started in 2005 called the Michael Clayton Generation Next Foundation, whose mission is to give back to the community and help make a difference in the lives of young people. For a reminder of what a versatile and talented football player Clayton was, check out the first half of this video (which I've added to our Media Gallery.) 

In closing, I invite you to send your comments and questions for tomorrow’s Mail Call. As usual, I’ll choose several to share along with our responses.

Have a great Sunday, Tiger Fans.

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. 

Prediction: Worse

•••

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.

Prediction: Better

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

Closing Tidbits: 

• 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.



 

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