9/25/17 5:30 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
After sharing my initial thoughts on LSU’s lackluster win Saturday night, I solicited your input for today’s Mail Call, and man, you didn’t hold back! In all my years doing this, I don’t think I’ve ever received so much mail after a win. As promised, I’ve selected several of your messages, as well as my responses, to share with you in today.
Before getting to the Mail Call, here’s a quick word on the weekly polls. After defeating Syracuse 35-26, LSU moved up one spot to No. 22 in the Coaches Poll and stayed put at No. 25 in the AP Poll. Here are the complete rankings.
DANDYDON.COM’S MONDAY MORNING MAIL CALL
Reader Comments: I thought Coach O made a very good decision to bring QB Brennan into the game early 3d Q. Particularly due to the lack of protection from the O line at this point, it would be wise to have the back-up QB ready to play should Etling (God forbid) go down. You can clearly see how Brennan has progressed from his 1st game; but Coach O pulled him soon after he threw the interception (which was not the QBs fault), but I'm sure the coach did not want to put the young QB in a "preserve the win" type situation when it wasn't necessary. The move not only provided a spark in the game but I noticed how Etling settled down and to played well after he was able to sit out awhile and watch the game from the sideline; seeing the def. pressure. For example, in that one play where he escaped the def. pressure; running for the 1st down instead of taking the sack like he did in the 1st half. I'm seeing how Coaches O and Canada are actually developing the QBs through real competition and game reps, which is something we hadn't seen with the prior Coaching staff. Are you seeing the same thing?
Also, what's the deal Jacoby Stevenson? Coach O indicated earlier in the week that Stevenson would somehow be used on offense, but I don't recall seeing him in the game. How do you think LSU could best use his athleticism at this point? With the injury to DB Battle and break downs in coverage, do you think he may end up back at Safety?
My Response: Stephen, it was extremely risky of Coach O to go with Brennan when he did. But in retrospect, I guess I understand his reasoning. Orgeron obviously wanted to give Brennan meaningful snaps with the game on the line. When he inserted him, the outcome of the contest was still uncertain, yet there was enough time and just enough of a lead to trust that if Brennan ran into trouble the staff could go right back to a healthy Etling who was having a solid game. That’s a lot different that having to throw a freshmen into the fire because the starter is injured or not having any success. So yeah, I do see that as quarterback development of the sort we did not see in the Miles era. As for JaCoby Stevens, he did play some as the F-back on offense and was the recipient of a shovel pass in the first quarter that resulted in a five-yard gain. I have not heard anything about them moving him back to safety mid-year and I guess that can’t be ruled out, but I’m not expecting it.
Reader Comments: I have been following lsu football for the last 60 years and this is the worst performance by a tiger football team since the Curley Hallman tenure. I'm tired of the promises made by coaches and administration about competing for titles when in reality this team will be lucky to win 5 games with 0 sec wins and a last place finish in the sec west. As far as coach o you got what you wanted. As far as the solution to the teams problems is recruiting guess who the recruiting genius is and just take a look at this years class which can never compete at a championship level. I guess my final years on this earth will not be spent watching a mediocre team. Used to be an avid fan and proud alumni.
My Response: Wayne, I appreciate your message and readership of DandyDon, but there’s a lot I find troubling about your message. One, there’s no way you found this to be the worst performance by a Tiger team if you watched last Saturday in Starkville. I say that kind of jokingly, but on a more serious note, you can’t blame LSU’s O-line and D-line problems on Orgeron’s tenure as recruiting coordinator when he didn’t take on that title until the spring of 2016. The problem, with regard to recruiting these two areas, began much earlier. As stated in that article by The Advocate I linked to a few days ago, LSU signed a combined 15 defensive and offensive linemen in the 2014-15 classes and only six of them remain on the team. And in 2015, the Tigers didn’t sign a single nose tackle. As for this year’s class, you’re right that it needs more beef, but there’s still time and slots for that. I guess the most troublesome part of your message is that you’ve given up on your Tigers. What does it say about a fan if he withdraws his support for a team when it needs it most? My bet, and my hope, is you’ll be watching next Saturday. #ForeverLSU
Reader Comments: Not much to get excited about with this team. They don't have kinks that need fixing they have flaws and they can't be fixed this yr. The line of scrimmage is the main problem and they do not have the players to make it better. And there is a lot of poor coaching to add to the misery. This sort of reminds me of GA last yr except they had better players. Smart is a more invested coach than O seems to be and they got better on the backend of the season, which I do not think LSU will do. Smart was smart; made a few changes and now will probably meet AL in SEC Championship. Yr 2 will still be a rebuilding yr for O. Recruiting will be harder because of the season LSU will have, at best 7-5.
My Response: Dave, you’re right that some of what ails LSU can’t be fixed this season, and that patience will be needed as the Coach O deals with getting this team to where it needs to be personnel-wise. As for having “a lot of poor coaching,” I don’t see it that way. What I saw from the coaching staff this week was a successful effort at reducing penalties, a willingness to try new personnel (i.e. Magee at right guard, Sullivan and Davis in the passing game, Stevens at F-back, etc.), an attempt to mitigate protection issues by moving the pocket for Etling, and an effort to further develop QBs by playing Brennan. That said, I’m not yet sold on Matt Canada as offensive coordinator, though I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt since we’re just four games in.
Reader Comments: Special teams continue to be a problem. We have people hired to assist the assistants; why didn't we see the need to hire a special teams coach?
My Response: Wayne, when Bradley Dale Peveto was fired, he was coaching outside linebackers and special teams. Instead of replacing him with someone who would coach both positions, LSU hired Dennis Johnson (a.k.a. “Meatball”) as a full-time outside linebackers coach and was hoping to hire someone as special teams coach if the NCAA would have voted to allow a 10th assistant coach, something they’re expected to do in the near future. Until LSU can hire an additional coach, the staff decided on using a “by committee” approach to coaching specialists.
Reader Comments: The reason we didn't see the new, whiz-bang offense is not that they were holding it in reserve for a "big" opponent, but that there really is no new, whiz-bang offense, else we would have seen it against Miss. State and Syracuse. It is going to be a long, long year.
My Response: Charles, yeah, there were high hopes for Canada’s offense and it hasn’t exactly lived up to its billing, and I agree with you that LSU wasn’t intentionally holding anything back against Miss. State and Syracuse. I think the main things limiting what Canada can do with the offense right now are offensive line play and receiver inexperience, and so I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt… for now.
Reader Comments: Scott. I really have to scratch my head at some of the obviously incorrect coaching decisions by this staff. It is quite obvious that Gamble should have been kicking off from day one. Why wasn't that obvious decision made? It is also becoming obvious that Von Rosenberg is the best punter. Why is he not starting at punter? In addition, considering the play of the interior OL, and considering Clapp is supposedly the best guard on the team with NFL potential, why is he not playing guard? We better try something there. Take care.
My Response: John, without seeing what goes on at practice, I don’t feel it’s my place to say it’s obvious that LSU should have played this person or that person. You do bring up a good question about the O-line and Clapp, though. I assume they have him at center because 1) He’s the team’s best center, 2) it’s such a critical position, and 3) it puts him in an ideal position help instruct/lineup LSU’s inexperienced right guards. That said, looking at Cushenbury at center and Clapp at guard might very well be something to try this week against Troy as the staff searches for anything that can help.
Reader Comments: I am puzzled as to why #1 Donte Jackson, the fastest man on the team, isn't returning kick-offs and punts? I thought he won that job after Summer Camp? DJ made quite a few mistakes last night. Any ideas about why Jackson isn't being awarded the opportunity?
My Response: Jenny, I would like to see Jackson used there too. The reason stated for having Chark in that role is “ball security.” He has great hands. Evidently they’re worried about Jackson’s ability to cleanly field the punts.
Reader Comments: Good morning Scott. I love LSU but they just don't look like a very good football team. Their line play (both sides) is poor. Syracuse could have beaten the Tigers given that they dropped a sure touchdown pass in the end zone, and this by a team that lost to Middle Tennessee. The Orange scored 16 straight points after LSU'S 28 TO 10 lead. With the way we are playing I just don't see us beating the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, Florida and Tennessee. That would mean a 6 and 6 season. We had Syracuse players nailed behind the line of scrimmage a number of times but seemed to tackle at the shoulders rather than the lower body resulting in the runners escaping. A safety on first down with Williams not even close to getting out of the end zone. And, our punter! You just know he is going to make a lousy punt at least once every game. It's going to be a long sad season.
My Response: Bill, you’re always welcome to vent here and I can’t argue with much of what you said. I will say this though about LSU’s punting. Walk-on Zach Von Rosenberg replaced Josh Growden after a few bad punts and did much better. In fact, Rosenberg averaged 44.5 yards per punt with a long of 49 yards and one inside the 20. I think we’ll see him from here on out.
Reader Comments: As you noted the O Line play is terrible this year but I feel that this has been an ongoing issue for the past few years. Is the O Line issue a sign of poor coaching? Is the departure of so many O Linemen a result of poor coaching? Is the lack of recruiting O Line a sign of poor coaching? There are too many things that point to the O Line coaching being a MAJOR ISSUE with the Tigers.
My Response: Recruiting, attrition, and player development have all been major factors in LSU’s O-line issues. I think it’s reasonable to question offensive line coach Jeff Grimes’s role in all three, especially recruiting and player development. As for attrition – the one factor that I think is most responsible for the O-line’s drastic plunge this year –it’s impossible for me, on the outside, to say how much of this has to do with Grimes. There’s usually an increase in attrition during a coaching change, and it’s not surprising that a lot of it came from the O-line where former head coach Les Miles was very involved.
Reader Comments: Scott, I was very disappointed in the Tiger Fans last night. The stadium was half empty 1/2 way through the 3rd quarter, the energy level was low, and it feels like the crowd was almost indifferent. I have been going to LSU games for 50 years and I can’t ever recall the stadium emptying out when the game was very much still undecided. Yes we are struggling, and our play this year won’t cut it in SEC play, but it felt like many fans are giving up on the team. This is a very young team and it really needs the home crowd fully behind it! Thank you.
My Response: Kurt, I agree 100% and couldn’t have said it better myself. I’ll include your message in our Mail Call.
Reader Comments: Scott, Although we're all in our own proverbial pity party over our beloved Tigers, it's worth mentioning how the purported former "apples of Joe Alleva's eye" are doing this year:
Jimbo Fisher-0-2 at FSU
Tom Herman-1-2 at Texas
I'll take 3-1 with Coach O, our staff and our potential any day. I'm a glass half full type guy (perhaps it's just the cold adult beverage and a smoking pit that have me in a positive mood :) ), but MUCH better days are to come for this program.
My Response: I want some of what you’re smoking, Jeremy! ;) – From a fellow glass-half-full kind of guy who appreciates your message!
Reader Comments: What do you think of Marcus Spears comment on ESPN about LSU being mediocre at best? Not good, not great...but mediocre? I believe he has a point looking at previous years since 2012 onward. Are we heading in the wrong direction? Your thoughts Wise Cookin’ Cajun.
My Response: If we’re judging Spears statement on a literal basis, he is incorrect. The college football universe consists of 130 FBS teams and a simple look at the final rankings shows that LSU is far better than the vast majority of them. This LSU football team is far from being “in the middle of the pack,” and it’s football program (facilities, coaches, tradition, income, etc.) is still clearly top-tier. But yeah, I get what he’s saying and agree that things have declined pretty consistently in recent years and that a 61% SEC winning percentage over five years just isn’t good enough. I also agree that this 2017 team doesn’t look like a championship contender. With that said, I remain steadfast in my belief that LSU’s football future is bright and that the addition of a few key signees at key positions to go along with the very talented youth on the team could have LSU right back in the hunt.
That’s it for the Mail Call. Thanks to all who chimed in!
• Here’s The Advocate’s weekly film study by Ross Dellenger which is always a good read: LSU Film Room: How a freshman QB showed poise, numbers behind pass-blocking woes and a new pass-rushing package from Aranda
• And, just for fun, here’s the official video of the Cartoon Favorites halftime performance from The Golden Band from Tiger Land Saturday night. (After sharing last week’s Fight Night performance, I received so much positive feedback from it that I decided to share this one today. Enjoy!)
• Lastly, I’ll be updating our Ticket Exchange page later today, so if you have LSU tickets for sell, please send me your info for posting.
Have a great day, Tiger Fans, and be sure to tune in tomorrow for Tuesday’s tidbits which will include a recap of Coach Orgeron’s comments to the media during today’s luncheon.