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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!

Closing Tidbits:

• 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.




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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!

Closing Tidbits:

• 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.

9/24/17 1:00 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

A win is a win and I’ll gladly take it, though last night’s 35-26 win over Syracuse wasn’t exactly confidence-inspiring. Remember when I wrote a few days ago that there are no quick-fixes for some of LSU’s problems, particularly depth in the trenches? Well, that ugly truth revealed itself last night and will almost certainly be a recurring theme throughout the season. But for now… for today… I would rather revel in the fact that LSU hung on to win last night’s nail-biter than to focus on the fact that this team has issues that could make for a long season. There will be plenty of time for that.

The Tigers scored on the first offensive play of each half, but the rest of the game was a mixed bag, at best. Here’s a quick rundown of how it played out:

Aside from the opening play – a one-yard TD run from Derrius Guice following Andreas “Greedy” Williams’ interception – the Tigers’ offense sputtered for most of the half. At the end of the first quarter, the Tigers had a dismal 11 yards passing and zero rushing yards. 

In the second quarter, an impressive 6-play, 71-yard drive highlighted by a 43-yard Steven Sullivan touchdown reception gave the Tigers a 14-3 lead just before the break. 

The Tigers struck fast to start the second stanza on an absolutely beautifully thrown 87-yard touchdown pass from Etling to Drake Davis to give the Tigers a comfortable 19-point lead, but Syracuse didn’t flinch. Instead, the Orange answered with an impressive drive ending in a 30-yard halfback pass for a touchdown. 

At that point in the game, Danny Etling seemed to have found a groove and had completed six of his previous seven passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns, which made it a surprising time to see Coach Orgeron turn to freshman quarterback Myles Brennan. After the game, Coach O implied that the decision to play Brennan then had nothing to do with Etling’s play, but that he wanted to give Brennan some significant playing time in a critical situation to see what he could do. Turns out he did pretty well. On his opening drive, Brennan did a great job of picking up a blitz on third down and connected with running back Derrell Williams for a short completion that resulted in a 43-yard gain. On the following play, Williams made it a 28-10 LSU lead on a 20-yard TD run. 

After giving up a safety when Darrel Williams was bottled up in the end zone, Syracuse followed with a 72-yard scoring drive late in the third quarter to make it 28-19. Surprisingly, LSU stuck with Myles Brennan and he ended up throwing an interception (the Tigers first turnover of the season). At first, the play looked like a typical freshmen QB mistake, but upon further review, it might have been a freshman WR mistake as Dee Anderson appeared to have incorrectly run his route. Regardless, the Orange would go on to score a touchdown and make it a 2-point game on an 80-yard scoring drive that was kept alive by a roughing the passer penalty on freshman K’Lavon Chaisson.   

Tigers and Tiger fans were finally able to collectively exhale after Etling reentered the game and orchestrated a 7-play, 56-yard drive ending with a DJ Chark 20-yard jet sweep touchdown run to make the score 35-26. 

THE NEGATIVES: 

• Offensive Line: The most concerning thing about this game, by far, was the play of the O-line. The Tigers were once again beaten at the point of attack, and that was against a defensive front that is not nearly as strong as the majority of fronts LSU will face from here on out. If there’s any silver lining with regard to the O-line it’s that Adrian Magee got some playing time at right guard and seemed to help. 

Derrius Guice: The one-time Heisman hopeful was pretty much a non-factor in the game, rushing for only 14 yards on eight carries. It seemed obvious to me that Guice wasn’t at full health, though after the game Orgeron said he is “fine” but that they limited his carried for precautionary reasons.

• Defensive Line: Rashard Lawrence returned after missing the last two games with an ankle injury and his presence was a big help. Unfortunately, he suffered an injury to his other ankle during the game and didn’t play much of the second half. Here’s hoping he can be back at full health for two weeks against Florida. If this unit can ever get to full strength with Lawrence and Ed Alexander at full health and the return of Frank Herron, it could be considerably better, but until then it’s mediocre, at best. 

Defensive backfield: This unit had too many busted assignments (again), and took another hit when strong safety  John Battle left the game with an injury. After the game, Coach O said Battle’s injury isn’t serious, which is good to hear considering LSU is already without starting free safety Ed Paris.

• Punts & Punt Returns: DJ Chark made some poor decisions fielding (and not fielding) punts, and Josh Growden had a horrible night punting the ball, so much so that he was replaced by walk-on Zach Von Rosenberg who was much better. 

THE POSITIVES:

Penalties: LSU had no first-half penalties and only three on the night. Yes, that penalty by Chaisson in the third quarter was a killer, but still, there was much improvement on this front. Kudos to Coach O and the staff for that.

Danny Etling: Considering that he was feeling heat most of the night, Etling finished with a pretty good stat line: 10-of-17 for 188 yards and two TDs. His 87-yard TD pass to Davis marked a career-long for the senior.

Myles Brennan: While the timing of it may have been questionable, it was great to see Brennan get some meaningful playing time. No, I don’t think he did enough to win the starting job, though I do think a good argument could be made that his poise and quick release greatly benefitted LSU’s short passing game, which could go a long way in mitigating LSU’s offensive line/pass protection issues. 

Darrell Williams:  Darrell Williams: Williams made himself some NFL money last night with 142 all-purpose yards, 92 rushing and 50 receiving. On a night where Guice was limited, Williams picked up the slack in a big way.

• Young Receivers Emerging: Coach O said LSU would use new personnel this week, and no place was that more obvious or effective than at wide receiver. Steven Sullivan recorded his first career touchdown with his second career catch on the aforementioned 43‐yard catch from Etling. Drake Davis was on the receiving end of Etling’s 87-yard completion to start the second half. By the way, that touchdown marked the longest passing touchdown since September 6, 2014, when Travin Dural caught a 94‐yard pass from Anthony Jennings against Sam Houston St.

Andreas “Greedy” Williams:  Greedy continued to show he has that “it” factor and ended with seven tackles, four solo tackles, one interception, and one pass breakup. Unfortunately, he was also beat on a deep TD pass in the fourth quarter that pulled the Orange within two.

Other individual performances: Several other Tigers played their hearts out: Devin White, Corey Thomson, John Battle, and Rashard Lawrence, to name a few. Oh, and Cameron Gamble did a nice job on kickoffs.

Red Zone Offense: The Tigers were 3-for-3 in the red zone with three touchdowns.  

FINAL THOUGHTS: Give LSU some credit for rebounding from last week’s demoralizing loss and doing what it had to do to win. And give Syracuse credit for being well-prepared and playing a hard-fought game. But, with that said, the hard truth is that LSU barely squeaked out a win against an Orange team that is probably weaker than all but one team remaining on LSU’s schedule. Fortunately, that one team is LSU’s next opponent, Troy, which gives the Tigers a bit more time to work out kinks and get healthy. 

Here are LSU’s video highlights, Coach O’s Post-Game Comments, and the complete boxscore.

That’s it for now, folks, but I invite you to email your comments and questions so that I can select a few to include in tomorrow’s Monday Morning Mail Call.



 

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