7/18/18 5:45 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
We’ll start today’s report with some news on the injury front that has just come to light. Sophomore tight end Jamal Pettigrew (6-7, 262, Saint Augustine HS) suffered a knee injury this summer and is likely to be out for the season. I always hate to hear of an injury like this, especially to a player like Pettigrew who was just starting to come into his own. Though he only had one reception last year, he had a couple of impressive catches in the Spring Game and seemed poised for a breakout season. Fortunately for LSU, the Tigers have depth at the position behind senior starter Foster Moreau with guys like fellow senior Jacory Washington, sophomore Thaddeus Moss, redshirt freshman Aaron Moffitt, and true freshmen Zach Sheffer. Here’s wishing Pettigrew a full and quick recovery.
Now for some news on the Kristian Fulton front. As has been well documented, the junior cornerback is 18 months into a 24-month suspension for violating the NCAA’s Drug-Testing protocol. Sports Illustrated reported last month that the Fulton family made a “last-ditch effort” appeal with the NCAA to have the suspension lifted, and yesterday NOLA.com provided an update after hearing from Don Jackson, an Alabama-based attorney representing Fulton. Their report indicates that Jackson is “optimistic” that a resolution could be in sight and that they could have an answer in 2-3 weeks. If the appeal is successful and Fulton is cleared to play this season, that would be icing on the cake of an offseason filled with nothing but good news before the revelation of Pettigrew’s injury.
As mentioned by Coach Orgeron at SEC Media Days, determining who starts at the cornerback position opposite of preseason All-American Greedy Williams is going to be one of the focal points of fall camp. “We brought in Terrence Alexander, a graduate transfer from Stanford who will have an opportunity to compete at that position,” Orgeron said. “Kelvin Joseph, one of the top signees from the state of Louisiana at cornerback, Jontre Kirklin, and Kary Vincent… It will be exciting to see who is going to be that other cornerback.” Obviously, having five-star Fulton in the mix as well would be a game-changer.
Quoting Orgeron above makes a good segue to a new series we’ll begin today in which we discuss a few key quotes from SEC Media Days and what they mean. We’ll start with a telling quote from Coach Orgeron about how he’ll interact with Steve Ensminger and the rest of his staff, and one by Foster Moreau that sheds some light on the transition to Ensminger’s offense. Here we go…
Talking Tigers: Quotes that Caught Our Ears from SEC Media Days
Ed Orgeron on Matt Canada/Steve Ensminger/offensive input:
“I have no problem walking in there and saying, ‘Hey man, what are we doing here? This needs to be fixed.’ And I’m sure they have no problem saying, ‘Yes sir, you’re right.’ I think we’re on the same page, and as far as me being in there on a daily basis, I’m not going to do that. I choose to spend most of my time on defense and special teams, but if I do see something I think is wrong, I have complete authority to go in there and fix this and say, ‘Hey, what are you doing?’ And they’ll say, ‘Yes sir, you’re right.’”
The lead story on ESPN.com Tuesday morning was Ed Orgeron admitting he made a mistake hiring Matt Canada as his offensive coordinator last year. Those of you who follow this site daily understand that this is not breaking news. We know he regrets hiring Canada, and that the two struggled to get along. This is a respect thing, and as head coach, Orgeron expects and demands respect from his coaching staff. The quote above is important because he knows he can approach his current offensive staff without any major pushback. That wasn’t the case a year ago. This quote tells us that by promoting Ensminger, he’s making a decision as LSU head coach the way he wants to make it. It’s a gut call. If this fails with Ensminger as offensive coordinator, he won’t have any regrets because he went with his guy. If he can’t produce big wins at a big university like LSU, well, at least he did it his way. And I think there’s something to be said for that.
Foster Moreau on new offense:
“When you guys see it first, I’m sure you guys will be able to tell as a whole how it looks. But since we’re around it, it’s kind of like being with your son all the time, and you never really see him grow. And then, one day, you’re like, ‘Oh wow.’ You’re taken aback by how tall he’s grown, if you see pictures or you mark a wall. I think that’ll be how it goes.”
It might be a bit of a stretch, but this quote seems to suggest two things. First, the offense must be considerably different than Les Miles’ pro-style and Matt Canada’s shift-happy offense. Second, it must feel pretty comfortable to the players, so much so that they have to take a step back to go, “Wow, this offense really is different.” It’s also interesting to note that Ed Orgeron has repeatedly talked about three-wide to five-wide looks, and so far he’s been so transparent with us that we have no reason to doubt him. (Think about how he’s talked about the quarterback race being tight and then what we saw from the quarterbacks in the spring game.) Plus, we got a chance to look at the offense quite a bit in the spring game, and the sets certainly fit the narrative. But back to Moreau’s quote… as a father, I can fully appreciate it and can’t wait to see how much LSU’s offense will have grown in the seven months, 23 days since Ensminger was named offensive coordinator.
Now, while we’re counting days, let’s move on to our countdown to game day, which has reached the 46-day mark. For this one, let’s hop into the “wayback machine” and revisit a 1946 LSU team that flies under the radar. The Tigers welcomed back 11 starters that year, plus 28 service veterans returning from World War II. Future NFL Hall of Famer Y.A. Tittle quarterbacked the crew and got backing from such stars as Ray Coates, Dan Sandifer, Gene Knight, Abner Wimberly, Ed Champagne and Walter “Piggy” Barnes, who would go on to a career in Hollywood. The Tigers lost only to Georgia Tech (26-7) in a game that was 12-7 in the fourth quarter. LSU pulled off a six-game winning streak that included the first victory against Alabama (31-21) in 37 years and a 41-27 thumping of Tulane. LSU rose as high as No. 8 but was passed over for the Sugar Bowl in favor of North Carolina. The Tigers settled for a Cotton Bowl date with Southwest Conference champion Arkansas, which resulted in the infamous 0-0 Ice Bowl deadlock. I hope you enjoyed that journey back in time.
• Remember the former four-star quarterback, Cord Sandberg of Bradenton (Fla.), who we mentioned is returning to football after six years in minor league baseball? Well, yesterday he announced his finalists as LSU, Auburn, and N.C. State. Sandberg is expected to take official to all three schools this month with LSU’s coming the weekend of July 28-29.
• Thanks to Jake Martin for his collaboration on the Talking Tigers series we began today. Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow. Later this week, Jim Kleinpeter will chime in with some quotes from LSU opponents that we’ll call “Talking Tiger Bait.”
• Lastly, as promised, I’ve updated our way too early LSU football depth chart to include the newcomers and their jersey numbers. Don’t read too much into the chart as it’s just a guess at this point and includes a lot of duplication. (Feedback/suggestions welcome.) It’ll become much clearer once the Tigers get a few fall practices under their belts.
Have a great day, Tiger Fans.