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LSU vs. Wisconsin - August 30, 2014 - 8:00 P.M. Kickoff (ESPN)
0 Day, 0 hour, 0 minute

8/23/14 5:55 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans. Just one week until Game Day!

The LSU football team practiced yesterday and will do so again this morning before taking tomorrow off and beginning classes on Monday. Practices from here on out will probably be a little less physical as the team tries to avoid any last minute injuries and shifts its focus to final preparations for Wisconsin.

Like LSU, the Wisconsin Badgers have two quarterbacks battling it out for the starting role, and yesterday reports surfaced that one has been given the nod over the other. According to the Journal Sentinel, Tanner McEvoy, who has never played quarterback in a game for the Badgers, will get the start over last year’s starter, Joel Stave. McEvoy is a dual-threat quarterback who had a strong season at Arizona Western Community College before jointing the Badgers last year. He originally joined the team as a quarterback, but was moved to wide receiver and then to safety. After Stave injured his shoulder in last year’s bowl game, McEvoy moved back to quarterback and had a strong spring and fall camp. 

With football season quickly approaching, I want to give you a heads up on a few things we’ve got in store for you. One thing I’m particularly excited about is my latest interview with Mike Detillier on the topic of the 2014 LSU football team which I’ll begin posting on Monday. I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading Mike’s thoughts. Next week we’ll also return to our familiar game week schedule of reports which will include recaps of Les Miles’ weekly press luncheon and radio show, a position-by-position comparison of LSU and Wisconsin, keys to an LSU victory, and my weekly predictions for every SEC game and several contests involving in-state teams.

Speaking of predictions, I want to let you know that our third annual statewide high school football pickem contest is now open and ready for you to begin making picks. If you participated in a previous year, your user name and password will remain the same. (And if you've forgotten it, you can use the link to retrieve it from the login page). I hope that many of you will consider getting in on the action. There’s no cost to participate and it’s a lot of fun. Even if you choose not to participate in the pickem, please note that you can refer to its full 10-week schedule of games and scoreboard for every team in the Louisiana High School Football Association. It’s a lot of work to keep up a resource like this, and I couldn’t do it without the help of my wife, Heather, who entered all 1,435 games and will be posting the scores of each game. For more information on our Louisiana High School Football Pickem Contest and how it works, please click here.

As pointed out in a press release I received yesterday, LSU has invested a lot of time, effort and money into enhancing the game day experience for Tiger Fans. We’re all familiar with the South end zone expansion project which will increase the stadium’s capacity to 102,321, but the enhancements to Tiger Stadium and the game day experience go beyond that. There will also be new high definition video boards (which can now show replays of officials’ reviews and game highlights thanks to a new SEC rule), enhanced lighting, new concession items, improved cell phone coverage and many other improvements within the historic Tiger Stadium. Outside the stadium, fans can look forward to improved traffic flow now that LSU will be implementing contraflow for southbound traffic on Nicholson Drive/Highway 30 in an effort to help relieve post-game vehicle congestion. For more information on LSU’s efforts to improve the Game Day experience, please see this article.

On a related note, if you’re not fortunate enough to be able to visit Tiger Stadium this year but are looking for a place to join Tiger Fans to watch the games, check out our newly updated View-In Parties page. And if you represent an alumni association and would like for me to add or update your listing, please contact me.

Now let’s jump right into our Countdown to Game Day, which is only seven days away, by recognizing two former Tiger greats who wore the number 7 - Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu. Actually, these two players have several things in common. Not only did both attend LSU, wear No. 7, excel as defensive backs and as return specialists, and receive All-America recognition, they also were both recipients of the Bednarik Award, which is presented annually to the best defensive collegiate football player in the country. They also both went on be drafted by Arizona Cardinals where they remain today. In addition, they are both good friends, and that friendship played a big part in Tyrann Mathieu overcoming his well-documented problem with marijuana addiction and bouncing back to where he is today.

As a Tiger, Tyrann Mathieu was outstanding on the football field and played with such confidence and swagger that it seemed to be infectious, in a positive way. He played with great instincts and a knack for making big plays at key times, and even though he was lacking a bit in size, his tenacity and toughness made up for it and earned him the nickname of “honey badger.” In his two seasons at LSU, the New Orleans native created a total of 14 turnovers in 26 games while shattering a school record with an incredible 11 forced fumbles. As a sophomore in 2011, Mathieu led the team in tackles (76), led the nation in fumble recoveries (5), finished fourth nationally in punt returns (15.6 yards average), and was a consensus All-American at corner back and return specialist. As you all know, numerous failed drug tests led to Mathieu’s dismissal from the Tigers before he ever played a down as a junior, and man what a special year 2012 could have been for the Tigers had he kept himself out of trouble. Mathieu was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the third round of the 2013 draft and was off to a good start in the pros before tearing his ACL and LCL in a victory over the St. Louis Rams in December. Just this week Mathieu was removed from the “physically-unable-to-perform” list and he is hopeful to be ready to play in the Cardinal’s season opener on September 8th. Here is Mathieu's LSU highlight video, which I've added to our Media Gallery.

Patrick Peterson played at LSU from 2008-2010, and not only did he capture the Bednarik Award, he also won the Thorpe Award, given to the nation's top defensive back. Peterson remains the only Tiger to win both of those prestigious awards, and is the only Tiger to have been named both SEC Defensive Player of the Year and Special Teams Player of the Year. Patterson played in 39 games as a Tiger and racked up 135 total tackles, 22 pass breakups and seven interceptions. In his one season as a return specialist, he set an LSU school record for kickoff return yards with 932 on 32 returns. After his playing days as a Tiger, he was drafted in the first round as the fifth overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2011 NFL Draft. Peterson recently signed a five-year contract extension with the Cardinals worth $70 million with $48 million guaranteed and a $15.3 million signing bonus Here is Peterson’s LSU highlight video, which I've added to our Media Gallery

The player who wears No. 7 for this year’s Tiger team could very well be LSU’s next All-American - Leonard Fournette. Yesterday I came across this great article by Randy Rosetta of nola.com on Fournette, his family, and the way he is handling the high expectations. There’s no doubt that Fournette has all the markings of a star in the making, and I can’t wait to see him in action one week from today.

I’ll close out today’s report with a great new video from LesMiles.net showcasing the LSU football team’s new locker room which was unveiled yesterday. Check it out here in our Media Gallery.

Reader Comments:  San Antonio Tigers! It's football season again! Please come & join us for our annual Kick-Off Party & meeting. When: Saturday, August 23rd, 6 -10 PM. Where: Encino Park Community Center, 1923 Encino Rio, San Antonio, Texas 78259. Cost: $10 per person (facility rental, security, & main dish). FYI: Our chapter dues are $15/person or $25/family. Consider joining our chapter. Bring your favorite beverage & salad, side dish, or desert & serving utensils. Main dishes will include fried catfish from River City Seafood & Grill & pork tenderloin. We will have ice, plates, napkins & utensils in an air conditioned setting. Raffle of LSU items for scholarship fund.

8/22/14 5:50 am CT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Yesterday I mentioned a favorite expression of my late father, Don, that he used often in his writings: “Speed kills on the highway and on the playing field.” With that in mind, I've decided to make speed the focus of today's daily dose, just like I did last year at this time. “Why?” you might ask. Well, two reasons: First, Les Miles caught the attention of a lot of folks Wednesday during his radio show when he said that this Tiger team might be the fastest he’s ever coached. Second, our Countdown to Game Day has reached the eight day mark, and one of the fastest men to ever don an LSU football uniform wore No. 8.

In addition to size and overall athleticism, speed is one thing that makes college football very different than prep ball, and it's also something that makes the SEC such a dominating conference. LSU has had some very fast teams in the past, and that makes Coach Miles’ recent statement about the 2014 team’s speed even more encouraging and exciting.

So just who are the speedsters on this year’s team? Well, there are many. Those that first come to mind are the three that Miles recently mentioned during a press conference as the fastest - wide receivers DJ Chark and Avery Peterson, and running back Leonard Fournette. The fact that wide receiver Travin Dural and cornerback TréDavious White were not mentioned in that group, both of whom have sub-4.4 times in the 40-yard dash, tells me that those three must be blazing fast. Two other players who’ve been praised for their speed recently are defensive end Danielle Hunter and wide receiver Trey Quinn. About a month ago, Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Tommy Moffitt stated that Hunter ran 21.5 miles per hour during a conditioning test, which he said equals the fastest time Odell Beckham moved in any game last year, and what makes that especially impressive is that Hunter weighs 240 pounds. Coach Moffitt went on to say that Quinn ran it even faster, at an incredible 22 mph.

A couple of notes/observations about the seven speedsters mentioned above: First, the average weight of the seven is 204 pounds, and the lightest is 184 pounds (Chark). Also, Leonard Fournette’s size to speed ratio is absolutely incredible and is just one of the many things that make him a very special back. At 230 pounds, Fournette runs the 40-yard dash in 4.35 seconds. Chew on that for a moment.

Having exceptional speed on the roster is nothing new for LSU, but having it on the roster does not necessarily translate into having it utilized on the field. For example, last year at this time we were raving about the speed of Jeryl Brazil, Kavahra Holmes and Derrick Raymond (among others), but, for one reason or another, none of those three contributed significantly and none remain on the team. What’s different this year is that all seven of the speedsters mentioned above appear poised to play meaningful roles this season.

Now for our Countdown to Game Day, with only eight days remaining until the season-opener, let’s take a look back at... you guessed it, Trindon Holliday. Holliday didn't start playing football until his junior year in high school because his mother wouldn’t let him due to his size. (He later played as a Tiger at 5-6, 155-pounds, so I imagine he was probably about a buck twenty as a junior in high school.) As a prep track star, Holliday posted the nation’s fastest indoor times in the 55 and 60-meter dash in 2005 and was clocked at 4.27 seconds in the 40-yard dash. On the football field, he gained 2,210 yards rushing (11.4 per carry) on 193 carries and 34 touchdowns as a senior, and averaged 27.6 yards per punt return. Holliday would have probably never ended up at LSU if his high school teammate, wide receiver Aaron Brown, had not decided that he didn't want to go to LSU's summer camp alone. Because of this, Northeast High Coach David Masterson decided to take Holliday along with Brown, and once the LSU staff saw him post a time of 4.28 in the forty, offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher was sold. At LSU, Holliday excelled in track and field and in football. In track and field, he was an eight-time All-American and broke several national records. As a football player, he was a three-time SEC‚ÄąSpecial Teams Player of the Week recipient, and man was he fun to watch. After his days as a Tiger, he was drafted by the Houston Texans in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, but in October of 2012 he was waived from the Texans as Houston tried to bolster their injury-depleted defense. Denver immediately picked him up and he remained with the Broncos until 2013. In March of this year, Holliday signed a one-year contract with the New York Giants.

Last year I posted two videos to our Media Gallery that are appropriate to reference today - one is a light-hearted look at Holliday and his Tiger teammate Herman Johnson, and the other shows a few of Holliday’s highlights from LSU, Houston and Denver. Enjoy!

In other news, the 2014 Preseason Coaches All-SEC Football Teams were announced yesterday and 11 Tigers were selected to the three teams. La’el Collins was LSU’s sole first-team selection, while Kwon Alexander, Vadal Alexander, Colby Delahoussaye, Terrence Magee, Corey Thompson and Tre’Davious White all received second-team honors. Danielle Hunter, Jamie Keehn, Jermauria Rasco and Rashard Robinson earned spots on the third team. LSU’s 11 total selections tied with Alabama for the most in the SEC, but seven of Bama’s 11 selections were named to the first team. Auburn was third in total selections with 10 and Georgia, Ole Miss and South Carolina each had eight.

A few tidbits in closing: ‚Ä®

I just realized that I never gave you the results of our poll asking “What will LSU’s Record Be at the End of the 2014 Regular Football Season?” I closed the poll last night after nearly 9,500 votes were cast. The most popular choice was 9-3 (36.8%) with 10-2 being a close second (32%). For the full results, please click here and then click on View Results at the bottom of the poll. ‚Ä®‚Ä®

• Barrett Sallee of Bleacher Report published his Preseason College Football All-Freshman Team and LSU’s Jamal Adams and Leonard Fournette made his list.

• Here’s a great article on Les Miles entering his 10th year as LSU’s head coach: Entering 10th season at LSU, Les Miles an embedded and endearing part of the scenery‚Ä®‚Ä®.

Reader Comments: Scott, I thought you'd like to see that LSU has two games out of the Top25 most intriguing games this season according to Yahoo. Alabama has the number one spot with Auburn, but even LSU fans have to admit that game will be interesting to us.

Reader Comments:  San Antonio Tigers! It's football season again! Please come & join us for our annual Kick-Off Party & meeting. When: Saturday, August 23rd, 6 -10 PM. Where: Encino Park Community Center, 1923 Encino Rio, SAT 78259. Cost: $10 per person (faciliity rental, security, & main dish). FYI: Our chapter dues are $15/person or $25/family. Consider joning our chapter. Bring your favorite beverage & salad, side dish, or desert & serving utensils. Mian dishes will include fried catfish from River City Seafood & Grill & pork tenderloin. We will have ice, plates, napkins & utensils in an air conditioned setting. Raffle of LSU items for scholarship fund. Discussion of 2014-2015 activities. RSVP to Rebecca Voyles: rovoyles@yahoo.com.

8/21/14 5:45 am CT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

I listened to the first Les Miles Radio Show of the season last night and really enjoyed the familiarity of hearing Coach Miles and Jim Hawthorne speak about the football team while I franticly took notes and sent out an occasional tweet. Coach Miles started the program by saying the preseason has gone very well and that he likes where the team is at this point. One of the best things about this preseason, he said, is that the team has stayed away from “the injury bug” for the most part. Now they’re looking forward to getting past practicing and playing the game.

As those of you who’ve followed the Les Miles Show for a while would probably guess, Gary from Baton Rouge was the first caller of the night. Unfortunately for Gary and the next two or three callers, the show was experiencing technical difficulties with the phone lines and could not hear their questions. In classic mid-season form, Coach Miles anticipated Gary’s question without him even asking it and addressed the middle linebackers. (Gary was the first caller for every show last year and always asked about Kendell Beckwith.) Miles said that Beckwith is very talented and is going to be a great middle linebacker, as will Clifton Garrett.

While waiting for the phone issue to be resolved, Hawthorne asked about the offensive line and then about Ethan Pocic. Miles responded by saying that the players have really benefited from new offensive line coach Jeff Grimes and appear to be “learning better.” He went on to say that La’el Collins and Jerald Hawkins will be dominant linemen. As for Pocic, Miles said he will get a lot of playing time and suggested that he will play “significant football” in the first game. Later in the show, Miles said that Pocic might start at center.

When asked about the tight ends, Miles said Dillon Gordon is a big, strong man who can catch and run, and that Travis Dickson and Logan Stokes can both block and run (I think he might have meant block and catch). He also said he’s looking forward to the growth of a couple of young tight ends.

In response to Hawthorne’s question about losing the team’s two top receivers from last year, Miles said that they really like veterans John Diarse and Travin Dural. He then reminded Hawthorne that Diarse was in position to be a big contributor last year before injuring himself in preseason practice. As for the young receivers, Miles said Trey Quinn, Malcahi Dupre and DJ Chark will all play and that all three are gifted, bright and have good ball skills.

As for the running backs, Miles said Kenny Hilliard has had a great career and is now the best he’s ever been. He said Hilliard has lost weight, is faster, stronger and very dangerous. He also said Terrence Magee is a great leader who had a great outing in Tuesday’s scrimmage. As for the highly-touted freshman, Leonard Fournette, Miles said he does some things that make him very, very special, and that his combination of speed and size is not something you don’t find very often. Miles was quick to add that freshman Darrell Williams is not taking a backseat to anyone and that the team is very fortunate to have four quality tailbacks. At fullback, Miles said Connor Neighbors knows everything that’s going on and is a great leader on the field.

Next, Hawthorne asked Miles to talk about the quarterbacks. Miles said both throw well, and run well when needed, and that both will probably play in first game. He went on to say that both are learning and improving each week and that he’s in no hurry to name a starter.

A little later on, “Big Ragoo” (Marvin Dugas) from the live audience asked Miles about DJ Welter. Miles called Welter a “program player” and said that he’s done everything asked of him and is deserving of a lot of playing time, if not a starting role. Miles said that Welter and Beckwith will both stay fresh because both guys can play.

After the live audience segment of the show, Hawthorne asked about the defensive line. Miles started his response by mentioning Danielle Hunter at end, saying he’s very, very talented, big, strong and fast. Rasco, on other side, is also very very talented, physical against the run, and a good pass rusher. On the interior, Miles said that Quintin Thomas is back, Christian LaCouture is slated to be a starter, and that there are a number of guys right behind them who can step in and play. I found it interesting that this was the first time in quite a while that I didn’t hear Miles mention Frank Herron by name when speaking of the defensive tackles.

When asked about the cornerbacks, Miles described Rashard Robinson as “one of the big, tall, fast corners in college football” and said that he also really likes Tradavious White, who is one of those guys we’ll eventually see playing on Sundays. Miles mentioned Ed Paris and Jalen Mills at the corners as well. As for the safeties, Miles named Ronald Martin and Rickey Jefferson as potential starters, if not true freshman Jamal Adams who Miles said is very talented and much like former Tiger great Patrick Peterson.

When Hawthorne asked about special teams, Miles started by saying that Colby Delahoussaye is a very stable, capable kicker who will be able to kick some even longer field goals this year. He also said that Trent Domingue is competing for field goal, punting and kickoff duties. Miles then praised punter Jamie Keehn saying that during a practice he punted a ball 80 yards, which they fielded. He also said kicker Cameron Gamble has hit the roof of the indoor practice facility twice during practice, which is something Miles had never seen a kicker do in the 10 years he’s been at LSU.

When asked about punt and kick returners, Miles named Tradavious White, Trey Quinn, Leonard Fournette, Terrance Magee and Travin Dural as returners. As soon as he said that, I was reminded of one of my Dad’s favorite old sayings: Speed kills on the highway and on the playing field!

Before leaving the topic of special teams, Miles added that snapper Reid Ferguson may be the best long snapper in the country. He also said Ferguson is a team leader and member of the Unity Council.

Toward the end of the program, Hawthorne asked Miles what stands out about this 2014 team. Miles was quick to say that they are a very special group of young men who are extremely talented and might be the fastest team he’s ever had.

Of course, the above is not a word-for-word account of what was said, but I hope you enjoyed the summary all the same.

With only nine days remaining until the action begins, today’s topic for our Countdown to Game Day is a little different from the norm. I guess you could say it marches to the beat of a different drum. Here we geaux…

I’m sure that when you read the words, “A tradition like no other,” many of you will immediately think of CBS’ promo slogan for The Masters Golf Tournament.  But for LSU fans, those words have a different meaning.  At LSU, there is a “tradition like no other” that has been a part of LSU football games for several decades.  And it’s time we tip our hat to the very special group that makes it happen.

As we continue our countdown to Game Day, the number nine plays - literally - a big part in every home football game in Tiger Stadium.  With seven lines of instruments stretched across the field, and two lines of the LSU Flag Corps (one in front and one behind), perhaps the greatest tradition in college football is on display when The Golden Band from Tigerland plays our favorite theme at full volume: “Hold That Tiger!” It's officially called “Pre-Game,” and when the band begins their steady march across the field before making quarter turns to greet each part of the stadium with that musical cheer, that’s our “call to arms” to let loose and make Tiger Stadium the most feared place in the world to play a football game.

You can get a reminder of what a special moment that is by watching this outstanding video (gives me the frissons every time!), or by supporting the band through iTunes.  Whatever you do, if you're fortunate enough to be in Tiger Stadium for Pre-Game, get up on your feet and make some noise for the hundreds of students, and their director, Roy King, who work through the summer heat to prepare for our own “tradition like no other.”

I’d like to give a special thanks to DandyDon reader Matt Rouse for his help with today’s countdown feature and others. Matt’s father, Nicholas Rouse, was the Director of Bands at LSU from 1976-1980. Because of that, Matt was fortunate to spend many fall Saturdays as a kid sitting smack dab between the Golden Girls and Tigerettes. ;)

In closing, a lot of you making plans to attend the season-opener have emailed me asking where Tiger fans will be hanging out in Houston. Here’s what I know:

• On the Friday night (August 29), there will be an event called Tiger Fan Jam at StereoLive on Richmond Avenue. It will feature Geaux DJ plus Travis Matte and the Kingpins. All ages are welcome and you can get tickets, directions and more information at TigerFanJam.com.

• On Game Day (Saturday, August 30), The LSU Houston Alumni Association is hosting an Official LSU vs Wisconsin Tailgate from 3pm - 7:30pm at NRG Stadium. Sponsorship opportunities are still available and the cost of tickets are $50/person which includes a meal ticket with live entertainment provided by the Better Than Ezra Foundation. For more information or to purchase tickets, check out LSUHoustonTailgate.com.

For those of you still looking for tickets to the game, please note that I will be updating our Ticket Exchange later today.

Reader Comments: Scott, with all the hype about the quarterback battle, running back Leonard Fournette, the freshmen wide receivers and the D-line, one group that we haven’t heard a lot about is the outside linebackers, but they could be really special. Here’s an article on the OLBs by NOLA.com to share with your readers.

 

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