7/20/18 5:50 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
In today’s report, an LSU Tiger gets nominated for NCAA Woman of the Year, Jonathan Giles gets the nod as one of the nation’s top preseason receivers, and the LSU baseball team picks up a big 2021 commitment. Before we dive into those topics, let’s begin taking a look what LSU’s league opponents had to say at SEC Media Days in Part 1 of a two-part series that we call “Tiger Bait Talk.” Thanks to Jim Kleinpeter for his work on the series, and to Jake Martin for his work on our previous “Tiger Talk” series and on putting this update together while I was out of town yesterday. (More on my fishing trip later.)
Talking Tiger Bait: Quote from 2018 opponents that caught our ears from SEC Media Days, Part I:
Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher on LSU approaching him in 2015:
“I’ve always had a great affiliation with that place and great love for that place. It unfortunately just didn’t work out at the time. I don’t want to go into any of the details. They’ve got a great coach, and I’m in a great situation, and we’ll move on.”
Fisher is alluding to LSU. Notice he never referred to the school by name in three references. That right out of the Coach’s Handbook as a subtle way to de-emphasize the opponent. What’s significant is that the quote seems to confirm that Fisher was in play for LSU when the 2015 season hit the skids with a three-game losing streak after a 7-0 start. He ended up signing a $75 million, 10-year contract with the Aggies, who have lost seven straight to LSU. Fisher also made sure not to slight Ed Orgeron and to compliment his current school, reiterating that he’s in a good position.
Georgia safety J.R. Reed on playing in Tiger Stadium in 2018:
“It’s always cool to play in an historic stadium like LSU’s. I’m not worried too much about (the atmosphere) now, maybe I will be as it gets closer. It’ll be cool to play inside Death Valley and come out with a “W."
Reed is obviously savvy enough to avoid saying something LSU players might want to post on their bulletin boards when asked about playing in Tiger Stadium. Georgia seldom plays in Baton Rouge; it will be ten years since the last visit. But he’s also expressing confidence that comes from a team that made it to the College Football Playoff final and came within a hair of winning the title. He finished it off with an expectation for victory while giving props to the opponent. Well-played.
Ole Miss quarterback Jordan Ta’amu on Matt Luke being named head coach:
“When (Matt Luke) was named the head coach, everyone including myself, was excited. We knew he was the guy for the job. After winning against Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl, after the game, we all chanted ‘We want Luke!’ and it started blowing up and it was a crazy feeling in that locker room.”
The worst is still ahead for the Rebels, and Ta’amu is appreciative that the coach the team likes will be around to see them through it. Like Ed Orgeron, Luke was an assistant promoted to head coach after a firing, and that’s always popular with the players, but not necessarily always in the best interests of the program. The 13 scholarships the Rebels lose through the 2019 recruiting class won’t really have an impact until a year or two down the road. The Rebels still have some solid players for 2018, including Ta'amu and WR A.J. Brown, but depth is going to be an issue as the season wears on.
Arkansas linebacker Dre Greenlaw:
“It’s unbelievable learning from John Chavis. I didn’t really know what to expect when he first came in, but after I got that relationship with him, just to play for someone else that has been in the SEC for as long as he has and experience the knowledge he has put in the league, you had no other choice than to go into practice and give your all.”
Greenlaw is rightfully fired up about being coached by a defensive coordinator with Chavis' reputation, although he hasn’t been that good lately. Chavis has been especially good about developing linebackers and Greenlaw wants to get to the next level. Chavis, however, was on the downslide when he left LSU for A&M and his defenses were riddled during his three years in College Station. Last year, the Aggies allowed 408 yards per game and finished No. 78. That helped to make him available for the Razorbacks under new coach Chad Morris, where he’s switching the Hogs from the 3-4 to the 4-3 alignment. Getting a high-profile name like Chavis boosts the excitement for the players and the fans, but Arkansas is still in the toughest division in the country.
Stay tuned for more in the Tiger Bait Talk series tomorrow.
Now, with the start of LSU football season only 44 days away, let’s continue our countdown to game day by remembering the Tigers’ first bowl victory in school history - the 1944 Orange Bowl win over Texas A&M. As stated in The LSU Football Vault by Herb Vincent, only five SEC schools fielded teams in 1943-’44 due to World War II. LSU, like virtually all schools nationwide, had to use mostly freshmen and sophomores along with a few veterans who were rejected for military service for one reason or another. Fortunately, senior running back Steve Van Buren was among the Tigers who received Class 4-F exemption (due to an eye defect) and was able to remain in school and play ball. Van Buren was, literally, a man among boys, and that was obvious in the Tigers’ 19-14 victory over Texas A&M on New Year’s Day, 1944. In that game, LSU avenged an early season loss to the Aggies, thanks in large part to Van Buren who accounted for three touchdowns including a 63-yard scoring run in the third quarter to put the game away. I’ve added video highlights of that historic game to our Media Gallery.
An interesting fact I found while doing my research for this write-up is that the Tigers’ trip to and from the game in Miami presented some challenges of its own. According to an article I found on goldenrankings.com, trains were not an option for traveling to the game because of wartime regulations that gave rail priority to troop movements. Thankfully, Baton Rouge banker and Tiger supporter Lewis Gottlieb purchased eighteen used cars to transport the team to the game and then sold them upon returning home. The trip back home from Miami was challenging, too. Along the way, one of the cars had mechanical trouble, and the group also ran out of gas rationing stamps and had to beg each gas station they stopped at to let them buy a gallon of gas. Though our country faces plenty of problems today, stories like this make me thankful for the times we live in and remind me to take nothing for granted.
One more random note for “44”: That’s the number of touchdowns LSU scored last year, which was 68th in the country and ninth in the SEC.
• The word is out about Jonathan Giles’ potential. He becomes the latest Tiger to be named to an award watch list with the Biletnikoff Award highlighting the Texas Tech transfer’s abilities. Giles recorded 1,158 yards and 13 touchdown receptions with the Red Raiders two years ago before sitting out last season. He is one of 28 players to earn the accolade. The last LSU player to win the Biletnikoff Award was Josh Reed in 2001.
• The LSU baseball team picked up a commitment from a 2021 prospect yesterday afternoon when Alabama’s Samuel Dutton gave his verbal pledge to the Tigers. Dutton is a right-handed pitcher and outfielder that is listed as the 163rd best prospect in the nation according to Perfect Game.
• In gymnastics news, Myia Hambrick has been named LSU’s nominee for the 2018 NCAA Woman of the Year Award. Hambrick is one of 581 nominees. At LSU, Hambrick was a four-time SEC Academic Honor Roll member and a 21-time All-American and Southeastern Conference Champion.
• Congratulations are in order for A.J. Duhe, who will be inducted into the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Saturday, Aug. 4 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Duhe was a First-Team All-SEC defensive tackle with the Tigers and averaged 72 tackles per season in the purple and gold. He was selected 13th overall by the Miami Dolphins in 1977 and was named the 1977 Associated Press NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year for his 83 tackles and seven sacks.
LAGNIAPPE: Thanks to all who wished me good luck with my fishing. It worked. The three bank poles I mentioned in yesterday’s update yielded one Appaloosa catfish, but that was just the beginning of an outstanding morning on the creek. All told, I caught my limit of bass – mostly red-eye spotted bass and a few largemouths. Here are a few pics. I sense a fish fry coming very soon.
Oh, one more thing: I’ll be updating our Ticket Exchange page later today.