NCAA Baseball Championships:
DandyDon is proud to recognize David Toms as a great ambassador of the Tiger Nation.
9/22/14 6:10 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
After a 31-26 loss to Mississippi State Saturday, LSU has fallen out of the top-10 to No. 17 in the AP poll and No. 18 in the Coaches Poll. Seven SEC teams are ranked ahead of LSU in each poll, including Alabama (3/2), Auburn (4/5), Texas A&M (6/7), Ole Miss (10/11), Georgia (12/13), South Carolina (13/15), and Mississippi State (14/16). Of the Tigers seven upcoming conference games on the schedule, four are against teams currently ranked higher than LSU (@Auburn, Ole Miss, Alabama, @A&M), and three will be against teams not in the Top-20 (@Florida, Kentucky, @Arkansas). Fortunately for LSU, the Tigers have one more much-needed tune-up and confidence builder next week against New Mexico State before SEC road action begins. I was a bit surprised to see that LSU has opened as a 47-point favorite in Saturday’s contest.
As you might imagine, my inbox is overflowing with messages from Tiger fans wanting to vent about Saturday’s demoralizing loss, and many of the questions and comments are about LSU’s quarterback situation. Since that’s such a hot topic right now, I decided to conduct an online poll on the matter.
Of course, a lot of the questions and comments I received yesterday were about play-calling, personnel and other topics that we’ve touched on in our weekly Monday Morning Rewind below. Again, I want to thank my friend Jake Martin for his help with this feature.
Monday Morning Rewind
There’s a lot to rant about in this morning’s addition of MMR, but let me preface the breakdown from the Mississippi State game with this – most of LSU’s struggles are fixable.
• Let’s start with defense, shall we? My biggest concern is the defense’s inability to stop the run on the inside. You can live with the plays Dak Prescott made. He’s a dark-horse Heisman contender, and he’s going to make plays as such, however, you can’t have guys whiffing at the line of scrimmage. (There were missed tackles at the line of scrimmage on the first three Mississippi State offensive series). Minus a few plays by Jermauria Rasco and Danielle Hunter, the Tigers had zero pressure on Prescott from the front four throughout the game. The combination of LSU’s defensive struggles led to Mississippi State leading 17-3 at halftime. The worst was yet to come, though.
• After Kwon Alexander stripped Prescott and the Tigers scooped and scored, MSU quickly answered with a 56-yard TD run by Prescott to regain the momentum. On that play, the Tigers defended with a 4-2-5 on a third-and-three, which I found surprising. Because of the alignment, the middle was wide open with Jalen Mills being the only player who could have made a play. Christian LaCouture pinched in, Kwon Alexander behind him was responsible for a WR, and Mills was playing deep, looking to blanket one of Mississippi State’s receivers on the outside.
• Another surprising observation from the second half was that Beckwith did not enter the game until two minutes left in the third quarter, after LSU was already down 31-10. This is surprising because of Beckwith’s stout defense in the first half.
• One of the most disturbing things I observed on the re-watch was the cheap shots by MSU’s Dillon Day. You can read more on that here. I hope the SEC takes a look at this and addresses the matter.
• Mills, Deion Jones and Ronald Martin all struggled against Mississippi State, while LaCouture, Rasco and Dwayne Thomas had strong performances. I would like to see Beckwith get a little more playing time moving forward, and would certainly like to see more of a 4-3 front against future power running teams.
• Alright Tigers fans, let’s switch over to the offense. Before getting to LSU’s personnel, I would like to address LSU’s play-calling. The lack of variety in the play-calling is just as much reason for LSU’s lackluster performance as the lack of protection and inefficiency by Anthony Jennings. Repeatedly, LSU ran the ball out of the I-formation to start drive after drive. In fact, it wasn’t until the team was down 31-10 with nine minutes left in the third quarter that the Tigers opened up a series in a spread formation and threw a pass. The drive ended on a poor snap from Elliott Porter, who eyed Preston Smith over his head. The play resulted in the second sack Porter allowed to Smith.
• Speaking of Porter, he appeared to be the weak link upfront that allowed penetration and disallowed running lanes on the inside. I’m still scratching my head as to why Ethan Pocic, who continues to impress with his ability, wasn’t moved to center to block Smith. And with the way Fehoko Fanaika blocked at right guard against Wisconsin, I would hope to see Pocic at center and Fanaika at right guard against New Mexico.
• Unfortunately for LSU, the Tigers’ vanilla play-calling cost LSU seven points. With a first-and-goal, the Tigers ran the ball four consecutive times, not utilizing Jennings’ legs and arm with a play-action pass. As you know, the Tigers lost by five, which could have been a different story had LSU punched it in or elected to kick the field goal, preventing LSU from going for two on two separate occasions.
• Following Prescott’s 56-yard touchdown run, the Tigers lined up in, you guessed it, the I-formation, and Vadal Alexander and Porter chipped the same guy on a 1-yard gain by Kenny Hilliard. Because of the way Porter missed Benardrick McKinney at the second level, it was hard to tell if the play was designed to go to the right or if Hilliard bounced it back. Regardless, it was yet another reason why Pocic should be starting at center.
• Perhaps what you’ve been waiting to hear about the most is the quarterback situation. Let me start by saying Jennings played his worst game of the season, failing to connect with Trey Quinn, John Diarse and Malachi Dupre on separate wide-open occasions. Jennings failed to progress through his reads, eying down one receiver as we’ve been pointing out for weeks. However, he did not get a whole lot of time to work in the pocket, and the Tigers did not open it up offensively for him until LSU was down by 21. Still, Jennings’ performance was underwhelming, which might lead some of you to think that Brandon Harris is the answer after Saturday night’s performance. Though Harris showcased his strong arm with amazing throws to Dupre, he did so without being under duress. The Bulldogs had only a three-man front, so Harris was gifted with time to pick and choose who he wanted to throw to. The flip-side to that is that Harris had success passing while MSU was expecting the pass. Harris also looked comfortable in the pocket and was accurate with his passes, giving LSU fans more reason to lobby for a quarterback change. Is that the best option right now? Give us your thoughts on the matter by voting in our online poll referenced above.
Before closing out for the day, I want to announce that we’ve processed all of last week’s picks in our pickem contest and our Week 3 winner is someone who goes by the username “tarver51” who correctly picked 117 of 146 games. I hope to hear from “tarver51” today so that I can introduce him to you tomorrow. Please note that it’s never too late to join our Pickem Contest as we’ll be announcing each week’s winner. Voting for this week’s games is now open and hope many of you will decide to join in the action. After three weeks of voting, the leader in the overall competition (all weeks) is Bob Register (user mmr) who won Week 2.
Lastly, I’d like to point out that I’ve updated I’ll be updating our Ticket Exchange page later this morning.
9/22/14 5:15 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
I said that last night’s game would tell a lot about this Tiger team, and it sure did as LSU was manhandled on both sides of the ball and fell to MSU, 34-29, in a game that was much worse than the score indicated. Much like in the season opener against Wisconsin, LSU started slow and was completely dominated in the first half, but in this game the second half wasn’t much better. That is, until very late in the game when Brandon Harris entered at quarterback for an injured Anthony Jennings with 3:43 left on the clock. Trailing 34-16, Harris quickly showcased not only his arm strength but his poise and leadership abilities as he orchestrated two quick touchdown scoring drives and gave LSU a fighting chance to win the game on a last second Hail Mary.
So what did we learn from last night’s game? Here are five quick things.
LSU’s offensive line isn’t nearly what we thought it would be.
Heading into the season we expected the offensive line to be the team’s strength. With four returning starters, considerable depth, and a new offensive line coach in Jeff Grimes, this was supposed to be the team’s strongest unit. Heck, it was supposed to be one of the best offensive lines in the country. Clearly, it is not. In last night’s game, MSU defenders were constantly in LSU’s backfield, and the Tigers only mustered 89 rushing yards on 36 carries (2.5 ypc). When faced with 1st and goal early in the game, LSU couldn’t punch it in on four straight running attempts, which says a lot.
Our preseason concerns for the defensive line were justified.
We knew heading into the season that LSU lacked experience in the defensive line and feared that it could be the team’s biggest problem. But then the second half of the Wisconsin game and the two contests that followed gave us hope that maybe our fear was unfounded. In last night’s game, LSU’s youth and lack of depth in the D-line could not be denied as the Tigers were mauled by MSU’s offensive line. This resulted in the Tigers giving up 302 yards rushing, which was the most they’ve allowed in four years. LSU’s D-line will get better, but it’s far from the dominating defensive front lines we’re used to seeing from Tiger teams.
Quarterback play is huge.
MSU’s Dak Prescott showed us that a confident and charismatic quarterback who can rally his team makes a world of difference. I hate to say it, but I remain unconvinced that Anthony Jennings can be such a quarterback. On the night, Jennings ended 13-of-26 for 157 yards and no TDs (100.7 RTG). By comparison, Dak Prescott ended 15-of-24 for 268 yards and two TDs (183.8 RTG). The most encouraging thing to come from last night’s performance was the play of Brandon Harris who ended 6-of-9 for 140 yards and two TDs (248.4 RTG). It will be very interesting to see how Harris’ performance is interpreted by the coaches and what it means for him moving forward.
These Tigers fight ’til the very end.
The Tigers were trailing by 24 points in the fourth quarter and had been getting dominated all night, yet they never gave up, fought hard until the very end and turned a blowout into a nail-biter. We saw this same resolve and fortitude from these young Tigers in the season opener against Wisconsin. The team’s Fighting Tigers spirit didn’t produce a win last night, but it was great to see nonetheless and will pay dividends down the road.
This might not be the year, but the future looks bright.
At this point in time, this is not a very strong LSU football team, and without significant improvement this could be a long year for the Tigers (and for us Tiger fans). But when I consider the youth of this team and its talented freshman class which has lived up to its billing, I truly believe that this team will get better as the season progresses and that good things are ahead for the Tiger football program.
Below are a few stats from last nights’s game, and here are LSU’s video highlights. We’ll have much more on the game in tomorrow’s report, so be sure to tune in.
A couple of tidbits in closing:
• Here’s a good read by Jim Kleinpeter of nola.com called “LSU's offensive struggles may turn into change at quarterback.”
• All of the scores from last night’s Louisiana high school football games have been added to our scoreboard, and later today we’ll process the results of this week’s pickem contest so that we can announce this week’s winner tomorrow.
9/20/14 5:50 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans, it’s Game Day!
At 6:00 tonight, the 8th ranked LSU Tigers will look to extend their 14-game win streak against Mississippi State when the Tigers and Bulldogs battle it out in Tiger Stadium in a game that will be televised by ESPN. Not only will the game be the biggest test this Tiger team has faced thus far, it’ll also be a great test of LSU’s new game day traffic and parking system. For those of you planning to head out there, please note these Times of Interest and Reminders and Suggestions from LSU. And for those of you who enjoy using social media while following the action, please note that I’ll be tweeting a few comments and stats to those of you who follow DandyDonLSU on Twitter.
Heading into its fourth game of the season, it’s still hard to know just how good this LSU football team is, but we should have a much better idea after tonight’s game. Ever since the third quarter of the season opener against Wisconsin, the LSU defense has been nothing short of outstanding, but how much of that was due to Wisconsin injuries (which sidelined three key players in the second half) and to relatively weak opponents in the next two games? That’s a good question, and we should have an answer tonight when the Tigers square up against what appears to be a potent MSU offense led by quarterback Dak Prescott. Of course, one should also question just how good MSU’s offense is considering the opponents they’ve faced this season. Tonight’s game will be very telling, and I can hardly wait. As my Dad used to say, “I’m about as nervous as an old cat in a new house.”
As you can probably guess by the quote above, on Game Days like this one I become especially reminiscent about watching the Tigers with my Dad, and with that in mind I decided to go back to my archives and see what Dad (Don) wrote about some of the previous LSU-MSU games. The first report I jumped to was the 2009 game that LSU won 30-26, and I have a feeling today’s game could be a nail-biter much like that one. To refresh your memory, I’ve decided to repost a snippet of that post-game report and include a video that might help you get pumped up (especially since LSU didn’t produce a pre game hype video for today’s contest.) I hope you enjoy this journey back in time…
From DandyDon.com’s September 27, 2009 Report:
The 93-yard touchdown run by Chad Jones [see video] was one of LSU's all-time great runs. The touchdown run gave LSU a 30-21 lead with 14:34 to play and at that point I thought LSU was going to break the game open. On their next possession, Mississippi State drove to LSU's three yard line and had to settle for a short field-goal to make the score 30-24. On the following possession, LSU had to punt then held MSU and forced them to punt. Chad Jones made a huge mistake fielding the punt on the three yard line instead of letting the ball go into the end zone for a touchback. LSU ran three plays and was forced to punt with MSU gaining possession on the 50 yard line. MSU converted on two third-and-longs and drove to LSU's three yard line with first and goal. MSU ran up the middle on first down for one yard, and on second down used a little trickery from the Florida playbook trying a jump pass over the middle. Chad Jones made a great play and batted the ball away from a wide-open receiver. On third and fourth down, MSU tried running plays up the middle but came up about three inches short. LSU's goal-line stance was outstanding and reminded me of LSU's great defenses of the Charlie McClendon days. I know that a large number of LSU fans are very disappointed with the close win, but the bottom line is that LSU is 4-0 and ranked No. 7 in the nation. I am sure that Ole Miss and FSU would love to be 4-0 today, and I did see some good things from LSU in today's game.
In recruiting news, yesterday I mentioned a few recruits who would be visiting for the game, and later in the day my friend Jimmy Smith of nola.com posted this article listing several more attendees. The list includes the two in-state sensations I mentioned yesterday who are in the top-10 of our list of Top LA Prospects for 2015 (Tyron Johnson and Donte Jackson, Numbers 1 and 7, respectively), as well as Kirk Merritt (ATH, 5-11, 206, Destrehan) who is No. 8 on our list. Also attending will be a handful of uncommitted in-state prospects for 2015, as well as two big-time in-state players committed to other schools – Daylon Charlot (Alabama) and Kendall Bussey (Nebraska). Of course, several players already committed to LSU will be there as well.
While the list of attendees above is quite impressive, there’s one special guest for tonight’s contest that has them all beat by a long-shot - former Tiger great and living legend YA Tittle. Yesterday, LSU Sports Information Director Michael Bonnette posted this photo and brief video of Tittle receiving a tour of Tiger Stadium. I think its awesome that LSU demonstrated its respect and appreciation for this great Tiger by making him feel at home with a personalized jersey and helmet awaiting him in the locker room.
In prep football news, there were several great games played last night and we’ve entered all of the scores in our LA High School Football Scoreboard. There are several more games to be played tonight, and after those scores are in we will process the picks in our pickem contest and announce this week’s winner.
This web site is not officially affiliated with Louisiana State University. Opinions expressed herein are the property of Donald Long, Scott Long and friends, not Louisiana State University.