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9/26/16 5:40 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

As I’m sure most of you have heard by now, Les Miles and Cam Cameron have been relieved of their duties at LSU. 

As someone who has always had great respect for Les Miles, I want to start this report by thanking him for all he did for the school, the program and the state of Louisiana since arriving here in 2005. One can make an argument that there are better collegiate coaches out there, but you would be hard pressed to find one who’s a better man. I also want to thank Miles not only for providing over a decade of entertaining wins and memorable quotes but for a particular call he made back in April of 2012. As you can tell by the date, I’m not referring to a play-call. No, this was a phone call made to my father during Dad’s last week of life, one in which Miles thanked him for his passionate service to LSU and wished him well. That’s the kind of man Les Miles was, and his kindness and goodness will never be forgotten. I pray that he, and Cameron, find much success wherever their paths lead them. 

With all that said, I do understand that it was time for a change. Fan support had reached an unhealthy level, wins were on the decline, and things were becoming – for lack of a better word – stale. A fresh perspective will do the program good. 

So just who will be ushering in this fresh perspective for LSU? Well, the long term answer is yet to be determined, but here’s where things stand now. Ed Orgeron has been promoted to interim head coach, and I have no doubt that he will do a great job in that capacity. Dameyune Craig is expected to take on Orgeron’s role as Recruiting Coordinator with the help of Austin Thomas, who is being promoted from Director of Player Personnel to General Manager. (Thomas is close friends with Miles, and I was happy to learn that he will be staying.) I’ve also heard that defensive line guru Pete Jenkins is expected to join LSU’s staff and help coach the D-line. This is exciting, as Jenkins is widely regarded as one of the best in the business and has great familiarity with LSU having served as LSU’s D-line coach from 1980 to 1990 and from 2000 to 2001. What makes him an even better fit is he has a great relationship with both Orgeron and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, having worked with both of them in the past. As for the offensive coordinator position, tight end coach Steve Ensminger will assume that role. Ensminger, a former LSU starting quarterback in the mid-1970s, has been an assistant or coordinator at six previous stops, including McNeese State, Louisiana Tech, Texas A&M, Clemson, and Georgia. Graduate assistant Eric Mateos will take over Ensminger’s role as tight ends coach, and graduate assistant Dennis Johnson is expected to take over as outside linebackers coach, freeing up Bradley Dale Peveto to focus solely on special teams.

As for who will be hired as LSU’s next head coach, there are several possibilities floating around but everything is just speculation at this point. One possibility is that the next few games will serve as an audition of sorts for Coach O, although I think the more likely scenario is that LSU will conduct a national search and bring in someone new. Interestingly, Bill Embody of scout.com has tweeted that LSU has reached out to Tom Herman (Houston) and Art Briles (formerly of Baylor) through their agents. A few other names to keep in mind are Jimbo Fisher (FSU), Bobby Petrino (Louisville), David Shaw (Stanford), Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss), Mark Dantonio (Michigan State), Larry Fedora (North Carolina) and Lane Kiffin (Alabama OC). Again, these are just a few of the many names that are circulating out there, and it’s worth pointing out that it very well could end up being someone that no one is even talking about at this time. I’m reminded of when LSU hired Les Miles back in January of 2005. In the weeks prior to his hiring, we wrote about several potential candidates (interestingly, Jimbo Fisher and Bobby Petrino were in that conversation, too) but Les Miles’ name was not even on anyone’s radar until a few days before his hiring. Of course, that was well before the days of social media, but you get my point: These things are sometimes hard to predict. They’re even harder to predict mid-season when no currently employed candidate wants to be associated with a coaching search. 

As for how this mid-season change will affect LSU in recruiting, it’s hard to say. With Ed Orgeron, Bradley Dale Peveto and Austin Thomas all still on board the effect won’t be as severe as it would be without them, but don’t underestimate just how incredible of a recruiter Les Miles was for LSU. Clearly, his firing will take a toll on this class of 20 commits which is currently ranked No. 4 in the country, the question is how much of a toll.  The good news is that a few commits, including quarterback Myles Brennan and safety Grant Delpit, have already confirmed that they are sticking with LSU. We are likely to hear comments from many more in the coming days.

Stay tuned for more on all the changes going down as that’s sure to be a hot topic for quite a while. Athletic Director Joe Alleva will introduce Ed Orgeron as the interim coach at a 12:30 press conference today and player interviews will be conducted at 1:45. Then on Wednesday, Coach O will hold his first call-in radio show, which is sure to be interesting. 

Reader Comments: Scott, you might want to share these reactions from current and former LSU players about the news of Miles’ firing. No doubt he was (and still is)  a father figure and a mentor to countless young men. Truly a “quality” man. 


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9/26/16 5:40 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

As I’m sure most of you have heard by now, Les Miles and Cam Cameron have been relieved of their duties at LSU. 

As someone who has always had great respect for Les Miles, I want to start this report by thanking him for all he did for the school, the program and the state of Louisiana since arriving here in 2005. One can make an argument that there are better collegiate coaches out there, but you would be hard pressed to find one who’s a better man. I also want to thank Miles not only for providing over a decade of entertaining wins and memorable quotes but for a particular call he made back in April of 2012. As you can tell by the date, I’m not referring to a play-call. No, this was a phone call made to my father during Dad’s last week of life, one in which Miles thanked him for his passionate service to LSU and wished him well. That’s the kind of man Les Miles was, and his kindness and goodness will never be forgotten. I pray that he, and Cameron, find much success wherever their paths lead them. 

With all that said, I do understand that it was time for a change. Fan support had reached an unhealthy level, wins were on the decline, and things were becoming – for lack of a better word – stale. A fresh perspective will do the program good. 

So just who will be ushering in this fresh perspective for LSU? Well, the long term answer is yet to be determined, but here’s where things stand now. Ed Orgeron has been promoted to interim head coach, and I have no doubt that he will do a great job in that capacity. Dameyune Craig is expected to take on Orgeron’s role as Recruiting Coordinator with the help of Austin Thomas, who is being promoted from Director of Player Personnel to General Manager. (Thomas is close friends with Miles, and I was happy to learn that he will be staying.) I’ve also heard that defensive line guru Pete Jenkins is expected to join LSU’s staff and help coach the D-line. This is exciting, as Jenkins is widely regarded as one of the best in the business and has great familiarity with LSU having served as LSU’s D-line coach from 1980 to 1990 and from 2000 to 2001. What makes him an even better fit is he has a great relationship with both Orgeron and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, having worked with both of them in the past. As for the offensive coordinator position, tight end coach Steve Ensminger will assume that role. Ensminger, a former LSU starting quarterback in the mid-1970s, has been an assistant or coordinator at six previous stops, including McNeese State, Louisiana Tech, Texas A&M, Clemson, and Georgia. Graduate assistant Eric Mateos will take over Ensminger’s role as tight ends coach, and graduate assistant Dennis Johnson is expected to take over as outside linebackers coach, freeing up Bradley Dale Peveto to focus solely on special teams.

As for who will be hired as LSU’s next head coach, there are several possibilities floating around but everything is just speculation at this point. One possibility is that the next few games will serve as an audition of sorts for Coach O, although I think the more likely scenario is that LSU will conduct a national search and bring in someone new. Interestingly, Bill Embody of scout.com has tweeted that LSU has reached out to Tom Herman (Houston) and Art Briles (formerly of Baylor) through their agents. A few other names to keep in mind are Jimbo Fisher (FSU), Bobby Petrino (Louisville), David Shaw (Stanford), Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss), Mark Dantonio (Michigan State), Larry Fedora (North Carolina) and Lane Kiffin (Alabama OC). Again, these are just a few of the many names that are circulating out there, and it’s worth pointing out that it very well could end up being someone that no one is even talking about at this time. I’m reminded of when LSU hired Les Miles back in January of 2005. In the weeks prior to his hiring, we wrote about several potential candidates (interestingly, Jimbo Fisher and Bobby Petrino were in that conversation, too) but Les Miles’ name was not even on anyone’s radar until a few days before his hiring. Of course, that was well before the days of social media, but you get my point: These things are sometimes hard to predict. They’re even harder to predict mid-season when no currently employed candidate wants to be associated with a coaching search. 

As for how this mid-season change will affect LSU in recruiting, it’s hard to say. With Ed Orgeron, Bradley Dale Peveto and Austin Thomas all still on board the effect won’t be as severe as it would be without them, but don’t underestimate just how incredible of a recruiter Les Miles was for LSU. Clearly, his firing will take a toll on this class of 20 commits which is currently ranked No. 4 in the country, the question is how much of a toll.  The good news is that a few commits, including quarterback Myles Brennan and safety Grant Delpit, have already confirmed that they are sticking with LSU. We are likely to hear comments from many more in the coming days.

Stay tuned for more on all the changes going down as that’s sure to be a hot topic for quite a while. Athletic Director Joe Alleva will introduce Ed Orgeron as the interim coach at a 12:30 press conference today and player interviews will be conducted at 1:45. Then on Wednesday, Coach O will hold his first call-in radio show, which is sure to be interesting. 

Reader Comments: Scott, you might want to share these reactions from current and former LSU players about the news of Miles’ firing. No doubt he was (and still is)  a father figure and a mentor to countless young men. Truly a “quality” man. 

JUST IN: 3:45 pm CST

The Advocate reports that Les Miles and Cam Cameron have been fired. Ed Orgeron to serve as LSU’s interim head coach. 

9/25/16 1:15 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Gut-wrenching. Disheartening. Devastating. Those are a few words that come to mind as I sit here, very early in the morning, trying to decide what to write about LSU’s 18-13 loss at Auburn. The truth is, LSU was beaten in every facet of the game, including coaching, yet never gave up and nearly pulled off one of the the most dramatic wins in school history on a last second touchdown completion, only to have the play overruled by the booth officials who determined that the clock struck zero before LSU got the play off. Within five minutes of the game’s end, my inbox was overflowing with messages from Tiger Fans who’ve simply had enough, and that’s understandable. Although the Tigers are, technically, still in the SEC title hunt, the reality is that it’s awfully hard to imagine LSU competing favorably against the likes of Florida, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Texas A&M and Alabama without some kind of major turnaround, and that is inexcusable considering the level of talent on this team. But getting back to last night’s game, here are my initial thoughts:

LSU’s defense was strong in the red zone, didn’t allow a touchdown and produced a key turnover that led to a 13-12 lead which LSU carried into the fourth quarter. The flip side is that it allowed 388 yards of offense and had far too many busted plays in the secondary which allowed Auburn to get into field goal range and put points on the board.

Offensively, quarterback Danny Etling showed his fighting Tiger spirit, played with a lot of heart and determination, but just didn’t have a great game. Part of this was due to his own actions as he fumbled once and failed to recognize open receivers in the final drive, but a bigger part was due to the weak play of the offensive line which put him under duress most of the night and was the foundation of LSU’s offensive woes. Etling’s receivers didn’t help him any either, as they often struggled to get separation and had a couple of drops. As for the running game, I was disappointed that the Tigers didn’t lean more on Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice, especially early on. Fournette averaged 9.1 yards per carry in the first half but had only seven carries and didn’t touch the ball for the final 10 minutes of the half. As for Guice, he broke a 52-yard run late in the first quarter, but didn’t get another carry in the half and ended the game with only three carries. 

On special teams, LSU was beaten soundly. Punter Josh Growden was very inconsistent and averaged only 37 yards per punt on five attempts, while kicker Colby Delahoussaye made 2-of-3 field goals but missed a 51-yarder that came after LSU shot itself in the foot by losing 14 yards on the two previous plays. Meanwhile, Auburn’s special teams were outstanding, especially field goal kicker Daniel Carlson. Not only did Carlson go 6-for-6, he nailed a 51-yarder early in the game that forced LSU to go for a touchdown instead of a short field goal in the waning moments of the contest. Carlson also nailed all of his kicks in the end zone or beyond, preventing Derrius Guice from having any opportunity to make an impact on kickoff returns.

As for coaching, from the head-scratching use of Fournette and Guice in the running game to the clock mismanagement in the final drive, it was precisely the kind of game Les Miles could not afford to have, especially since it gave him his second loss in September for the first time in his LSU career, and his fifth loss in nine games. As for what this means for Miles’s immediate future, only time will tell, though I suspect that time is drawing near. Presently, I’m too tired to speculate, and I know better than to make any rash statements at 1:15 a.m.  

Below is the complete boxscore from last night’s game, and here are LSU’s video highlights.

LSU-AU-Boxscore

As I do most weeks, I’ll leave you with a couple of good reads to go along with your Sunday morning coffee.

• ESPN: Inside the play: LSU's game-winning TD that wasn’t

• Rabalais: For Les Miles, perhaps fate has decided enough is enough

Stay tuned, Tiger Fans, as we’ll have more on the contest and what lies ahead in a subsequent report.

9/24/16 5:45 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans, it’s Game Day,

Today at 5 p.m., LSU and Auburn will face off at Jordan-Hare Stadium in what should be a great game and a very pivotal one for both teams. The battle of the Tigers commences at 5 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN with Mark Jones (pxp), Rod Gilmore (analyst) and Quint Kessenich (sideline) on the call. To help get you pumped for this hugely important game, LSU has released another hype video, this one being the official LSU-Auburn trailer – and it’s a doozy!

Since 1988, the LSU-Auburn series has been filled with memorable moments that, in many instances, have led to catchy names. In 1988, LSU’s Tommy Hodson hit Eddie Fuller in the back of the end zone on fourth down with 1:41 left to lift the Tigers to a 7-6 win over fourth-ranked Auburn. The noise from the stadium crowd after the play registered on a seismograph across campus prompting the game to be called “The Earthquake Game” (see video). In 1994, Auburn intercepted five passes in the fourth quarter, returning three for TDs, and posted a 30-26 win over LSU in a game that became known as “The Interception Game.” In 1996, with the old Auburn Sports Arena burning to the ground a couple hundred yards away, LSU beat Auburn, 19-15, in a game that came to be known as “The Night the Barn Burned.” And who can forget the game in that special 2007 season when Demetrius Byrd caught a 22-yard TD pass from Matt Flynn with just one second left to send LSU to a 30-24 win over Auburn in Tiger Stadium? After coming up with the catch, Byrd gave the “Can’t See Me” gesture to the LSU student section, leading to that game being known as the “Can’t See Me Game” (see video). How today’s game plays out and how it will be remembered is anyone’s guess, but some are already calling the “Buyout Bowl” or the “Hot Seat Game” because of what’s seemingly at stake for Guz Malzahn or Les Miles should his team lose the contest.

As promised, here are a few keys to LSU coming away with its third consecutive win, one which would tie Les Miles with Charles McClendon for the most SEC wins by a Tiger coach (65).  

KEYS TO AN LSU VICTORY OVER AUBURN

No Second Half Letdown

Whether it be penalties, turnovers, lack of intensity or just overall sloppiness, LSU has not played well in the second half. Actually, that may be putting it lightly. As reported by ESPN, only three FBS teams (UMass, Bowling Green and Memphis) have scored fewer second-half touchdowns than LSU’s two, and the Tigers rank 96th nationally with 469 second-half yards. Making matters worse, LSU’s four second-half turnovers are tied for 11th-most in the FBS. Simply put, for LSU to win today’s game, the Fighting Tigers need to stay focused and give it their all for 60 minutes.

Smart Game Plan Around Etling

From protection to balanced play-calling to giving Danny Etling easy throws early on, LSU needs to help Etling in his first major road contest in an LSU uniform. This means don’t fall into the “run, run, pass” routine that often creates third-and-long situations. It also means accounting for speedy Auburn rushers like Carl Lawson and giving Etling a clean pocket to throw from. LSU showed great balance last week against Mississippi State, just running it seven more times than they threw it. The purple and gold Tigers also gave Etling some check-down passes to running backs early on and have done a good job of sharing the football with other skilled playmakers. Expect much of the same this week as LSU tries to get its new starting quarterback in a groove early on the road. 

Stop the Run

Without a significant threat at quarterback, running the football is key to Auburn’s success. So far this season, Auburn is averaging 194 yards per game through the air, which is 10th in the conference. Meanwhile, Auburn is first in the conference in rushing with a 262 yards per game average. It’s imperative that LSU slow down running backs Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway and force passing situations on third down. If LSU does so, that will allow Dave Aranda more opportunities to get creative and get after Auburn’s quarterbacks. Auburn is 98th in the country in sacks allowed this season, thus long third down situations could open the door for more Arden Key in the backfield.

Win on Special Teams

This can’t be stressed enough. Both Auburn’s and LSU’s special teams have taken their lumps, but in a game that’s predicted to be a defensive battle, the punting and kicking games will be vital. So far, Auburn has a huge advantage in field goals, as Daniel Carlson has nailed all six of his attempts this season. LSU has been susceptible to blocked extra points, and Colby Delahoussaye has only attempted (and made) one field goal this season. Field position is key, first and foremost, but when the opportunity arises, LSU has to capitalize with points inside the red zone. Auburn’s defense forced Texas A&M into kicking four field goals on five red zone trips last week. If they do the same to LSU, Delahoussaye will need to make every kick count.

Heavy Dose of Healthy Fournette  

If Leonard Fournette gets any momentum, good luck trying to stop him. Auburn learned that the hard way last year when Fournette ran for 228 yards and three touchdowns in a lopsided victory. For LSU to have the same success running the football today, the Tigers’ offensive line will need to be physical off the edge and manhandle Auburn’s smaller defensive end front. Running Fournette off tackle should give him an opportunity to pick up some momentum and turn upfield. If LSU is successful in doing that, a heavy dose of Fournette should pave the way to victory. 

One note related to that last key: LSU starting right tackle Toby Weathersby reportedly did not travel with the team to Auburn. Weathersby sprained his right ankle in the first half of the game against Mississippi State and didn’t return to action. Coach Miles said earlier in the week that if Weathersby wasn’t able to play today, Maea Teuhema would take his place. This could prove to be significant in terms of depth, but I’m not worried at all about Teuhema starting. He played well in place of Weathersby in the second half last week and started 11 games at left guard last season.   

Today’s closing tidbits:

• I’m very happy to report that the recent Shaquille O’Neal - Johnny Jones Golf Classic at Carter Plantation in Springfield raised a whopping $200,000 for area flood relief! For more on this, see this press release.

• Yesterday I mentioned that LSU baseball fall practice is starting tomorrow and today I have some practice and scrimmage times to give you. All are free and open to the public. Of course, dates and times are subject to change due to weather.

Sunday, 9/25: 1pm (scrimmage @ 3pm)
Monday, 9/26: 3pm (scrimmage @ 3pm)
Tuesday, 9/27: 3pm (scrimmage @ 4pm)
Thursday, 9/28: 3pm (scrimmage @ 5pm) 

• Several football recruits being courted by both LSU and Auburn will be attending tonight’s game at Jordan-Hare including linebackers Will Ignont and Monty Rice. You might recall that those are two linebackers who had impressive camp performances at LSU during July’s “Elite Camp.” 

• For all of you Louisiana High School Football fans, here’s a link to the LHSAA Scoreboard Twitter feed that you can use to access all of last night’s scores. 

• If you’re in Auburn for today’s game, please make note of these Times of Interest.

• And if you’re looking for a place to watch the game with like-minded Tiger Fans, here are a few locations across the country where Alumni organizations will be hosting view-in parties.

 

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