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LSU vs. McNeese State - Saturday, September 5th, 2015 6:30 PM (SEC-Alt)
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9/3/15 5:50 am CDT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

SEC football gets underway today with two games, and then the one we’ve all been waiting for will be here before we know it, as LSU is set to battle the Cowboys of McNeese on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. In just a bit I’ll give you my predictions for those contests and several others, but first here are a few key points from yesterday’s media session with Coach Miles, followed by a recap of last night’s Les Miles Show.

Media Session Key Points:

• Quarterback Brandon Harris continues to improve. Miles said the more reps Harris gets, the better he gets.

• Wide receiver Trey Quinn has returned to practice and is expected to play in certain sets this Saturday.

• Defensive end Isaiah Washington injured his arm and won’t play this Saturday. Washington was not expected to start, but would have likely seen action in the defensive line rotation if healthy.

• As for Miles’ own health, he said he feels “pretty good” but hasn’t run a marathon or anything that exhausting. 

• As expected, Miles said William Clapp will start at one guard and Josh Boutte will start at the other. Sounds like Maea Teuhema will likely rotate in at left guard.

• Coordinators Kevin Steele and Cam Cameron will both coach from the press box.

Les Miles Show Recap:

At the start of the show, Miles said the team had a great summer and that their attitude and performance may have exceeded that of any team he’s ever had. This was the first of two very strong statements Miles made about this team. (See question about WRs below) It’s becoming obvious that Miles feels like this team could be something special. 

The first caller of the night was Sadie from Denton, Texas who asked what the coaches and staff have to do to be successful in the game. Miles answered by saying, “What we need to do is apply a consistent strategy that allows us to be aggressive and take territory… and tackle, block run and demonstrate great speed.”

Rickey from Birmingham asked what are three or four things Miles will be looking for in Saturday’s game, other than winning and avoiding injury. Miles said he’s looking for the team to play well in all three phases of the game. On special teams, he wants the return game to look explosive. Offensively, he wants to move the ball with balance. Defensively, he want to see a team that can rush the passer and make tackles.

Clint called to ask what Miles would think of having two five-stars in the backfield in one offensive set. Miles said that’s something we can look forward to seeing this Saturday with two very talented tailbacks in the game at same time. 

As a follow up to that question, Jim Hawthorne asked Miles about Derrius Guice, Nick Brossette and the speed they have. Miles said Guice has great speed and is elusive, and that Brosette is smooth with great ball skills. He then said, “When you say speed, what comes to my mind is Jackson. He’s a very, very special talent.”

Jack from Lafayette asked about the health of Coaches Miles, Cameron and Kragthorpe, and about special teams. Miles’s response was, “I’m the least of your worries.” He added that his deal was “a temporary bout of stuff” and that if the trainers would have given him about 15 minutes more he would have done the press conference and no one would have noticed. As for Coach Cameron, Miles said he has a great plan that’s being executed ideally and he thinks he’ll be fine. As for Kragthorpe, Miles said he operates in a lifestyle that factors in and works against his disease.

In response to Jack’s question about special teams, Miles once again mentioned Donté Jackson and said he will be a very dangerous kick returner. Miles named Jackson, Guice and Fournette as kick returners and Guice and Jackson as punt returners. Interestingly, I didn’t catch any mention of TréDavious White.  

A little later on, Gary from Baton Rouge asked about Coach Kevin Steele’s changes on defense and how they might affect the linebackers, and of course he asked about Kendell Beckwith. Miles said Beckwith will play every snap he can at middle linebacker and that he’s expected to be a leader. The coach then spoke of the linebacker corps’ exceptional speed and said Deion Jones runs a high 4.4 and is one of fastest LBs in the conference. 

Buster from Mississippi asked if LSU will have an improved pass rush under the direction of defensive line coach Ed Orgeron and whether Arden Key will see significant playing time. Miles said Key will play two-thirds of every defensive snap this first game. As for Coach O, Miles said he’s doing a great job with the D-line. The interior four guys are pushing the pocket, and the ends (Bower, Neal, Key, Teuhema and Clark) are very physical, capable and deep.

From the live audience, Margie asked whether there are any standouts at defensive end. Miles said he thinks Tashawn Bower and Lewis Neal will be very difficult to block, and that Key runs 4.55 forty and is a talent that reminds him of KeKe Mingo.

Also from the live audience, the Evil Twin asked about Brandon Harris’ improvement and what influenced Miles’ decision to make him the starter. Miles said Harris had a great summer and took the lead when he stepped forward and ran player workouts. He added that Harris is a strong-armed guy who has always had the ability to throw, but is now more accurate than ever, especially with the passes that require “touch.” At one point, Miles said Harris “has all the throws.”

A little later, Hawthorn asked Miles about Travin Dural and the wide receiver corps. Miles said Dural has great speed, height, and ability, and that  Malachi Dupre is so much more talented than last year. As for Trey Quinn who was injured earlier, Miles said he has come back and it looks like he hasn’t missed a beat. Miles added that John Diarse is big, strong and capable, that freshman Tyron Johnson is in position to play very significant football, and that D.J. Chark is another very talented guy. He then mentioned freshman Jazz Ferguson, who at 6-foot-5, 210 pounds has tremendous ball skills. Miles finished by saying, “Our corps is better than its been by 10-fold…way more talented than it’s been.” I’d say those are pretty strong words.  

The last caller of the night was Bailey from Denham Springs who asked what the other SEC coaches were thinking when they didn’t name Jamal Adams to the preseason All-SEC team. Miles agreed with Bailey’s sentiment and said he thinks the coaches were thinking they needed to get home real quick because they were hungry, or maybe they were on vacation and let the Sports Information Directors fill out the voting sheets. He ended by saying Adams is a tremendous player who will give the team leadership and play big, and that he doesn’t know of a safety as talented and capable as he is.

Now let’s switch gears and get to those predictions I mentioned earlier. As those of you who’ve followed this site for a while know, each week I will post my predictions for SEC contests and a few games involving in-state schools. My predictions are straight-up (not against the spread), and just for fun. Your feedback is welcomed. Here we go…

South Carolina 31 North Carolina 24
Western Kentucky 38 Vanderbilt 27
Texas A&M 35 Arizona State 28
Alabama 45 Wisconsin 13
Georgia 48 UL-Monroe 10
Ole Miss 45 UT-Martin 6
Arkansas 51 UTEP 13
Tennessee 48 Bowling Green 28
Missouri 42 SE Missouri 7
Kentucky 35 UL-Lafayette 28
Florida 42 New Mexico State 7
Mississippi State 41 Southern Miss 20
Southeastern  LA 35 Northwestern State 27
LA Tech 38 Southern 14
LSU 41 McNeese State 13 

While on the topic of predictions, I want to remind all of you that the deadline for making your picks in our Louisiana High School Pickem Contest is today at 5 p.m. It’s fun and free to participate, and it doesn’t take as much time this year as we reduced the number of games from 140+ to 50 per week. Also, weekly winners will receive DandyDon.com koozies and bumper stickers. So far the participation looks to be pretty high, and I hope several of you will decide to sign up today and make your picks.

Last but not least, let’s close out with our countdown to game day, which is at the 2-day mark, by remembering a special Tiger who played a key role in LSU’s 2007 National Championship - No. 2 Demetrius Byrd. A native of Miami, Florida, Byrd came to LSU as one of the most coveted JUCO players after playing two seasons at Pearl River Community College. As a junior in 2007, Byrd immediately made a splash in his first season with the Tigers, leading the team with seven receiving TDs and finishing second on the team with 621 receiving yards. Byrd was LSU’s big-play receiver, as nine of his 35 receptions went for 20 yards or more. There were several big plays by Byrd that were pivotal in big victories, including a 4th-and-3 TD reception in a 28-24 victory vs. Florida, the well-known game-winner with one second remaining in the 30-24 win vs. Auburn, and LSU’s only offensive TD in the Tiger’s 21-14 victory over Tennessee in the SEC Championship. As a senior in 2008, Byrd followed up his excellent junior season by finishing second on the team in receptions (37) and receiving yards (513) and also caught four receiving TDs, including a go-ahead TD in LSU’s come-from-behind 26-21 win at Auburn. Here are video highlights of many of Byrd’s great plays as a Tiger. Despite being involved in a serious car accident that left him hospitalized the week before the 2009 NFL draft, Byrd was drafted in the seventh round by the San Diego Chargers. Unfortunately, he never played a down in the NFL but will always be remembered for his great accomplishments in just two years as a Tiger.


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9/2/15 5:55 am CDT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

It’s almost here, folks, and I can hardly wait!  If you’re making plans to attend this Saturday’s game, as I am, please note that LSU has made some changes with regard to traffic flow and parking. You may recall that last year LSU utilized contraflow on Nicholson Drive, something that was recommended by the SP Plus Gameday consultant group. Well, this year LSU is trying a different approach in an effort to help relieve vehicle congestion. Instead of using contraflow on Nicholson, LSU will take advantage of Burbank Drive and utilize that four-lane road to move as much traffic away from campus as possible in an efficient manner. Law enforcement officials feel as if Burbank Drive will be able to move more cars in a timely fashion toward exiting city routes with better access to neighborhoods and the interstate. Nicholson Drive will still be used for fans exiting campus, however it will no longer be done by contraflow. For more information on this, as well as a few parking updates, please see: LSU FOOTBALL GAMEDAY TRAFFIC, PARKING REMINDERS FOR 2015.

Back in February, right after signing Day, we conducted a poll asking which members of LSU’s incoming recruiting class would have the greatest impact this year, and now that the season is upon us I thought it would be interesting to revisit the results. A lot has changed in the last seven months and we know a lot more about these freshmen now than we did then, but still I think the results of the poll were fairly close to what they would be if we asked you the same question today, with a few notable exceptions. Let’s review…  

The true freshman who most of you said would make the greatest impact this year was Kevin Toliver, and that could very well turn out to be the case. On our latest depth chart (which is based on the one released by LSU on Monday), the starter at the cornerback position opposite of TréDavious White is listed as Kevin Toliver OR Dwayne Thomas. The only other place where a true freshmen is listed in a No. 1 slot is the left guard position, where Maea Teuhema OR redshirt freshman William Clapp are at the top of the list. Based purely on the depth chart, it looks like the true freshmen best situated to play big roles this year are Teuhema and Toliver, but I would also keep an eye out for Donté Jackson, Derrius Guice, and Arden Key who are all likely to make big impacts this Saturday. Perhaps the most surprising depth chart revelation is that true freshman Bry’Kiethon Mouton is listed No. 2 at fullback behind John David Moore but ahead of fellow true freshman David Ducre, who received 13 times more votes than Mouton in our February poll.

Mentioning fullbacks reminds me to pass along the news of LSU offering two interesting 2017 prospects this week, one of whom is fullback Ben Miles. In case you didn’t make the connection, Ben is Coach Miles’ son who attends Catholic High. At 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, Ben is a heck of a prospect who will likely draw scholarship offers from several schools if it turns out that he shows interest in going elsewhere. According to reports like this one, Miles received the offer by phone from LSU recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson and hadn’t yet discussed it with his Dad. The other 2017 prospect who recently received an LSU offer is athlete Jamyest Williams of Lawrenceville, GA. Williams (5-9, 170) is listed as the No. 1 athlete in the nation and is projected to play cornerback at the next level. LSU currently has one commitment for the class of 2017 in defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin from Northside High School in my hometown of Lafayette, LA. 

With Game Day quickly approaching, here’s a quick injury update on LSU and McNeese:

• LSU enters the game relatively healthy with only safety Jalen Mills expected to be withheld from action. I say “only” Jalen Mills, but we all know that his loss is very significant, as he’s the Tigers’ most experienced defender. As for Trey Quinn who suffered an injury in the first scrimmage, it’s unclear whether he is back to 100% but Miles said on Monday that Quinn will play a lot of football Saturday, and I sure hope that’s the case. Last week offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins was seen limping out of practice with an ankle injury, but the word is that he returned to practice and is good to go. 

• McNeese, on the other hand is a little more banged up. According to the Cowboys’ website, “Several Cowboys will miss Saturday's game including defensive end Brian Hine who is nursing an injured knee. Hine, a starter in all 11 games last season, led the team with 9.5 tackles for a loss last year and was second on the squad with four sacks. Also out for Saturday will be offensive linemen Matt Wilson and Jalen Smith, quarterback Joe Lissard, and linebacker Callen Smith. Senior running back Dylan Long, who injured his knee in the first scrimmage of the preseason, is listed as doubtful.” 

Now let’s wrap up this update with our countdown to game day, which is only 3 days away, by remembering a recent Tiger All-American who wore No. 3,  Odell Beckham, Jr. As stated in his official LSU bio, Beckham was one of the most dynamic players in LSU history. As a junior in 2013, Beckham earned All-American honors and was named college football’s most versatile player. He also set the LSU record and finished No. 2 in SEC single-season history with 2,315 all-purpose yards. Teamed with Jarvis Landry, the two became the first receiver tandem in school history to each surpass 1,000 yards in a single season. Beckham, Jr. also finished his career with 15 TDs and 4,118 all-purpose yards, which ranks No. 5 in school history. I could go on and list a full page of accomplishments by OBJ, but I suspect none of you reading this need any convincing that he was a truly exceptional player. To relive some of his greatest moments as a Tiger, take a moment to check out Beckham’s LSU Career Highlights Video. As most of you know, Beckham was selected by the New York Giants as the 12th overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Despite missing the first four games of last season, Beckham still had a remarkable rookie season finishing with 1,305 receiving yards and 12 TDs. OBJ also made the Pro Bowl team and had this amazing catch I’m sure most of you have seen numerous times. One last interesting fact that you younger Tiger fans may not know is that OBJ’s dad, Odell Beckham, was a running back for LSU from 1991 to 1993 and his mother, Heather Van Norman, was an All American track runner for LSU from 1991 to 1993. 

A reminder in closing: The deadline for making your picks in our Louisiana High School Football Pickem is tomorrow at 5 p.m. If you’re a fan of Louisiana prep football, I encourage you to participate in this free fun and friendly contest. It’s a great way to stay up-to-date on what’s happening while testing your knowledge. For more info or to make your picks, please click here. Please note that even if you do not participate, you can use this resource to view a complete statewide schedule of each week’s games

Also, I’ve updated our ticket exchange and view-in parties pages.

Oh, and that final installment of Kinny Haddox’s series on my love of fishing is posted on LakeDarbonneLife.com and is called “Clean the small ones first.” Enjoy!

Reader Comments: Scott, here’s a great article about LSU cornerback Tre'Davious White making a point to make an impact well beyond football. I think it will give Dandy Don readers an even greater respect for this year’s No. 18. 


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9/1/15 5:45 am CDT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

With Game Week in full swing, we’ve got a lot to get to in today’s report, starting with the news of Coach Les Miles falling ill yesterday. Miles was scheduled to speak at his first press luncheon of the season, but instead had to go to the hospital to get checked out after reportedly suffering from migraine headaches. Considering that Miles had a brain cyst removed in 2001, it’s easy to see why he would want to get something like that checked out as soon as possible. The good news is that Miles’ stay at the hospital was brief and he returned in time to conduct practice before addressing the media at 6:45 p.m. Here are a few key points I picked up from the evening press conference:

• In classic Les Miles fashion, the coach opened his presser by saying, “Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.” He went on to say that he drank too much coffee and it gave him an awkward feeling. He started feeling bad right in front of a trainer, who advised that he go to the hospital. 

• Miles addressed the quarterback situation by confirming that Brandon Harris will start in the season-opener. He said he told Harris the news on Saturday, but that he “can’t image” Harris didn’t expect it.

• When asked about freshmen Donté Jackson, Miles said “I think you can expect to see him in a number of spots.”

• Miles said Trey Quinn returned to practice yesterday after suffering a neck injury in the first scrimmage and will play a lot of football this Saturday. That is certainly great news.

• No injury status update was given on Jalen Mills, but Miles said trainer Jack Marrucci is motivated to get him healthy fast.

• Team Captains for Saturday’s game (as voted by the team) will be Jerald Hawkins/Vadal Alexander offense, Tré White/Kendell Beckwith defense, Reid Ferguson/Jamie Keehn special teams.

You can check out a video of Les Miles’ entire presser here

In other football news, yesterday morning LSU released its updated depth chart and there were a few noteworthy items on it. In what should come as no surprise, the quarterback position was listed as Brandon Harris OR Anthony Jennings, but as we mentioned above, Miles later said that Harris will start. Also as expected, Ethan Pocic was listed as the starting center, even though he started fall camp at left guard. I guess the biggest surprise was at the cornerback position opposite of TréDavious White where the starter was listed as Dwayne Thomas OR Kevin Toliver. (My guess would have been Thomas OR Ed Paris). Another thing I found surprising was that Jamal Adams was listed as the number two punt returner behind White. I’ve updated my unofficial depth chart to take these changes into account.

Also, LSU announced yesterday that the group OneRepublic will perform at halftime of the LSU-Florida football game this year.  In addition, in the coming days, a second “world-renowned” act will be announced to perform at another SEC home game. (I put “world-renowned” in quotes because that is how the acts are being billed, but to tell you the truth I’ve never heard of OneRepublic, although that might not mean anything other than I’m getting up in age.) These Super Bowl styled performances will be held in conjunction with the Golden Band from Tigerland. It appears that LSU is trying its best to enhance the in-stadium viewing experience in an attempt to keep pace with the rapidly improving TV viewing experience, and I can understand that, but as someone who loves LSU’s traditional halftime performance, I’m not sure how I feel about it.

Speaking of that Florida game on October 17, LSU will have at least two five-star visitors on hand for that contest. The two are defensive lineman Shavar Manuel and his teammate at IMG Academy, LSU cornerback commit Saivion Smith. Getting them both on campus at the same time is great news for LSU as Smith has been said to be working hard on getting Manuel to join him in being a Tiger. The two visited LSU together in June. Now that the season is about to start, recruiting news will start picking up again, and I’ll do my best to keep you informed on LSU’s efforts.

With only four days remaining until the much anticipated season-opener, today we’ll continue our Countdown to Game Day by remembering one of my childhood heroes who wore No. 4 - Charles Alexander. “Alexander the Great,” as he was known, was a two-time All-American and Heisman Trophy finalist who played running back at LSU from 1975 to 1978. Some of my earliest football memories include going with Dad to Tiger Stadium to see Alexander take the field. During his time at LSU, Alexander set nine SEC records and tied for another. At the end of his stellar career, which included a pair of All-America and All-SEC honors, Alexander’s name sat atop 27 LSU records. In fact, he still holds the school records for most rushes in a game (43), most yards in a season (1,686) and most yards gained per game in a season (153.3). After his days as a Tiger, Alexander was selected as the 12th pick in the first round of the 1979 NFL Draft by Cincinnati where he played for seven years and participated in Super Bowl XVI. In December of 2012, Alexander became only the eighth player in LSU history to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, and one of just four living LSU members along with Billy Cannon, Tommy Casanova and Jerry Stovall. To see a video which starts with his induction into the HOF and then shows a couple of of his awesome highlights, click here.

A few closing tidbits:

• HeroSports.com released its 2015 College Football Strength of Schedule Top 25 and has LSU as tied at 6th for the hardest schedule in college football. While that seems awfully discouraging at first glance, it should be noted that six other SEC schools make up the top-6. All this tells us is that the SEC is the toughest conference in the land, but of course we knew that already. By the way, Alabama’s schedule was ranked as the most difficult, followed by Texas A&M (2), Arkansas (T3), Auburn (T3) and Mississippi State (T3). 

• Thanks for the great feedback on Part 1 of the series that LakeDarbonneLife.com wrote about my love of fishing. Today author Kinny Haddox has posted part two, and it’s called “Scott’s Creek fishing tips.” Hope you enjoy it.

• If you enjoy Louisiana high school football, be sure to sign up for our Louisiana High School Football Pickem. It’s free and fun, and as mentioned yesterday, small prizes will be given to the weekly winners. The deadline for picking this week’s games is Thursday at 5 p.m., so get at it, folks!


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