NCAA Baseball Championships:
DandyDon is proud to recognize David Toms as a great ambassador of the Tiger Nation.
10/2/14 5:50 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
It was great hearing from many of you yesterday about LSU’s upcoming battle at Auburn (Saturday, 6 p.m. ESPN), and about the stats I posted. After viewing my stats chart, a few of you questioned why LSU has run so many more plays than Auburn, but the answer is quite simple. Auburn has played only four games this season while LSU has played five. (I guess I should have mentioned that and indicated that both teams are averaging 72 plays per game.) Auburn’s four wins have come at home against Arkansas (45-21), San Jose State (59-13) and LA Tech (45-17), and on the road at Kansas State (20-14).
I also received quite a few comments in reference to my statement about making my first gumbo of the season this Saturday. With cooler temperatures in store and a great slate of SEC football games on the TV (see below), a lot of you have said you too would like to make a gumbo for the weekend and asked for the recipe. Well, I don’t have a written version of my recipe to share with you yet, but I’ll document the process this weekend and share the recipe on Monday for those of you who are interested.
SEC Games on the tube this weekend:
Texas A&M at Mississippi State: 11 a.m. - ESPN
Florida at Tennessee: 11 a.m. - SEC Network
Alabama at Ole Miss: 2:30 p.m. - CBS
Vanderbilt at Georgia: 3 p.m. - SEC Network
LSU at Auburn: 6 p.m. - ESPN
South Carolina at Kentucky: 6:30 p.m. - SEC Network
Tomorrow I’ll give you my predictions for these SEC games and a few other contests involving in-state teams.
Now moving on to our normal order of business… Last night I enjoyed listening to the Les Miles Radio Show and found it more informative than usual. Miles dished out a lot of news about LSU defensive tackles, including Travonte Valentine who has yet to be cleared by the SEC, and about freshman quarterback Brandon Harris. We’ll get to both of those topics along the way, but let’s start from the beginning…
The first caller of the night was Robbie from Baton Rouge who asked about No. 86, walk-on Miquel James, and then about whether there is less leniency for the maturation of young players in today’s game. Miles answered by saying that James is a very fast player who can catch and run, and that they have a couple of things setup for him that we will probably see in every game, including this Saturday’s. As for the question about leniency, Miles used it as an opportunity to express his displeasure with college players being booed while trying to be the best they can be. He said he recognizes that the fans may have been booing him and not the players, but made it clear that he is not for booing and never has been. I couldn’t agree more.
Sadie, an 11-year old from Denton, Texas, asked what LSU needs to do to control the tempo of the game against Auburn. Miles said that on defense they need to be “gap-conscious,” tackle extremely well, and be able to defuse the pass in a play-action venue. Offensively, LSU needs to take care of the ball, and Harris just has to do the things asked of him and not much more.
A little later in the show Jason from Baton Rouge asked how defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao is progressing. Miles reminded the listening audience that Trey is the young man who got his arm injured in a “mishap with a window.” He went on to say that Lealaimatafao is getting stronger and is participating in every practice, and that he might see some action as early as the Florida game. That is certainly great news.
Gary from Baton Rouge asked about the linebackers and Kendell Beckwith in particular. Miles said Beckwith is playing better each week and that he suspects his playing time will continue to increase.
Ron from Kenner asked a thinly veiled question about replacing DJ Welter with Beckwith at middle linebacker, and said that the team needs help in the middle. His question went something like this: “Suppose we have a senior who practices hard and works hard everyday but is not getting the job done. How do you tell him you’ll play another player? Coach, we need help in the middle.” Miles answered by saying that when that happens you have to recognize it, sit the player down and tell him. He then agreed that Auburn will attack the middle and said the team has gotten stronger there in the last couple of weeks by practicing 1s vs. 1s.
The next caller, Byron, suggested that Miles should switch fullback Melvin Jones to linebacker, especially in goal line situations, and said that he didn’t agree with Lewis Neal being at defensive tackle because of his size. To support his case, Byron referred to the 79-yard touchdown by NMSU and said Neal was thrown off on the play. Miles assured Byron that Neal was not the reason the 79-yard run happened, and that Neal did his job extremely well. According to Miles, it was “another player on the outside“ (presumably Tashawn Bower who took the blame earlier in the week) who didn’t do his job on that play.
Perhaps the most newsworthy response during the show came when a gentleman from Mississippi asked about defensive tackle Travonte Valentine’s eligibility problems and his current status. Miles answered by saying that Valentine’s high school has submitted some pieces that he desperately needed and that he guesses Valentine will become eligible, if not in the short term, then certainly by next fall. It was obvious that Miles has been very impressed by Valentine when he said, “He is a big, strong, talented man, and when he becomes ready to play, we have just the spot for him. He is 360-ish (pounds) but cat-quick and strong. We look forward to seeing him dress out and play for the Tigers."
A little later, Ed from the live audience asked about Malachi Dupree limping off the field last week and about Jamal Adams. Miles said Dupre is fine and did not limp off the field. As for Adams, Miles described him as a guy who will play a lot of football for a long time.
The Evil Twin, a longtime regular in the live audience, asked about the health of defensive tackle Quentin Thomas. Miles said that, given the proper rehabilitation, Thomas will return to play very quickly. He added that Thomas is a very talented guy and they’re looking forward to his return.
Towards the end of the show, there were two interesting questions about Brandon Harris. James from Baton Rouge asked why it took so long to decide on Harris as the starter, and then Joel from Shreveport asked whether Miles would “open it up and allow Harris to play his game.” In response to the first question, Miles said they wanted Harris to develop and come of age more before giving him the opportunity to start, but his improvement was such that they decided to allow the development to take place during games. As for the second question about letting Harris play his game, Miles reminded the caller that it is not Harris’ game but LSU’s game. Miles repeated that all Harris needs to do are the things asked of him, and then assured the caller that they will ask him to do the things he does best.
I hope you enjoyed my very rough summary of the show.
In closing, I’d like to remind all of you participating in our Louisiana High School Football Pickem that the deadline for picking this week’s games is today at 5 p.m. If you haven’t yet signed up to play, please know that it’s not too late as we’ll be naming a winner each week. And speaking of our weekly winners, I received some more information on last week’s winner, Mr. Jerry Chauvin. Please see the “reader comments” below.
Reader Comments: I am writing to tell you a little more about my father in law who was last week's pickem winner, Jerry Chauvin. Jerry was born, raised, and currently resides in Franklin, LA. He is passionate about football having played in the early 70s at Franklin High, and is the biggest Saints and Tigers fan that I know. He led me to this site several years ago and I check it daily. He started participating in the pickem last year and this year is in a competition with a co-worker to see who knows more about LA High School football. He called me before Week 1 to discuss picks since as a former high school and college football player and current official in the Alexandria area I should know a thing or two about football. We look at won/loss records and common opponents, when applicable, as well as LHSAA's power rankings. It's worth noting that he is nearly 100 games ahead of his co-worker and 20 or so games ahead of me, which he is quick to point out! Props to Pops for leading the pack this past week in the pickem!
10/1/14 5:45 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
The LSU football team is busy preparing for what will be its most important game of the season so far when they take on the 5th ranked Auburn Tigers on the road in Jordan Hare Stadium Saturday night. The game will kickoff at 6 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN. A nice October cool front is expected to arrive in time for the game and I’m already looking forward to enjoying my first gumbo of the season before watching the game and tweeting a few comments and stats from the comfort of my back porch. Man I love this time of year!
With exciting new freshman quarterback Brandon Harris making his first start as a Tiger, and with this being such a significant game (dare I say season-defining?), you probably don’t need any help getting pumped, but just in case here’s a new hype video by LesMiles.net that’ll do the trick.
LSU has won three straight against Auburn, which includes a 12-10 victory in 2012, the last time the teams met in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Last year, LSU won the game in Tiger Stadium 35-21 in what was Auburn’s only loss of the regular season, and they did it by jumping out to an early lead. You may recall that LSU took a quick 14-0 lead after only four offensive snaps, thanks in large part to two Auburn turnovers and two touchdown runs by Jeremy Hill. By three minutes into the 2nd quarter LSU had a commanding 21-0 lead. It might be asking too much for LSU to jump out to such a big early lead this time around, but the Tigers will have to avoid starting sluggishly like they did against Wisconsin, Mississippi State and New Mexico State in order pull off the upset.
The closer we get to game day, the more convinced I am that this will be a very competitive game, and the better I feel about LSU’s chances of winning. But in order for that to happen, LSU will have to allow Harris to take some chances and put it all out there. We’ll discuss more keys to an LSU victory later in the week, but today let’s take a look at how the two teams match-up stats-wise. Here we go…
• Generally speaking, Auburn has the advantage on offense while LSU has the advantage on defense. Auburn’s defensive strength is against the run while LSU’s is against the pass.
• While LSU has an advantage in terms of passing efficiency and passing yards per game, that advantage would be greater if LSU’s averages only took into account Harris’ passing attack and not Jennings’. Harris’ Pass Efficiency Rating is 242.98 while Jennings’ is 137.53. Auburn’s Nick Marshall has a PER of 143.60, while their backup, Jeremy Johnson, has an outstanding PER of 226.48 with a comparable number of attempts (30) to Jennings (25).
• Auburn is holding opponents to only 90.8 rushing yards per game and their front seven will present a big huge challenge to LSU’s O-line and running game. All the more reason why LSU will have to use the play-action pass to setup the running game.
• The good news is that Auburn’s defensive backfield is giving up 225 yards per game, which is 7th in the SEC, while LSU is allowing 130.6, which is an SEC-best. The flip side is that Auburn’s defensive backfield is averaging the second most interceptions per game of any SEC team, second only to Ole Miss.
• Auburn leads the nation in team punt return average (30.71), and their best returner is Quan Bray who leads the nation in yards per punt return with 36.8.
• Auburn has won 14 straight games when its quarterback rushes for at least 100 yards. Obviously, slowing down Nick Marshall will be key.
• One interesting note is that LSU is doing much better in terms of penalties per game than last year, and better than Auburn.
Injury Report: LSU will be without the service of defensive back Dwayne Thomas who is reportedly out for the season with a torn ACL. Defensive tackle Quinten Thomas’ status is doubtful. As for DT Frank Herron, who reportedly suffered an injury last week in an off-the-field incident, Miles has said that he is more likely to be ready than Q. Thomas. Auburn has three key players listed as “day-to-day” including RT Patrick Miller, LB Kris Frost and LB Cassanova McKinzy.
A bit of sad news in closing: Former All-SEC LSU basketball star Georgie Nattin, Jr., a member of the first Tiger team to defeat the University of Kentucky in hoops, passed away on Monday in Benton, Louisiana at the age of 74. Nattin played for the Tigers from 1959-62, earning First-Team All-SEC honors in 1961 and third-team honors in 1962 as chosen by the Associated Press. He was also named Academic All-SEC in 1962.
Reader Comments: Scott I emailed in June about getting donation of tickets and parking passes for residents of Evergreen Life Services to attend the NMS game. It was a huge success, with over 220 tickets and 34 parking passes. Unforgettable memories for a lot of folks! Thanks for your help!
9/30/14 5:30 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
The hot topic of discussion among Tiger Fans is that Coach Les Miles has named freshmen quarterback Brandon Harris as the starter for this week’s battle at Auburn. According to Miles, the decision was made after watching film and consulting with offensive coaches, and it wasn’t a difficult decision.
When Harris starts this Saturday, it will be the earliest a true freshman has started a game as an LSU quarterback since Jamie Howard started LSU's fourth game in 1992, which resulted in a 17-14 loss to Colorado State. It probably goes without saying, but I strongly support the decision to start Harris, and I think Miles did the right thing in announcing it now rather than later. There are some who will question why Miles would publicly announce this on a Monday instead of making Auburn guess, but the reality is that Auburn would have schemed for Harris regardless, and LSU needs to be focusing on a game plan that will best utilize Harris’ talents. The early announcement should also help ease any potential tension brought about by the would-be “quarterback controversy” and keep the team focused.
The big announcement came yesterday during coach Miles’ weekly press luncheon, and you can read the full transcript of the conference here. But for those of you who want the quick version, here are the key points made:
• After Miles said Harris will start, he added that they are going to need both quarterbacks and that Anthony Jennings will continue to compete.
• When asked what Miles saw in the film to reaffirm what he saw of Harris in the game, one of the things Miles mentioned was, “There is some ‘adâ€‘lib’ to his game that's very, very positive, and he's a guy that is really fast and a guy that can really throw the ball. You put him in a quality position to extend a play, some good things can happen.” Harris demonstrated this on the bad-snap busted play that he turned into a touchdown run.
• When asked about whether Harris is comfortable in the shotgun formation, Miles said Harris is more comfortable under center than he’s ever been and he’s got equal confidence in the shotgun.
• When asked about the big 80-yard touchdown play the defense gave up against NMSU, Miles said, “The linebacker should have fallen back in that seam and made that tackle. It was a pretty effective play call. Just, again, a mistake, based on not getting the call or based on the player not understanding the call, but we felt like we made improvement in that on the week.”
• When asked about the play of Kendell Beckwith, Miles said he expects him to play “even a further role at Auburn.”
• When asked whether DTs Quentin Thomas and Frank Herron would be back this week, Miles said, “Quentin Thomas, I'm not certain; Frank Herron, more likely.”
The other big news to surface yesterday is that Dwayne Thomas reportedly suffered a torn ACL and will likely be out for the season. This has not been officially confirmed by LSU, but the Advocate reported the news. During the press conference, Miles was asked who would play in Thomas’ nickel spot if he was out. Miles said he’s not ready to name anyone definitively, but did mention freshmen Jamal Adams and Ed Paris.
When the Tigers take on Auburn Saturday night in Jordan Hare Stadium, Coach Miles will be going for his 100th win as LSU’s head coach. He’ll also be looking to avoid going 0-2 in SEC play for the first time in his tenure as the Tigers coach. Considering the strength of the 5th ranked Auburn Tigers, these will be very hard objectives to accomplish, but I feel better than at any point this season about LSU pulling off the upset after seeing how the offense clicked with Harris at the helm against Mississippi State and New Mexico State. I think LSU will put up some points, but the big question is whether LSU’s defensive middle can slow down Auburn’s high-powered offense led by Nick Marshall. Look for more on that game and how the two teams compare in subsequent reports later this week.
A few tid-bits in closing:
• Here's this week's Tigers in the NFL update provided by LSUSports.net.
• Here’s a video interview of LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri by Tiger TV. At about the 3:14 mark he’s asked about Nick Marshall’s departure and says he was absolutely shocked by the news.
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.