7/1/15 5:50 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
In yesterday’ report I mentioned that LSU’s number of interceptions has declined in the last three years, and that prompted a few of you to ask me why this is. In my opinion, this is not a reflection on LSU’s defensive backs, but rather on the lack of pressure LSU has been able to apply to opposing quarterbacks. Now that Coach Ed Orgeron is on board, I’m confident that we’ll see improvement not only in sacks (remember LSU had only 11 last year in 8 SEC games) but also in “pressure picks.” There’s no question that Coach O loves to rotate D-linemen to keep “fresh legs” and provide persistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks. What is somewhat questionable, though, is whether LSU will have the kind of depth needed along the defensive line to do the kind of rotating Orgeron is accustomed to, especially now that Trey Lealaimatafao has been dismissed and Maquedious Bain has been indefinitely suspended. Lealaimatafao was not expected to challenge for a starting role, but he could have been very valuable in terms of depth at defensive tackle. Bain, on the other hand, has been battling for a starting role, or at least significant playing time, at the end positions opposite of Tashawn Bower, and is someone who could contribute at tackle or end. One person who could help LSU’s defensive line depth tremendously is Travonte Valentine, assuming he is cleared to take the field this year. Back in May, Coach Miles reportedly told a group of Tiger Fans in Houston that Valentine was working hard academically and that everything was looking positive at that time, but since then there has been nothing new to report on Valentine’s status. I’m hopeful that this topic will be addressed when Miles speaks to the Media on July 16th for SEC Media Days, if not sooner.
Speaking of Media Days, Leonard Fournette, Vadal Alexander and Kendell Beckwith have been chosen to represent LSU at this year’s event. The announcement came from LSU Sports Information Director Michael Bonnette during an interview with Culotta & The Prince on 104.5 ESPN Radio. Media Days get underway on July 13th and runs through the 16th. LSU is scheduled to take the podium on the final day.
In baseball news, the awards continue to roll in for LSU baseball players as Alex Bregman, Alex Lange and Kade Scivicque were named All-Americans yesterday by Baseball America. If you’re like me, you’ve probably lost track long ago of who has won what, so here’s an up-to-date list, as provided by LSU’s sports information department, to keep you up-to-date:
Summary of 2015 National Awards for LSU Baseball Players
On a related note, here’s a good report by Hunter Paniagua of Tiger Sports Digest on all the LSU baseball players who signed pro contracts, how much they made with their signing bonuses and a rundown of how they're performing early in their pro careers.
Now let’s continue our countdown to the start of LSU football season, which is 66 days away, by remembering a special Tiger who wore the number 66 – Alan Faneca. At 6-foot-5, 316-pounds, Faneca was a dominating offensive guard who earned freshman of the year honors in 1995 and All-American honors as a sophomore and junior. He also won the Jacobs Award, given annually to the best blocker in the SEC, and was one of three finalists for the Outland Trophy, which is awarded to the nation’s best collegiate interior lineman. Faneca chose to enter the NFL draft prior to his senior campaign and was picked by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round (26th overall) of the 1998 draft. After a very successful 12-year career in the NFL with the Steelers, the Jets and the Cardinals, Faneca retired from pro ball on May 10, 2011 with nine Pro Bowl awards, nine All-Pro awards, and one Super Bowl title.
One more tidbit about Faneca: In recognition of weight-related health issues suffered by many retired football players, Faneca went on an extreme weight loss regimen that involved a lot of running and lost over 100 pounds. In February of 2014, Faneca successfully completed the New Orleans Rock 'n' Roll Marathon with a remarkable time of 3:56:17. Not bad for a former 300-pound linemen, is it?
A few tidbits in closing:
• Here’s a good read on LSU basketball incoming freshman Ben Simmons making a huge splash in the inaugural Nike Basketball Academy in Santa Monica, California. Simmons and fellow LSU signee Antonio Blakeney were the only two freshmen invited to the event which featured 27 of the nation’s top basketball players.
• If you’re looking for LSU tickets, please note that I’ve updated our Ticket Exchange page with a few new listings.
• Last but not least, thanks to all of you who went me vacation destination suggestions. My wife and I have decided on Sedona, Arizona, and I can hardly wait!