8/24/16 5:50 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Coach Miles put his football team through its final “tackle scrimmage” of the preseason yesterday and called it an eventful outing in which they came out healthy. The team ran more than 100 plays, threw for 220 yards and rushed for another 288. Afterward, Les Miles met with the media and dished out some information, including the following key points:
• Quarterback Brandon Harris “had a nice day” and completed 12-15 passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns.
• Miles also wished former LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings, who was just recently named the starter at UL-Lafayette, all the best in his future endeavors.
• A couple of field golds were made by Colby Delahoussaye and Connor Culp. One for 30 yards and another for 37 yards.
• Jamal Adams had an interception and dropped a pick. Donté Jackson had a nice pick-six. Miles described his secondary as physical ball hawks with great speed.
• Leonard Fournette (ankle) did not participate in the scrimmage but is expected to resume practicing Thursday.
• The Tigers not only “looked” at Wisconsin during the scrimmage, but "looked at some future opponents."
• Miles said wide receiver Travin Dural took part in the scrimmage, which was good to hear considering he missed the last scrimmage with a hand injury.
• Wide receiver DJ Chark once again drew praise. Miles said he doesn’t know if there’s a player on the team who has made as much of an advance as Chark has.
• Maea Teuhema, who has been recovering from an ankle injury, rotated with Toby Weathersby and KJ Malone at offensive tackle.
If you are eager to hear more of Coach Miles’s thoughts on his 2016 Tigers, you can tune in to tonight’s premiere of the Les Miles Show at 7 p.m. or simply return here tomorrow for my recap. I mentioned earlier that audio of all of LSU’s football games this year would be streamed for free on LSUSports.net’s Geaux Zone (in the past, listening to the stream required a Geaux Zone membership), but I forgot to tell you that the same applies to the Les Miles Show as it will be free to stream as well.
Before going any further, I want to give you the results of our annual poll asking you to predict what LSU’s final regular season record will be. With over 10,000 votes cast, the winner was 10-2 with 41% of the vote. Coming in at second with 36% of the vote was 11-1, while a substantial 12% predicted LSU would go undefeated. These results, which indicate that nearly 90% of all participants predict LSU will lose no more than two games, show just how optimistic the LSU fanbase is about these Tigers. By comparison, in our polls conducted for each of the two previous seasons, the top vote getter was 9-3 and only 52% predicted the Tigers would lose no more than two contests.
Clearly, there are several reasons to be extremely optimistic about this year’s team including a veteran, second-year starter at quarterback, 18 upperclassmen projected as returning starters, Dave Aranda as LSU’s defensive coordinator, a deeper defensive line, and arguably the most loaded defensive backfield in the country. But perhaps the biggest reason of all is the return of junior running back Leonard Fournette, who is not only considered by many to be the best player in college football and the Heisman front-runner, but is also a truly special representative of LSU both on and off the field. Yesterday Fournette was featured on ESPN’s Sports Center and gave a great interview in which he spoke about how football changed his life for the better, his relationship to Coach Miles, and the what went on the night before the Texas A&M game last year when the team decided they would go to war for their coach. You can see the full video here.
Mentioning all the reasons to be optimistic about the upcoming season reminds me to inform you that I’ve updated our unofficial depth chart. Please note that this represents my opinion only and is based on everything I’ve heard and read as well as what little bit I saw of the team before practices were closed to the media. Once LSU releases its “official” depth chart, or when more information becomes available, I will update accordingly.
Before closing out with our countdown and a few tidbits, here’s a little news on the basketball front. Yesterday LSU announced the non-conference portion of its 2016-17 schedule. Here’s some info pulled from the press release sent out by LSU’s sports information department: LSU will play three home games prior to its previously announced trip to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis. The Tigers will host Southern Miss on Nov. 15 and will face North Florida on Nov. 18 for the second straight year. Last year’s North Florida game proved to be one of the most entertaining games of the year as the Ospreys, known for their three-point shooting, made 19 treys and LSU rallied from an eight-point halftime deficit to score 71 second-half points to win, 119-108. At the Battle, LSU will open with an ESPN2 contest with Wichita State on Nov. 23 and will then play either Louisville or Old Dominion in a contest scheduled for Thanksgiving (Nov. 24). LSU’s final contest on Nov. 25 will be against one of four teams – Baylor, VCU, Michigan State or St. John’s.
The Tigers will play one more game on Nov. 29 against Houston in the Maravich Center in the second half of a home-and-home series, before the mandated break for final exams. When the schedule resumes, LSU will play four games in 10 days prior to Christmas, hosting NC Central (Dec. 13), Texas Southern (Dec. 17) and Charleston (Dec. 19 - the final game of a three-game contract) before finishing a home-and-home at ACC foe Wake Forest on Dec. 22. LSU’s one other non-conference game already announced is LSU’s trip to Texas Tech on Jan. 28 for the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. The complete schedule, including the Southeastern Conference games, is expected to be announced in the coming days.
Now, with only 10 days remaining until LSU football’s season-opener vs. Wisconsin in Lambeau Field, today we’ll continue our countdown by looking back at the school record for most career touchdowns by a tight end – 10 by both Richard Dickson and Brad Boyd. Many younger Tiger Fans probably don’t remember Brad Boyd, who starred at LSU from 1972 to 1974, but Boyd put up one of the most impressive career stats of any LSU tight end back in an era where LSU was more run-oriented than they are today. With an LSU offense that had a run-pass ratio of 71.1%-to-28.9% in 1972, Boyd was one of the main receiving weapons with 22 receptions, 298 receiving yards and five touchdowns for a team that finished 9-2-1. Boyd led all receivers in 1973 (16 receptions, 259 receiving yards and three touchdowns) and 1974 (18-275-2) as the Tigers finished 9-3 and 5-5-1, respectively. Besides the school-tying record of 10 career receiving touchdowns by a tight end, Boyd’s 832 receiving yards are among the highest of all tight ends in school history. Richard Dickson (2006-2009) also had one of the greatest receiving careers for all LSU tight ends, finishing his career with 90 receptions, 952 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. His 2007 performance (32-375-5) was a vital part of LSU’s offense, which averaged a school record 38.6 points per game. His two touchdowns in the Tigers’ 38-24 victory over Ohio State in the 2008 BCS National Championship are still being shown on many highlight videos today.
Unfortunately, Tiger offenses have underutilized tight ends in recent years. Last season, Colin Jeter had 132 receiving yards and accounted for LSU’s only touchdown by a tight end. In 2014, LSU’s only receiving touchdown by a tight end came from Logan Stokes, although it was a huge one in LSU’s 10-7 victory over No. 3 Ole Miss. Travis Dickson, Richard’s younger brother, led all tight ends in 2014 with just 60 receiving yards on seven receptions. For the Tigers to challenge defenses who are talented enough to stuff the run, more variety in play selection will be needed. Check downs to running backs in the flat and short-to-intermediate throws to the tight ends will definitely go a long way toward LSU’s success against the upper-echelon teams of the SEC.
In closing, I regret to inform you that we will not conduct our Louisiana High School Pickem contest this year. My wife, Heather, is the one who always administered the contest by entering the schedules and the scores each Friday and Saturday night, but she has her hands full with familial obligations which were only exacerbated by the recent flooding of her parents’ home. I hope you understand. I will create a page displaying the Tweets of the those who post final scores so that you can still use this site as a one-stop shop for your Tiger news and Louisiana high school football scores.