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LSU vs. Wisconsin - August 30, 2014 - 8:00 P.M. Kickoff (ESPN)
0 Day, 0 hour, 0 minute

8/27/14 5:40 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

It was great to hear from many of you yesterday about my Q&As with Mike Detiller (Part I & Part II). Mike doesn’t mince his words, and I respect that. Several of you were surprised that Mike predicted the LSU-Wisconsin game to be as close as he did, but I don’t find that surprising at all. The Badgers will be quite a challenge, as their strength (power running game) plays right into what could be LSU’s biggest weaknesses (defensive middle). What’s interesting, though, is that the same could be said of LSU’s strength playing into Wisconsin’s weakness as the two teams are remarkably similar. Today we’ll begin our weekly position-by-position comparisons, starting with the offense. I have to say, I had a harder time with these comparisons than with any I’ve done before, simply because there are so many unknowns on LSU’s offense.

QB: Like LSU, Wisconsin will have a new face under center in 2014, and that man, at least for the season opener, is expected to be Tanner McEvoy. Little is known about the junior college transfer at this point, except that he is considered to have great mobility and he posed a 68% completion rate in his last year at Arizona Western College. Like LSU, Wisconsin could choose to play two quarterbacks in the game, with last year’s starter, pro-style junior quarterback Joel Stave, prepared to see action in the game. It’s still unclear as to whether LSU will start sophomore Anthony Jennings or freshman Brandon Harris, but I suspect that it won’t matter much as both will be used. At this point, there are just too many unknowns about both teams’ quarterbacks to call this one anything other than a toss-up. Even.

OL: The offensive line is another position difficult to call, but for different reasons. The Tigers’ strongest unit on offense is undoubtedly its offensive line which features tons of athleticism, size and experience. But Wisconsin’s O-line, with first-team All-Big Ten Preseason selection Rob Havenstein leading the way at tackle, is quite a formidable bunch. In the land of giants (the Big Ten is usually known for its bigger offensive linemen), the Badgers’ O-line stands out as a very impressive unit and is one of the few in the country as large as LSU’s. Get this: Wisconsin’s starting O-line averages 6-5 ½, 321 pounds. As impressive as that is, LSU returns four starters on an O-line that averages 6-6, 320 pounds, and has outstanding depth with backups like Jerald Hawkins and Elliot Porter (assuming Pocic gets the start at center) who could start at just about any other school. Slight advantage LSU.

TE: Wisconsin lost two very good senior tight ends to the 2014 NFL draft – Jacob Pedersen and Brian Wozniak. Pedersen’s loss is especially significant as he was the the 2013 Kwalick-Clark Big Ten Tight End of the Year and was a key blocker in the Badgers’ running game. Pedersen also was an integral part of the Badgers’ passing game as he racked up 17 touchdown receptions in his career - the most ever by a Wisconsin tight end. Without Pedersen and Wozniak, the Badgers will turn to a less experienced group led by senior Sam Arneson and junior Austin Traylor, who are somewhat unproven. In contrast, LSU returns its leading tight end in junior Dillon Gordon who started 12 games last season, and sophomore DeSean Smith who was a high school All-American, is extremely athletic, and could be a valuable part of LSU’s passing game. (Not to mention seniors Logan Stokes and Travis Dickson, JUCO transfer Collin Jeters, and freshman Jacory Washington.) Advantage LSU.

RB: Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon is one of the best running backs in the country and his name is frequently mentioned as a potential Heisman candidate. Gordon rushed for over 10 yards per carry his freshman season, and then followed that by tallying 1,607 rushing yards, 12 rushing touchdowns and an average of 7.8 yards per carry in 2013. Alongside Gordon will be sophomore Corey Clement, who rushed for 547 yards last year despite being third on the depth chart. LSU, on the other hand, has veterans Terrance Magee and Kenny Hilliard who are very good backs in their own right, plus freshmen Leonard Fournette and Darrell Williams who give LSU incredible depth and potential at the position. This one’s a tough call. I truly believe that Fournette has what it takes to be as good as any running back to ever wear an LSU uniform, but at this point he’s still an unproven commodity at the college level. For that reason, I have to give Wisconsin and Melvin Gordon a very slight edge. Slight advantage Wisconsin.

WR: Wisconsin and LSU are in similar predicaments at the wide receiver position. The Badgers lost their top four receiving threats from a year ago. As pointed out in this article by Bucky’s Fifth Quarter (a Badgers Blog), their returning receiver with the most career production is redshirt junior Jordan Fredrick, who has caught 27 passes for 302 yards and a single touchdown in his two years with the program. Of course, LSU is dealing with big losses at the position since the departure of its best receiving duo in school history - Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham. The Tigers return a talented redshirt sophomore in Travin Dural to go along with unproven but highly-touted redshirt freshmen Avery Peterson and John Diarse and JUCO transfer Quantavious Leslie. And then, last but not least, there are the hotshot true freshmen – Trey Quinn, Malachi Dupre and Tony Upchurch – who could make an immediate impact. Both LSU and Wisconsin are young at the position, but the elite talent in LSU’s recent recruiting classes gives LSU a solid edge on the perimeter. Advantage LSU.

Stay tuned, Tiger Fans, as a little later in the week we’ll do the same for defense, special teams and intangibles.

With only three days remaining until Game Day, let’s continue our countdown by remembering a Tiger All-American who will be missed this year - 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 last season, 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. 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 with the 12th overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, he has been hampered by a hamstring injury and has yet to participate in a Giants’ preseason game.

Speaking of former Tiger greats, each week LSUSports.net publishes stats on all former Tigers in the NFL. Click here to view their Preseason Week 3 Stats.

In baseball news, congratulations are in order for LSU senior infielder Conner Hale and junior outfielder Andrew Stevenson, who were each named to the Perfect Game Summer League All-America teams. Hale was a first-team selection, and Stevenson was voted to the third team. Hale, a product of New Port Richey, Fla., helped lead the Falmouth Commodores to the Cape Cod League championship series, batting .327 (56-for-171) with 12 doubles, one triple, four homers and 38 RBI. Stevenson, a native of Youngsville, La., helped lead the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox to the Cape Cod League title, batting .327 (55-for-168) with nine doubles, one triple, one homer, 16 RBI, 30 runs, and 21 stolen bases.

In closing, I’d like to point out that I updated our Ticket Exchange last night with tons of new listings.

8/26/14 5:50 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

As promised, today I have posted part 2 of 2 of my interview with College Football & NFL Analyst Mike Detillier on the topic of the 2014 LSU football team, and it’s full of great insight. In this segment, I get Mike’s thoughts on who will be the the top-three playmakers on defense, what it will take to generate more turnovers this year than last, how much better the linebacker corps will be, and much more. I even get Mike to give an early prediction on the season-opener (I’ll give you my prediction later this week when I post my weekly college picks.) Give it a quick read and let us know your thoughts.

Part 2 of 2:

DandyDon.com Interviews Mike Detillier About LSU’s 2014 Defense, Special Teams, and More

Part 1 of 2 (For those of you who missed it yesterday):

DandyDon.com Interviews Mike Detillier About LSU’s 2014 Offense

Coach Les Miles held his first Lunch with Les press conference yesterday and spent about half an hour speaking about Saturday's season-opener and taking questions from the media. You can read a full transcript of the conference here, and below is a summary of the most interesting points:

• Miles did not say whether Anthony Jennings or Brandon Harris would start at quarterback, but said whoever starts is not real significant because both will play. Later he said that there hasn’t been significant separation between the two.


• Miles said safety Jalen Mills “is healthy and preparing to play.” He did not comment definitively on whether Mills would miss any playing time because of his arrest this summer.

• As expected, Miles said that Ethan Pocic will likely start at center (over Elliot Porter) and Hoko Fanaika will likely start at right guard (over Evan Washington).


• Miles guessed that six freshmen will play key roles Saturday, and a total of 6-12 will see playing time. 


• When Miles was asked who running back Leonard Fournette remind him of, his answer was “Leonard Fournette. He looks just like him.” He went on to say that he’s going to let Fournette define who he is. (Good answer, Coach!)

Before Miles spoke, a hardcopy of a depth chart was handed out to the media in attendance, but several things Miles mentioned about likely starters contradicted it. When asked about it, Miles said, “I didn't give you that.  That was given to you by somebody else.” I’m mentioning this just so that when you look at my unofficial depth chart (which I updated yesterday with the latest heights/weights according to LSU’s official roster) and realize that it doesn’t match the “official one” you’ll know why.

Before moving on to our countdown, I want to point out that tomorrow I will begin posting our position-by-position comparisons of LSU and Wisconsin. We’ll probably do the offense tomorrow and then the defense later in the week. I’ll also post my weekly college predictions and keys to an LSU victory later this week.

With only four days remaining until the much anticipated season-opener against a very physical Wisconsin team, 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 1975-78. 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.

One more football-related tidbit: LSU announced yesterday that it has sold its entire allotment of 35,000 tickets for the Wisconsin game in Houston. If you’re still looking for a ticket, please note that we have several listed in our Ticket Exchange.

A basketball brief in closing: Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin were named to the Athlon Sports National All-Sophomore Team for 2014-15. Mickey was named to the first team, while Martin was named to the third team as it broke down players by class for the upcoming season.

8/25/14 5:55 am CT

Good morning, Tiger Fans, it’s Game Week!

I’m happy to announce that I have a new interview with College Football & NFL Analyst Mike Detillier on the topic of the 2014 LSU football team to share with you today, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. In today’s segment (part 1-of-2), Mike gives his overall concerns about the 2014 team and answers a variety of questions about LSU’s offense. Tomorrow I’ll post part 2-of-2 of the interview, in which Mike gives his thoughts on defense and special teams before closing out with his prediction for the season-opener. Good stuff!

DandyDon.com Interviews Mike Detillier About LSU’s 2014 Offense.

With the start of LSU’s 2013 football season only five days away, Coach Miles will hold his weekly “Lunch with Les” press luncheon today at 12:10 p.m. CT before putting his team through a practice this afternoon. The program will be produced each week by the LSU Sports Radio Network and can be heard in the Baton Rouge area on 104.5 FM and on affiliates of the network across the state and region. Free audio of the press conference is also available each week in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live or via the LSUsports Mobile App. Paid members of the Geaux Zone have access to a live video stream of the press conference each week, and that's how I'll be watching so that I can give you an update on what was said in tomorrow's report.

During the last couple of days I’ve heard from many of you who are excited about not only the start of LSU’s football season, but also the start of prep football and our Louisiana High School Football Pickem Contest. If you haven’t yet signed up to play, please consider doing so today. It’s a lot of fun and its completely free. Picks for this week’s games are due by Thursday at 3:30 p.m. Even if you decide not to participate, please note that you can always refer to our weekly schedule, which will also serve as a statewide scoreboard once the games are played. For more information on how this all works, please click here.

Now let’s jump to our Countdown to Game Day, which is at the 5-day mark, by remembering a huge come-from-behind victory by the top-ranked Tigers over the 9th ranked Florida Gators in 2007. LSU entered the contest 5-0 (with big wins over No. 9 Virginia Tech and No. 12 South Carolina) and had just vaulted to the No. 1 spot in the AP poll for the first time since 1959. By this point in the season, it was plain to see that this was a very special LSU team, and the Florida Gators (led by quarterback Tim Tebow) were a powerful bunch as well. ESPN’s Game Day crew setup on the Parade Grounds and Mike VI made his Death Valley debut for what would be a truly epic contest. Although LSU trailed by double digits entering the fourth quarter, the Tigers would prevail thanks to the gritty play of fullback Jacob Hester and the gutsy play-calling of Coach Les Miles who went for it on fourth down on five different occasions and was successful on all five attempts. What a game! If you’ve got 12 more minutes to spare on this Monday morning, do yourself a favor and check out these video highlights of the game. I can think of no better way to get pumped for Game Week!

A few quick reminders in closing:

• If you're planning a trip to Houston for the season opener, be sure to check out these pages: Bag Policy for NRG Stadium | Tiger Fan Jam on Friday Night | LSU vs Wisconsin Tailgate on Game Day

• Those of you who are still looking for tickets can check out our Ticket Exchange. I added lots of listings last night, including a few for the Wisconsin game.

• If you’re looking for a place to join Tiger Fans to watch the game, check out my newly updated View-In Parties page. And if you represent an alumni association and would like for me to add your listing, please contact me.

Reader Comments: Hello, Scott. I thought you might want to let your readers know about the Thursday night LHSAA high school football game of the week presentation on Fox Sports New Orleans.  Pre-game starts at 6:30 with the kickoff at 7. The coverage includes post-season playoff and championship games.

 

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