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DandyDon is proud to recognize David Toms as a great ambassador of the Tiger Nation.

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11/26/14 5:35 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

I know that many of you will be traveling tomorrow, so I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving. Those of you who’ve followed this site for a while know that Thanksgiving is a special time of year for me, just as it was for my Dad, “Dandy Don” Long. Every year at this time, Dad would give thanks for his many blessings and remind us that as great as LSU sports are, there are more important things in life. I think that’s a great tradition worth continuing, and today I intend to do just that by sharing with you my third annual Thanksgiving Message. In it, you’ll find links to my Dad’s legendary Thanksgiving stories about the good ol’ days gone by, as well as few stories of my own including the ones I shared with you last year about how this website came to be, and about my life as a kid in the 70s and 80s. As lagniappe, I’ve included links to a few of our recipes that you might find useful this time of year, and to a poem written by one of our readers that was inspired by Dad’s stories. I hope you find it enjoyable and worth sharing with your families. 

Now back to our normal order of business…. The LSU football team will enjoy its Thanksgiving dinner today at the Faculty Club before flying out to Texas for tomorrow’s big game against the Aggies. The team will depart from the Baton Rouge airport at 2:30 this afternoon and arrive in Houston at 3:30. After spending tonight at La Torretta Resort in Montgomery, Texas, the Tigers will head out to College Station tomorrow at 3:25 to prepare for the 6:32 kickoff against the Aggies.  For a full list of Times of Interest, please click here. 

Last night Coach Les Miles held his weekly radio talk-show, and below you’ll find my rough summary of its key points.  

Rickey from Birmingham pointed out that the team could end up fourth or last in the SEC West and asked if there is enough there to motivate the team to lay it all on the line tomorrow night. Miles answered affirmatively, saying the team realizes they can win nine games and extend their streak of 8-win seasons to 15, but really it’s matter of  playing hard for who you are and who you represent.

Ron from Kenner talked about the “anemic” play at quarterback and asked if that was because of the players or the coaching. Miles said the problem is not with coaching and that Cam Cameron is a tremendous coach who is doing a great job of mentoring the quarterbacks. While acknowledging that everyone is unsatisfied with quarterback play, Miles said it may not all be the quarterbacks’ fault and then mentioned pass protection and drops by young receivers. Miles added that he would not be surprised at any point to see Brandon Harris taking some snaps.

When asked by Donald from Vicksburg why Harris has received 50% of the snaps in practice yet has not received more playing time, Miles answered by saying, “We’ve chosen not to make the decision on our future quarterback until down the road. That’s why he’s getting 50 percent of the reps.” Miles also said they are trying to put Harris in a position where he can make some explosive plays without encumbering him with the whole offense. In his closing statement to Donald, Miles emphasized that Anthony Jennings is currently the quarterback who makes the team better over a range of things.

Michael from Lafayette said that the offense is more one-dimensional than he’s seen it in a long time and asked how that can be corrected so that all the playmakers can contribute. Miles said the plan is to have balance and to execute better in the passing game, but that the plan “doesn’t currently fit the age of our passing group - both receivers and QB.”

The next caller, Neil, asked why they no longer name Plays of the Game during the weekly call in shows, as they’ve done in year’s past. Miles said that’s a great question and that he really enjoyed that part of the show, too. Gordy Rush, who was filling in for Jim Hawthorne, assured Neil that in the next edition of the show they’ll bring back that feature.

Sadie, the young girl from Denton, Texas, who usually calls-in each week, was in the live audience for the show and asked Coach Miles what he’s most thankful for. Miles answered first with, “My family and the good health the lord has provided.” He then added that he’s very thankful for his players who are motivated, hard working and very ambitious.

Genie from New Orleans asked Coach Miles how he balances keeping his players here versus leaving early for the pros. Miles’ answer was a little hard to understand, as he started with something like,  “We recruit a style of guy that can come in and play right way, and that makes it more likely that he’ll be gone after three years,” and ended with something about that being harder to do with quarterbacks, although Jordan Jefferson was very productive as a true freshmen. Sorry, but I wasn’t able to follow enough of his answer to give you a clear translation. 

The Big Ragoo emphasized that it is very important to win out and end with nine wins, as this will carry over into recruiting and the whole nine yards. He then asked Miles if Leonard Fournette would get more than 5 carries in this game. Miles’ answer was, “We have to have some carries to give him.”

Bart from Memphis reminded Coach Miles that in the second half against Wisconsin Jennings worked out of the pistol set with the offense spread out and that the team ran well and Jennings seemed comfortable. He also pointed out that in the Arkansas game the Razorbacks were able to pick up on a lot of tendencies and anticipate where the play was going. Miles said they have kept the formations we saw against Wisconsin and have used them at times. As for the predictability, Miles said that they are trying to off-set those tendencies. 

In other football news, LT La'el Collins has been invited to participate in the Senior Bowl on January 24 at Ladd Memorial Stadium in Mobile. Other Tigers invited to play in post-season all-star games include  DE Jermauria Rasco and RBs Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard, who have been invited to participate in the East-West Shrine game on January 17 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. At this time, it is uncertain whether Hilliard will be able to participate in the Tigers bowl game or in the East-West Shrine game due to the shoulder injury he suffered against Alabama. 

In football recruiting news, LSU has been turning up the heat on a couple of Florida commitments since Will Muschamp's resignation. On Monday LSU extended an offer to Derrick Dillon (ATH, 6-0, 174, Pine, No. 18 on our list of Top LA Prospects), and yesterday I learned that George Brown (OT/DE, 6-6, 253) is set to visit LSU on the weekend of December 5th. Brown is former Tiger running back Spencer Ware's cousin, and he is said to have a great relationship with LSU offensive line coach Jeff Grimes. It’s looking like December 5th is shaping up to be a big recruiting weekend with several official visits, and in a subsequent report we’ll take a look at who LSU is expecting in. 

A couple of basketball tid-bits in closing: 

• LSU’s Lady Tigers, who began with a preseason ranking of 24th in the country, are now 2-4 after losing to Santa Clara in Mexico yesterday. Despite cutting an 11-point halftime deficit to three with less than two minutes to play, LSU was unable to complete the comeback and fell 69-67 in the opening game of the Hardwood Tournament of Hope. The Lady Tigers will return to action today at 2:30 p.m. CT against UTEP before completing the tournament on Thanksgiving Day at 5 p.m. CT against Kansas State.

• Congratulations are in order for LSU sophomore Jordan Mickey who was named to the Paradise Jam All-Tournament team. Mickey averaged 16.7 points and 10 rebounds per game and had a career-high 27 points and 14 rebounds in LSU’s win over Weber State.

That’s it for today folks. Now it’s time for me to walk out to the garden and pick a big mess of turnips and mustard greens to prepare for tomorrow’s feast. Have a great day, Tiger Fans, and make the most of this holiday time. 

Reader Comments: Hi Scott, I'm a longtime reader, LSU alum, and season ticket holder. I'm active duty in the Air Force. My wife and I are going to Texas A&M game and for the first time in a long time we don't have anyone to tailgate with. Just wanted to see if you may have heard of any tailgates that would take us 2 on. We definitely don't mind contributing $$, just would like to tailgate with fellow LSU fans. My personal email is drfalconlsu@yahoo.com

Reader Comments: Scott, here’s a good article on LSU’s basketball team needing to grow quickly: Youthful Tigers talented, but are a work in progress

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11/25/124 6:00 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

The LSU football team is busy preparing to close out the season in College Station in what will be the Tigers’ first Thanksgiving Day contest in 31 years. The last time the Tigers played on Thanksgiving Day was November 23, 1983 when LSU defeated Tulane in the Louisiana Superdome. I have mixed feelings about the game being played on Thanksgiving Day, and I kind of liked the day-after tradition that we’ve enjoyed for so long, but it is what it is and hopefully the game will provide us with a fitting ending for a special day.

An LSU win Thursday would extend the nation’s longest streak of seasons with at least eight victories to 15 straight. LSU has won at least eight games every year since 2000. Now I know a lot of you are saying to yourself that eight wins is nothing to brag about and that we should be setting our standards higher, and I understand your point. But when you consider that LSU has reached that mark 14 years in a row, that really says a lot about the stability of the program. An LSU loss on Thursday would not only break that streak, it would also mark the first time in Les Miles’ tenure at LSU that the Tigers would have fallen in three consecutive games. As I’ve said before, I don’t think that’s going to happen, and evidently the oddsmakers agree. After opening as a 2.5 favorite, LSU is now favored by three. 

Yesterday Coach Miles met with the media for his weekly press conference, and, as usual, I’ve summarized his comments below. 

• Miles started the conference by wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and recognizing that he, his family, and his football team have a lot to be thankful for. 

• Next, Miles spoke of the attention Odell Beckham, Jr ’s spectacular catch on Sunday received, and said that he saw OBJ and Landry do things like that all the time on the practice field.

Sidenote: I heard from many of you yesterday who expressed the same sentiment, stating that we as Tiger Fans have seen many spectacular catches from OBJ and Landry and asking that I repost their LSU highlights. I’ve done so here: OBJ LSU Highlights | Landry LSU Highlights 

• Miles said the team practiced twice during the open week and that Sunday’s practice was full of energy. On Monday the team watched film, on Tuesday they took a day off, and then on Wednesday and Thursday they went back at it before taking two “fresh‑leg days” on Friday and Saturday.

• Miles confirmed that left guard Vadal Alexander is expected to play Thursday. He added that Ethan Pocic will be at center (meaning Porter will be out, as expected), Evan Washington will be at right guard, and Hoko Fanaika will be the first offensive lineman off the bench.

• While Miles admitted that the quarterback is going to have to play better, he said the key is for the QB to make the 10 players around him play their best and to provide the best opportunity to win the game.

• Later when Miles was asked whether he would be “surprised if [Brandon Harris] does not play Thursday,” Miles said that Harris continues to improve, but that he wants to assess this week fully before commenting on the question. Based on that response, and on Miles’ previous comments (above), it sounds unlikely to me that Harris will play unless the game is in hand.

• When asked whether he expects to hear from Michigan when there is a job opening, Miles said he has given little or no thought to other jobs and that he is comfortable with his team and what he is doing.

• When asked about the letter he received from the Secretary of Louisiana Department of Veteran Affairs about getting Luke Boyd some snaps in Thursday’s game, Miles said that although he is touched by the way so many people have championed Boyd’s cause, having him travel and take one of the spots on the limited travel-roster would be very difficult to do this late in the season. Miles affirmed that the whole team can travel to the bowl game and that Boyd will be a part of that.

There was a lot more said than what I summarized above, and I’ve posted the entire transcript for those of you who have a few minutes to spare.

In recruiting news, according to multiple reports including this one by Shea Dixon of 247Sports, Coach Miles confirmed yesterday that he is taking a look at JUCO quarterbacks. Among the JUCO QBs who have ben evaluated are Chad Kelly, the dual-threat QB I wrote about a couple of days ago who was dismissed from Clemson, and Daniel Fitzwater, a pro-style QB who played high school ball at Calvary Baptist in Shreveport before heading to Co-Lin Community College in Mississippi. 

Before moving on to basketball news, I want to remind you that because of this week’s game being played on Thursday, Coach Les Miles’ weekly radio show will be tonight instead of the normal Wednesday time.

In men’s basketball news, LSU fell to 3-2 on the season with a 61-64 loss against Clemson. The Tigers finished the game shooting only 37.7% from the field (23-61) and 7.7% from 3-point range (1-13). This is going to have to improve quickly if the Tigers are to obtain their goals for the season. Despite the team’s shooting woes, the game was a close one with 10 ties and 13 lead changes. Josh Gray converted a layup to give LSU a 56-52 lead with 3:46 remaining, but Clemson quickly responded with a layup and then converted a 3-pointer to take a 57-56 advantage with two minutes remaining. After Gray made one of two free throws, Clemson converted an offensive rebound into two points and made one of two free throws to increase their lead to 60-57 with 51 seconds remaining. Both teams traded two free throws before Jarell Martin tipped in a missed shot to trim the Clemson lead to 62-61 with 18 seconds remaining, but after two Clemson free throws, Jordan Mickey missed a 3-pointer as time expired.

For the second straight game, Mickey led LSU with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Tim Quarterman scored a season high 16 points on 5-8 shooting (5-6 FT shooting), grabbed seven rebounds and dished out three assists. Keith Hornsby, Gray and Martin struggled from the field as the three combined for only 20 points on a combined 8-32 shooting. The Tigers committed 13 turnovers but forced 15 from Clemson and out-rebounded them 38-35. 

LSU’s men return to action this Saturday at 7pm in the PMAC against McNeese State. The game will be on SECN+ and the broadcast will be available on 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge.

Reader Comments: Hi Scott...Since the conversation has been about QB's at LSU, this article may give some insight as to what Hayden Rettig thought of his time at LSU.

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11/24/14 5:50 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

In just three days, LSU will take on Texas A&M on Thanksgiving Day in a game that should show us a lot about the character of this Tiger team. The game will kickoff at 6:30 p.m. CT and will be televised by ESPN. LSU has opened as a 2.5-point favorite, and I think that’s just about right. Yesterday we looked at how the two teams compare statistically, and today we’ll take a look at how LSU’s offense matches up against A&M’s defense, and vice versa. Of course we’ll also look at special teams and intangibles. Here we go…

LSU offense vs. Texas A&M defense
Considering the way LSU’s offense played against Arkansas a week and a half ago, it’s hard to give LSU’s offense an advantage against any defense at this time. Fortunately for the Tigers, the Aggies are one of the few defenses that wouldn’t be favored in this matchup. This is because the Aggies’ rushing defense is last in the SEC and 106th in the nation, plus the Aggies are a little banged up from multiple injuries in November. Josh Walker, a freshman starter at linebacker, broke his foot and is out for the rest of the season. Meanwhile, defensive lineman Ivan Robinson, linebacker Otaro Alaka and the sensational Myles Garrett are all recovering from injuries and listed as probable for the game against LSU. The possibility of Garrett, who is a freshman defensive end who has taken the SEC by storm with 11 sacks this season, being absent or not 100% is fortunate for LSU, although most feel he will play. As for LSU injuries, offensive linemen Elliot Porter and Vadal Alexander were badly missed against Arkansas, but Alexander is expected to play in this game. Porter is unlikely. With Alexander back, the Tigers should be able to move the ball on this Aggie defense with a ground and pound attack. Of course, the optimist in me wants to believe Miles and company have added some offensive wrinkles to go along with that running game, but the realist in me has doubts. 
Toss-up 

LSU defense vs. Texas A&M offense
For a freshman quarterback coming off of the bench, A&M’s Kyle Allen has been pretty darn good for the Aggies. In his last two starts, including a win against Auburn, Allen has thrown for roughly 500 yards and seven touchdowns, so his presence at quarterback should be respected. However, since LSU’s defense turned the corner in the second half against Florida, it has been phenomenal. The secondary, fueled by Tre’Davious White and Jalen Mills, has been stingy, while the middle of the defense has been much stouter with Davon Godchaux at tackle and Kendell Beckwith at middle linebacker. Plus, during the past two seasons, John Chavis has proven to be quite successful against Texas A&M, figuring out how to beat Kevin Sumlin’s team in back-to-back defensive struggles. 
Advantage LSU 

Special Teams 
For the first time this season, I’m giving an LSU opponent the advantage in special teams. With the combination of kicker Josh Lambo (second in the conference in field goal percentage), Drew Kaiser (third in the conference in yards per punt) and Louisiana’s own Speedy Noil returning kicks, the Aggies would hold an advantage in this area against most teams. Generally speaking LSU’s special teams have been very strong, but Colby Delahoussaye is coming off a career-worst performance against Arkansas in which he missed two field goals, leading to concern of his confidence being shaken. Personally I think Delahoussaye will return to his normal super-dependable ways, but at this point I have to give a slight edge to A&M.
Slight Advantage Texas A&M 

Intangibles
LSU is coming off of a 17-0 loss to Arkansas, has to travel to play Texas A&M on Thanksgiving and has to overcome the public chatter surrounding the team’s offensive flaws. Obviously, the intangibles department favors the Aggies. How LSU responds to all of this will say a lot about the makeup and mindset of this team. Meanwhile, the Aggies, despite coming off a close loss to Missouri, have found some momentum with Kyle Allen, and the “12th man” will likely build off of it in a wild environment Thursday night.
Advantage Texas A&M 

In other football news, a couple of former Tigers deserve big props for their performances yesterday:

Former LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger threw for 345 yards in the Titan’s 43-24 loss to the Eagles, making  him just the fifth LSU quarterback to throw for 300-plus yards in an NFL game. He joins Matt Flynn, Bert Jones, David Woodley and Y.A. Tittle as former Tigers to accomplish that feat. Congrats @mettshow!

And how ’bout the outstanding catch by Odell Beckham, Jr. that many are calling the best catch ever! If you haven’t seen it yet (or even if you have), check out this video and judge for yourself. Amazing! 

In basketball news, LSU will be facing Clemson today at 3 p.m. CST in their last game of the Paradise Jam at the UVI Sports and Fitness Center in the US Virgin Islands. A win today would give LSU (3-1) two wins in the tournament and a fourth place finish, which is nothing to sneeze at. Clemson is 2-2 after losing in the opening round to Gardner-Webb, 72-70, and then downing Nevada, 59-50, on Saturday. Today’s game can be heard on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network and is also available in the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net.

A few tidbits in closing:

• To those of you will be traveling and away from the internet for the next few days, I'd like to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving in advance. Wednesday morning I'll post my annual Thanksgiving message, including my late father’s (Don’s) legendary Thanksgiving stories (and a few of my own) that so many of you enjoy each year.

• I’ll be updating our Ticket Exchange page later today, so if you have Arkansas tickets that you would like me to post, please let me know.

• In our Louisiana High School Football Pickem, three participants tied for 1st place this week by correctly picking 49 of 56 Round 2 playoff games each. The three are tensas65, robplaisance, and ryan nash. User mmr (Mr. Bob Register) is one of several participants who correctly picked 48 games, and that was enough to keep him firmly in the lead in the overall standings (up by five over CoachMJ). Voting for the Round 3 playoff games in now open. 

Reader Comments: Scott, be sure to share this in-depth article by Ross Dellenger of the Advocate on LSU’s quarterback issues and recruitment. It’s called “Digging into the roots of LSU’s quarterback quandary” and it ran in the Sunday paper. Very informative.

Reader Comments: Scott, we need to recognize former Tiger, Kevin Mawae. He is among a list of 26 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015 announced on Tuesday. He is also one of eight first-year eligible nominees on the list. The list will be further reduced by a mail ballot to 15 modern-era finalists and announced in early January. Mawae played 16 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets and Tennessee Titans. The former Leesville High School and LSU standout was an eight-time Pro Bowler and eight-time All-Pro. He also served as president of the NFL Players Association for four years from 2008 to 2012, which says a lot about his leadership and respect. He retired from the NFL in 2010. Let’s hope Kevin gets in on the first ballot.

 

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