4/19/15 6:10 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Yesterday was a great day for LSU sports as the football team turned in an impressive outing in the Spring Game, Coach Miles picked up his 9th commitment for the season, the baseball team secured a series win with a double-header sweep of Georgia and the softball team defeated Texas A&M.
Starting with football… Approximately 15,000 Tiger Fans turned out to watch LSU’s annual Spring Game yesterday in which the White team, made up of first-string players, soundly defeated the Purple team by a score of 45-6. Like most of you, I was anxiously watching the quarterbacks to see if there would be notable improvement and whether Anthony Jennings or Brandon Harris would separate himself from the other. Well, I think it’s pretty safe to say that both quarterbacks appeared considerably better than the last time we saw them in action, but I’d be lying if I said either one did enough to secure the starting job. Both quarterbacks put up outstanding stats when working with the White team, but neither was able to accomplish much working behind a Purple offensive line that was constantly manhandled by the first team defensive line of the White team.
When working with the White team, Harris was a perfect 7-of-7 for 141 yards and two touchdowns, while Jennings was a commendable 8-of-14 for 215 yards and two touchdowns. When working with the Purple team, Harris was 4-of-10 for 37 yards, no TDs and one interception, while Jennings was 5-of-6 for 27 yards and no TDs. Overall, I’d say Harris was the more impressive of the two, just as he was in last year’s spring game, but Jennings was clearly improved, and that’s encouraging.
I was also encouraged by the fact that LSU’s wide receivers looked outstanding, and it was great to see LSU’s tight ends targeted for four pass completions. Malachi Dupré was the most impressive of the receivers as he hauled in four passes for 112 yards, including a 35-yard diving catch in the end zone on a well thrown pass by Harris, and a 37-yard touchdown reception in which he had to make a difficult adjustment on a pass by Jennings. Statistically speaking, Travin Dural had an even better game as he caught four passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns, highlighted by a 70-yard reception from Jennings. Two other players whom I predicted would have breakout seasons this year also had impressive outings – tight end DeSean Smith and wide receiver D.J. Chark. Smith caught two passes for 62 yards, including a 50-yard reception from true freshman quarterback Justin McMillan on his first passing attempt. Chark had two receptions for 53 yards, including a remarkable catch in double coverage on a 45-yard pass thrown very well by Harris.
As for LSU’s rushing game, it looked as good as advertised. Leonard Fournette gets most of the hype (understandably so) but I was equally impressed with Darrell Williams in yesterday’s game. For a man his size, he shows remarkable agility. Together, I predict the two will make as good a tandem as there is in college football, if not this year than next. Also, David Ducre made it clear that he is more than “just” a fullback , especially when he plowed over Ricky Jefferson in a show of force on a five-yard gain.
On the flip side of the ball, the defensive standouts were… well, the entire White team’s defensive line. The starting unit of Tashawn Bower, Davon Godchaux, Christian LaCouture and Maquedius Bain were constantly in the Purple team’s backfield, wreaking havoc. Bain, whom Coach Miles admitted would probably not have started at defensive end if Lewis Neal (ankle) were healthy, logged three sacks, while Godchaux logged one. Linebackers Deion Jones (White team) and Ronnie Feist (Purple team) led the Tigers in tackles with seven each. I was also impressed with cornerback Kevin Toliver who looked as good as advertised in coverage.
Those of you who missed the Spring Game will be happy to know that it will be replayed several times on TV starting tomorrow night at 10 p.m. on the SEC Network.
In subsequent reports, we’ll have much more on players who stood out and other takeaways from the spring game, but for now it’s time to move on to other news, starting with a huge commitment Coach Miles secured yesterday…
Shortly after the conclusion of the Spring Game, LSU received some great news on the recruiting front when Edwin Alexander re-committed to LSU. I say “re-committed” because Alexander had committed to LSU early last year but then backed off of his commitment to explore other options. Alexander (6-2, 310, St. Thomas Aquinas) is a big-time 5-star defensive tackle who we have rated No. 2 on our list of Top LA Prospects for 2016. With his pledge, LSU has nine commitments in its 2016 class which is now ranked No. 5 in the nation, according to 247Sports.
One more recruiting tidbit before moving on… The second-rated quarterback on our list of Top LA Prospects, Cole Kelly of Teurlings Catholic (Lafayette), committed to Arkansas yesterday. Kelly had not been offered by LSU.
In baseball news, LSU secured the series win at Georgia with a double header sweep yesterday.
In the first game, LSU won 4-1 behind the solid pitching of Alex Lange and the exceptional relief pitching of Hunter Newman. Lange went six innings (he wasn’t expected to go any longer after suffering an injury last week) and allowed only one run on five hits with four strikeouts and three walks. Newman entered in the seventh and completely shutdown the Bulldogs without allowing a hit in the final three innings while facing the minimum number of batters. (Here’s a stat to chew on: Newman hasn’t allowed an earned run in 21.2 innings this season. Pretty remarkable.) Offensively, the Tigers collected 10 hits in the game and were led at the plate by none other than the Maurepas Masher, Kade Scivicque, who went 2-for-4 with two RBI. Game 1 Boxscore.
In Game 2, LSU again produced excellent pitching and hammered the ball at the plate to win 9-1. Jared Poché got the start and pitched seven strong innings, allowing only one run on four hits with five strikeouts and one walk. Parker Bugg pitched the final two innings, didn’t allow a hit or a run, and faced the minimum (6 batters). Offensively, the Tigers collected 14 hits in the game, and again they were led by Scivicque who went 3-for-3 and extended his hitting streak to 23 games with a solo home run in the second. Game 2 Boxscore.
Here’s what Coach Mainieri had to say about the Tigers’ day: “Our pitching was outstanding in both games. Poche’ was really sharp throughout his outing, and after the first couple of innings, Lange worked into a groove and was dominating. Our bullpen was excellent – Hunter Newman has been remarkable all season, and Parker Bugg gave us a tremendous outing in Game 2. I wasn’t real pleased with the way we swung the bats in the first game, because we didn’t take advantage of some scoring opportunities. But, we were more productive in the second game with 14 hits and generated the run support we needed for our pitchers.”
The Tigers will go for the series sweep today at noon, weather permitting. The game will be streamed on SEC Network+, available at WatchESPN.com and the WatchESPN app. It can also be heard on affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network, and live stats and audio are available in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net. The fact that LSU only had to use two relief pitchers in the two games yesterday puts the Tigrs in excellent shape to secure the series sweep today.
A couple more baseball tidbits:
• Alex Bregman had a rough day, committing two errors at shortstop and hitting a combined 2-for-8. I look for him to bounce back in a big way today.
• Chris Chinea took an awful blow to the chin by a fastball in Game 2 which dropped him to the ground and caused blood to spew from his mouth. Fortunately, he was able to walk off under his own power. Chinea received four stitches and will have the chin X-rayed today. Here’s hoping and praying for a full and speedy recovery.
Last but not least, the LSU softball team defeated Texas A&M 6-1 to improve to 40-5, 12-4. More on the game can be found here. Game 2 of the series will be played tonight at 6 p.m. and Game 3 will be tomorrow at 6 p.m. Both games will be broadcast on the SEC Network (regular TV, not streaming).