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LSU vs. McNeese State - Saturday, September 5th, 2015 6:30 PM (SEC-Alt)
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8/30/15 5:25 am CDT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Isn’t it interesting how expectations for this Tiger team have skyrocketed in the last week? A couple of days ago, ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit picked LSU to win the SEC and make the playoff, and just yesterday ESPN’s Lee Corso followed suit by picking LSU to not only win the SEC and make the playoff, but to win the national title. All of this comes just days after Coach Miles announced that Brandon Harris was the clear leader in the quarterback competition, and believe me, that’s no coincidence. I have a feeling that if that announcement had come two days earlier, the results of our annual poll asking you to predict LSU’s regular season record would have probably been considerably different. As it was, 33% of you picked 9-3 and 31% picked 10-2. 

Speaking of predictions, I want to let you know that we will be opening up our Louisiana High School Football Pickem contest tomorrow (Monday). A couple of days ago, I asked for your input regarding whether or not to include all 140+ games in each week’s picks, or to make it less overwhelming and time-consuming for the participants by scaling it down to 40-50 games each week. The large majority of folks I heard from would prefer to scale it down, so what we’ve decided to do is randomly pick one game from each of the 44 districts, plus six other high-interest games usually involving top-rated teams. We’re also offering small prizes this year for the weekly winners and a slightly bigger prize for the overall winner. I’ll have more on all that when we open the contest tomorrow.

In Friday’s report we reviewed what we’ve learned this preseason about LSU’s offense, yesterday we did the same with the defense, and today we’ll take a look at special teams. Here we go…

What We’ve Learned About This LSU Team: Special Teams

1) Looks like Leonard Fournette will return kicks again this year, and he’ll probably be joined by Derrius Guice.

Back in May, we conducted a poll on this site asking whether you think Leonard Fournette should be used on kick returns this year and the large majority of you (83%) said no. The general consensus was that there’s a relatively high risk of injury in returning kicks and that Fournette is too valuable as a running back to risk using him this way. That’s a good point, but Coach Miles also made a good point (although not a completely accurate one) on his radio show Wednesday when he said “when you have a player like Fournette who led the nation there last year it’s hard to take him away.” Fournette did have a great year as a returner, and he ended on an extremely high note with this 100-yard return against Notre Dame, but he didn’t lead the nation or the SEC. Joining Fournette in returning kicks will likely be freshman Derrius Guice. I base that statement on Miles’ comments from Wednesday’s show when Fournette and Guice were named as kick returners. Guice has received as much praise this preseason as anyone, garnishing such descriptions as “elusive” and “deceptively fast.”

2) At this time, it appears that the punt returners will be TréDavious White and Donté Jackson

TréDavious White did a good job of returning punts last year and averaged 10.92 yards per return (14th nationally) with one touchdown. I’ve seen nothing this preseason that would lead me to believe that he won’t once again be LSU’s primary punt returner when the season starts on Saturday. However, Coach Miles has mentioned that freshmen speedster Donté Jackson will be used as a punt returner as well, and that’s something I find very exciting. It’s also worth noting that I’ve heard from a very good source that Trey Quinn was very much in the hunt for punt return duties (remember that video I shared on him fielding a punt behind-the-back?) before suffering an injury in the first scrimmage. Quinn has not yet fully recovered and was still in a green no-contact jersey at the last practice.

3) Big things are expected from punter Jamie Keehn

Jamie Keehn is entering his senior season and was one of 25 players selected to the watch list for the Ray Guy Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top punter. The word coming out of preseason practice is that Keehn has looked very good and is set to have a big year. Last year he ranked second in the SEC with a 44.9 yard per punt average and had 17 punts of 50 yards or more. If something should happen to Keehn, God forbid, LSU has yet another Aussi punter (the school’s third) waiting in the wings in Josh Growden. 

4) Colby Delahoussaye will likely be LSU’s primary field goal kicker, while Trent Domingue will continue kicking off

In 2013, Colby Delahoussaye had one of the best seasons for a freshmen in school history, but last year he faltered at the end of the season. This led to Trent Domingue, who had been used exclusively on kick offs, taking over as LSU’s primary field goal kicker in the last two games. The word is that Delahoussaye has had a great spring, summer and preseason camp, and has retaken the job. One player who seems to really be giving Domingue a run for his money on kickoffs is sophomore Cameron Gamble who is said to have a really strong leg.

Now, with the season opener quickly approaching, let’s move on to our countdown to game day, which is at the 6-day mark, by looking at a special Tiger who wore No. 6 - quarterback Rohan Davey. The Jamaica native who played his high school ball in Miami, Florida redshirted in 1997 and had just six plays from scrimmage as a redshirt freshman in 1998. Although he only started in a handful of games in 1999 and 2000, there were several notable performances by Davey that led to very memorable wins for LSU. This included subbing in LSU’s 1999 season opener after Craig Nall struggled to lead the Tigers to a 29-21 victory over San Jose State. Oddly enough, Davey also subbed in for Josh Booty in the season finale to lead the Tigers to an impressive 35-10 victory over Arkansas, passing for 224 yards and three TDs in LSU’s only SEC win of the season. Davey also had two special performances in 2000, passing for 318 yards, four TDs and the winning TD pass in the Tigers’ 38-31 overtime upset vs. #11 Tennessee and leading a second half comeback after LSU trailed 14-3 at halftime to defeat Georgia Tech 28-14 in the 2000 Peach Bowl. You can watch highlights of the Tennessee overtime win here. With Josh Booty departing early for the NFL, Davey became the starter in 2001 and led the most prolific passing offense in school history by passing for 3,347 yards and 18 TDs. LSU won its first SEC title since 1988, went 10-3 (which was just the Tigers’ 6th 10+ win season at the time) and beat Illinois in the Sugar Bowl 47-34, their first Sugar Bowl victory since 1968. The 3,347 passing yards are still the most in a single season by an LSU quarterback, and if you include his passing yards in LSU’s 2002 Sugar Bowl victory (bowl game stats did not begin to count until after the 2001 season), the 3,791 passing yards would be 8th all-time in SEC history. Check out this great video that shows Davey’s final game as a Tiger in that dominating Sugar Bowl victory for LSU. Davey was selected in the fourth round of the 2002 NFL draft by the New England Patriots and played four years total in the NFL and two seasons in the Arena Football League before being waived in 2008. He rejoined the AFL in 2013, playing as a backup for the San Antonio Talons. Davey was recently in Thibodeaux at Nicholls State for the Pro Football Combine Camp and seems likely to become heavily involved in football camps in the future. Here’s a good article with many quotes by the now 37-year old Davey.

As I do on most weeks, I’ll leave you today with a couple of good reads to go along with your Sunday morning coffee:

Hooked on fishing, LSU's Malachi Dupre finds a place for quiet thought, by Randy Rosetta of nola.com

• LSU finds success with Australian punters, by USAToday



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8/29/15 5:55 am CDT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

I regret having to start today’s update with the news of LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron being recently treated for Prostate Cancer. Yesterday, Ross Dellenger of the Advocate first reported the news at about 5:12 p.m., and moments later LSU called for a 6 p.m. press conference to reveal the facts, which included the good news of Cameron receiving a clean bill of health from his doctor. Cameron received the diagnoses of early prostate cancer about six weeks ago, and underwent successful treatment. Two weeks ago, he was given a clean bill of health and shared the good news with the team. Cameron reiterated several times during yesterday’s press conference, which you can watch here in its entirety, that he is good and ready to coach the season opener next week. He also revealed that much earlier in life, at the age of 28, he survived a bout with Melanoma. Coach Cameron is obviously a fighter, and through this all he has been fully involved in preseason practice. Here’s hoping and praying that the terrible disease of cancer never rears its ugly head in Cameron’s life again. 

Moving on… yesterday we took a look at what we’ve learned this preseason about Coach Cameron’s LSU’s offense, and today we’ll do the same for defense, but first here’s a little news to pass along on offensive tackle Adrian Magee. According to this report by nola.com, Magee suffered a foot injury that required surgery and will be out of commission indefinitely. The freshman from Franklinton was not expected to receive much playing time this year and was likely destined for a redshirt, but I’m expecting big things from him in the future. 

Now let’s jump back to our ongoing series and take a look at…

What We’ve Learned About This LSU Team: Defense 

1) It’s next man up time with Jalen Mills out

A couple of weeks ago, LSU’s most experienced defensive back, senior safety Jalen Mills, suffered a fractured fibula. After Tuesday’s scrimmage, Miles announced to the media that Mills underwent surgery, but gave no timetable on his return. Best case scenario seems to be that Mills will return in time for the showdown at Auburn, but it is plausible that he could be out considerably longer. In his absence, junior Rickey Jefferson will be called upon to step up his game and will likely start in his place. The trickle down effect is that junior Dwayne Thomas now seems to be in line to man the cornerback spot opposite of Trédavious White in order to provide additional veteran leadership in the backfield. Before the injury, sophomore Ed Paris and freshmen Kevin Toliver and Donté Jackson were believed to be the leading contenders for that cornerback spot. While Mills’ injury is certainly a big blow, the Tigers’ defensive backfield has the depth of talent to withstand it.

2) Linebackers might be lacking in quantity, but not necessarily in quality

Upon first glance at the depth chart, LSU’s linebacker corps may be thin in number to the point of concern. But what they lack in quantity, they might just make up for in quality, thanks to the emergence of Duke Riley and Donnie Alexander, two reserves whom Coach Kevin Steele raved about during Media Day. LSU’s starting corps is likely to be Kendel Beckwith at middle linebacker with Lamar Louis and Deion Jones on the outside. As long as this unit remains healthy, LSU’s linebacker position should be a team strength. However, unlike the defensive backfield, this is one unit that could have trouble withstanding a loss. LSU didn’t sign any linebackers last February, and they desperately need to re-stock the cupboard with this year’s recruiting class, but that’s a topic for another report. 

3) LSU will rush the passer

The Tigers have struggled in pressuring opposing quarterbacks in recent years, but that won’t be the case this year. New defensive line coach Ed Orgeron is known for applying pressure, and has openly stated that LSU will do much more of that this year. The word is that Coach O’s defensive linemen watch film almost everyday of great pass rushers so that they can emulate their techniques.  With the Tigers moving from a “contain rush” to a “pass rush” scheme, look for LSU to reverse its three year trend of declining sack numbers. The Tigers will apply pressure not only from the defensive line, but also from the linebackers and defensive backs, especially when LSU utilizes a 3-4 defense. 

4) Arden Key and Isaiah Washington will see the field as a freshman

With LSU having to replace last year’s two starting defensive ends, Tiger Fans are eager to see whether freshman sensations Arden Key and Isaiah Washington can come in and contribute early. All indications are that they will do just that. I would not expect either of the two to start over juniors Tashawn Bower and Lewis Neal, but with the way Coach O likes to rotate defensive linemen, chances are high that they will see significant playing time. The coaches have raved about these two youngsters’ athleticism and pass rushing ability, and as mentioned above, rushing the quarterback is a big objective of this year’s Tiger defense.  

5) Donté Jackson is fast, really fast

You know that expression about “speed kills” that we’ve mentioned quite a bit on this website, well Donté Jackson has speed in abundance. Hand-timed at 4.24 in the forty yard dash, and laser timed at 10.3 in the 100 meters (which earned him his second consecutive state title), Jackson is one of the fastest Tigers to ever don the purple and gold. However, his 5-11, 180-pound frame makes him much more than just a track star on the gridiron. I watched Jackson perform the gauntlet drill during fall practice, and I don’t know what was more noteworthy, the fluidity and athleticism he displayed, or the expressions on Coach Miles’ and Coach Wilson’s faces when they witnessed it. Mark my words, Jackson is going to be a very special Tiger, and the coaching staff fully recognizes this. On several occasions, Miles has mentioned that Jackson will get looks in all three aspects of the game - primarily on defense as a cornerback and on special teams as a return specialist, but also in some offensive sets. This is something Coach Miles has said he regrets not doing with former Tiger great Patrick Peterson.

Speaking of Patrick Peterson, he is the topic of today’s countdown to Game Day, which has reached the 7-day mark. Peterson, of course, is one of several very special players who have worn No. 7 as a Tiger, including Bert Jones, Tyran Mathieu and LSU’s current No. 7, Leonard Fournette. Peterson played at LSU from 2008-2010, and not only did he capture the Bednarik Award, he also won the Thorpe Award, given to the nation's top defensive back. Peterson remains the only Tiger to win those two prestigious awards, and is the only Tiger to have been named SEC Defensive Player of the Year and Special Teams Player of the Year. Patterson played in 39 games as a Tiger and racked up 135 total tackles, 22 pass breakups and seven interceptions. In his one season as a return specialist, he set an LSU school record for kickoff return yards with 932 on 32 returns. After his playing days as a Tiger, he was drafted in the first round as the fifth overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2011 NFL Draft, and he remains there today. In his first four years as a Cardinal, Peterson has garnered several awards, was named twice as a first team All-Pro selection, and was named to the Pro Bowl team all four years. Here is a video of Peterson’s LSU highlights, which I've added to our Media Gallery.

Before closing out… a few of you have asked me to clarify whether next weekend’s season-opener against McNeese State would be televised on “regular TV” or streamed online-only. The answer is that the game will be televised on the SEC Network-alternate channel (SECN-Alt). If you’re not sure where to find it on your TV, you can use this handy-dandy SEC Channel finder. 

Oh, and I’ve updated our Ticket Exchange and View-in Parties pages with a few new listings.

That’s it for now, folks. Get out there and take care of those honey dos today, because you know what’s coming next week!

Reader Comments: Hey Scott, reminder that Felipe Franks team Wakulla High will be on ESPNU @ 1PM EST!



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8/28/15 5:45 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

With the LSU football season only eight days away, and with all of the Tigers’ preseason scrimmages behind us, let’s take a moment to review what we’ve learned about this Tiger team. Today we’ll start with the offense, and later we’ll do defense and special teams. Here we go…

What We’ve Learned About This LSU Team: Offense

1) The top six offensive linemen appear to be Vadal Alexander, Jerald Hawkins, Ethan Pocic, Josh Boutte, William Clapp and Maea Teuhema. 

Alexander and Hawkins are certain to bookend the line at the tackle positions. The center and guard positions are not as clear-cut. If Pocic plays center, as I think he will, look for Boutte and either Teuhema or Clapp to be the guards. If Clapp is at center, look for the guards to be Pocic and either Boutte or Teuhema. One thing is certain, this offensive line will be very big. The average size of these six linemen is 6-foot-5-and-a-half, 314 pounds. The word coming out of fall camp is that the offensive line has made big gains in pass protection, and if so that could go a long way in boosting LSU’s fledgling passing game.

2) Leonard Fournette is primed to have a huge season, but other backs will get their share of carries. 

Last year Fournette showed what all the hype was about when he broke LSU’s all time freshman rushing record with 1,034 yards and 10 touchdowns, and he got better as the season went on. This year Fournette is stronger, faster and more experienced, and he’s the kind of back who could withstand 20+ carries every game. However, we all know that Les Miles loves the “running back by committee” approach which allows him to keep fresh legs in the game by rotating backs, and that philosophy has proved to be very effective. This year, LSU has a very deep, though relatively inexperienced, stable of backs behind Fournette including sophomore Darrel Williams and freshmen Derrius Guice and Nick Brossette. One indication that Miles is planning on giving these backs a good many carries is the praise he’s heaped on them recently (especially Guice), and another is that Miles still plans on using Fournette on kick returns.

3) The wide receivers should be much improved. 

The Tigers returned all of their receivers from last year’s team, and brought in a few highly regarded freshman including “five-star” Tyron Johnson who has been receiving a lot of praise. The Tigers also brought in new wide receiver coach Tony Ball who is said to be working wonders with the group. Malachi Dupre has gained some needed weight, and Trey Quinn has sharpened his focus thanks to contact lenses which are helping him to see the ball much better. It appears that this group is clearly better than it was this time last year.

4) LSU says the tight ends will be used more in the passing game.

We’ve heard it before, but this year the talk is more convincing. Based on reports like this one, it appears that last season DeSean Smith didn’t understand blocking enough to see significant action, and Collin Jeter didn’t run crisp enough routes to be trustworthy in the passing game. Now each has improved, and redshirt freshman Jacory Washington has also been drawing praise. As offensive coordinator Coach Cameron said at Media Day, besides the running backs, tight ends can be the quarterbacks’ best friends. I hope those words translate into action this season, and it sounds like they will. 

5) The starting quarterback job belongs to Brandon Harris, at least for now.

After the Tigers’ final scrimmage of the preseason on Tuesday, Coach Miles stated that Harris had the clear lead in the quarterback competition with Anthony Jennings, then during Wednesday’s Les Miles show he said he “wouldn’t be surprised to see Harris take the first snap.” It’s been said repeatedly, but I’ll say it again - if LSU can get just average play from its quarterback and present the threat of a passing attack to opponents, this offense has all the pieces in place to be very special. There’s no doubt that Harris, a strong-armed former high school All American, has the talent to be a better than average QB, and the fact that he’s gained weight, maturity and understanding of the playbook has me very excited about what lies ahead.

An unlikely candidate who also seems to be excited about what lies ahead for LSU is ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit. As those of you who follow DandyDonLSU on Twitter already know, yesterday Herbstreit picked LSU to win the SEC and make the playoffs. Of course, predictions don’t mean much, but still it’s great to see someone in Herbstreit’s position acknowledge what exceptional potential this LSU team has.

Speaking of predictions, I need your input regarding our upcoming LA High School Football Pickem contest. In the past two years, we’ve included all 140+ games each week, and for many of you I think it was a bit overwhelming to have to pick that many games. Of course, it was never mandatory that you pick all the games, but since the winner is picked based on the total number of correct picks, it makes sense to pick each contest. This year, in an effort to encourage participation, we are considering randomly choosing 40 or so games per week (a few from each classification) for the contest, but I’d like your opinion on that. If you have participated in the contest or are considering doing so, please let me know if you would prefer to keep it like it was or if you would be more apt to participate if the number of games was reduced. (Please note that we will still be entering the scores of every game each week so that you can refer to our statewide scoreboard.) Our plan is to reach a decision about the pickem this weekend and open up Week 1 voting on Monday. Also, unlike in previous years, we are considering offering small prizes for the weekly winners and the overall winner. Stay tuned for details.

Now, with only 8 days remaining until LSU takes the field against McNeese State, let's continue our countdown by looking at a recent Tiger who wore No. 8 - quarterback Zach Mettenberger. Mettenberger came to LSU with huge expectations after throwing for 2,678 yards, 32 touchdowns and just four interceptions in 12 games for Butler Community College. The Watkinsville, Georgia native played sparingly in 2011 as a third stringer, completing 8-of-11 passes for 92 yards, which included a touchdown pass against Northwestern State. As a junior in 2012, Mettenberger took over the starting role for the Tigers but struggled in many games. In fact, he only passed for over 200 yards in two of his first eight contests, and both were non-conference games. He did, however, save his best game of the season for week nine against Alabama, passing for 298 yards and a TD. Mettenberger carried that momentum into the final three regular season games and passed for over 200 yards in each contest. On the season, he finished with 2,609 passing yards, 12 TDs and seven interceptions. The passing yards were good for sixth all-time for a single season. Mettenberger had an even better senior year, becoming just the third quarterback to pass for over 3,000 yards (3,082 - 3rd all-time) with 22 passing TDs and eight interceptions. Unfortunately, his college career ended early with a season-ending knee injury in the season finale vs Arkansas.  Mettenberger finished his LSU career with 5,783 passing yards (6th all-time) and 35 passing TDs (5th all-time) and posted a 19-6 mark as a starter. Check out this great highlight video that shows many of the outstanding plays Mettenberger made during his career as a Tiger.

Despite his knee injury, Mettenberger was drafted in the 6th round by the Tennessee Titans and ended up seeing much more playing time than expected as a rookie, starting six games and passing for 1,412 yards, eight TDs and seven interceptions before missing the final three games with a shoulder injury. With first round pick and rookie Marcus Mariota expected to start this season for the Titans, there are rumors that Mettenberger could be traded before the start of the season. So far, Mettenberger has completed 15-20 passes for 220 yards, two TDs and one interception in two preseason games. This interesting article talks in more detail about the possibility of Mettenberger being traded.

In basketball news, Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook announced its five-player preseason All-America first team yesterday and LSU’s Ben Simmons made the cut. Simmons averaged 20 points, nine rebounds, 5.4 assists, 3.6 steals and 2.2 blocks per game during the Tigers' five-game exhibition tour of his native Australia. 

In closing, I want to point out that I will be updating our ticket exchange and view-in parties pages later today.



 

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