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7/22/14 6:00 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
I regret having to start today’s update with the news of LSU freshman defensive lineman Trey Lealaimatafao suffering a serious arm injury after punching through a glass window in the LSU weight room. According to reports, Lealaimatafao was upset after having an argument with his girlfriend and punched the window that separates the weight room and the indoor practice facility. His arm went right through the glass and his bicep was reportedly slashed down to the bone. Lealaimatafao was quickly taken to an area hospital for treatment. As of now, I don’t know the extent of the damage. Here’s hoping and praying for Lealaimatafao’s quick and full recovery.
Now turning to brighter news on the baseball front, yesterday LSU officially announced the hiring of Andy Cannizaro as the Tigers’ hitting coach and recruiting coordinator. A lot of you have asked me how I feel about this, and I’ll tell you: I think it’s a home run hire. Everyone I’ve spoken to who knows Cannizaro, and everything I’ve read about him, indicates that he is a man of high intelligence and integrity who is greatly respected throughout the baseball profession. He’s been around baseball all his life, has Louisiana roots, was an outstanding college and professional player, and is extremely well connected on the recruiting front having served as the Yankees scout for the past five years. While scouting for the Yankees, his territory was Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, the Florida panhandle, and Memphis. The only potential knock on him is that he doesn’t have a ton of coaching experience, but he does have some. During his professional career he worked as head coach of the Louisiana Knights (a U18 fall team consisting of 12 NCAA Division I players) in 2008, and as the East Coast Pro Showcase coach in 2013-14.
The hiring of Cannizaro, combined with the recent signing of the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation (which is a great testament to the recruiting skills of Javi Sanchez), has me extremely excited and optimistic about LSU’s baseball future. For more on Cannizaro and his hiring, be sure to read the following three press releases which I’ve posted in their entirety.
In other baseball news, LSU released its 2015 schedule yesterday. The schedule is probably among the toughest in Coach Mainieri’s time as a Tiger, mainly because of its harder than usual non-conference schedule. The Tigers will start the season with a three-game series against a very good Kansas team on February 13-15. A few other notable non-conference opponents include Boston College, Houston (whom they’ll play in Astros Minute Maid Park), Baylor, Nebraska, and UL-Lafayette.
In football news, Coach Les Miles fielded a ton of questions yesterday during 15 interviews with various ESPN programs. I was working and unable to follow the programming, but I did keep tabs on what was said via twitter and also heard from several of you about various comments made. What really got a lot of Tiger fans pumped up was Miles’ great comment to ESPN analyst and former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy. You may recall that McElroy recently dished out a lot of praise for Coach Nick Saban and seemed to give him all the credit for LSU’s ongoing success. Well, evidently that didn’t sit too well with Miles (understandably so). During yesterday’s Numbers Never Lie program, Miles said to McElroy, “I want to give you one point too, about winning. Winning is a thing that is inherent with how you were raised. It is something you carry with you for a lifetime. And to pretend that it is brought, or deposited, at a place.....and left.....it is not. It is always carried on by those participants and people that are there. Period. Just, end of discussion.” Hats off to the “Mad Hatter” for addressing that situation perfectly.
Continuing on the topic of football, today we’ll start a new brief series on five veteran players who you haven’t seen on preseason watch lists or on the media’s preseason All-SEC teams, but who could have a big impact on LSU’s success. To me, these are players who have sort of flown under the radar for one reason or another. Some have been lurking in the shadows of former Tiger greats who have moved on, while others have been overshadowed by the hype surrounding LSU’s stellar class of freshmen. We’ll start the series today by looking at a powerful yet versatile fullback who should play a big part in LSU’s offensive success this year.
Anyone familiar with LSU football knows that fullbacks are an important component of Coach Les Miles’ physical style of play. This year, starting fullback Connor Neighbors will be the driving force of that physicality, plowing over linebackers and assisting in pass protection. But a great LSU fullback has to be able to do more than just block, especially in Cam Cameron’s style of offense, and in 2013 Neighbors proved that he has soft hands and can turn it up field. (Remember his 52-yard reception against Kent State?) Neighbors, along with Melvin Jones behind him, will be essential pieces to LSU’s running game because of the important role the fullback plays within LSU’s offense. All of that aside, Neighbors is going to be just as important as a veteran player on an offense with fresh faces at quarterback, receiver and running back. Having Neighbors back there will only strengthen the overall presence of the inexperienced group, and Neighbors is a player who will do whatever he can to boost the confidence of his fellow players. He did so last season with Zach Mettenberger before the Tigers’ trip to Georgia. In the week prior to the game, Neighbors heckled Mettenberger and tried to hurl every insult he could at the quarterback in order to prepare him for the hostile crowd he would encounter in his home state. Mettenberger playfully called him a “great friend” for doing so. Neighbors is a man’s man in a violent game, and his value extends beyond thrashing and steamrolling linebackers on the field.
When we continue this series we’ll look at a player who had to bide his time last season but now finds himself in a position to be a huge contributor. Stay tuned, Tiger Fans.
As you can see from the countdown ticker at the top of this page, the first game of the season is only 39 days away. With that in mind, today we’ll continue our Countdown to Game Day by recalling a historic LSU game that took place in 1939. As stated in the wonderful book by Herb Vincent entitled “LSU Football Vault - The History of the Fighting Tigers,” LSU’s trip to Boston to take on Holy Cross on October 7, 1939 was the first time a team from the South used air transportation to get to a football game. It took two DC-3s and four stops along the way to get the Tigers to their destination, but once there, superstar Ken Kavanaugh was essentially all the Tigers needed to come away with a 26-7 victory. Kavanaugh scored four touchdowns in the game – three on pass receptions and one on an 80-yard interception return – and went on to earn co-SEC MVP honors that year. After the game, the Tigers took advantage of their newfound means of transpiration by stopping at the World’s Fair in New York before returning to Baton Rouge.
Reader Comments: Scott, I’m sure you’ve seen this already, but please pass it along to your readers who haven’t: Bar owner: Titans' Zach Mettenberger sucker-punched by Alabama fan
7/21/14 6:00 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
As those of you who tuned in yesterday afternoon already know, LSU picked up its 14th commitment for the class of 2015 in offensive tackle, Matt Womack (6-7 320, Hernando, MS). Womack made a big impression on head coach Les Miles and offensive line coach Jeff Grimes at LSU’s first summer camp in June, and was offered on the spot. The huge offensive tackle and his father came back to LSU for this past weekend’s linemen camp and committed while there, choosing LSU over offers from Ole Miss, Mississippi State, South Carolina and others. Womack is hoping to graduate from high school in December, enroll early, and participate in spring practice. Considering the Tigers will be losing quite a few O-linemen after this season, the fact that Womack is a potential early enrollee who can come in and compete for immediate playing time is a big plus. I’ve added Womack’s video highlights to our Media Gallery. With his verbal, LSU now has four potential O-linemen in its 2015 recruiting class including Adrian Magee (OG, 6'5", 315, Franklinton), Maea Teuhema (OT, 6'4", 346, Keller, TX), and Hanner Shipley (TE/OT, 6'5", 260, Marble Falls, TX).
Yesterday I gave you a little baseball news about four Tigers who were named to the Cape Cod All-Star team, and today I need to give props to three more Tigers who are excelling this Summer. Alex Bregman was named MVP in Team USA’s Championship win over Japan in a tournament in The Netherlands after hitting .367 in eight-games with two RBI, eight runs scored, six stolen bases and a .441 on-base percentage. He struck out just once in 30 at-bats, and he committed only one error in 39 chances. Also, I’ve learned that two other Tigers were named to summer All-Star teams. Senior left-hander Henri Faucheux was chosen for the Alaska League All-Stars, and senior right-hander Brady Domangue was selected for the Florida Collegiate League All-Stars. Hats off to all these Tigers! With guys like these (and the four I mentioned yesterday) coming back, plus an outstanding signing class with 11-of-12 signees joining the team, the future of LSU baseball certainly looks bright. A big part of that future will involve Andy Cannizaro who will be officially introduced today as LSU’s hitting coach and recruiting coordinator.
Jumping back to football, Coach Les Miles will join six other coaches from the SEC today to go through ESPN’s “Car Wash.” Miles will participate in just about every one of ESPN’s daily shows today, including SportsCenter, First Take and College Football Live. In all, Miles will spend about five hours talking LSU football on the various ESPN platforms today.
Here is Coach Les Miles’s ESPN Car Wash Schedule for today (Monday, July 21). Note that all times listed are central and are subject to change. Stay tuned to ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3 throughout the day for coverage. Fans can also get a behind-the-scenes look at Miles’ ESPN visit on Twitter by following @LSUBonnette and @LSUfball.â€¨
9 a.m. - ESPN.com
9:20 a.m. - SportsCenter
9:40 a.m. - First Take
10 a.m. - College Football Roundtable
10:55 a.m. - SEC Network Talkbacks
11:10 a.m. - Highly Questionable
11:30 a.m. - Numbers Never Lie
11:45 a.m. - Colin Cowherd Radio Show
11:55 a.m. - SEC Film Room
12:10 p.m. - College Football Live
12:25 p.m. - SVP & Russillo
12:45 p.m. - E:60
1:15 p.m. - SportsNation
1:40 p.m - College Gameday / SEC Thematic Shoot
2p.m. - ESPN Images
Those of you who’ve followed this site for the last week know that we’ve been reviewing this year’s LSU football opponents, a little at a time. So far we’ve covered the first eight games, and today we’ll go ahead and wrap up the series by looking at the final four opponents. Rather than including those write-ups here, I’ve created a new page that includes all 12 opponents (the eight we’ve covered and the final four.) You can check out the complete preview of LSU’s 2014 opponents here.
As a teaser, I want to let you know that tomorrow we’ll begin a new series looking at five current players who I feel have been flying under the radar but will have a big impact this year. As they say, stay tuned. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
With 40 days until Game Day, let’s conclude today’s update with our countdown to game day by remembering LSU’s big 40-3 win over the Miami Hurricanes in the 2005 Peach Bowl in which the Tigers scored 40 unanswered points. This was LSU’s first year under Coach Les Miles, and the Tigers entered the game 10-2 following their most devastating defeat of the season, a disappointing 34-14 loss to Georgia in the SEC championship game. This was also the first start for quarterback Matt Flynn who was called to step in for JaMarcus Russell after he suffered an injury in the 3rd quarter of the SEC championship game a few weeks earlier, and man did Flynn respond! The sophomore quarterback from Tyler, Texas, led the Tigers to eight consecutive scoring possessions and ended the night with 196 yards passing and MVP honors. All told, the Tigers piled up 468 yards, the most allowed by Miami all season, and were just as impressive on defense, holding the Hurricanes to only 153 yards and six first downs. I can think of no ending more appropriate for this 2005 Tiger team than this remarkable rebound against the Hurricanes. After all, the Tigers and the people of Louisiana had already had to overcome hurricanes Katrina and Rita earlier in the season. Take a walk down memory lane by reviewing that historic games video highlights.
In closing, I want to give a shout out to the Warren Easton’s 7-on-7 team for winning the National Select 7-on-7 Football Championships in Hoover, Alabama. The championship by Easton is the first for a Louisiana team since Evangel won it in 2002.
7/20/14 12:35 pm CT
LSU picked up a huge commitment this morning (literally and figuratively) from O-lineman Matt Wommack (6-7, 320) of Hernando, MS. (See this photo of Womack in our Media Gallery to guage his size relative to coach Les Miles.) With Wommack’s verbal, LSU now has 14 commitments for the class of 2015.
7/20/14 6:05 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Coach Miles and his staff held their lineman camp yesterday and will hold a kicking, punting and snapping camp today before turning their attention to the big “elite” high school camp which gets underway Thursday. As mentioned in my previous report, the 7-on-7 tournament originally scheduled for yesterday was cancelled due to weather, and that cancellation had an effect on the turnout for the linemen camp. From what I understand, the top two O-linemen on campus over the weekend were LSU commit Adrian Magee of Franklinton (OL, 6'5", 315, Franklinton, No. 8 on our list of Top LA Prospects for 2015) and the big kid from Mississippi, Matt Womack (6-7, 320), who was offered by LSU last month.
â€¨Although I didn’t hear of LSU extending any new offers at the linemen camp, an offer was extended this weekend to pro-style quarterback Shea Patterson of Calvary Baptist in Shreveport. Patterson (6-2, 195) is widely considered the best quarterback in the state for 2016, and I was happy to learn of him receiving the offer. Patterson is currently committed to Arizona, but I hear that LSU made quite an impression on him and that his chances of flipping to LSU are high. LSU already has a commitment from one dual-threat quarterback for 2016 in Feleipe Franks (6-5, 205, Crawfordville, FL), and another for this year’s class (2015) in Justin McMillan (6-2, 170) of Cedar Hills, Tx.
In baseball news, four Tigers playing Cape Cod summer ball were selected to the league’s All-Star team. The four are third baseman Conner Hale, right fielder Mark Laird, catcher Chris Chinea and center fielder Andrew Stevenson. While looking at these players’ impressive summer stats, what caught my eye is that Laird and Stevenson both appear to be making good use of their blazing speed on the base paths. Laird has 15 stolen bases in 26 games, while Stevenson has 17 in 31 games. This past season at LSU, Laird had 10 stolen bases in 59 games while Stevenson had nine in 61 games.
One more baseball tid-bit before moving on: Here’s a great article by Randy Rosetta of nola.com on new LSU hitting coach and recruiting coordinator, Andy Cannizaro. Pour yourself another cup of Sunday morning coffee and give it a read to familiarize yourself with Cannizaro and his story before he’s officially introduced as a member of the LSU staff tomorrow afternoon.
Turning back to football, today we’ll continue our game-by-game preview of LSU’s 2014 opponents by looking at the Kentucky Wildcats. Here we go…
Saturday, Oct. 18 – Kentucky (Baton Rouge). The Kentucky Wildcats, yes the football team who went 2-10 last season, is on the upswing after putting together a top-20 recruiting class in 2014. In fact, this Wildcat team has one of the better players in the SEC in Alvin Dupree, a hybrid defensive end / linebacker. Dupree made his mark in the conference last season with seven sacks, two forced fumbles and 61 total tackles and is undoubtedly the Wildcats’ best player going into the 2014 season. Offensively, head coach Mark Stoops, who’s entering his second year, has a decision to make between Patrick Towles, Reese Phillips and Drew Barker as his starting quarterback. Leading rusher JoJo Kemp and leading receiver Javess Blue return on the offensive side. Za’Darius Smith will be a handful on the defensive line, and the Wildcats will have plenty of options in the secondary. Replacing Avery Williamson, who had back-to-back seasons with 100-plus tackles at linebacker, will be a chore for Stoops and company. Kentucky has some talent and will surely be improved, but LSU will still be the far superior team in this showdown.
Now let’s close out today’s report with our countdown to game day, which is only 41 days away, by looking at a special player who wore No. 41 for the Tigers - Eric Martin. Martin played at LSU from 1981-84 and was originally used as a running back. At the start of his sophomore year, he was moved to wide receiver even though he had never played the position in high school. Martin didn’t have the blazing speed typical of wide receivers (he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds), but he made up for it with his soft hands, crisp routes and extreme determination. Martin ended his career at LSU with 2,625 yards receiving, which at the time was the most passing yards caught by any receiver in SEC history. His best season was during his junior year when he had 1,064 yards receiving and was named an All-American. Martin made All-SEC as a junior and as a senior and was LSU’s first wide receiver to be named twice to the first team All-SEC Team. After his playing days at LSU, Martin was selected in the 7th round of the 1985 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints. He played 10 years in the NFL (1985–1994) and helped lead the Saints to their first playoff appearance in franchise history in 1987. In 1988, Martin was a Pro Bowl selection with 85 receptions for 1,083 yards and seven touchdowns. After nine years with the Saints, Martin spent the last year of his professional football career with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Reader Comments: Not sure if you saw this news, but HUGE pick-up for softball team! Carley Hoover, the 2013 national softball player of the year out of D.W. Daniel in Central, S.C., has left Stanford to transfer to LSU.
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