6/29/16 5:45 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
San Antonio Vacation update: To all of you who recommended La Fogata for some off-the-beaten-path authentic Tex-Mex cuisine, muchas gracias! It was an excellent way to conclude the evening after a long but enjoyable time at SeaWorld.
Before turning to Part 3 of our LSU football statistical trends and observations and our countdown to Game Day, we’ll cover a few topics in baseball, football and even non-LSU sports.
First, I wanted to express my condolences to the family of Pat Summit and the Volunteers nation, as the world lost a great leader and person yesterday when Coach Summit (1952-2016) passed away after a five year long battle with early onset Alzheimer’s. Besides being the winningest coach in D-1 Basketball history (1,098 wins) and winning eight National Championships, every single student-athlete on Summit’s Vols’ teams graduated college, and I think that speaks volumes about the type of coach and person she was.
Turning to baseball, congratulations are in order for Antoine Duplantis, who was named a Freshman All-American by Perfect Game. Duplantis (.327 batting average, two homers, 39 RBI, 45 runs, and 13 stolen bases) is very deserving of the award after starting all 66 of LSU’s games this past season. With veterans Greg Deichmann, Kramer Robertson, Cole Freeman, and Beau and Bryce Jordan returning with younger talent like Duplantis, I am very excited about next year’s baseball team.
In football news, Dylan Moses caused a bit of a stir with some Tiger fans yesterday when he tweeted the five schools he’ll officially visit during the upcoming college football season and didn’t include LSU. While this may appear concerning on the surface, I am not worried one bit about it. Moses has visited LSU dozens of times already and knows the school, coaches and players very well. Considering the time he’s spent at LSU, especially lately, and the fact that he recently tweeted that he’d like nothing more than for LSU to win a football National Championship, I feel very good about the Tigers’ chances of landing this big-time recruit. The five schools Moses will visit officially are Alabama, Miami, Texas, UCLA and Ohio State. I said long ago that I believe it will come down to a battle between LSU and Alabama for Moses’ services, and I still feel that way.
LSU Statistical Trends/Observations, Part 3: Sacks
LSU’s number of sacks per game had steadily declined in the last four years before 2015. The Tigers had 38 sacks in 2011, 35 in 2012, 27 in 2013 and just 19 in 2014. With a more seasoned defensive line and linebackers group in 2015, LSU was able to play less zone defense and be more aggressive. The strategy worked as the Tigers were able to tally 34 sacks in just 12 games, which was more per game (2.83) than in 2011 (2.71). LSU was even better in SEC contests, recording 24 sacks in eight games (3.0 per game). Of course, a big part of the credit goes to D-line coach Ed Orgeron who was in his first season for the Tigers. This season, LSU should be even stronger in Dave Aranda’s 3-4 type scheme with senior Kendell Beckwith (3.5 sacks in 2015) at middle linebacker and Arden Key (5 sacks in 2015) and Tashawn Bower likely manning the outside linebacker positions. Duke Riley, Donnie Alexander, and Devin White will battle for the fourth linebacker position with the other two serving as key backups. Junior Davon Godchaux (6 sacks in 2015) is set to be the primary nose guard and seniors Christian LaCouture and Lewis Neal (8 sacks in 2015) will likely fill the defensive end positions. The new scheme, increased experience, and great talent at both the linebacker and defensive line positions make me optimistic that we’ll see a significant number of sacks again this season. LSU’s success in disrupting opposing quarterbacks will also depend largely on overall depth along the defensive line, as a big part of Coach O’s aggressive philosophy involves heavy rotation along the line to keep legs fresh. So Deondre Clark, Greg Gilmore, Frank Herron, Rashard Lawrence and Edwin Alexander will be vital to LSU’s success in applying pressure and sacking the quarterback in 2016.
With 66 days remaining until LSU’s season opener vs Wisconsin at Lambeau Field on September 3rd, let’s continue our countdown to the start of the LSU football season by remembering a special Tiger who wore No. 66 – Alan Faneca. At 6-foot-5, 316-pounds, Faneca was a dominating offensive guard who earned freshman of the year honors in 1995 and All-American honors as a sophomore and junior, one of only ten LSU players to win multiple First-Team All-American honors. He also won the Jacobs Award, given annually to the best blocker in the SEC, and was one of three finalists for the Outland Trophy, which is awarded to the nation’s best collegiate interior lineman. Faneca chose to enter the NFL draft prior to his senior campaign and was picked by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round (26th overall) of the 1998 draft. After a very successful 13-year career in the NFL with the Steelers, Jets, and Cardinals, Faneca retired from pro ball on May 10, 2011, with nine Pro Bowl awards, eight All-Pro awards, and one Super Bowl title. He was also named a member of the 2000s all-decade first team. In his first year of eligibility in 2016, Faneca was not selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but I am confident he will be selected in the near future.
One more tidbit about Faneca: In recognition of weight-related health issues suffered by many retired football players, Faneca went on an extreme weight loss regimen that involved a lot of running and lost over 100 pounds. In February of 2014, Faneca successfully completed the New Orleans Rock 'n' Roll Marathon with a remarkable time of 3:56:17, an average of nine minutes per mile. Not bad for a former 300-pound linemen, is it? Faneca is now retired and living in McLean, Virginia.
Here’s an interesting football article from James Smith of nola.com. Smith writes about five possible roster changes for LSU this upcoming season. and there’s at least one (Devin White to running back) that I would find very surprising.
Before closing, I wanted to share this article for all the hungry LSU basketball fans out there. In it, Scott Rabalais of The Advocate explains that despite the loss of Ben Simmons, LSU’s expectations for the 2016-2017 are high with five juniors led by forward Craig Victor returning as well as super sophomore Antonio Blakeney. The Tigers also bring in a solid freshman incoming class, which includes University Lab’s Skylar Mays and Wayde Sims, Lee College’s (Baytown, TX) Branden Jenkins and Duop Reath and Sydney, Australia’s Kieran Hayward.
Stay tuned, as tomorrow we’ll continue our series on statistical trends and observations, as well as our countdown to LSU’s season opener vs. Wisconsin.