NCAA Baseball Championships:
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12/9/13 5:50 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Well, it's now official that LSU will play Iowa in the Outback Bowl in Tampa on New Year’s Day. All things considered, I think that worked out pretty well for the Tigers. The Outback Bowl is on even footing with the Cotton Bowl in terms of prestige, and a trip to Tampa will be a nice change of pace for traveling Tiger Fans. The last time the Tigers traveled to sunny Tampa for a bowl game was during the 1988 season when they lost to Syracuse, 23-10.
As for LSU’s opponent, the Iowa Hawkeyes are unranked in the final BCS top-25 and are 8-4 on the season. However, they’ve been playing well as of late and are coming off three consecutive wins against Purdue, Michigan and Nebraska. On one hand, I would have preferred to see LSU play a higher ranked opponent. On the other hand, the Hawkeyes are a solid team that will match up well against the Tigers and provide a good test for this LSU team led by Anthony Jennings in his first career start. Iowa has a pretty stout defense that ranks 7th best in the nation, and their strength is in defending the run. Fortunately for LSU, the Hawkeye’s offense is not spectacular and comes in at 81st in the nation. Another benefit of playing in Tampa is that it’s a good recruiting area for the Tigers.
The last time LSU and Iowa played was on January 1, 2005, in Nick Saban’s last game as the Tigers’ head coach. Iowa won the game, 30-25, on the last play of the game. If you need a refresher on just how heart-breaking that loss was, check out this video of the 56-yard game-winning pass Iowa completed as the clock expired. One interesting tid-bit to notice in the video is the scroller at the bottom of the screen announcing reports of LSU planning to offer Oklahoma State coach Les Miles the head coaching job.
Just for the heck of it, I went back to our archives and pulled up the report that my Dad (Don) wrote on the morning after that heartbreaking loss. I think you’ll enjoy this journey back in time....
Excerpt from DandyDon.com’s January 2, 2005 report:
In terms of LSU sports, Christmas day of 2004 was not a happy day and New Year's Day 2005 was just as bad. The Tigers lost to Iowa 30-25 in Nick Saban's last game as LSU's head coach.
In my opinion, the reason LSU lost the game was because the team was poorly prepared to play and Nick Saban's game day coaching was as bad as I have seen all season. I was very disappointed in the fact that LSU blitzed on the last play of the game instead of using a three-man front with two linebackers 15 yards off the line of scrimmage and using six defensive backs with two of them stationed near the 10-yard line. It’s a real shame that the team lost the game after coming back from being behind 24-12 midway in the fourth quarter. The loss reminded me of the loss at Arkansas three years ago when the Razorbacks went 90 yards in two plays the last 30 seconds of the game to win 21-20.
In other news related to LSU football, former Tiger Tyrann Mathieu suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Cardinal’s game against St. Louis yesterday. According to reports, Mathieu’s knee was bent awkwardly as he was hit on a kick return, and then completely gave out on him as he was attempting to jog off the field. Here's wishing Mathieu a full and speedy recovery.
In recruiting news, late last night reports surfaced of running back Sione Palelei de-committing from LSU and committing to Oklahoma State. Not having Palelei on board makes it all the more imperative that LSU land Leonard Fournette and one or two more running backs. I've been told by a reliable source that LSU is very comfortable with where the stand for Fournette, and is very much in the mix for Dalvin Cook (5'11", 190) of Miami whom I mentioned yesterday. If you are a weekday reader and missed yesterdy's report, please scroll down for my list of recruiting needs and targets.
Lastly, today starts the second week of my annual fundraiser. Considering the Tigers have not played a football game in a while and LSU sporting news has been relatively slow lately, I would say the fundraiser is going about as expected. To those of you who have already shown your appreciation for the work that goes into producing a daily site like this one, I offer my most sincere thanks. If you haven't yet done so, please read this important message and consider donating today. Thanks in advance for your sign of support.
12/8/13 6:10 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
First of all, I want to congratulate Auburn for beating Missouri, 59-42, to earn the title of SEC Champion. The transformation that Auburn has made since going winless in the SEC last season is incredible, and the improvement they’ve shown over the course of this 2013 season is remarkable as well. It may be a bit of consolation knowing that LSU was the only team to beat Auburn this year, but there's no doubt that Auburn is a much better team today than they were when LSU held them to 21 points in September. Just a few hours after their big win, Auburn had a lot more to cheer about as Ohio State lost to Michigan State, 34-24, erasing any debate that Auburn is destined for the BCS national championship game in Pasadena.
LSU will learn its bowl destination tonight during ESPN’s Bowl Selection show which gets underway at 7:30 Central. I don’t spend a lot of time trying to project how things will end up, but I have been keeping up with the latest “expert” bowl projections and it seems that there are still a few possibilities for LSU. USA Today’s latest projections have LSU playing Nebraska in the Outback, while CBS’s updated projections also have LSU in the Outback but against Iowa. I’ve also seen a few projections of the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida.
With the LSU football team preparing for final exams, Coach Miles and staff will continue to focus on recruiting before turning to bowl preparation. Today let's take stock of this recruiting class and look at remaining needs and targets. LSU currently has 15 commitments and will likely sign 25 this February. Of the 15 current commitments, I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or two leave or be asked to greyshirt. I say that for no specific reason other than that’s they way things usually play out.
So, with anywhere from 10-12 spots left to fill, here are my unofficial thoughts on positions of need and top targets: (The numbers in parenthesis indicate my personal guess at how many additional commitments LSU will take at each position.)
Running Back (1-2)
Considering that LSU will almost certainly lose Jeremy Hill and could also lose Kenny Hilliard and Alfred Blue to the NFL, getting Leonard Fournette (6'1", 230, St. Augustine, Highlights) is a must. Not only is getting Fournette critical in terms of team needs, he’s also a must in terms of securing the state's borders. If LSU were to miss out on him, after already missing out on Cam Robinson and Laurence Jones, that would be very concerning. LSU already has a commitment from Sione Palelei (5'10", 202, East Ascension) and is recruiting Darrell Williams (6'1", 213, John Ehret) who recently de-commited from Arizona State. I heard from someone very close to Williams yesterday who tells me that he will not be making his announcement until after taking all his visits, including stops at Tennessee and Florida. Another running back reportedly on LSU's radar is Dalvin Cook (5'11", 190) of Miami whom I suspect is a bit of a long-shot but would be a great addition.
Wide Receiver (2-3)
With a strong likelihood of LSU likely losing Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham, Jr., and with all the elite wide receivers in the state this year, it's easy to see why LSU is looking to sign a lot of receivers in this class. LSU already has commitments from Tony Upchurch (6'1", 220, Pearland, TX) and Trey Quinn (6'1", 200, Barbe), whom I believe is the best, most college-ready prep receiver in the state right now, and is in great shape with Speedy Noil (5'10", 175, Edna Karr) and Malachi Dupré (6'3", 180, John Curtis). Then there's also JUCO sensation and LA native D’haquille Williams (6'3", 215). I would be surprised if LSU doesn’t get two of these three remaining targets, and if they do this wide receiver class might just be LSU’s best ever.
Defensive Back (2-3)
The top four remaining targets appear to be Tony Brown (CB, 6'0", 180), Jamal Adams (S, 6'0", 200, Carrollton, TX), C.J. Hampton (S, 6'1", 195, Meridian, MS) and Adoree Jackson (CB, 5'10", 180), and the first two of those three are on campus this weekend. LSU would be fine landing any two from this group, but I suspect they would not hesitate in taking three. LSU already has commitments from John Battle (6'2", 183, Hallandale, FL), Ed Paris (6'1", 190, Arlington), and Devin Voorhies (6'2", 185, Woodville, MS), and that's an impressive group. Just this weekend Voorhies was named Mississippi's Gatorade Player of the Year.
Defensive Line (2-3)
LSU only has commitments from two defensive linemen at this time - Davon Godchaux (DT, 6'4", 265, Plaquemine) and Deondre Clark (DE, 6'3", 240) - and there's been a lot of chatter about Oklahoma making a big push to flip Clark into staying closer to home. The biggest target on the board is Louisiana’s own Garrald Willis (DT/DE, 6'3", 255, Edna Karr) who is visiting this weekend and is thought to be a big lean to LSU. Two other targets that LSU is reportedly pursuing are Miami commits Travonte Valentine (6'4", 300, Hialeah, FL) and Chad Thomas (6'5", 240, Miami). I suspect that there are a few other DLs on LSU's radar and I predict there will be at least three, and perhaps as many as five, DLs in this class when it's all said and done.
LSU has several linebackers on the roster, but this year brought into question the quality of depth at the position, especially at the MIKE spot. LSU currently has a commitment from one linebacker, Karr’s Donnie Alexander (6'2", 215), and is in great position to land elite inside linebacker prospect Clifton Garrett (6'2", 230, Plainfield, IL) who will be announcing his decision on December 17. I feel very confident that Garrett will be a Tiger, and there's no understating how huge his commitment would be. Just as Fournette could come in and contribute right away at running back, Garrett could compete for playing time at middle linebacker from the get-go. Another linebacker target on LSU’s radar is Kenny Young (6'2", 225) of John Curtis who would be another great addition. LSU is believed to lead for Young as well, with A&M also in the picture.
Offensive Line (1)
LSU already has commitments from two outstanding offensive linemen in William Clapp (6'4", 270, Brother Martin, son of former Tiger Tommy Clapp) and Garrett Brumfield (6'4", 260, University High) and I could see them taking another. The names I've been hearing lately are Derrick Kelly Jr. (6'5", 283, Havana, FL) who recently decommitted from Kentucky, and Elijah Rodriguez (6'5", 275, Houston) who is currently committed to Colorado. Rodriguez received a visit from Coach Miles earlier this week.
As for this weekend’s elite group of visitors, reportedly all have made it in and things are going very well. Here's a great recap of what has transpired by NOLA.com’s Jimmy Smith entitled, “Why this weekend's LSU football recruiting visits may pay off.” I'll be keeping an eye/ear out throughout the day for any news to pass along.
If you value these daily doses of Tiger News, and are financially able, please consider showing your appreciation by donating to our fundraiser. Thanks in advance for your support. Have a great day everyone.
One last thing: Scores from last week’s pickem contest have been tallied and three users tied for 1st place by correctly picking 10 of 11 games. The three users are "Wayne Tomlinson”, “tcicon” and "Dean.” User “L Ward” correctly picked 6 of 11 and is still riding a very comfortable lead heading into the final round. The deadline for picking this week’s state final games is Thursday at 10 a.m..
12/7/13 6:00 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans. I hope all of you have a great weekend.
Yesterday was a huge day for email and most of the messages I received were in response to my post about why I would choose LSU if I were a recruit, but there were also a ton of messages concerning coaching rumors. Right at around lunchtime, rumors started flying about Nick Saban to Texas, and I heard from a few sources who were convinced (some still are) that it's a done deal. Shortly thereafter, there were reports attributed to Tider Insider stating that a new contract agreement between Saban and Alabama has been signed, and the rumors of Saban to Texas started to subside. A few minutes later, @TiderInsider tweeted the following clarification, “TI did NOT report that Saban has "signed" a new deal. We reported that sources tell us that a new deal has been agreed upon.” Honestly, I don’t know what to make of all this. With this being the heart of recruiting season, one would think that Saban would release an official statement soon to put the matter to rest, one way or the other. Until something official is released, I'll hold off on saying any more about it.
Hearing the coaching rumors got me thinking of how significant LSU’s last coaching hire was. Of course, I'm speaking of the hiring of Cam Cameron last February, and of the remarkable transformation he brought to the LSU offense. Just for kicks, I decided to pull up last season's stats (pre-Cameron) and compare them to this year’s stats. The chart below illustrates what I think are the most telling stats in terms of where the Tigers improved, and where they took a step back. (Note that last year’s stats take into account the bowl game, whereas obviously this year’s do not.)
The numbers back up what we already knew - that Mettenberger's drastic improvement, as well as the play of Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham, Jr., were the at the heart of LSU’s gains on offense. Much higher QB efficiency, many more yards per catch, and a nation’s-best 3rd yard conversion rate tell that story. (If that leaves you feeling pretty discouraged about next year’s offense, check out this article by NOLA.com that might help: Work to do, but a revamped LSU offense will be in very good hands in 2014.) As for the declines, two things that stand out to me are all the extra yards given up this season on the ground, which can be attributed to a weaker defensive front seven, and the lack of interceptions, which can be attributed to not having a big-time playmaker in the defensive backfield. In a future report, we'll take a look at what LSU needs to accomplish in terms of player development and recruitment to continue success on offense while bolstering defensive production.
In recruiting news, LSU’s star-studded recruiting weekend is underway and three Texas players had to battle the elements to make it in to Baton Rouge. According to reports, LSU signee/commit Ed Paris and target Jamal Admas were not able to fly out as scheduled due to ice and inclement weather, so they decided to go ahead and drive in. And from what I've gathered on Twitter, target Tony Brown battled the elements and made it in as well. I think that speaks volumes about these young men and their interest in being Tigers, and I love the idea of Paris and Adams having that much time together on the road to discuss playing together at LSU. I'll be monitoring things throughout the weekend and will let you know if any news breaks.
In Louisiana high school football news, there were some great semi-final playoff games played last night. In a game of particular interest to Tiger Fans, LSU commit Brandon Harris and Parkway defeated Covington, 28-27 to advance to the 5A state championship game where they’ll face my alma mater, Acadiana, who defeated Destrehan, 35-7. In class 4A, Laurence “Hootie” Jones and Neville lost to East Jefferson, 18-15, while “Speedy” Noil, Gerald Willis, Donnie Alexander and their Edna Karr team shutout Landry/Walker by a score of 29-0. All of the scores from last night’s playoff games can be found in our statewide scoreboard.
In basketball news, LSU has announced a special $20 package to see four Lady Tigers basketball home games this holiday season. The package deal, now sale at www.LSUtix.net, includes a 200-level reserved seat to the following four games: Jackson State (Dec. 30), Texas A&M (Jan. 9), Florida (Jan. 12) and Auburn (Jan. 23). In addition to www.LSUtix.net, the package can be purchased in person at the LSU Athletic Ticket Office on the first floor of the Moran Family Center for Athletic Administration Building or by calling (800) 960-8587 or (225) 578-2184. The Lady Tigers are off to a 7-1 start this season – their best start since 2009 – and ranked No. 13 in the latest Associated Press poll.
I'll close out today by wishing you happy viewing of the SEC championship game between Missouri and Auburn which gets underway at 3:00 on CBS. With these two Tiger teams having a combined two SEC wins last season, who could have ever seen this coming? I'm predicting Missouri will come away with the championship in only its second season in the league, 30-27. Enjoy the day, folks.
Reader comments: Scott, here's a good article today on Glenn Dorsey by the Santa Rosa, CA newspaper: Glenn Dorsey emerges as force on 49ers' defensive line.
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