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Q&A with Mike Detillier on LSU’s 2018 Signing Class, Part 2 of 2
Scott: Ok, let’s begin Part 2 with your thoughts on LSU’s DL haul.
Mike: Pass rushers are as hard to find today as quarterbacks. I’m not kidding about that. That 3-4 edge guy is really another pass rusher. I like what I have seen from Travez Moore who has size and great length and he can close in quickly on the QB. Dantrieze Scott is an interesting athlete and I give him a shot to play that edge rusher spot.
Jarell Cherry is a guy who intrigues me as a pass-rusher. Jarell is a speed/quickness guy and so how he handles the power of the SEC and how he can get off a much bigger blocker interests me. He’s relentless out in the field. In time, with some work on his techniques and hand usage, he can be a really good edge guy. He’s a player similar to what KeKe Mingo was when he hit LSU.
Another thing, too, is that they continued to add to the linebacking spot after having a good haul last year. LSU got a really good inside player in Micah Baskerville and Damone Clark is a really good athlete who can get up in the forward position fast on defense and has worked hard on getting better in reverse to match up in the coverage phase of the game. With Moore and Scott, you got two very long, very lean guys who can get up the turf fast.
I believe other than wide receiver the additions along the defensive line was the best for LSU. I like the quickness and get up the field abilities of Davin Cotton - who I think is a tremendous player and Nelson Jenkins. They got some real beef inside too with Chasen Hines, Dominic Livingston, and Dare Rosenthal. Now, one of those guys eventually will be moved to the offensive line, but you got a big man group here and a physical group. Moore and Cotton are the ones to watch how quickly they develop in 2018. Then add the Texas Tech strongman in Breiden Fehoko, and you got some major beef upfront. Pete Jenkins told me during the 2017 season that he thought that with Ed Alexander, Fehoko, and Rashard Lawrence, those three, if they could stay healthy, could be a special group. Add Tyler Shelvin, if he can get his weight down and upgrade his conditioning, and this is a very good group. And you’ve got Neil Farrell and Justin Thomas in the mix too. Pete spoke highly of both of them too.
Scott: Another priority of Orgeron’s was landing a kicker. Seems like he got a good one in Cole Tracy, but what do you think of using a scholarship for a one-year kicker? Any concern there?
Mike: I didn’t know that much about Cole but in talking to Morten Andersen, who will work with him in May, he looks like someone who could solve the kicking issues in 2018. Morten liked his leg swing, his strength, his accuracy and his coolness under pressure.
Scott: Before wrapping things up with some rapid-fire questions, how about your thoughts on LSU’s latest hires, starting with safeties coach Bill Busch.
Mike: Well, he was one of two guys early on that it was speculated would be brought in. Bill’s here because of his working relationship with Dave Aranda. He’s worked with Dave and he understands what he demands from his staff defensively and what he likes to call. The safety spot is becoming more complicated because you have to match up in the coverage part of the game. It’s just not playing the run or being shoved in the box. You got to match up in space. Last year, Aranda couldn’t have been pleased with giving up big plays in crucial times on the field, like on third down conversion type plays. You got to get off the field.
Bill is an experienced coach and he’s going to work with Corey Raymond on upgrading the matchup situations downfield. If Dave Aranda says he can coach, I trust that. There is some really good young talent at safety and so it’s getting them to understand their assignments in different sets that makes the difference. Dave likes to play a lot of mix and match coverage and Busch should aid in getting those players mentally prepared for the challenge each week. Coaching is teaching.
Scott: And offensive analyst Doug Nussmeier?
Mike: I knew Doug a little when he was the back-up for the New Orleans Saints back in the 1990s. We had the “2nd Guess Show” at Cucco’s in Metairie and always had a player guest or two and Doug came on a few times. Even then, he spoke about being a coach. He’s coached and called plays for some hard-ass coaches in Jim Harbaugh, Nick Saban and Jim McElwain – so I know he’s got a tough hide.
It’s not that you need to play the position to be a good coach at it, but I think it helps. Doug was a really good college QB. And he was a back-up in the NFL, so he can relate to the struggles of a young quarterback. It’s part of what needs to be done to elevate the pitch and catch part of the game at LSU. He’s an analyst so he will work during the week with Steve (Ensminger) with the quarterbacks to help prepare them mentally for what they will see on Saturdays. Doug’s ability to relate what he sees to other quarterbacks are vital. Now, the quarterback has to make the play, but the mental part in getting ready is crucial. He’s not calling plays, but he will help form the game-plan on what will happen. He’s experienced and it’s about getting better rapport with the quarterback and wide receiver, and also finding out what each quarterback does best and what he doesn’t. You can call a play, but if the quarterback doesn’t throw that particular route well, it’s useless to call it. Find out what each does well and play to their strength
Scott: And how about legendary LSU and New England Patriots running back Kevin Faulk as director of player development?
Mike: Eventually Kevin turns this into a coaching spot in college football. I always felt when he signed with LSU it turned the tide that saw so many top players leave the state back many years ago. He was the biggest signee for LSU in football since Billy Cannon. He could have gone anywhere in the country. He’s played the position at the highest level of college football and was a terrific pro player on the signature New England Patriots team. Now, players might not necessarily remember all that, but their parents do.
That person to come talk to if you have issues or have problems off the field is critical. Use that as the middleman between the player and the coaching staff. And he can certainly help with recruiting players to LSU. He has a great relationship with high school coaches and they know him. He’s a great ambassador for LSU sports.
Scott: Now for those rapid-fire questions to wrap this up… Your favorite offensive signees in the class?
Mike: Wide receiver JaMarr Chase, who back in December I thought was headed out of state. And center Cole Smith.
Scott: Favorite defensive signees?
Mike: Defensive back Kelvin Joseph and Defensive tackle Davin Cotton.
Scott: Biggest sleeper in the class?
Mike: DE/OLB Travez Moore.
Scott: Lastly, the biggest thing to watch for in spring practice, which gets underway in about a month?
Mike: Myles Brennan is the front-runner at QB, no doubt, but how improved has Lowell Narcisse gotten as a downfield passer and how will they adjust to his game because he is such a threat as a runner? Can Nick Brossette be the guy at halfback and can you come out of spring healthy at cornerback? And does Kristian Fulton get his situation straightened out and play big at cornerback? Lloyd Cushenberry at center too is something to watch. Those safety positions are pretty thick also, so who jumps out from the pack? Todd Harris is someone Coach O thinks a lot of at safety.
Scott: Thanks, Mike. I appreciate your time and know the DandyDon readers do too.
Mike: Thank you, Scott. Always a pleasure.
Mike Detillier, based in southern Louisiana, is editor and publisher of Mike Detillier’s NFL Draft Report. He’s also the college and pro football analyst for WWL 870 AM Radio in New Orleans, a sports columnist for several newspapers and Web sites, and a frequent guest on radio and television programs across the country. Visit Mike’s website at mikedetillier.com and follow @MikeDetillier on Twitter.
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