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LSU vs. McNeese State - Saturday, September 5th, 2015 6:30 PM (SEC-Alt)
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9/1/15 5:45 am CDT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

With Game Week in full swing, we’ve got a lot to get to in today’s report, starting with the news of Coach Les Miles falling ill yesterday. Miles was scheduled to speak at his first press luncheon of the season, but instead had to go to the hospital to get checked out after reportedly suffering from migraine headaches. Considering that Miles had a brain cyst removed in 2001, it’s easy to see why he would want to get something like that checked out as soon as possible. The good news is that Miles’ stay at the hospital was brief and he returned in time to conduct practice before addressing the media at 6:45 p.m. Here are a few key points I picked up from the evening press conference:

• In classic Les Miles fashion, the coach opened his presser by saying, “Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.” He went on to say that he drank too much coffee and it gave him an awkward feeling. He started feeling bad right in front of a trainer, who advised that he go to the hospital. 

• Miles addressed the quarterback situation by confirming that Brandon Harris will start in the season-opener. He said he told Harris the news on Saturday, but that he “can’t image” Harris didn’t expect it.

• When asked about freshmen Donté Jackson, Miles said “I think you can expect to see him in a number of spots.”

• Miles said Trey Quinn returned to practice yesterday after suffering a neck injury in the first scrimmage and will play a lot of football this Saturday. That is certainly great news.

• No injury status update was given on Jalen Mills, but Miles said trainer Jack Marrucci is motivated to get him healthy fast.

• Team Captains for Saturday’s game (as voted by the team) will be Jerald Hawkins/Vadal Alexander offense, Tré White/Kendell Beckwith defense, Reid Ferguson/Jamie Keehn special teams.

You can check out a video of Les Miles’ entire presser here

In other football news, yesterday morning LSU released its updated depth chart and there were a few noteworthy items on it. In what should come as no surprise, the quarterback position was listed as Brandon Harris OR Anthony Jennings, but as we mentioned above, Miles later said that Harris will start. Also as expected, Ethan Pocic was listed as the starting center, even though he started fall camp at left guard. I guess the biggest surprise was at the cornerback position opposite of TréDavious White where the starter was listed as Dwayne Thomas OR Kevin Toliver. (My guess would have been Thomas OR Ed Paris). Another thing I found surprising was that Jamal Adams was listed as the number two punt returner behind White. I’ve updated my unofficial depth chart to take these changes into account.

Also, LSU announced yesterday that the group OneRepublic will perform at halftime of the LSU-Florida football game this year.  In addition, in the coming days, a second “world-renowned” act will be announced to perform at another SEC home game. (I put “world-renowned” in quotes because that is how the acts are being billed, but to tell you the truth I’ve never heard of OneRepublic, although that might not mean anything other than I’m getting up in age.) These Super Bowl styled performances will be held in conjunction with the Golden Band from Tigerland. It appears that LSU is trying its best to enhance the in-stadium viewing experience in an attempt to keep pace with the rapidly improving TV viewing experience, and I can understand that, but as someone who loves LSU’s traditional halftime performance, I’m not sure how I feel about it.

Speaking of that Florida game on October 17, LSU will have at least two five-star visitors on hand for that contest. The two are defensive lineman Shavar Manuel and his teammate at IMG Academy, LSU cornerback commit Saivion Smith. Getting them both on campus at the same time is great news for LSU as Smith has been said to be working hard on getting Manuel to join him in being a Tiger. The two visited LSU together in June. Now that the season is about to start, recruiting news will start picking up again, and I’ll do my best to keep you informed on LSU’s efforts.

With only four days remaining until the much anticipated season-opener, today we’ll continue our Countdown to Game Day by remembering one of my childhood heroes who wore No. 4 - Charles Alexander. “Alexander the Great,” as he was known, was a two-time All-American and Heisman Trophy finalist who played running back at LSU from 1975 to 1978. Some of my earliest football memories include going with Dad to Tiger Stadium to see Alexander take the field. During his time at LSU, Alexander set nine SEC records and tied for another. At the end of his stellar career, which included a pair of All-America and All-SEC honors, Alexander’s name sat atop 27 LSU records. In fact, he still holds the school records for most rushes in a game (43), most yards in a season (1,686) and most yards gained per game in a season (153.3). After his days as a Tiger, Alexander was selected as the 12th pick in the first round of the 1979 NFL Draft by Cincinnati where he played for seven years and participated in Super Bowl XVI. In December of 2012, Alexander became only the eighth player in LSU history to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, and one of just four living LSU members along with Billy Cannon, Tommy Casanova and Jerry Stovall. To see a video which starts with his induction into the HOF and then shows a couple of of his awesome highlights, click here.

A few closing tidbits:

• HeroSports.com released its 2015 College Football Strength of Schedule Top 25 and has LSU as tied at 6th for the hardest schedule in college football. While that seems awfully discouraging at first glance, it should be noted that six other SEC schools make up the top-6. All this tells us is that the SEC is the toughest conference in the land, but of course we knew that already. By the way, Alabama’s schedule was ranked as the most difficult, followed by Texas A&M (2), Arkansas (T3), Auburn (T3) and Mississippi State (T3). 

• Thanks for the great feedback on Part 1 of the series that LakeDarbonneLife.com wrote about my love of fishing. Today author Kinny Haddox has posted part two, and it’s called “Scott’s Creek fishing tips.” Hope you enjoy it.

• If you enjoy Louisiana high school football, be sure to sign up for our Louisiana High School Football Pickem. It’s free and fun, and as mentioned yesterday, small prizes will be given to the weekly winners. The deadline for picking this week’s games is Thursday at 5 p.m., so get at it, folks!


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8/31/15 5:45 am CDT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Game Week is finally here, and to help kick it off right I’ve got a great SEC Football Hype Video by SaturdayDownSouth to share with you that’s sure to get you pumped! It’s not an LSU video per se, but it’s a great one worth viewing.

After spending I don’t know how many days talking about the 2015 LSU football team, today we’ll finally begin turning our attention to LSU’s first opponent, the McNeese State Cowboys, but first here are a few “newsy” tidbits to pass along…

With the season opener only five days away, Coach Miles will hold his first weekly “Subway Fresh Take by Les Miles” press luncheon of the season today at 12:15 p.m. CT. The program will be produced each week by the LSU Sports Radio Network and can be heard in the Baton Rouge area on 104.5 FM and 104.9 FM and on affiliates of the network across the state and region. Those fans outside the 104.5 FM/104.9 FM listening area, can catch free audio of the press conference each week in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live or in the LSUsports Mobile App. Members of the Geaux Zone have access to a live video stream of the press conference each week, and from what I understand a free live video stream will also be available on SECN+, which you can access here. I look forward to giving you a report on what was said in my morning report.

During the last couple of days I’ve heard from many of you who are excited about not only the start of LSU’s football season, but also the start of prep football and our Louisiana High School Football Pickem Contest. If you haven’t yet signed up to play, please consider doing so today. This year we’re doing things a little differently. Instead of having you pick winners for all 140+ games, we’ve scaled it down to 50 games each week to make it less overwhelming but still very challenging. Also, for the first time ever, we’ll be giving small prizes to the winners. The weekly winner(s) will receive snazzy DandyDon koozies and bumper stickers. The overall winner will receive a DandyDon coffee mug and a signed hardcopy of Ces Guerra’s book, Gumbo for the Tiger Soul. Of course, one of the best perks of participating is the bragging rights it can earn you, as each week the top 10 players will be listed on our leaderboard and the winner will receive props in our daily report. The contest is a great way to test your knowledge of Louisiana high school football and it’s completely free. Even if you decide not to participate, please note that you can always refer to our weekly schedule, which will also serve as a statewide scoreboard once the games are played. To sign up or read more about how this all works, please click here.

Now let’s jump back to our normal order of business and begin taking a look at the McNeese State Cowboys through our “team comparisons” that many of you have grown accustomed to seeing on this site. As you longtime readers know, each week we’ll compare LSU and its opponent in all three aspects of the game (offense, defense and special teams) and take a look at “intangibles.” Later in the week we’ll do a statistical comparison and also talk about some things to watch for in the game, and of course I’ll post my prediction for this game and several others. So without further ado, let’s get on with it…

LSU offense vs. McNeese defense

There should be no reason LSU can’t line up in a Power-I formation and pound the rock against the Cowboys’ defense. Look for Les Miles and the Tigers to establish the run early on with Leonard Fournette and Darrel Williams, getting enough separation on the scoreboard to allow Brandon Harris to work on developing chemistry with his talented wide receiver corps. While McNeese’s football program is not on the same level as LSU’s, the Cowboys should not be taken lightly, as they almost knocked off Nebraska last season. To go along with that, the Cowboys have a big-time playmaker in defensive back Brent Spikes, who led the team in tackles (83) and interceptions (4) last season and is a preseason All-American. Other Cowboys to watch on defense are free safety Wallace Scott and linebacker Bo Brown. If McNeese State has success loading the box and limiting LSU’s explosive running backs, the game may very well rest on the shoulders of Harris, which could be interesting. Though McNeese has several returning starters on defense, including the three aforementioned playmakers, it shouldn’t have the personnel to match LSU athlete for athlete, and getting Harris on the same page as Malachi Dupre, Travin Dural, D.J. Chark, Trey Quinn and John Diarse would be hugely beneficial when SEC play begins the following week. The Tigers have too many ways to score, so barring any mental lapses, expect LSU to score often Saturday night.
Advantage LSU 

LSU defense vs. McNeese offense

The Cowboys have no shortage of running backs, and they’ll likely have to use all of them against a physical LSU front. With four returning starters on the offensive line, the Cowboys will test the Tigers upfront and look to open up running lanes for Derrick Milton (a Mississippi State transfer) and Ryan Ross (rushed for 326 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2014). Add shifty quarterback Daniel Sams, who gained experience last season and can beat teams with his legs as well as his arm, and the Cowboys will have a potent offense. But this game is all about LSU’s ability to use its speed advantage. The Tigers’ athleticism at linebacker and in the secondary should allow LSU to close on the ball quickly and stall drives. Linebacker Kendell Beckwith is made for games like this, and I look for him and the entire Tiger defense to have success slowing down the Cowboys’ attack.
Advantage LSU 

Special Teams

This might be the most intriguing aspect of the game. A couple of LSU freshmen, Derrius Guice and Donté Jackson, could be on the fielding end of kicks or punts, and that could be very interesting. (No amount of practicing can prepare you for such a moment in front of 100,000 screaming fans.) Another intriguing aspect of special teams play is the stability of kicker Colby Delahoussaye. As we’ve already discussed, Delahoussaye had trouble at the end of last season, so it’ll be interesting to see if the junior placekicker can get things back on track. As for McNeese State, the Cowboys will debut a new field goal kicker this season since Alex Kjellsten graduated. Handling the punting duties again for the Cowboys will be Jean Breaux, who has been a consistent punter for McNeese State since starting as a freshman in 2012.
Advantage LSU  


On one hand, the fact that this is the season opener and a night game in Tiger Stadium makes it tempting to give LSU a big advantage in intangibles. But on the other hand, with two big conference games looming in the next two weeks, LSU could very well be looking ahead and underestimating this in-state foe. For McNeese, this is the biggest game on their schedule, and a large percentage of their players grew up dreaming of playing in Tiger Stadium. You can bet your bottom dollar they will be sky-high for this game, and if LSU doesn’t match their intensity this could be a very interesting contest.

Now let’s jump to our Countdown to Game Day, which is at the 5-day mark, by remembering a huge come-from-behind victory by the top-ranked Tigers over the 9th ranked Florida Gators in 2007. LSU entered the contest 5-0 (with big wins over No. 9 Virginia Tech and No. 12 South Carolina) and had just vaulted to the No. 1 spot in the AP poll for the first time since 1959. By this point in the season, it was plain to see that this was a very special LSU team, and the Florida Gators (led by quarterback Tim Tebow) were a powerful bunch as well. ESPN’s Game Day crew setup on the Parade Grounds and Mike VI made his Death Valley debut for what would be a truly epic contest. Although LSU trailed by double digits entering the fourth quarter, the Tigers would prevail thanks to the gritty play of fullback Jacob Hester and the gutsy play-calling of Coach Les Miles who went for it on fourth down on five different occasions and was successful on all five attempts. What a game! If you’ve got time to spare on this Monday morning, check out these video highlights of the game. Warning: The video, by YouTube user Kevin Parnella, is very roughly edited, but it should be good enough to rekindle a special memory for any of you who witnessed that incredible game.

In closing, I want to call your attention to something that’s not related to LSU sports but might be of interest to some of you - a question and answer series that Kinny Haddox of LakeDarbonnelife.com conducted with me on the topic of my love of fishing. He’s posted the first of three installments today, which is titled “Long Way to fishing Fun.” I hope many of you will give it and read and share your thoughts.

Oh, and I’ve updated our Ticket Exchange and View-in Parties pages.


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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 at least one game from each of the 44 districts, plus a few other high-interest games usually involving top-rated teams, to give us a total of about 50 games per week. 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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