11/25/124 6:00 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
The LSU football team is busy preparing to close out the season in College Station in what will be the Tigers’ first Thanksgiving Day contest in 31 years. The last time the Tigers played on Thanksgiving Day was November 23, 1983 when LSU defeated Tulane in the Louisiana Superdome. I have mixed feelings about the game being played on Thanksgiving Day, and I kind of liked the day-after tradition that we’ve enjoyed for so long, but it is what it is and hopefully the game will provide us with a fitting ending for a special day.
An LSU win Thursday would extend the nation’s longest streak of seasons with at least eight victories to 15 straight. LSU has won at least eight games every year since 2000. Now I know a lot of you are saying to yourself that eight wins is nothing to brag about and that we should be setting our standards higher, and I understand your point. But when you consider that LSU has reached that mark 14 years in a row, that really says a lot about the stability of the program. An LSU loss on Thursday would not only break that streak, it would also mark the first time in Les Miles’ tenure at LSU that the Tigers would have fallen in three consecutive games. As I’ve said before, I don’t think that’s going to happen, and evidently the oddsmakers agree. After opening as a 2.5 favorite, LSU is now favored by three.
Yesterday Coach Miles met with the media for his weekly press conference, and, as usual, I’ve summarized his comments below.
• Miles started the conference by wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and recognizing that he, his family, and his football team have a lot to be thankful for.
• Next, Miles spoke of the attention Odell Beckham, Jr ’s spectacular catch on Sunday received, and said that he saw OBJ and Landry do things like that all the time on the practice field.
Sidenote: I heard from many of you yesterday who expressed the same sentiment, stating that we as Tiger Fans have seen many spectacular catches from OBJ and Landry and asking that I repost their LSU highlights. I’ve done so here: OBJ LSU Highlights | Landry LSU Highlights
• Miles said the team practiced twice during the open week and that Sunday’s practice was full of energy. On Monday the team watched film, on Tuesday they took a day off, and then on Wednesday and Thursday they went back at it before taking two “fresh‑leg days” on Friday and Saturday.
• Miles confirmed that left guard Vadal Alexander is expected to play Thursday. He added that Ethan Pocic will be at center (meaning Porter will be out, as expected), Evan Washington will be at right guard, and Hoko Fanaika will be the first offensive lineman off the bench.
• While Miles admitted that the quarterback is going to have to play better, he said the key is for the QB to make the 10 players around him play their best and to provide the best opportunity to win the game.
• Later when Miles was asked whether he would be “surprised if [Brandon Harris] does not play Thursday,” Miles said that Harris continues to improve, but that he wants to assess this week fully before commenting on the question. Based on that response, and on Miles’ previous comments (above), it sounds unlikely to me that Harris will play unless the game is in hand.
• When asked whether he expects to hear from Michigan when there is a job opening, Miles said he has given little or no thought to other jobs and that he is comfortable with his team and what he is doing.
• When asked about the letter he received from the Secretary of Louisiana Department of Veteran Affairs about getting Luke Boyd some snaps in Thursday’s game, Miles said that although he is touched by the way so many people have championed Boyd’s cause, having him travel and take one of the spots on the limited travel-roster would be very difficult to do this late in the season. Miles affirmed that the whole team can travel to the bowl game and that Boyd will be a part of that.
There was a lot more said than what I summarized above, and I’ve posted the entire transcript for those of you who have a few minutes to spare.
In recruiting news, according to multiple reports including this one by Shea Dixon of 247Sports, Coach Miles confirmed yesterday that he is taking a look at JUCO quarterbacks. Among the JUCO QBs who have ben evaluated are Chad Kelly, the dual-threat QB I wrote about a couple of days ago who was dismissed from Clemson, and Daniel Fitzwater, a pro-style QB who played high school ball at Calvary Baptist in Shreveport before heading to Co-Lin Community College in Mississippi.
Before moving on to basketball news, I want to remind you that because of this week’s game being played on Thursday, Coach Les Miles’ weekly radio show will be tonight instead of the normal Wednesday time.
In men’s basketball news, LSU fell to 3-2 on the season with a 61-64 loss against Clemson. The Tigers finished the game shooting only 37.7% from the field (23-61) and 7.7% from 3-point range (1-13). This is going to have to improve quickly if the Tigers are to obtain their goals for the season. Despite the team’s shooting woes, the game was a close one with 10 ties and 13 lead changes. Josh Gray converted a layup to give LSU a 56-52 lead with 3:46 remaining, but Clemson quickly responded with a layup and then converted a 3-pointer to take a 57-56 advantage with two minutes remaining. After Gray made one of two free throws, Clemson converted an offensive rebound into two points and made one of two free throws to increase their lead to 60-57 with 51 seconds remaining. Both teams traded two free throws before Jarell Martin tipped in a missed shot to trim the Clemson lead to 62-61 with 18 seconds remaining, but after two Clemson free throws, Jordan Mickey missed a 3-pointer as time expired.
For the second straight game, Mickey led LSU with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Tim Quarterman scored a season high 16 points on 5-8 shooting (5-6 FT shooting), grabbed seven rebounds and dished out three assists. Keith Hornsby, Gray and Martin struggled from the field as the three combined for only 20 points on a combined 8-32 shooting. The Tigers committed 13 turnovers but forced 15 from Clemson and out-rebounded them 38-35.
LSU’s men return to action this Saturday at 7pm in the PMAC against McNeese State. The game will be on SECN+ and the broadcast will be available on 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge.