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LSU vs. Wisconsin - August 30, 2014 - 8:00 P.M. Kickoff (ESPN)
0 Day, 0 hour, 0 minute

8/21/14 5:45 am CT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

I listened to the first Les Miles Radio Show of the season last night and really enjoyed the familiarity of hearing Coach Miles and Jim Hawthorn speak about the football team while I franticly took notes and sent out an occasional tweet. Coach Miles started the program by saying the preseason has gone very well and that he likes where the team is at this point. One of the best things about this preseason, he said, is that the team has stayed away from “the injury bug” for the most part. Now they’re looking forward to getting past practicing and playing the game.

As those of you who’ve followed the Les Miles Show for a while would probably guess, Gary from Baton Rouge was the first caller of the night. Unfortunately for Gary and the next two or three callers, the show was experiencing technical difficulties with the phone lines and could not hear their questions. In classic mid-season form, Coach Miles anticipated Gary’s question without him even asking it and addressed the middle linebackers. (Gary was the first caller for every show last year and always asked about Kendell Beckwith.) Miles said that Beckwith is very talented and is going to be a great middle linebacker, as will Clifton Garrett.

While waiting for the phone issue to be resolved, Hawthorn asked about the offensive line and then about Ethan Pocic. Miles responded by saying that the players have really benefited from new offensive line coach Jeff Grimes and appear to be “learning better.” He went on to say that La’el Collins and Jerald Hawkins will be dominant linemen. As for Pocic, Miles said he will get a lot of playing time and suggested that he will play “significant football” in the first game. Later in the show, Miles said that Pocic might start at center.

When asked about the tight ends, Miles said Dillon Gordon is a big, strong man who can catch and run, and that Travis Dickson and Logan Stokes can both block and run (I think he might have meant block and catch). He also said he’s looking forward to the growth of a couple of young tight ends.

In response to Hawthorn’s question about losing the team’s two top receivers from last year, Miles said that they really like veterans John Diarse and Travin Dural. He then reminded Hawthorn that Diarse was in position to be a big contributor last year before injuring himself in preseason practice. As for the young receivers, Miles said Trey Quinn, Malcahi Dupre and DJ Chark will all play and that all three are gifted, bright and have good ball skills.

As for the running backs, Miles said Kenny Hilliard has had a great career and is now the best he’s ever been. He said Hilliard has lost weight, is faster, stronger and very dangerous. He also said Terrence Magee is a great leader who had a great outing in Tuesday’s scrimmage. As for the highly-touted freshman, Leonard Fournette, Miles said he does some things that make him very, very special, and that his combination of speed and size is not something you don’t find very often. Miles was quick to add that freshman Darrell Williams is not taking a backseat to anyone and that the team is very fortunate to have four quality tailbacks. At fullback, Miles said Connor Neighbors knows everything that’s going on and is a great leader on the field.

Next, Hawthorn asked Miles to talk about the quarterbacks. Miles said both throw well, and run well when needed, and that both will probably play in first game. He went on to say that both are learning and improving each week and that he’s in no hurry to name a starter.

A little later on, “Big Ragoo” (Marvin Dugas) from the live audience asked Miles about DJ Welter. Miles called Welter a “program player” and said that he’s done everything asked of him and is deserving of a lot of playing time, if not a starting role. Miles said that Welter and Beckwith will both stay fresh because both guys can play.

After the live audience segment of the show, Hawthorn asked about the defensive line. Miles started his response by mentioning Danielle Hunter at end, saying he’s very, very talented, big, strong and fast. Rasco, on other side, is also very very talented, physical against the run, and a good pass rusher. On the interior, Miles said that Quintin Thomas is back, Christian LaCouture is slated to be a starter, and that there are a number of guys right behind them who can step in and play. I found it interesting that this was the first time in quite a while that I didn’t hear Miles mention Frank Herron by name when speaking of the defensive tackles.

When asked about the cornerbacks, Miles described Rashard Robinson as “one of the big, tall, fast corners in college football” and said that he also really likes Tradavious White, who is one of those guys we’ll eventually see playing on Sundays. Miles mentioned Ed Paris and Jalen Mills at the corners as well. As for the safeties, Miles named Ronald Martin and Rickey Jefferson as potential starters, if not true freshman Jamal Adams who Miles said is very talented and much like former Tiger great Patrick Peterson.

When Hawthorn asked about special teams, Miles started by saying that Colby Delahoussaye is a very stable, capable kicker who will be able to kick some even longer field goals this year. He also said that Trent Domingue is competing for field goal, punting and kickoff duties. Miles then praised punter Jamie Keehn saying that during a practice he punted a ball 80 yards, which they fielded. He also said kicker Cameron Gamble has hit the roof of the indoor practice facility twice during practice, which is something Miles had never seen a kicker do in the 10 years he’s been at LSU.

When asked about punt and kick returners, Miles named Tradavious White, Trey Quinn, Leonard Fournette, Terrance Magee and Travin Dural as returners. As soon as he said that, I was reminded of one of my Dad’s favorite old sayings: Speed kills on the highway and on the playing field!

Before leaving the topic of special teams, Miles added that snapper Reid Ferguson may be the best long snapper in the country. He also said Ferguson is a team leader and member of the Unity Council.

Toward the end of the program, Hawthorn asked Miles what stands out about this 2014 team. Miles was quick to say that they are a very special group of young men who are extremely talented and might be the fastest team he’s ever had.

Of course, the above is not a word-for-word account of what was said, but I hope you enjoyed the summary all the same.

With only nine days remaining until the action begins, today’s topic for our Countdown to Game Day is a little different from the norm. I guess you could say it marches to the beat of a different drum. Here we geaux…

I’m sure that when you read the words, “A tradition like no other,” many of you will immediately think of CBS’ promo slogan for The Masters Golf Tournament.  But for LSU fans, those words have a different meaning.  At LSU, there is a “tradition like no other” that has been a part of LSU football games for several decades.  And it’s time we tip our hat to the very special group that makes it happen.

As we continue our countdown to Game Day, the number nine plays - literally - a big part in every home football game in Tiger Stadium.  With seven lines of instruments stretched across the field, and two lines of the LSU Flag Corps (one in front and one behind), perhaps the greatest tradition in college football is on display when The Golden Band from Tigerland plays our favorite theme at full volume: “Hold That Tiger!” It's officially called “Pre-Game,” and when the band begins their steady march across the field before making quarter turns to greet each part of the stadium with that musical cheer, that’s our “call to arms” to let loose and make Tiger Stadium the most feared place in the world to play a football game.

You can get a reminder of what a special moment that is by watching this outstanding video (gives me the frissons every time!), or by supporting the band through iTunes.  Whatever you do, if you're fortunate enough to be in Tiger Stadium for Pre-Game, get up on your feet and make some noise for the hundreds of students, and their director, Roy King, who work through the summer heat to prepare for our own “tradition like no other.”

I’d like to give a special thanks to DandyDon reader Matt Rouse for his help with today’s countdown feature and others. Matt’s father, Nicholas Rouse, was the Director of Bands at LSU from 1976-1980. Because of that, Matt was fortunate to spend many fall Saturdays as a kid sitting smack dab between the Golden Girls and Tigerettes. ;)

In closing, a lot of you making plans to attend the season-opener have emailed me asking where Tiger fans will be hanging out in Houston. Here’s what I know:

• On the Friday night (August 29), there will be an event called Tiger Fan Jam at StereoLive on Richmond Avenue. It will feature Geaux DJ plus Travis Matte and the Kingpins. All ages are welcome and you can get tickets, directions and more information at TigerFanJam.com.

• On Game Day (Saturday, August 30), The LSU Houston Alumni Association is hosting an Official LSU vs Wisconsin Tailgate from 3pm - 7:30pm at NRG Stadium. Sponsorship opportunities are still available and the cost of tickets are $50/person which includes a meal ticket with live entertainment provided by the Better Than Ezra Foundation. For more information or to purchase tickets, check out LSUHoustonTailgate.com.

For those of you still looking for tickets to the game, please note that I will be updating our Ticket Exchange later today.

Reader Comments: Scott, with all the hype about the quarterback battle, running back Leonard Fournette, the freshmen wide receivers and the D-line, one group that we haven’t heard a lot about is the outside linebackers, but they could be really special. Here’s an article on the OLBs by NOLA.com to share with your readers.

8/20/14 5:50 am CT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Coach Miles put his football team through its second full scrimmage of the preseason yesterday and was pleased with the outing. The scrimmage focused on all phases of the game, including special teams situations, which were held outside on the artificial turf. The rest of the scrimmage, which featured 80 live-tackle plays and another 40 “thud” snaps, took place indoors. The scrimmage featured the 1s against the 2s on both sides of the ball for the majority of the workout. I’ve posted LSU’s full press release on the scrimmage here, and below is my summary of some of the key points I gathered from it and from tweets sent out by the media.

• Miles said both quarterbacks played very well and that he doesn’t know if there's been much separation between one and the other. Later he said that he would probably let the QBs know who would start on Thursday (presumably Thursday of next week.) He also said there’s an opportunity to see both QBs against Wisconsin.


• Three touchdown passes were thrown, although Miles didn’t identify the passer(s) or receiver(s). 


• Trey Quinn and Malachi Dupre each caught a couple of passes. That’s great news considering Dupre missed the last scrimmage with a minor injury.


• Miles said the tight ends caught the ball well and praised Dillon Gordon and Logan Stokes for their pass catching abilities. 


• Kenny Hilliard was praised for having a solid camp and a big performance in yesterday’s scrimmage. Miles said Hilliard rushed for over 100 yards. 


• Miles also complimented the other three backs - Terrance Magee, Leonard Fournette and Darrell Williams, saying they all ran hard. 


• As for the offensive line, Miles said Hoko Fanaika and Evan Washington continue to battle for right guard position.


• Miles said the defensive line is very talented and is really getting up the field. 


• Quintin Thomas is recovering very well from his biceps injury, played a lot in the scrimmage and made a couple of tackles. 


• As for Travonte Valentine, Miles said there's another administrative hurdle that he has to go through, but nothing serious. He could be with the team in two or three days.

• On special teams, Miles singled out the performance of kickers Trent Domingue and Cameron Gamble saying, “both kicked the ball extremely well.”


The players will not practice today but will have a walk-through and position meetings. They’ll also take part in today’s annual “Move-In Day” at various dorms on campus by assisting incoming freshmen move onto campus before returning to practice tomorrow.

One sure sign that LSU’s football season is right around the corner is that Coach Les Miles’ weekly radio show will begin tonight at 7 p.m. The program will take place at TJ Ribs in Baton Rouge and can be heard in the Baton Rouge area on Eagle 98.1 FM as well as on the Internet in the Geaux Zone on www.LSUsports.net/live.

One twist this year is that Cox Sports Television will televise the Les Miles Show each week on a tape-delay basis. The show will first air each Wednesday at 8 p.m. CT (an hour after the live show starts) and will be replayed during the week. I look forward to checking out the show tonight and giving you a report on what is said.

With 10 days remaining until Game Day, today we'll continue our Countdown to Game Day by looking at a hard-running, versatile running back who wore No. 10 in his final years at LSU - Joseph Addai. Addai played his high school ball in Houston for the Sharpstown Apollos where he was an All-American left-handed option-style quarterback. During his senior year in high school, he rushed for 1,429 yards on 159 carries and completed 37 passes for 425 yards. Addai was recruited by then LSU coach Nick Saban as a running back and came to LSU in 2001, but an early season injury (torn ACL) sidelined him after only two games and resulted in a medical redshirt. As a redshirt freshman in 2002, Addai carried the ball 80 times for 438 yards and four touchdowns. As a sophomore in 2003, he gained 520 yards on 114 carries for the National Champion Tigers and was the team’s second leading rusher behind freshman Justin Vincent. As a junior in 2004, Addai rushed for 680 yards on 101 carries and caught 24 passes for 294 yards, scoring seven touchdowns in all. His best performance of the season came when LSU beat Alabama 26-10 and he scored three touchdowns. In that game, Addai led the team in rushing with 99 yards and added another 46 yards receiving. During his senior season, Addai led the team with 911 rushing yards on 187 carries and scored nine touchdowns. He capped off his career at LSU with an impressive performance in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl against Miami, which the Tigers won 40-3. In that contest Addai gained a total of 135 yards and scored twice. After graduating from LSU, Addai was selected in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Colts where he played for six years. In May of last year, Addai agreed to a one-year contract with New England, but a few months later he was cut from the team. I've added a video of Addai's LSU highlights to our Media Gallery.

One note in closing: If you haven’t yet voted in our poll asking “What will LSU’s Record Be at the End of the 2014 Regular Football Season?” please consider doing so today. I’ll close the poll tonight and give you the results tomorrow.

Reader Comments: Scott, you might want to share the news on former Tiger great Glenn Dorsey. According to the following article, he signed a two-year extension with the San Francisco 49ers. Former LSU star Glenn Dorsey signs two-year extension with San Francisco, 49ers website reports

 

8/19/14 5:50 am CT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

First of all, I’d like to thank all of you who voted in our poll asking “What will LSU’s record will be at the end of the 2014 regular football season? I’ll keep the poll open for another day or two, so if you haven’t yet voted please click here and cast your vote.

Yesterday Tiger fans received some good news when defensive tackle signee Travonte Valentine tweeted that he has been cleared to play at LSU. Soon after he tweeted the news, media outlets started reporting that he has been cleared, and LSU quickly issued the following statement: “Travonte Valentine is going through the final phases of the admission process. He has not been cleared to join the football team. We will let you know once the process is complete.” I hope all this means is that there are some formalities that need to be taken care of before it’s official, and I suspect that’s the case. From what I hear, Valentine is hoping to arrive at LSU sometime today, and if he does he could begin practicing fully with the team as early as Saturday. The NCAA has an acclimation rule stating that players must go through four days of non-contact practice before they can suit up in full pads and start hitting.

Whether or not Valentine is able to contribute this year will probably depend largely on what kind of shape he’s in when he reports to the team. Considering Valentine was the No. 2 defensive tackle in the nation in the 2014 class, there’s no doubt that he has the talent needed to compete for a spot in the rotation behind projected starters Christian LaCouture and Frank Herron, but he’ll have some stiff competition. Also in the mix for playing time are redshirt freshmen Maquedius Bain and Greg Gilmore, junior Mickey Johnson, and freshman Davon Godchaux, not to mention sophomore Quintin Thomas who was projected as a starter before his biceps injury. Thomas could return to action as early as today.

The LSU football team will hold a closed scrimmage today at 3:30, but unlike Saturday’s scrimmage this one will be held at the indoor practice facility. The fact that its being played indoors on the artificial turf is significant because the season-opener against Wisconsin in NRG Stadium will be on artificial turf as well. (NRG Stadium employs two playing surfaces - grass for their NFL games and artificial turf for many college and high school games. I've confirmed with two sources on the LSU side that the game will be on artificial turf.) Generally speaking, playing on artificial turf benefits the faster team (LSU in this case), but Wisconsin is very accustomed to playing on turf since that’s what they have in Camp Randall Stadium.

Speaking of the Badgers, Wisconsin coach Gary Anderson has said that he will not announce a starting quarterback before the opener against LSU. Vying for the role are junior Joel Stave who started all 13 games for the Badgers last year and then missed most of spring practice with a shoulder injury, and junior Tanner McEvoy who was a standout JUCO dual-threat quarterback before joining the Badgers last year. McEvoy competed at quarterback last preseason before moving to to wide receiver for the season opener against UMass. A wrist injury forced him to switch positions to safety where he played in 10 games last year. All indications are that Stave has the edge at this time, although Coach Anderson is not giving anything away. Likewise, LSU coach Les Miles is not giving any hints as to whether he is leaning towards starting sophomore Anthony Jennings or true freshman Brandon Harris, and I doubt we’ll know who gets the nod until game day. As of now, I still predict that it will be Jennings because of his experience, but you never know.

Those of you who’ve been having LSU football withdrawals will have a few opportunities to see the Tigers this week, assuming you have access to the SEC Network. Yesterday LSU sent out a listing of every time any LSU sport appears on the SEC Network this week, and they’ll send out an updated schedule each Monday morning throughout the fall which I will post. Click here to see this week’s listing of LSU appearances on the SEC Network.

In other news, LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri and former coach and athletics director Skip Bertman took the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” Monday at Alex Box Stadium in support of finding a cure for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, the debilitating condition also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Mainieri was drenched by Kelly Viator, executive director of the Louisiana-Mississippi chapter of the ALS Association, and Bertman was soaked by longtime LSU baseball fan Ivan Cabrera, who presented a monetary contribution to Viator before the ice-water dunking. You can check out a video of the dousing here.

Now, with only 11 days remaining until LSU’s season-opener against Wisconsin, let’s take a quick look at two former All-Americans who wore No. 11 for LSU – Bradie James and James Britt. Not only were both of these players All-Americans, they were also outstanding student-athletes in the classroom.

James Britt was a 4.0 student at Minden High who didn’t think much about playing football at the next level until he had an incredible senior season and garnered All-District MVP honors on offense and defense. This accomplishment caught the attention of then LSU coach Charlie McClendon who offered him a scholarship and secured his commitment. In his first year as a starting cornerback at LSU in 1978, Britt notched 49 tackles and picked off two passes. He suffered an injury in his sophomore year and missed four games, but still managed 36 tackles on the season and was awarded Academic All-SEC honors. As a junior in 1980, Britt snagged a pair of interceptions and made 66 tackles, and for the second-consecutive season, he was named to the Academic All-SEC team. In that season, Britt emerged as a leader on defense and was named co-captain prior to his senior season in 1981. Britt was also a 1981 preseason All-American selection, but in the second game of his senior season he suffered another injury, a broken arm, that sidelined him for the rest of the season. Britt was awarded a medical redshirt, and as a fifth year senior in 1982 he made 53 tackles and hauled in four interceptions en route to being named 1st team All-SEC and National Editorial Alliance first-team All-American. After graduating from LSU, Britt was selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the second round of the 1983 NFL Draft and enjoyed a five-year career there before retiring in 1987.


Bradie James played his high school ball at Wossman High in Monroe from 1995-97 before transferring to West Monroe in 1998 for his senior season. As a senior, he led his team to a 1998 Class 5-A state title with 136 tackles and five sacks and earned Parade All-America honors. At LSU, James’ success continued as he became the second player in LSU history to register more than 400 career tackles. As a freshman in 1999, James had 41 tackles, three sacks, and one interception. As a sophomore, he recorded 110 tackles and five sacks, made second team All-SEC, and was named the Defensive MVP of the 2000 Peach Bowl. During his junior year, LSU’s defense was dubbed "the James Gang defense" because of his leadership. That year he had 113 tackles and three sacks and was named to the first team All-SEC team. In his final season at LSU, James was the team captain on defense and had 154 tackles, three sacks, and one interception, and became the first Tiger to surpass 150 tackles in a season. He also became the first All-American linebacker for LSU since Michael Brooks (1985). That same year, he was named a National Scholar-Athlete by the National Football Foundation. James was drafted in the fourth round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys where he played for eight seasons. In April of 2012, James signed a one-year contract with the Houston Texans. James wasn’t resigned after his contract expired, but on May 6th of this year he signed a one-day contract to retire with the Dallas Cowboys.

While doing research on James for a previous countdown, I came across this 2010 video of Tigers making big hits, and James is featured in several of them. It’s called, “Here Comes the BOOM!” and it’s sure to get you fired up.

In closing, I’d like to point out that I’ve updated our Ticket Exchange with several new listings.

 

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