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LSU vs. McNeese State - Saturday, September 5th, 2015 6:30 PM (SEC-Alt)
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7/30/15 5:50 am CDT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Yesterday turned out to be a very newsworthy day as Coach Les Miles held his annual meeting with the Baton Rouge Rotary Club and dished out lots of information. What made the event even more informative was that East Baton Rouge district attorney Hillar Moore was also in attendance, and afterwards he spoke briefly to the local media about the case involving Anthony Jennings, Maquedius Bain and Dwayne Thomas. Basically what was learned, according to reports I’ve read (like this one) and tweets from media who were present, is that the case against the three players could be dismissed very soon. Hillar reportedly said that the victim in the case (the person who allegedly had items stolen from him by the three LSU players) has requested the charges be dropped. Hillar also said that if this case did not involve athletes, the charges would have probably already been dropped, but that he wants to take his time and make sure he gets it right. Reading between the lines, I would not be surprised at all to see the three players in question back on the team when fall practice starts a week from today.

As for Coach Miles’ comments from the address, here’s a quick rundown of the most interesting points:

On the quarterbacks…

Miles said he thinks both quarterbacks, Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris, will compete and that the best quarterback will play. He also said he’s excited about quarterback, Justin McMillan, and that he’s very competitive. 

On the offensive line…

At this time the starting line would be Jerald Hawkins at left tackle, Ethan Pocic at left guard, William Clapp at center, Josh Boutte at right guard, and Vadal Alexander at right tackle. This comes as no surprise as this is what we show on our unofficial depth chart.

On the defensive ends…

Lewis Neal and Tashawn Bower will be the starters, but a lot of guys will play. Miles singled out Isaiah Washington and Arden Key as freshmen who will contribute at the position this year.

On the running backs….

Miles called Leonard Fournette a Heisman contender and Darrell Williams an “elite running back.” He also spoke highly of freshmen tailbacks Derrius Guice and Nicholas Brossette and said John David Moore will start at fullback.

On kickers…

Trent Domingue and Cameron Gamble will compete for kickoff duties. Miles mentioned Colby Delahoussaye as a place-kicker. 

On the return game…

Fournette will be one of several guys who gets looks as a kick returner.  Tre’Davious White will continue to handle punt returns. Miles also named freshman Donté Jackson (4.3 forty) as someone who could be used on special teams in the return game and on both offense and defense.

Miles also said that LSU currently has 21 commitments in the 2016 class, even though only 18 have been announced, meaning there are three “silent commits.”

In baseball news, Coach Paul Mainieri will hold a press luncheon today to discuss the 2016 team roster, including the Tigers’ incoming recruiting class. And speaking of baseball recruiting, LSU picked up a big commitment for the class of 2017 on Tuesday from pitcher Blayne Enlow of St. Amant High School. Enlow is a 6-foot-3 right hander whose fastball touches 90 mph. 

Moving on with our series on LSU’s 2015 football opponents, today we’ll take a look at LSU’s most highly anticipated game of the season - the November 7th contest at Alabama. Of all the games on LSU’s schedule, this is the only one that Vegas oddsmaker Golden Nugget predicts LSU to lose. (They call the Ole Miss game a toss-up and have LSU favored in every other contest.) As I stated back in early June when we previewed LSU’s toughest games of 2015, this is a contest that LSU needs to win for several reasons. Not only for the sake of SEC West standings and national rankings, but also for the sake of recruiting and for Tiger pride. LSU has lost its last four games against this SEC West nemesis, and in two of those contests, including last year’s 20-13 overtime loss, the Tigers had the Crimson Tide on the ropes with victory in clear site only to watch it slip away in the last minutes of regulation. Of course, I don’t need to tell you how much a win against Alabama would mean this year, so let’s get right to their team preview.

Saturday, Nov. 7 — Alabama (Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa)

Much like LSU’s, Alabama’s quarterback situation is far from settled. Florida State transfer Jacob Coker is the leading candidate to replace Blake Sims, but he’ll have a battle on his hands with redshirt freshman David Cornwell, who was the nation’s No. 3 pro-style QB prospect in 2014. For Coker, this will be his second attempt to win the starting job after losing it to Sims in 2014. The Crimson Tide also have question marks at the wide receiver position, as they lost their top three receivers including Heisman Trophy finalist Amari Cooper. What is less questionable is that Alabama will once again feature a pounding running game with 6-foot-3, 240-pound junior running back Derrick Henry leading the charge, even though they did lose last year’s starter, T.J. Yeldon, to the NFL. 

On defense, Alabama returns seven starters and will have a very formidable front seven. Defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson and inside linebackers Reggie Ragland and Reuben Foster should eviscerate running games in 2015, and considering LSU’s question marks at quarterback, this is what scares me most about the Crimson Tide. As for Alabama’s secondary, that’s another question mark. Over the last two seasons, Alabama has had some problems with this unit, but that could change this year with new secondary coach Mel Tucker on board. 

Even with as many question marks as Alabama possesses this year, there’s little doubt that this will be LSU’s toughest game on the schedule, especially with it being played in Tuscaloosa. Could this be the year LSU stems the tide and breaks its streak of losses against its most hated rival? That, of course, will depend largely on whether LSU can provide an answer for its own biggest question mark and get significant improvement at the quarterback position. 

Now let’s continue our Countdown to Game Day, which is at the 37-day mark,  by looking at one of the all-time greatest Tigers to ever play the game - No. 37, Tommy Casanova. During his time at LSU from 1969 to1971, Casanova (6'1", 186) was an extremely versatile athlete who played offense and defense, returned punts and kickoffs, and did just about everything except handle the water cart. Casanova was selected to the College Football All-America Team and the All-SEC Team during each of his three years as a Tiger, and in September of 1971, Sports Illustrated included Casanova on their cover along with the headline, “Tommy Casanova of LSU, Best Player in the Nation.” (Click here to see the cover image.) At that time, Casanova was a top contender for the Heisman Trophy, but a pulled hamstring in the second game of the 1971 season sidelined him for five weeks and pretty much took him out of the running. One of Casanova’s more notable individual performances came in a 1970 LSU win against Ole Miss that wrapped up an Orange Bowl bid for the Tigers. Casanova returned two punts for touchdowns that day, tying a national record, and LSU’s Craig Burns added a third. As the Tigers steadily increased their lead in the second half en route to a 61-17 win, LSU fans who hadn't seen their team beat the Rebels since 1964 began to throw oranges on the field. Casanova went on to a successful NFL career with the Cincinnati Bengals from 1972-1977 and was selected to the Pro Bowl in ’74, ’75, ’76, and ’77. While playing for the Bengals, Casanova began to pursue his M.D., and in 1977 he quit football to pursue his degree full-time. Casanova is now an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) in his hometown of Crowley, LA.

Closing tidbits:

• I’ve updated our unofficial LSU football depth chart in light of Coach Miles’ comments from yesterday’s event.

• Also, I’ve updated our Ticket Exchange with several new listings.

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7/29/15 5:45 am CDT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

To all of you LSU basketball fans who’ve been saying that Coach Johnny Jones is an outstanding recruiter but he needs to hire an outstanding Xs and Os assistant, you’ll be happy to know that he did just that. Yesterday the school announced the hiring of the Brenden Suhr, 61, a man with an exceptional résumé as an NBA and collegiate coach, and a reputation of being among the best Xs and Os coaches in the business. Suhr built his résumé and reputation as an assistant for the Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, New Jersey Nets, Toronto Raptors, Orlando Magic, and New York Knicks. He was also the head scout for the gold-medal United States “Dream Team” at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, and the assistant coach for two NBA All-Star Games (1988, 1990). Suhr’s most recent gig was at the University of Central Florida, where he was Coach Donnie Jones’ assistant since 2012 and Director of Program Development since 2013. Based on everything I’ve heard and read about the man, I’d say he’s clearly a slam dunk hire.

For more on Suhr and his hiring, here’s the full press release by LSU: FORMER NBA CHAMPIONSHIP WINNING ASSISTANT COACH BRENDAN SUHR JOINS LSU MEN’S BASKETBALL COACHING STAFF

One more basketball tidbit before moving on: In a radio interview with Ben Love of Bumper to Bumper Sports, Coach Johnny Jones said that forward Craig Victor won’t be eligible to play for LSU until “roughly around December 12-13.” Victor, a native of New Orleans, transferred from The University of Arizona to LSU and had applied for a hardship waiver which would have allowed him to play right away. His case for the waiver was that he transferred to be closer to an ailing family member, as opposed to transferring simply for reasons related to playing time. Evidently, the waiver was denied, so Victor won’t be able to practice or play with the team until after the Fall semester.

In football recruiting news, I wrote a few days ago about TCU trying to flip LSU wide receiver commit Stephen Sullivan, and now it appears that LSU is trying its best to flip TCU linebacker commit Sewo Olonilua. At 6-foot-2, 217 pounds, Olonilua is a versatile athlete who could play safety, linebacker, or even running back, but it appears that LSU is recruiting him as a linebacker, which is one of the Tigers’ biggest positions of need in this year’s class. LSU already has commitments from two other outstanding linebackers from the state of Texas – Erick Fowler and Rahssan Thornton, and it is likely that LSU would take as many as four linebackers in this year’s class. (Remember, they didn’t sign any last year.) Among the Tigers’ top LB targets are Louisiana’s own Michael Divinity (6'2", 200) of John Ehret High School and  Keion Joyner (6'3", 200) of Havelock, North Carolina, who has family in Abbeville, LA.  

In other football news, we all know that a good case can be made for LSU claiming the DBU (defensive back university) moniker, right? Well, you might be interested to know that Fox Sports’ College Spun website has named LSU “Running Back University.” The website analyzed the number of NFL running backs produced by each school over the last 16 years and LSU came out on top with 13 draft selections during that time. The next closest was Miami with 10 selections. With the way LSU has recruited the RB position for the last two years, they could very well hold on to that title for at least a few more years. Interestingly, the Tigers do not yet have a running back commitment in this year’s class, although they appear to be in good shape with their primary target, Devin White (6'0", 258, North Webster), who is the No. 1 player on our list of Top LA Prospects for 2016.

As for our ongoing series on LSU’s 2015 football opponents, we’ve already covered the first eight games and have now reached the point on the schedule where the team has its first open date before playing Alabama. Just as the team will need a break that week to prepare for Bama, so do I need a break from this series to allow me more time to dedicate to that big game’s writeup. Look for that installment of the series in tomorrow’s report.

Moving on to our Countdown to Game Day, which has reached the 38 days mark, let’s look at Les Miles’ biggest victory as coach of the Tigers. I’m referring to LSU’s 38-24 victory over Ohio State in the 2007 BCS National Championship. The 38 points were an amazing achievement considering Ohio State came into the game allowing just 10.7 points per game. In fact, seven of the Buckeye’s opponents had been held to seven points or less, and only one opponent, Illinois, had scored more than 17 points. I can remember well sitting in the Superdome alongside Dad and fearing LSU might fall victim to Ohio State’s stifling defense as the Buckeyes jumped out to an early 10-0 lead with LSU accumulating negative 14 yards in the process. But then the Tigers went on a remarkable 31-0 run from the middle of the 1st quarter through the opening drive of the third to take a commanding 31-10 lead. Included in the amazing turnaround were 28 penalty yards against the Buckeyes that aided LSU’s first TD of the contest, a blocked field goal by Ricky Jean-Francois that led to a 60-yard-TD drive, and a Chevis Jackson interception that led to a 24-yard TD drive and 24-10 halftime lead. Even when Ohio State forced LSU to punt on their first drive of the third quarter, the Tigers received a huge break when a Buckeye defender whiffed on a punt block attempt and collided into Patrick Fisher, giving LSU a first down. A personal foul penalty further aided the drive and eventually led to a Matt Flynn four-yard TD pass to Early Doucet. After a Flynn interception led to an Ohio State TD, the Tigers responded in the fourth quarter with a Flynn to Richard Dickson 5-yard TD that gave LSU an insurmountable 38-17 lead with less than four minutes remaining. The Buckeyes scored a meaningless TD against the Tigers’ backups to make the final score 38-24. You can relive the memorable game with these video highlights. I’ll tell you what, New Orleans, and the whole state of Louisiana for that matter, was buzzing that night. Five years later, that buzz has worn off and Tiger fans are chomping at the bit to see Les Miles hoist that Crystal Ball above his head once more. Could this be the year? In 38 days we’ll be one small step closer to answering that question, and I can hardly wait!

A couple of closing tidbits:

Former Tiger outfielder Chris Sciambra has enrolled at Nicholls state for postgraduate studies and will compete as a placekicker and punter for the Colonels’ football team. Sciambra graduated from LSU this past spring and had exhausted all of his baseball eligibility, but he still has one year of eligibility to play football. From what I understand, Sciambra wanted to continue his studies and loves the game of football (he actually walked-on to the LSU football team last August, but never appeared in a game), so this turned out to be the perfect opportunity for him. Actually, it’s a win-win all around as Sciambra will get to have part of his continuing eduction paid for, and Nicholls will get not only a very gifted athlete for their football team that went 0-12 last year, but also an outstanding young man.

• A little later today I will be updating our Ticket Exchange page with several new listings, so if you are looking to sell (not buy) LSU tickets, please email your information for posting.

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7/28/15 6:05 am CDT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

We’ll start today’s report with the news of 2017 quarterback target Nowell Narcisse committing to Auburn last night. While it’s always upsetting to  see a highly regarded in-state quarterback choose an SEC school other than LSU, I’m not too concerned about missing out on Narcisse. There’s a year and a half between now and 2017 Signing Day, and that’s plenty of time for LSU to find a couple of quarterbacks for that class. LSU already has its sights on several other 2017 signal callers, including another very highly regarded in-state quarterback Keytaon Thompson of Landry-Walker, and a quarterback from Coach Cam Cameron’s neck of the woods, Hunter Johnson of Brownsburg, Indiana. As for 2016 quarterbacks, LSU has one of the best in the nation in Feliepe Franks, and that surely factored into Narcisse’s decision. According to this report, when Narcisse informed the LSU staff of his decision, he specifically mentioned Franks as a reason why he didn’t pick the purple and gold Tigers.

With the dog days of summer upon us, things are a little slow in terms of LSU football news, but that will change in a little over a week. One week from tomorrow (August 5), the team will report to Fall Camp, and the next day they will begin practice. One of the topics I get asked about quite often is the status of quarterback Anthony Jennings and the other two suspended players, and whether I expect to see them with the team when Fall practice starts. My answer is that I have not heard anything new, and unless their legal matter is resolved in the next eight days, I do not expect them to be practicing with the team when fall camp begins. 

For a handful of other comments and questions I’ve received lately, as well as my responses, please see the following:

DandyDon.com Mail Call - July 28, 2015

In baseball news, I woke this morning to the disappointing news of Grayson Byrd and Danny Zardon transferring away from LSU. This is a tough blow for a squad that lost seven of its eight regular starters from last year’s team that advanced to the College World Series. Zardon is reportedly leaving to go to Nova Southeastern in Florida where he’ll be eligible to play right away. It’s unclear where Byrd will end up at this point. Indications are that LSU’s talented group of incoming infielders, which include Trey Dawson and O’Neal Lochridge, were a factor in Zardon and Byrd’s decision to leave. For more on this story, click here. Speaking of the Tigers’ talented group of incoming signees, LSU will hold its yearly press conference to introduce the class on Thursday.

Moving on to our preview of LSU’s 2015 football opponents, today we’ll look at a game that many may be mistaking as a walk in the park. (For previous installments in this series, click here.)

Saturday, Oct. 24 — Western Kentucky (Baton Rouge)

Laugh if you want, but if the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers can sling it around like they did last season, this game could be an entertaining one. Last season, Brandon Doughty threw for 4,830 yards and 49 touchdowns, giving Western Kentucky one of the most explosive offensive attacks in the country. The Hilltoppers averaged 374 yards per game through the air in 2014, giving them the second most lethal passing attack on paper in the country. Western Kentucky scored 44 points per game a year ago and recorded eight wins, so this will be far from a breeze for the Tigers. Even though LSU has one of the best secondaries in the country, the Tigers will still need to generate a pass rush upfront with its defensive ends. If Tashawn Bower, Lewis Neal and Sione Teuhema can fire off the ball and make their way into the backfield, they could prevent a devastating upset at home. However, as Doughty has proven in his career at Western Kentucky, if you give him time, he can shred a defense. 

While Western Kentucky’s offense lit up scoring columns last season, the Hilltoppers defense allowed 40 points per game, which should ease any jitters Tiger fans were starting to develop after reading the previous paragraph. Western Kentucky allowed 220 yards per game on the ground last season, which doesn’t bode well for the Hilltoppers when they face a massive LSU offensive line and a stable of talented running backs led by Leonard Fournette. Western Kentucky should be able to score points, but the Tigers should still pull away convincingly with superior athletes.

Now let’s close out with our Game Day countdown… yesterday we talked about LSU’s 40-3 dominating 2005 Peach Bowl victory over Miami, and today, with 39 days remaining, let’s look at an amazing play from that same season that gave Les Miles his first career victory at LSU. I’m referring to a 39-yard touchdown pass from JaMarcus Russell to Early Doucet on fourth down to beat Arizona State 35-31. LSU had already had to postpone its originally scheduled season opener vs. North Texas on September 3rd, and the September 10th Arizona State game, which was originally scheduled in Baton Rouge, had to be played in Tempe, AZ instead, as LSU had offered hurricane victims the stadium as a place of refuge.

The game started slowly for the Tigers, trailing after three quarters 17-7. But like many other games during the Les Miles era, special teams would play a huge role. First, the Tigers blocked a field goal and Mario Stevenson returned it 55 yards for a score, and less than 90 seconds later, Craig Steltz returned a blocked punt 29 yards, giving LSU its first lead of the contest 21-17. Leads switched three times, with ASU grabbing a 31-28 lead with just over four minutes remaining. The Tigers received possession at their own 9-yard line, quickly moved 52 yards in six plays before facing 4th and 10 after three incompletions. That’s when Russell avoided pressure rolling to his left and firing a 39-yard pass to the far-left of the end zone that Doucet secured for the go-ahead TD. Even after the extra point gave the Tigers a 35-31 lead with just 1:13 remaining, the Sun Devils quickly marched down the field to the LSU 28. After being torched most of the game, the LSU defense stepped up big, forcing four incompletions and securing their first victory under Coach Miles, one that would serve as not only a great start to his career, but also a timely dose of good news for a state recently ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. You can relive the memorable game with these video highlights. (The winning TD pass is at the 8:55 mark of the video).

Reader Comments: Scott, just wanted to make sure you saw that Alex Bregman has been moved up to High Single-A (Lancaster). That sure didn’t take long! After 29 games for Quad Cities, Bregman is batting .259 w/5 2B, 1 HR, 13 RBIs, and 17 BB.

 

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