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11/17/17 5:30 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

The LSU football team’s quest to finish the season strong continues tomorrow when the No. 20 Tigers face the potentially dangerous Volunteers of Tennessee in Neyland Stadium. The game is set to kick off at 6 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN. My use of  the phrase “potentially dangerous” probably seems laughable to some of you based on Tennessee’s record and the stats I shared with you on Wednesday (not to mention our Who has the Edge points below), but I don’t ever take an SEC opponent lightly on their own turf, especially one that’s playing with nothing to lose under the direction of an interim coach. All one has to do is look at how well LSU played vs. Missouri last year once Ed Orgeron took over and the tension surrounding Les Miles was lifted. Tennessee players may feel recharged and certainly the fans will be in a better mood, which might create an atmosphere for an upset. As you’ll see below, I’m not predicting a Tiger defeat, but if the Tigers take this game lightly my prediction could be way off base.  

LSU-TENNESSEE: WHO HAS THE EDGE

LSU offense vs. Tennessee defense

Statistically speaking, Tennessee’s defense is the worst in the league in many categories. With one of those categories being rushing yards allowed per contest (256.9), it’s hard not to think of LSU’s games against Ole Miss and Arkansas when previewing this contest. Before each of those games, we predicted large success on the ground against weak rush defenses, and LSU followed up with 393 rushing yards against Ole Miss and 198 rushing yards against Arkansas. The Tigers should have similar success tomorrow. LSU’s jet sweep motion has allowed the Tigers favorable match-ups in the run game between the tackles, and that will likely continue against the Volunteers. It’s worth noting that Tennessee has been good against the pass all season, but considering LSU’s primary offense comes on the ground, the match-up favors the Tigers quite heavily.
Advantage LSU 

LSU defense vs. Tennessee offense

For a team that likes to throw the ball 43 percent of the time, the Tennessee Volunteers sure struggle in producing yardage through the air. The Volunteers have played multiple quarterbacks this season with Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano both suffering injuries. That’s opened the door for Will McBride, who in his two games of action has completed less than 43 percent of his passes for 152 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. If those injuries weren’t enough, Tennessee is reportedly down to just five healthy scholarship offensive linemen. Interim coach Brady Hoke isn’t forking over availability updates just yet, so the status of all of these injuries remain in question. The Volunteers do have a star running back in John Kelly, but ever since his suspension against Kentucky, Kelly hasn’t been the breakout star he was earlier in the year. In the last two games played, Kelly has rushed for a total of 98 yards and two scores on 29 carries. Tennessee’s offensive line play hasn’t helped the Vols’ recent rushing attack woes. Going against an LSU defense that has limited opponents to under 20 points per game this season, the Volunteers should have a tough time putting points on the board, even if they are the home team.
Advantage LSU 

Special Teams

In order for the Volunteers to have a chance against LSU, the Tigers will have to be inconsistent on special teams like they were against Arkansas. On paper, both teams match-up pretty similarly in the return game, but Tennessee averages a whopping 46.3 yards per punt. That should come in handy if LSU’s defense forces three-and-out situations Saturday night. A chance to flip the field could keep Tennessee close in the game, and if it should be a close game, LSU fans have to wonder about the state of the Tigers’ kicking game. After Connor Culp missed a field goal and two extra points, Jack Gonsoulin replaced him against Arkansas. Whether LSU can bounce back in the kicking department is a big question. And though Tennessee has been far from great in this regard – this matchup actually features the two worst field goal percentages in the SEC – the Volunteers have made two of their last attempted field goals to bring their season average to 66.7 percent.
Advantage Tennessee 

Intangibles

On one hand, LSU is playing for a quality bowl game and a 10-win season. The Tigers seem to be getting better and better, and the healthier they get, the more dangerous they become. But with Arden Key and Donnie Alexander’s status unknown and with others like Greedy Williams having missed some practice time this week, just how healthy will the Tigers be? On the flip side, with Butch Jones out as Tennessee’s coach, you have to question whether or not the Volunteers can hang in there against a tough opponent like LSU for four quarters. Then again, there’s the possibility of the Volunteers being rejuvenated under the direction of Brady Hoke, and you know there’s nothing they’d like more than to beat LSU and inch closer to bowl eligibility. Plus, although LSU has won its last two contests in Neyland Stadium, history has shown it to be a pretty tough venue for the Tigers. 
Advantage unknown 

Now for my weekly predictions. Last week I went 9-3 straight up and through 11 weeks my record is 103-32 (.763). Here we go…

Mississippi State 41 Arkansas 21
Auburn 38 UL-Monroe 17
Georgia 42 Kentucky 13
Florida 28 UAB 17
Ole Miss 38 Texas A&M 34
Missouri 42 Vanderbilt 24
UL-Lafayette 31 NM State 28
Tulane 24 Houston 38
McNeese 35 Lamar 17
Northwestern State 20 Stephen F Austin 34
LSU 31 Tennessee 13 

In men’s basketball news, LSU cruised to a 105-86 win at home against Samford last night with a strong offensive performance. LSU outscored, out-rebounded and out-hustled the Bulldogs, forcing 15 turnovers and shooting 60% in the lopsided win. The Tigers scored 100 points for the first time since 2015, when LSU defeated Oral Roberts 100-77. Here’s a brief recap of how it played out.

It took LSU just a couple of minutes to find its footing without Tremont Waters in the starting lineup, and the Tigers actually had two early turnovers before going on a 10-0 run to lead Samford 10-2. Nursing a sore ankle, Waters didn’t come into the game until the 16-minute mark. In his absence, four different Tigers scored within the opening minutes of the game. Waters made his presence felt shortly after he entered he game, draining a long-range shot to keep the Tigers up by double digits. The key statistic in the first half was the points off turnovers. LSU had 15 such points, while the Bulldogs didn’t muster a single point off of a turnover. Skylar Mays hit four 3-pointers in the first half and led the Tigers at the break with 14 points as the Tigers led 47-28.

Offensively, LSU didn’t take its foot off the pedal in the second half, quickly extending the lead to 27 points with the help of two quick 3-pointers in a 12-1 run. LSU was so efficient on offense that at one point the Tigers had 21 assists on 27 made field goals with just four turnovers. On defense, however, it was a different story. Samford converted far too many 3-point attempts in the second half (11-of-18), which Coach Wade is clearly not happy about, but for every three Samford made, LSU came right back with an answer either from 3-point land or on a fast break. LSU was led in scoring by Mays and Brandon Sampson, who each finished with 20 points. Four Tigers scored in double figures, and the freshman phenom Waters finished with just five points and eight assists.

Here are the game’s video highlights

Next up for the (2-0) Tigers is the Maui Invitational, where LSU will face the Michigan Wolverines at the Lahaina Civic Center Monday evening. Tiger fans wanting to watch this one will have to stay up late to do so, as LSU and Michigan will tip off on ESPNU at 10:30 p.m.  

Today’s closing tidbits:

• Recruiting update: In yesterday’s report I mentioned that LSU was trying to get JUCO offensive tackle Badara Traore in for an official visit this month. Well, it’s now official. He’ll be visiting for the A&M game. 

• A big congratulations to Danny Etling and John David Moore for being named to the 2017 College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District Football Team. They each earned a spot on the District 6 Academic All-District Team, which is made up of schools from the states of Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Etling, a repeat selection to the team, graduated in May with a degree in Mass Communications and a 3.72 grade point average. Moore currently maintains a 4.02 grade point average in architecture where he’s on pace to become the first Tiger football player to graduate in that curriculum in more than 25 years. 

• Lastly, LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri will be honored tomorrow night in St. Louis at the annual Musial Awards, which celebrate the greatest moments of sportsmanship in North America. Mainieri will receive an award for conducting special tributes to the military academy teams that faced LSU in Alex Box Stadium last February. For more from LSU’s press release on this honor, click here.

Have a great day, Tiger Fans!

 




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11/17/17 5:30 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

The LSU football team’s quest to finish the season strong continues tomorrow when the No. 20 Tigers face the potentially dangerous Volunteers of Tennessee in Neyland Stadium. The game is set to kick off at 6 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN. My use of  the phrase “potentially dangerous” probably seems laughable to some of you based on Tennessee’s record and the stats I shared with you on Wednesday (not to mention our Who has the Edge points below), but I don’t ever take an SEC opponent lightly on their own turf, especially one that’s playing with nothing to lose under the direction of an interim coach. All one has to do is look at how well LSU played vs. Missouri last year once Ed Orgeron took over and the tension surrounding Les Miles was lifted. Tennessee players may feel recharged and certainly the fans will be in a better mood, which might create an atmosphere for an upset. As you’ll see below, I’m not predicting a Tiger defeat, but if the Tigers take this game lightly my prediction could be way off base.  

LSU-TENNESSEE: WHO HAS THE EDGE

LSU offense vs. Tennessee defense

Statistically speaking, Tennessee’s defense is the worst in the league in many categories. With one of those categories being rushing yards allowed per contest (256.9), it’s hard not to think of LSU’s games against Ole Miss and Arkansas when previewing this contest. Before each of those games, we predicted large success on the ground against weak rush defenses, and LSU followed up with 393 rushing yards against Ole Miss and 198 rushing yards against Arkansas. The Tigers should have similar success tomorrow. LSU’s jet sweep motion has allowed the Tigers favorable match-ups in the run game between the tackles, and that will likely continue against the Volunteers. It’s worth noting that Tennessee has been good against the pass all season, but considering LSU’s primary offense comes on the ground, the match-up favors the Tigers quite heavily.
Advantage LSU 

LSU defense vs. Tennessee offense

For a team that likes to throw the ball 43 percent of the time, the Tennessee Volunteers sure struggle in producing yardage through the air. The Volunteers have played multiple quarterbacks this season with Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano both suffering injuries. That’s opened the door for Will McBride, who in his two games of action has completed less than 43 percent of his passes for 152 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. If those injuries weren’t enough, Tennessee is reportedly down to just five healthy scholarship offensive linemen. Interim coach Brady Hoke isn’t forking over availability updates just yet, so the status of all of these injuries remain in question. The Volunteers do have a star running back in John Kelly, but ever since his suspension against Kentucky, Kelly hasn’t been the breakout star he was earlier in the year. In the last two games played, Kelly has rushed for a total of 98 yards and two scores on 29 carries. Tennessee’s offensive line play hasn’t helped the Vols’ recent rushing attack woes. Going against an LSU defense that has limited opponents to under 20 points per game this season, the Volunteers should have a tough time putting points on the board, even if they are the home team.
Advantage LSU 

Special Teams

In order for the Volunteers to have a chance against LSU, the Tigers will have to be inconsistent on special teams like they were against Arkansas. On paper, both teams match-up pretty similarly in the return game, but Tennessee averages a whopping 46.3 yards per punt. That should come in handy if LSU’s defense forces three-and-out situations Saturday night. A chance to flip the field could keep Tennessee close in the game, and if it should be a close game, LSU fans have to wonder about the state of the Tigers’ kicking game. After Connor Culp missed a field goal and two extra points, Jack Gonsoulin replaced him against Arkansas. Whether LSU can bounce back in the kicking department is a big question. And though Tennessee has been far from great in this regard – this matchup actually features the two worst field goal percentages in the SEC – the Volunteers have made two of their last attempted field goals to bring their season average to 66.7 percent.
Advantage Tennessee 

Intangibles

On one hand, LSU is playing for a quality bowl game and a 10-win season. The Tigers seem to be getting better and better, and the healthier they get, the more dangerous they become. But with Arden Key and Donnie Alexander’s status unknown and with others like Greedy Williams having missed some practice time this week, just how healthy will the Tigers be? On the flip side, with Butch Jones out as Tennessee’s coach, you have to question whether or not the Volunteers can hang in there against a tough opponent like LSU for four quarters. Then again, there’s the possibility of the Volunteers being rejuvenated under the direction of Brady Hoke, and you know there’s nothing they’d like more than to beat LSU and inch closer to bowl eligibility. Plus, although LSU has won its last two contests in Neyland Stadium, history has shown it to be a pretty tough venue for the Tigers. 
Advantage unknown 

Now for my weekly predictions. Last week I went 9-3 straight up and through 11 weeks my record is 103-32 (.763). Here we go…

Mississippi State 41 Arkansas 21
Auburn 38 UL-Monroe 17
Georgia 42 Kentucky 13
Florida 28 UAB 17
Ole Miss 38 Texas A&M 34
Missouri 42 Vanderbilt 24
UL-Lafayette 31 NM State 28
Tulane 24 Houston 38
McNeese 35 Lamar 17
Northwestern State 20 Stephen F Austin 34
LSU 31 Tennessee 13 

In men’s basketball news, LSU cruised to a 105-86 win at home against Samford last night with a strong offensive performance. LSU outscored, out-rebounded and out-hustled the Bulldogs, forcing 15 turnovers and shooting 60% in the lopsided win. The Tigers scored 100 points for the first time since 2015, when LSU defeated Oral Roberts 100-77. Here’s a brief recap of how it played out.

It took LSU just a couple of minutes to find its footing without Tremont Waters in the starting lineup, and the Tigers actually had two early turnovers before going on a 10-0 run to lead Samford 10-2. Nursing a sore ankle, Waters didn’t come into the game until the 16-minute mark. In his absence, four different Tigers scored within the opening minutes of the game. Waters made his presence felt shortly after he entered he game, draining a long-range shot to keep the Tigers up by double digits. The key statistic in the first half was the points off turnovers. LSU had 15 such points, while the Bulldogs didn’t muster a single point off of a turnover. Skylar Mays hit four 3-pointers in the first half and led the Tigers at the break with 14 points as the Tigers led 47-28.

Offensively, LSU didn’t take its foot off the pedal in the second half, quickly extending the lead to 27 points with the help of two quick 3-pointers in a 12-1 run. LSU was so efficient on offense that at one point the Tigers had 21 assists on 27 made field goals with just four turnovers. On defense, however, it was a different story. Samford converted far too many 3-point attempts in the second half (11-of-18), which Coach Wade is clearly not happy about, but for every three Samford made, LSU came right back with an answer either from 3-point land or on a fast break. LSU was led in scoring by Mays and Brandon Sampson, who each finished with 20 points. Four Tigers scored in double figures, and the freshman phenom Waters finished with just five points and eight assists.

Here are the game’s video highlights

Next up for the (2-0) Tigers is the Maui Invitational, where LSU will face the Michigan Wolverines at the Lahaina Civic Center Monday evening. Tiger fans wanting to watch this one will have to stay up late to do so, as LSU and Michigan will tip off on ESPNU at 10:30 p.m.  

Today’s closing tidbits:

• Recruiting update: In yesterday’s report I mentioned that LSU was trying to get JUCO offensive tackle Badara Traore in for an official visit this month. Well, it’s now official. He’ll be visiting for the A&M game. 

• A big congratulations to Danny Etling and John David Moore for being named to the 2017 College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District Football Team. They each earned a spot on the District 6 Academic All-District Team, which is made up of schools from the states of Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Etling, a repeat selection to the team, graduated in May with a degree in Mass Communications and a 3.72 grade point average. Moore currently maintains a 4.02 grade point average in architecture where he’s on pace to become the first Tiger football player to graduate in that curriculum in more than 25 years. 

• Lastly, LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri will be honored tomorrow night in St. Louis at the annual Musial Awards, which celebrate the greatest moments of sportsmanship in North America. Mainieri will receive an award for conducting special tributes to the military academy teams that faced LSU in Alex Box Stadium last February. For more from LSU’s press release on this honor, click here.

Have a great day, Tiger Fans!

 

11/16/17 5:30 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

During yesterday’s weekly SEC Coaches Teleconference, Coach Ed Orgeron spoke about the possibility of losing a couple of junior offensive linemen to the NFL draft and how that makes O-linemen a priority in this year’s recruiting class. This is a topic that was briefly covered earlier in the week in our Monday Morning Mail Call, but hearing Coach O talk about it reminded me that it’s been a while since we’ve written much about recruiting. So, let’s start with a bit on that today.

The two O-linemen Orgeron was talking about are presumed to be junior guard Will Clapp and junior right tackle Toby Weathersby. Then there’s junior guard Garrett Brumfield who’s also draft eligible. If all three of these guys return, and if LSU doesn’t lose any other linemen to transfer or injury, LSU’s O-line will return a lot of experienced talent. But after losing nine O-linemen in the last year-and-a-half, Coach O can’t afford to take any chances. Hence Coach O’s well-documented desire to bring in a couple of JUCO O-linemen to compliment the incoming freshmen he expects to sign. So, who are among the JUCO candidates to fill this need? And who else is LSU targeting as additions to its 2018 class, which currently includes 18 commitments and is ranked No. 17 in the nation? Well, in today’s report, I’ll briefly answer both questions by listing a dozen LSU targets I’ve been hearing the most chatter about lately.

First, the JUCO O-linemen targets…

Badora Traore (OT, 6-8, 315, ASA JUCO in New York)
Traore holds offers from several top programs like Auburn, Georgia, and Oklahoma, but appears to be leaning to LSU. He would be a major get for Coach O. From what I understand, LSU is hoping to get him in for a visit for this month. 

Damien Lewis (OG, 6-3, 320, Northwest Miss CC)
Lewis has taken official visits to South Carolina, Kentucky, and Ole Miss and will be at West Virginia this weekend. He’s already set to take his official visit to LSU for the A&M game.

Ten other various targets I’ve been hearing a lot about lately, listed in no particular order:

Pooka Williams (ATH/RB, 5-8, 165, Hahnville. Kansas commit)
Lawrence Keys (WR,  5-11, 160, McDonough 35)
Joe Foucha (Safety, 5-11, 194, McDonough 35)
Glen Beal (TE, 6-5, 250, John Curtis)
Kelvin Joseph (CB, 6-2, 191, Scotlandville)
Patrick Surtain, Jr. (CB, 6-2, 181, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Harold Joiner (RB, 6-3, 218, Birmingham, Ala.)
James Foster (QB, 6-3, 210, Montgomery, Ala.)
Terrace Marshall (WR, 6-3, 192, Parkway)
Devonta Jason (WR, 6-3, 211, Landry-Walker, Kansas commit) 

Obviously, this list does not represent everyone LSU is recruiting. Look for more on these recruiting targets and others in a subsequent report.

Moving on with our normal order of business, last night I listened to the Ed Orgeron radio talk show and enjoyed hearing Coach O and host Chris Blair talk about last week’s win and the upcoming contest against Tennessee. Below is my rough recap of what was said:

COACH ED ORGERON SHOW RECAP – TENNESSEE WEEK

After Bill in Gonzales sang a song he wrote about beating Tennessee, Jeff in Ponchatoula asked Coach O if he thought Tennessee interim coach Brady Hoke would be able to make many changes in such a short time. Speaking from experience, Orgeron said you can’t make major changes in one week’s time, though you can tweak things that bring about improvements. As an example, he pointed out that when he took over last year, Steve Ensminger put together a great offensive game plan and the team went out and set a school record for total offense in SEC games with 634 yards against Missouri in a 42-7 win.

Between calls, Blaire commended Danny Etling for his play on Saturday and asked about his health. Coach O said that Etling strained his back throwing the ball in pregame warmups. At halftime, they were going to give him a couple series in the third quarter to see what he could do. “I was so happy to see him gut through it like he did and come back to score 26 points in the second half.”

Chip from the west coast asked Coach O about special teams and about how hard he’s recruiting the state of California. To the second part of the question, Orgeron replied, “If there was a young man who called me from California and was serious enough, I'd look at him. But I'm not going to spend too much time in California when I have so much work in my backyard.” As for special teams, Orgeron said Connor Culp had done a good job and they thought their field goal problems were gone but then he had a bad day. “Thank God Jack kicked that extra point,” he said. “I never heard a cheer so loud on an extra point. I was clapping too.” 

Charlie in Lafayette asked about the health of the team. Orgeron said something like,  “We’re about as healthy as we've been,” but then went on to say that KJ Malone is still questionable (though getting better) and a couple of guys are nicked up. 

A little later in the show, the Evil Twin asked about the health of Arden Key. Orgeron said Key is “questionable for this weekend.”

One of the last callers asked about plans for playing quarterback Myles Brennan this weekend in  Tennessee. Orgeron repeated the answer he gave before last week’s game, which is that Danny Etling is the starting quarterback and that they’re playing to win. He added that if Etling is not doing well or if they’re up by a large margin, Myles will go in.

Now turning to the hardwood…

By winning last week’s season-opener in impressive fashion and then completing a killer signing class which ranks 4th in the nation, first-year LSU head coach Will Wade is bringing a lot of excitement to the Tigers’ basketball program. He’ll have a chance to build on that excitement tonight when the Tigers (1-0) take on Samford (1-1) in the PMAC. The game is set to tip-off at 7 p.m. and will be streamed online by SECN+, accessible on the WatchESPN app and at ESPN3.com. After last week’s very enjoyable debut of Wade’s Tigers, LSU shouldn’t have much trouble attracting a large crowd for tonight’s game, but just in case, the school has released this 1:15 hype video to encourage fans to attend. #BootUp!

In other basketball news, LSU’s Lady Tigers fell to 1-2 on the season with a 58-50 loss at Northern Colorado (3-0). LSU dominated the boards (48-31), but struggled with turnovers and successfully spreading the ball around, committing 14 turnovers compared to only four assists. Here’s LSUSports.net’s complete recap of the game. Up next for the Lady Tigers is a home game again Nicholls State on Tuesday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m.

One track and field tidbit in closing:  If you’re an LSU baseball fan, you probably already know that left-fielder Antoine Duplantis comes from a highly talented track and field family and that his younger brother, Armand, is a world-class pole vaulter. Well, the younger Duplantis is now also officially a Tiger. Armand, better known as “Mondo,” signed with LSU yesterday in the early signing period. As the nation’s top track and field recruit, the Gatorade National Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year, and the World Junior Record Holder in the pole vault with a personal record of 19-4.25 ft./5.90m, Mondo is obviously a huge get for the program.

That’s it for now, folks. Have a great day!



 

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