3/3/15 5:50 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
After extending its winning streak to seven games with four wins last week, the LSU baseball team stayed put in three national polls, climbed in one and fell in another. The Tigers remained ranked No. 2 by Baseball America, No. 3 by Collegiate Baseball, and No. 6 by Perfect Game. In D1Baseball’s poll the Tigers climbed one spot to No. 7 and in the USA Today/Coaches Poll they dropped one spot to No. 5. We all know that baseball polls don’t mean a heck of a lot, but it’s interesting to keep up with them to see how the Tigers are perceived on a national level. Personally, I think the Tigers have looked great at the plate and on the mound, but I am concerned about the number of defensive errors committed, especially at the hot corner. The Tigers will have several chances to work out the kinks at 3rd base between now and the start of SEC play, including five games in the next six days. Yesterday Coach Mainieri indicated to the media that he is giving Connor Hale and Jared Foster a look at third base and that Hale will start there today.
Below is a look at this week’s schedule and TV coverage.
In today’s game, senior left-hander Kyle Bouman will get the start for LSU, while Stephen F. Austin will counter with junior left-hander Eric Polivka. Freshman right-hander Doug Norman will get the start for LSU in Wednesday’s game against Grambling. LSU may soon have another viable option at pitcher for the starting rotation as heralded freshman left-hander Jake Latz will throw for the first time this season on Friday, probably on the sideline in Houston, and then will have an MRI on Monday to see how his elbow handled it. If all is well, we will likely see a lot more of Latz in a few weeks.
Now let’s turn to football and continue the series we started yesterday on LSU players who haven’t yet had their time to shine but should make a big impact this season. Yesterday we looked at Travonté Valentine and today we’ll continue with another player who came to LSU with great fanfare but hasn’t yet shown what he can do on the playing field. Here we go…
6-2, 242 pounds
Clifton Garrett’s freshman season didn’t go exactly according to plan. Hyped heavily with his 5-star rating from 247Sports and Scout, Garrett’s impact felt minuscule in terms of what fans were anticipating from him. That shouldn’t deter fans from getting excited about Garrett in 2015. With Kwon Alexander moving on and the Tigers missing out on linebackers in their most recent recruiting class, Garrett is expected to contribute heavily in his second season.
Garrett will be directly behind Kendell Beckwith at middle linebacker and should serve as one of the interior linebackers in 3-4 sets. Garrett had trouble acclimating to the Tigers’ defense in 2014, but with John Chavis moving on and Kevin Steele stepping in to replace him, Garrett will have every opportunity this spring to make a positive first impression and put himself in a position to contribute significantly.
With the loss of Kwon Alexander to the draft, and with Coach Steele taking over as defensive coordinator and LB coach, the linebacker position will be an interesting one to watch this spring. There are many reasons to be optimistic about the position, including the fact that LSU returns two starters in Kendell Beckwith and Lamar Louis, plus Deion Jones who has significant game experience. If Garrett turns out to be as good as most expect he will, this 2015 LSU linebacker corps could be very special.
While on the topic of football, there’s some news to pass along on LSU quarterback commit, Feleipe Franks. According to this article by 247Sports, Franks had a huge showing at Sunday’s regional Nike camp in Orlando. In fact, his showing was so impressive that it helped earn him an invitation to The Opening, as well as an invitation to this year’s Elite 11 finals, which is a camp reserved for only the best quarterbacks in the country. Franks’ invitation was the first offered by Elite 11 this year.
Yesterday Franks spoke about a variety of topics on the “Culotta and The Prince” ESPN radio show on 104.5 FM, and you can hear the full interview here. Franks was very well spoken and described LSU coaches Les Miles and Cam Cameron as two of the best coaches in college football. In the interview, Franks expressed interest in playing both baseball and football for LSU, and after listening to it I was left feeling more confident than ever that Franks will in fact make it to campus and not opt to play professional baseball instead. Of course, only time will tell.
In basketball news, congratulations are in order for LSU’s Tim Quarterman who was named the SEC Player of the Week after his rare triple double Saturday against Ole Miss. The SEC POW award was the first for an LSU basketball player since Johnny O’Bryant III was named the player of the week on the first week of February 2014, and Quarterman’s triple double (18 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists) was the first by an LSU player since Shaquille O’Neal in 1992. In fact, there have only been eight triple doubles in LSU history - one by Pistol Pete, six by Shaq and now this one by Quarterman. I’d say that puts him in pretty good company!
A couple more basketball-related tidbits:
• Coach Johnny Jones has already landed a top-15 recruiting class for 2015, anchored by the number 1 player in the country in Ben Simmons and the No. 16 prospect in the country in Antonio Blakeney. Well, now there’s chatter about LSU being in the running for five-star shooting guard Malik Newman, who visited with LSU last month. If LSU should be so fortunate as to add Newman to the mix, the Tigers could easily have the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation.
• As for this year’s LSU Tigers basketball team, they have been peaking at the right time and could go along way in securing a bid to the NCAA Tournament with a win tomorrow against Tennessee at the PMAC. The game, which tips off at 6 p.m. will be televised by the SEC Network, and will be the last home game for the Tigers this season. I hope a lot of you will make it out to the PMAC to cheer them on to victory. By the way, in the latest NCAA Tournament projections, CBSSports.com has LSU as a No. 8 seed.
Last but not least, congratulations are also in order for LSU senior outfielder A.J. Andrews who was named SEC Softball Player of the Week. It’s hard to argue with Andrews being selected for the honor when you consider she went 10-for-11 at the plate with 13 RBIs, seven walks and seven stolen bases in wins over Ball State, Florida Atlantic, Northwestern State and Stephen F. Austin in the 2015 Purple & Gold Challenge. The Oldsmar, Florida, native had three triples and a double among her double-digit hits, slugging 1.545 with a .895 on-base percentage.