7/6/15 5:55 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Yesterday I gave you a list of dates of interest leading up to the start of LSU football seasons, and today I’ve got a few more recruiting attractions to add to it. First, there is Nike’s The Opening and Elite 11 football camp finals which are this week in Oregon. Nike’s The Opening is the premier invitation-only football training and competition event in the country, and seven of LSU’s 17 commitments will be participating in it. The most popular component of the camp is the 7-on-7 team competitions, and some of them will be televised by ESPNU later this week. In an unusual twist of events, it turns out that all seven of LSU’s commitments will be playing on the same team, a group called Team SuperBad, and they’ll be joined by two of the Tigers’ biggest targets, Louisiana’s own Rashard Lawrence (DT, 6-4, 300, Neville, No. 4 on our list of Top LA Prospects) and Texas linebacker Dontavius Jackson (6-2, 239, Houston). Headlining the group is LSU quarterback commit Feleipe Franks (6-5, 220, Crawfordville, FL), who will also be participating in this week’s Elite 11 quarterback competition which begins today. For more on those events and LSU’s targets and commits playing in it, see this article by 247Sports.
Another football camp I’d like to call your attention to is one being conducted by former Tigers Jacob Hester and Morris Claiborne. Yesterday Jacob sent me the following info to share on their camp:
Michael Clayton & Jacob Hester Football Camp
Ages 7-18. July 22-24, 5-8pm.
Cost is $100 and includes T-shirt & daily meal.
Pre-register online at GoCrusaders.com
With things kind of slow in LSU sporting news right now, I decided to review some LSU football stats and put together a series to highlight a few trends I observed. In today’s first segment we’ll take a brief look at LSU’s run-to-pass ratio, which has trended very heavily toward the run in the last several years. Here we go…
Rushing Offense, Run-to-Pass Ratio
LSU’s yards per game on the ground have consistently increased in each of the last three years, and on first glance that might seem like a good sign. However, when you dig just a bit deeper it’s easy to see that this goes hand-in-hand with the fact that LSU has been consistently throwing the ball less and less. In 2012, LSU had a 60/40 run to pass ratio, which I think most Tiger Fans would consider a comfortable mix. In 2013, however, even with Zach Mettenberger as a senior quarterback, LSU had fewer pass attempts than the year before with a run-to-pass ratio of 62/38. Of course, last year this trend continued in a big way as LSU’s passing game struggled to produce. The Tigers’ run-to-pass ratio last season (69/31) was by far the most run-heavy in recent years. (One thing I found interesting in reviewing the stats is that LSU’s offense was much more balanced in 2008 and 2009, the Jefferson/Lee years, than in any year since.) Looking back at LSU’s last two championship seasons, the Tigers’ RTP ratio was 58/42 in 2007 and an even 60/40 in 2003. With questions looming at quarterback, a seasoned offensive line, and one of the best stables of running backs in the country led by potential Heisman candidate Leonard Fournette, it will probably be tempting to lean very heavily on the run game in the season opener against McNeese State, but I hope that is not the case. In my opinion, LSU should take the game as an opportunity to come out throwing against a weak Cowboy pass defense that gave up an average of 217 passing yards per game last year against mostly FCS opponents. A successful aerial attack against the Cowboys could give LSU’s passing game a valuable boost of confidence and give Mississippi State reason to think twice before stacking the box the following week.
Now let’s continue our countdown to that season opener against McNeese State, which is 61 days away, by looking at a special former Tiger who wore No. 61 - Tommy Lott. Lott was a member of the famous Chinese Bandits, a defensive squad that was so good that sometimes LSU’s offense would punt on third down with the expectation that the defensive unit would hold the opposition and allow the offense to return with a shortened field. The Chinese Bandits were very small by today’s standards, especially across the defensive line, with the smallest among them being nose guard Tommy Lott at 5-9, 188 pounds. Coach Paul Dietzel credited this squad’s success to their pride, their speed, their ability to gang-tackle, and especially their hustle and enthusiasm. That pride showed in big and small instances and was reflected in a statement made by our number 61. When an injury occurred to the White Team causing Dietzel to offer a promotion (from the Chinese Bandits to the White team), Lott looked the coach in the eye and stated "Okay, but as soon as possible I want to get back to the Bandits." (Game of My Life LSU Tigers, Marty Mule and Paul Dietzel). And with that we say “thank you” to Tommy Lott and the Chinese Bandits for their terrific Fighting Tiger spirit during what would become an undefeated season capped by a 7-0 National Championship win against Clemson in the Sugar Bowl.
Sidenote: I would be remiss to speak of the Chinese Bandits and not include a link to this historic photo of them which was featured in Time Magazine.
In closing, I’d like to point out that I’ve made a few minor adjustments to our Way Too Early Unofficial Depth Chart, mostly to reflect suspensions and freshman number assignments. Later today I’ll be updating our Ticket Exchange page if I receive new listings, so if you have LSU tickets to sell please let me know.