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LSU vs. McNeese State - Saturday, September 5th, 2015 6:30 PM (SEC-Alt)
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7/7/15 5:55 am CT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

According to reports like this one from the Advocate, wide receiver Avery Peterson has decided to transfer away from LSU. Peterson reportedly announced his decision on Facebook in a manner that was very respectful and courteous to LSU, saying that he’ll always have a spot in his heart for LSU and will always be a Tiger. Peterson, the brother of former LSU All-American cornerback Patrick Peterson, came to LSU with a lot of fanfare but struggled to see the field after suffering a preseason injury in 2013. Last year, once he finally recovered from his injury, he found himself low on the depth chart behind a star-studded cast of receivers including Travin Dural, Malachi Dupre, Trey Quinn and John Diarse. With three years of eligibility remaining, I hope Peterson lands someplace where he can showcase his talents, and  I know I speak for Tiger fans everywhere when I wish him the best of luck wherever that may be.

In other football news, LSU’s Leonard Fournette has been named to the prestigious Paul Hornung Award watch list for 2015. The Horning Award is given annually to the most versatile player in major college football. Fournette set the LSU freshman rushing record last year with 1,034 yards and 10 touchdowns, plus he racked up 625 yards as LSU’s kickoff return specialist. If Fournette is allowed to return kickoffs again this year, I could easily see him winning the award, although whether it would be in LSU’s best interest to have him do so is up for debate. On May 28 we conducted a poll on this site asking if Fournette should be used on kickoff returns this season and 82.39% of you said no, which is understandable. Return specialists are probably more susceptible to injury than any other player on the team because of the big hits they often sustain from defenders coming at them with a full head of steam.

One LSU legend who knows a thing or two about bringing the wood and laying out opponents with big hits is former No. 60 for LSU, Roy "Moonie" Winston, the topic of today’s Day 60 countdown to Game Day feature. Winston hails from Baton Rouge and was a freshman at LSU during the 1958 championship season. He entered the program at 5-10, 199 and grew into a very capable player at offensive guard while also making his presence known on defense. As a senior in 1961, Winston was named Team Captain, All-SEC and All-American. As a dual-sport athlete, the versatile Winston also played left field for the 1961 LSU baseball team that won the SEC title. After his time at LSU, Wilson went on to a very productive career in the NFL as a linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings. As a member of the “Purple People Eaters” he played in four Super Bowls (the only LSU player to play in more Super Bowls is Kevin Faulk), but unfortunately the Vikings went 0-4 in those games. Vikings.com attributes the following quote to Roy when asked to reflect on his favorite moment as a Viking... “At San Francisco in 1964. It was the game Jim Marshall ran the wrong way. I had three interceptions that game and no one knows. Three interceptions for a linebacker is pretty good.” 

Wondering why I started this feature by saying Winston knows a thing or two about laying big hits on opponents? Here’s why: According to his Wikipedia page, Winston was responsible for “one of the most devastating tackles ever filmed.” The big hit occurred during his days as a Viking in a game against the Miami Dolphins in 1972. Winston hit Larry Csonka (who just so happens to have been one of my all-time favorite players as a youngster) from behind with such force that the 240-pound fullback was nearly cut in half. The tackle was so grotesque it was shown on The Tonight Show. Csonka dropped the ball and rolled on the field in agony, but remarkably his injury was not too serious. (You can see that hit in the very first clip of this video highlighting Winston’s greatest moments as a Viking.) Winston was inducted into the LSU Hall of Fame in 1976, and the last I heard he was residing in Morgan City.

Now let’s move on with Part 2 of the series we began yesterday on LSU football trends and observations. Yesterday we looked at a trend in the Tigers’ run-to-pass ratio over the past few years, and today we’ll take a very brief look at penalties.

LSU Statistical Trends/Observations, Part 2:  Penalties

Last year LSU only committed 71 penalties, which was the Tigers’ fewest in at least the last seven years. Part of the reason why, I suspect, is that LSU has had far fewer pre-snap penalties since the hiring of offensive line coach Jeff Grimes. Generally speaking, having fewer penalties per game is a good thing, and for that reason this should be considered a positive trend for the Tigers. However, numbers don’t always tell the whole story. Looking back at the stats for LSU’s last two championship seasons, 2007 and 2003, reveals that LSU was much more heavily penalized in those two seasons (83 penalties in 2007 and a whopping 102 in 2003). Sometimes a high number of penalties goes hand-in-hand with aggressive defensive play, and those two teams were nothing if not aggressive.  

Stay tuned, in tomorrow’s segment we’ll take a brief look at sacks.

A couple of tidbits in closing: 

• If you’re looking for LSU tickets, check out our Ticket Exchange page which was updated last night with several new listings.

• To those of you who asked when my family and I will be taking our vacation, we will be departing for Sedona, Arizona this Friday. But rest assured, I will continue to post daily reports with the help of two friends, Mark Towery and Jake Martin, whose periodic contributions to this site have been invaluable. I’m also working on lining up a guest article or two that I know you will enjoy.

Reader Comments: Scott, in case you didn’t see this… congratulations are in order for former LSU star and current Rockies infielder DJ Lemahieu for being selected as a reserve for the NL All-Stars. The annual midsummer classic is Tuesday, July 14 in Cincinnati.

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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.

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7/5/15 6:10 am CT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

First of all, I hope you all had a wonderful Independence Day celebration. I enjoyed a restful day after spending the morning checking off items on my vacation-preparation check list (preserve figs: check | blanch and freeze eggplant: check | clean chicken coup: check…), then I enjoyed preparing a meal of barbecued chicken and ribs with Dirty Rice, Corn Maque Choux and homegrown tomatoes. And of course it wouldn’t have been complete without apple pie and home-churned ice cream. Life is good here in the greatest country on Earth, even on a weekend without LSU sports. 

As nice as this weekend has been, I’m ready for some LSU football and looking forward to nine weeks from today when we’ll be discussing the outcome of LSU’s season opener against McNeese State. I’m also looking forward to the start of LSU “fall practice” which gets underway exactly one month from today. Between now and then, LSU will hold its final three summer camps of the year and that should provide some excitement to those of us who follow recruiting. Below is a list of Dates of Interest related to LSU football:

Thursday, July 16: LSU Takes Podium at SEC Media Days
Saturday, July 18: 7-on-7 Passing Camp & Lineman Camp
Sunday, July 19: Kicking Camp
Thursday, July 23:  High School “Elite” Camp (Session II)
Wednesday, August 5:  LSU Football Team Reports to Camp
Thursday, August 6 - First Day of Preseason Practice
Saturday, September 5 - LSU Season Opener against McNeese State  

Speaking of recruiting, linebacker sensation Keyon Joyner (6-3, 200 Havelock, NC) tweeted yesterday that his top-3 schools are LSU Florida State and UNC, in no particular order. Joyner, a native of Abbeville, LA, is widely considered one of the top outside linebackers in the country and I continue to hear great things about LSU’s chances with him. Also, defensive tackle Antwuan Jackson (6-2.5, 285) of Ellenwood, Georgia, named LSU as one of his top-10 schools.

With 62 days remaining until the start of the LSU football season, today’s topic for our countdown is the greatness of beating Tulane 62-0 on three different occasions. The first of those 62-0 victories took place in 1958, the year LSU won its first national championship. Interestingly, the Tigers only led 6-0 at halftime and would score 58 points in the second half to send Tulane home with a disheartening defeat. As fate would have it, Tulane would get to experience that same exact loss two more times within the next decade, in 1961 and 1965. The Tigers currently lead the series against the Green Wave 69-22-7, and for you younger fans out there the Greenies might not seem like a significant Tiger opponent. However, I’m sure that those of you who are my age or older remember well what a big rivalry this used to be. One of my earliest memories of being in Tiger Stadium was in the late 70s or early 80s. I don’t remember exactly when it was, but I remember sitting with my Dad and watching the Tigers add to a comfortable lead in the fourth quarter. That’s when the gentleman sitting in front of us stood up and yelled with all his might, “Go for two!” I didn’t know it then, but that comment stemmed from the aforementioned 1965 win. After adding a touchdown late in that ’65 contest, the Tigers were leading 60-0. Coach Mac held one finger up in the air, signaling for the team to kick the extra point despite the boisterous crowd and pleadings of the team to “go for two.” However, when quarterback Pat Screen and the Tigers broke the huddle, the Tigers weren’t in kicking formation, and the crowd went wild as they watched LSU drive the ball into the end zone for two points, giving the Tigers their third 62-0 win over the Greenies in a span of eight years. 

In other news, yesterday it was announced that six former student-athletes and two former athletic trainers will be inducted into the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame next Friday. The new inductees are: 14-time All-American gymnast April Burkholder; seven-time All-American hurdler Kim Carson; two-time All-American javelin thrower and five-time Olympic Games competitor Laverne Eve; two-time women’s basketball All-American and two-time Olympic gold medalist Sylvia Fowles; 14-time All-American swimmer Todd Torres; LSU football team captain and NFL All-Pro Ebert Van Buren; athletic trainer Mike Chambers, for whom LSU’s live mascot “Mike” The Tiger is named; and Herman Lang, a member of the Louisiana Athletic Trainers Hall of Fame who worked with three generations of LSU athletes. Chambers and Lang will be inducted into the Hall of Fame posthumously. The event will be held at the L’Auberge Baton Rouge Event Center. 

As usual, I’ll leave you today with a couple of good reads to go along with your Sunday morning coffee:

• From nola.com: You read it here first, I'm the idiot picking LSU to win the SEC: Ron Higgins

• From the Advocate: A Q&A with LSU basketball coach Johnny Jones: LSU has a Jones to be successful.

 

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This web site is not officially affiliated with Louisiana State University. Opinions expressed herein are the property of Donald Long, Scott Long and friends, not Louisiana State University.