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2007 BCS Champions

2007 BCS
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2003 BCS National Champions

2003 BCS
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1958 National Champions

1958
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9/24/17 1:00 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

A win is a win and I’ll gladly take it, though last night’s 35-26 win over Syracuse wasn’t exactly confidence-inspiring. Remember when I wrote a few days ago that there are no quick-fixes for some of LSU’s problems, particularly depth in the trenches? Well, that ugly truth revealed itself last night and will almost certainly be a recurring theme throughout the season. But for now… for today… I would rather revel in the fact that LSU hung on to win last night’s nail-biter than to focus on the fact that this team has issues that could make for a long season. There will be plenty of time for that.

The Tigers scored on the first offensive play of each half, but the rest of the game was a mixed bag, at best. Here’s a quick rundown of how it played out:

Aside from the opening play – a one-yard TD run from Derrius Guice following Andreas “Greedy” Williams’ interception – the Tigers’ offense sputtered for most of the half. At the end of the first quarter, the Tigers had a dismal 11 yards passing and zero rushing yards. 

In the second quarter, an impressive 6-play, 71-yard drive highlighted by a 43-yard Steven Sullivan touchdown reception gave the Tigers a 14-3 lead just before the break. 

The Tigers struck fast to start the second stanza on an absolutely beautifully thrown 87-yard touchdown pass from Etling to Drake Davis to give the Tigers a comfortable 19-point lead, but Syracuse didn’t flinch. Instead, the Orange answered with an impressive drive ending in a 30-yard halfback pass for a touchdown. 

At that point in the game, Danny Etling seemed to have found a groove and had completed six of his previous seven passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns, which made it a surprising time to see Coach Orgeron turn to freshman quarterback Myles Brennan. After the game, Coach O implied that the decision to play Brennan then had nothing to do with Etling’s play, but that he wanted to give Brennan some significant playing time in a critical situation to see what he could do. Turns out he did pretty well. On his opening drive, Brennan did a great job of picking up a blitz on third down and connected with running back Derrell Williams for a short completion that resulted in a 43-yard gain. On the following play, Williams made it a 28-10 LSU lead on a 20-yard TD run. 

After giving up a safety when Darrel Williams was bottled up in the end zone, Syracuse followed with a 72-yard scoring drive late in the third quarter to make it 28-19. Surprisingly, LSU stuck with Myles Brennan and he ended up throwing an interception (the Tigers first turnover of the season). At first, the play looked like a typical freshmen QB mistake, but upon further review, it might have been a freshman WR mistake as Dee Anderson appeared to have incorrectly run his route. Regardless, the Orange would go on to score a touchdown and make it a 2-point game on an 80-yard scoring drive that was kept alive by a roughing the passer penalty on freshman K’Lavon Chaisson.   

Tigers and Tiger fans were finally able to collectively exhale after Etling reentered the game and orchestrated a 7-play, 56-yard drive ending with a DJ Chark 20-yard jet sweep touchdown run to make the score 35-26. 

THE NEGATIVES: 

• Offensive Line: The most concerning thing about this game, by far, was the play of the O-line. The Tigers were once again beaten at the point of attack, and that was against a defensive front that is not nearly as strong as the majority of fronts LSU will face from here on out. If there’s any silver lining with regard to the O-line it’s that Adrian Magee got some playing time at right guard and seemed to help. 

Derrius Guice: The one-time Heisman hopeful was pretty much a non-factor in the game, rushing for only 14 yards on eight carries. It seemed obvious to me that Guice wasn’t at full health, though after the game Orgeron said he is “fine” but that they limited his carried for precautionary reasons.

• Defensive Line: Rashard Lawrence returned after missing the last two games with an ankle injury and his presence was a big help. Unfortunately, he suffered an injury to his other ankle during the game and didn’t play much of the second half. Here’s hoping he can be back at full health for two weeks against Florida. If this unit can ever get to full strength with Lawrence and Ed Alexander at full health and the return of Frank Herron, it could be considerably better, but until then it’s mediocre, at best. 

Defensive backfield: This unit had too many busted assignments (again), and took another hit when strong safety  John Battle left the game with an injury. After the game, Coach O said Battle’s injury isn’t serious, which is good to hear considering LSU is already without starting free safety Ed Paris.

• Punts & Punt Returns: DJ Chark made some poor decisions fielding (and not fielding) punts, and Josh Growden had a horrible night punting the ball, so much so that he was replaced by walk-on Zach Von Rosenberg who was much better. 

THE POSITIVES:

Penalties: LSU had no first-half penalties and only three on the night. Yes, that penalty by Chaisson in the third quarter was a killer, but still, there was much improvement on this front. Kudos to Coach O and the staff for that.

Danny Etling: Considering that he was feeling heat most of the night, Etling finished with a pretty good stat line: 10-of-17 for 188 yards and two TDs. His 87-yard TD pass to Davis marked a career-long for the senior.

Myles Brennan: While the timing of it may have been questionable, it was great to see Brennan get some meaningful playing time. No, I don’t think he did enough to win the starting job, though I do think a good argument could be made that his poise and quick release greatly benefitted LSU’s short passing game, which could go a long way in mitigating LSU’s offensive line/pass protection issues. 

Darrell Williams:  Darrell Williams: Williams made himself some NFL money last night with 142 all-purpose yards, 92 rushing and 50 receiving. On a night where Guice was limited, Williams picked up the slack in a big way.

• Young Receivers Emerging: Coach O said LSU would use new personnel this week, and no place was that more obvious or effective than at wide receiver. Steven Sullivan recorded his first career touchdown with his second career catch on the aforementioned 43‐yard catch from Etling. Drake Davis was on the receiving end of Etling’s 87-yard completion to start the second half. By the way, that touchdown marked the longest passing touchdown since September 6, 2014, when Travin Dural caught a 94‐yard pass from Anthony Jennings against Sam Houston St.

Andreas “Greedy” Williams:  Greedy continued to show he has that “it” factor and ended with seven tackles, four solo tackles, one interception, and one pass breakup. Unfortunately, he was also beat on a deep TD pass in the fourth quarter that pulled the Orange within two.

Other individual performances: Several other Tigers played their hearts out: Devin White, Corey Thomson, John Battle, and Rashard Lawrence, to name a few. Oh, and Cameron Gamble did a nice job on kickoffs.

Red Zone Offense: The Tigers were 3-for-3 in the red zone with three touchdowns.  

FINAL THOUGHTS: Give LSU some credit for rebounding from last week’s demoralizing loss and doing what it had to do to win. And give Syracuse credit for being well-prepared and playing a hard-fought game. But, with that said, the hard truth is that LSU barely squeaked out a win against an Orange team that is probably weaker than all but one team remaining on LSU’s schedule. Fortunately, that one team is LSU’s next opponent, Troy, which gives the Tigers a bit more time to work out kinks and get healthy. 

Here are LSU’s video highlights, Coach O’s Post-Game Comments, and the complete boxscore.

That’s it for now, folks, but I invite you to email your comments and questions so that I can select a few to include in tomorrow’s Monday Morning Mail Call.




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9/24/17 1:00 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

A win is a win and I’ll gladly take it, though last night’s 35-26 win over Syracuse wasn’t exactly confidence-inspiring. Remember when I wrote a few days ago that there are no quick-fixes for some of LSU’s problems, particularly depth in the trenches? Well, that ugly truth revealed itself last night and will almost certainly be a recurring theme throughout the season. But for now… for today… I would rather revel in the fact that LSU hung on to win last night’s nail-biter than to focus on the fact that this team has issues that could make for a long season. There will be plenty of time for that.

The Tigers scored on the first offensive play of each half, but the rest of the game was a mixed bag, at best. Here’s a quick rundown of how it played out:

Aside from the opening play – a one-yard TD run from Derrius Guice following Andreas “Greedy” Williams’ interception – the Tigers’ offense sputtered for most of the half. At the end of the first quarter, the Tigers had a dismal 11 yards passing and zero rushing yards. 

In the second quarter, an impressive 6-play, 71-yard drive highlighted by a 43-yard Steven Sullivan touchdown reception gave the Tigers a 14-3 lead just before the break. 

The Tigers struck fast to start the second stanza on an absolutely beautifully thrown 87-yard touchdown pass from Etling to Drake Davis to give the Tigers a comfortable 19-point lead, but Syracuse didn’t flinch. Instead, the Orange answered with an impressive drive ending in a 30-yard halfback pass for a touchdown. 

At that point in the game, Danny Etling seemed to have found a groove and had completed six of his previous seven passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns, which made it a surprising time to see Coach Orgeron turn to freshman quarterback Myles Brennan. After the game, Coach O implied that the decision to play Brennan then had nothing to do with Etling’s play, but that he wanted to give Brennan some significant playing time in a critical situation to see what he could do. Turns out he did pretty well. On his opening drive, Brennan did a great job of picking up a blitz on third down and connected with running back Derrell Williams for a short completion that resulted in a 43-yard gain. On the following play, Williams made it a 28-10 LSU lead on a 20-yard TD run. 

After giving up a safety when Darrel Williams was bottled up in the end zone, Syracuse followed with a 72-yard scoring drive late in the third quarter to make it 28-19. Surprisingly, LSU stuck with Myles Brennan and he ended up throwing an interception (the Tigers first turnover of the season). At first, the play looked like a typical freshmen QB mistake, but upon further review, it might have been a freshman WR mistake as Dee Anderson appeared to have incorrectly run his route. Regardless, the Orange would go on to score a touchdown and make it a 2-point game on an 80-yard scoring drive that was kept alive by a roughing the passer penalty on freshman K’Lavon Chaisson.   

Tigers and Tiger fans were finally able to collectively exhale after Etling reentered the game and orchestrated a 7-play, 56-yard drive ending with a DJ Chark 20-yard jet sweep touchdown run to make the score 35-26. 

THE NEGATIVES: 

• Offensive Line: The most concerning thing about this game, by far, was the play of the O-line. The Tigers were once again beaten at the point of attack, and that was against a defensive front that is not nearly as strong as the majority of fronts LSU will face from here on out. If there’s any silver lining with regard to the O-line it’s that Adrian Magee got some playing time at right guard and seemed to help. 

Derrius Guice: The one-time Heisman hopeful was pretty much a non-factor in the game, rushing for only 14 yards on eight carries. It seemed obvious to me that Guice wasn’t at full health, though after the game Orgeron said he is “fine” but that they limited his carried for precautionary reasons.

• Defensive Line: Rashard Lawrence returned after missing the last two games with an ankle injury and his presence was a big help. Unfortunately, he suffered an injury to his other ankle during the game and didn’t play much of the second half. Here’s hoping he can be back at full health for two weeks against Florida. If this unit can ever get to full strength with Lawrence and Ed Alexander at full health and the return of Frank Herron, it could be considerably better, but until then it’s mediocre, at best. 

Defensive backfield: This unit had too many busted assignments (again), and took another hit when strong safety  John Battle left the game with an injury. After the game, Coach O said Battle’s injury isn’t serious, which is good to hear considering LSU is already without starting free safety Ed Paris.

• Punts & Punt Returns: DJ Chark made some poor decisions fielding (and not fielding) punts, and Josh Growden had a horrible night punting the ball, so much so that he was replaced by walk-on Zach Von Rosenberg who was much better. 

THE POSITIVES:

Penalties: LSU had no first-half penalties and only three on the night. Yes, that penalty by Chaisson in the third quarter was a killer, but still, there was much improvement on this front. Kudos to Coach O and the staff for that.

Danny Etling: Considering that he was feeling heat most of the night, Etling finished with a pretty good stat line: 10-of-17 for 188 yards and two TDs. His 87-yard TD pass to Davis marked a career-long for the senior.

Myles Brennan: While the timing of it may have been questionable, it was great to see Brennan get some meaningful playing time. No, I don’t think he did enough to win the starting job, though I do think a good argument could be made that his poise and quick release greatly benefitted LSU’s short passing game, which could go a long way in mitigating LSU’s offensive line/pass protection issues. 

Darrell Williams:  Darrell Williams: Williams made himself some NFL money last night with 142 all-purpose yards, 92 rushing and 50 receiving. On a night where Guice was limited, Williams picked up the slack in a big way.

• Young Receivers Emerging: Coach O said LSU would use new personnel this week, and no place was that more obvious or effective than at wide receiver. Steven Sullivan recorded his first career touchdown with his second career catch on the aforementioned 43‐yard catch from Etling. Drake Davis was on the receiving end of Etling’s 87-yard completion to start the second half. By the way, that touchdown marked the longest passing touchdown since September 6, 2014, when Travin Dural caught a 94‐yard pass from Anthony Jennings against Sam Houston St.

Andreas “Greedy” Williams:  Greedy continued to show he has that “it” factor and ended with seven tackles, four solo tackles, one interception, and one pass breakup. Unfortunately, he was also beat on a deep TD pass in the fourth quarter that pulled the Orange within two.

Other individual performances: Several other Tigers played their hearts out: Devin White, Corey Thomson, John Battle, and Rashard Lawrence, to name a few. Oh, and Cameron Gamble did a nice job on kickoffs.

Red Zone Offense: The Tigers were 3-for-3 in the red zone with three touchdowns.  

FINAL THOUGHTS: Give LSU some credit for rebounding from last week’s demoralizing loss and doing what it had to do to win. And give Syracuse credit for being well-prepared and playing a hard-fought game. But, with that said, the hard truth is that LSU barely squeaked out a win against an Orange team that is probably weaker than all but one team remaining on LSU’s schedule. Fortunately, that one team is LSU’s next opponent, Troy, which gives the Tigers a bit more time to work out kinks and get healthy. 

Here are LSU’s video highlights, Coach O’s Post-Game Comments, and the complete boxscore.

That’s it for now, folks, but I invite you to email your comments and questions so that I can select a few to include in tomorrow’s Monday Morning Mail Call.

9/23/17 5:45 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans, it’s Game Day!

Just as last week’s game said a lot about LSU’s weaknesses, I look for tonight’s contest against Syracuse to say a lot about the strength and resolve of these Tigers as they roar back with a much-needed win. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. on ESPN2 (see Times of Interest) and I’ll be tweeting a few stats and comments for those of you who follow DandyDonLSU on Twitter.

Heading into the season, almost everyone looked to this game as an easy win, but after last week’s loss and a rash of recent injuries, Tiger Fans know better than to take anything for granted. LSU will play this game without senior starting safety Ed Paris (knee) and key reserve DE Ed Alexander (hand.) On top of that, reserve DE Neil Farrell and senior starting inside linebacker Donnie Alexander will miss the first half because of last week’s ejections. Also, questions still remain about LSU’s best defensive lineman, Rashard Lawrence, and the Tigers’ best offensive weapon, running back Derrius Guice. Both are expected to play tonight, though neither is expected to be at 100% since they’re both nursing ankle injuries. With that said, LSU should win this game, and should win it handily if they take care of the following keys.

LSU KEYS TO VICTORY AGAINST SYRACUSE

Win Time of Possession
Reeling because of depth issues, tonight might be a good time to dial back the tempo on LSU’s offense. One way to do that is with a strong running game. The problem is, LSU’s lead rusher, Derrius Guice, has missed lots of practice time this week and probably will not be at 100% health. Backup Darrell Williams is a physical back who will be an important factor in the contest, and look for LSU to rely more heavily on the lesser experienced Nick Brossette and Clyde Edwards-Hellaire behind him. Short, quick throws from quarterback Danny Etling should also be a big part of the game plan. Syracuse will use its hurry-up offense, led by dual-threat quarterback Eric Dungey, in an attempt to gas the Tiger defense like Mississippi State did while running up a 35:55 to 24.05 edge in time of possession last week. Getting an early lead is a must in dictating tempo and discouraging an upset-minded visitor. 

Protect Danny Etling
Danny Etling is a different quarterback when he’s under pressure than when he’s not. In fact, Cody Worsham of Tiger Rag broke down film from the first three games of the season and found that Danny Etling’s accuracy is a remarkable 81.4% when he’s not under pressure but drops to 29.4% when he’s feeling the heat. It’s safe to say the Orange will do everything they can to make Etling uncomfortable but the good news is Syracuse hasn't had much of a pass rush with two sacks in three games and 11 quarterback hurries. There's enough experience on the LSU offensive line – if not adequate depth – that missed assignments shouldn't be a problem by this point, although the true freshman tag-team at right guard might be slow developing. We may see offensive coordinator Matt Canada moving the pocket if early signs point to trouble from the pass rush.  

Protect the Edge
Mississippi State had LSU well-scouted. The Bulldogs' running backs knew they could start inside and bounce outside into open space. Dave Aranda has to plug that leak and coach up his unit to deal with another dual-threat quarterback in Eric Dungey, who has 15 career rushing TDs. This task will be more difficult with senior starting linebacker Donnie Alexander sitting out the first half due to last week’s ejection, but the Tigers’ overall speed advantage should allow them to tighten the corners. Watch out for Syracuse mighty-mite Sean Riley, the smallest player on the roster, who accounted for 247 all-purpose yards last week. They'll try everything to get him on the edge. 

Reduce Penalties
Some of LSU's best teams were the most penalized. The 2017 bunch is not one of them. Teams that play fast get flagged for it but make up for it with big plays and turnovers, but that hasn’t exactly been the case this year. No, this LSU team's penalty issues have been more about inexperience and poor technique. Hopefully, the gassers run by the offending Tigers in practice this week and the continued focus on the issue should result in more focused play. 

Don’t Let Last Week Beat You Twice
LSU is better than last week's 30-point loss indicates, and with so many young players now filling key roles, that’s a message that needs to be heard and believed. It's especially easy for the younger players to get caught up in fan anxiety, of which there is no shortage this week, and that makes this an important time for veteran leadership to step up, take charge, and make sure the younger guys stay focused on the task at hand. It's also an important time for Coach Ed Orgeron to flip the switch on last week’s loss and show that he's more than a good interim coach. 

Closing Tidbits:

• There have been a lot of people asking why the Tigers find themselves so thin on linemen and receivers. This article by The Advocate’s Ross Dellenger does a great job of answering it. As stated in his report, Dellenger’s dive into LSU’s recruiting past reveals three primary reasons for LSU’s current conundrum: inadequate roster management (a lack of signees at key positions), poor player development or misevaluations, and player attrition. 

• In baseball, coach Paul Mainieri picked up a commitment yesterday when Class of 2021 C/3B/SS Ian Moller (6-0, 170, Dubuque, IA) gave his verbal pledge to the Tigers. Moller is rated as a perfect 10 by Perfect Game, who describes the young man as a high-ceiling prospect and great student. It just hit me, folks: I’m getting old. This is the first time in all my years doing this that I’m writing about LSU landing a commitment for 2021, the year in which my own eldest daughter will graduate. Strange feeling.

• Lastly, I want to congratulate the former Tigers who were inducted into the LSU Athletics Hall of Fame last night. The 2017 induction class includes NCAA champion pole vaulter Russ Buller; NCAA diving champion Alison Maisch; NCAA champion and Olympic sprinter Debbie Parris-Thymes; All-American softball pitcher Kristin Schmidt; three-time All-American women’s basketball player Joyce Walker; and Collis Temple Jr., the first African-American men’s basketball player in LSU history. Hats off to all these Tiger greats!

That’s it for now, folks. Geaux Tigers!



 

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