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LSU vs. Wisconsin - August 30, 2014 - 8:00 P.M. Kickoff (ESPN)
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8/17/14 6:05 am CT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

On a hot and humid August morning in Baton Rouge, the LSU football team held a 125-play scrimmage that touched on all three phases of the game - offense, defense and special teams. After the closed scrimmage, Coach Miles wasn’t really forthcoming with stats, but he did sound very encouraged by what he saw and called it a productive outing. Below are a few tid-bits I gathered by watching this video of the press conference and reading this press release issued by LSU.

• Miles said both quarterbacks, Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris, played well and continue to improve. Just like after last week’s smaller scrimmage, Miles didn’t give out individual stats about each quarterback, but said they threw the ball about 40-45 times and completed about 20 of the passes. When asked whether he was closer to naming a starting quarterback, Miles said yes. Why? Because it’s closer to game day. 

• Miles did say that there were three touchdown passed thrown, but again he did not say which quarterback threw them.

• In the receiving game, Miles praised Trey Quinn for having a very good outing. Quinn caught four or five passes and also ran the ball one time from an I-back set. 

• Malachi Dupre is still nicked up and didn’t participate in the scrimmage, but is expected to return to practice in full health tomorrow. 

• As for the running game, Miles said each of the four backs carried the ball 14 times and that Kenny Hilliard was the leading rusher with about 60 yards. He also said Leonard Fournette had a long run on a busted play against the scout team. 

• Miles complimented the play of the offensive line and said Ethan Pocic looked good at center. He also mentioned Garrett Brumfield and Will Clapp as freshmen who could step in play. 

• As for the defensive line, Miles continues to be impressed with starting defensive tackles Christian LaCouture and Frank Herron. Quintin Thomas did not play in the scrimmage, but Miles said he could be ready to participate in Tuesday’s scrimmage. 

• Defensive end Danielle Hunter led the team in tackles with nine, including four tackles-for-loss.

• Other defensive players singled out for their play were middle linebackers D.J. Welter and Kendall Beckwith, and cornerback Rashard Robinson.

• After the scrimmage, Miles answered the challenge issued to him by Governor Bobby Jindal and had a bucket of ice dumped on him in an effort to raise awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. In an interesting twist, Danielle Hunter dumped a bucket of grass on Miles when he was expecting ice-water, and just when Miles was thinking it wasn’t too bad, La’el Collins shocked him with the freezing water. You can check out a video of that here.

The Tigers will take today off to mark the end of preseason camp, and tomorrow they’ll return to the practice field to begin focusing on their upcoming opponent, the Wisconsin Badgers.

With only 13 days remaining until the season-opener, today we’ll continue our countdown to game day by remembering a special Tiger quarterback who wore No 13 - Tommy Hodson. When many Tiger fans, especially the younger ones, hear the name Tommy Hodson, they immediately think of the famous “Earthquake Game” and Hodson’s earth-shaking, game-winning fourth-down pass completion to Eddie Fuller. That was a spectacular moment, no doubt, but there’s much more to Tommy Hodson’s career than that memorable play. Born in the small town of Mathews, Louisiana in Lafourche Parish, Hodson led LSU to two SEC championships and was the first quarterback in SEC history to surpass 60 career passing touchdowns. During his time as a Tiger, Hodson passed for more than 2,000 yards in each of his four seasons and ended his college career with an incredible 9,115 passing yards, which still stands as the most by any LSU quarterback. In 1986, Hodson led the Tigers to their first AP Top-10 finish since 1970, and then he topped that in 1987 by leading the Tigers to their first top-5 finish since 1961. After his time as a Tiger, Hodson was selected 59th overall in the 1990 draft by the New England Patriots. He went on to play a total of six years in the NFL for the Patriots, the Dolphins, the Cowboys and the Saints, and in 2013 he was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

8/16/14 6:00 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

The LSU football team will go through a full, closed scrimmage in Tiger Stadium today, and I’m hoping Coach Miles will release some stats on how it went. I’m especially interested in hearing just how good Leonard Fournette looks against LSU’s first team defense, and which young wide receivers step up and make a name for themselves. And of course, it’ll be interesting to compare each quarterback’s performance, assuming stats are released.

Just two weeks from today, the LSU season will be upon us, and I can hardly wait. Yesterday I wrote about a few positions that are still unsettled on offense, and today I’ll do the same with the defense. Here we go…

Since losing starters Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson to the NFL, defensive tackle has been a position of concern. Things became even more concerning this summer when freshman Trey Lealaimatafao put his arm through a window and suffered a season-ending injury, and then Quentin Thomas, the most experienced DT on the team and a projected starter, tore his biceps last week. To make matters worse, hotshot incoming freshman Travonte Valentine still hasn’t been cleared to enroll by the NCAA clearinghouse.

In spite of all this negative news, the more I look at LSU’s talent at DT, the less concerned I become. With folks like Christian LaCouture, Frank Herron, Greg Gilmore, Maquidious Bain, Mickey Johnson, and Devon Godchaux on board, there is clearly no lack of talent or depth at the position. And the good news is that Thomas’ injury isn’t nearly as bad as originally thought. Since Thomas’ injury, Miles has been singing the praises of Herron who has emerged as the projected starter alongside LaCouture. After Wednesday’s scrimmage, LSU sent out a press release in which Coach Miles was quoted as saying, “Our defensive front is playing really well. Frank Herron always comes to mind when talking about the line. Christian LaCouture and Lewis Neal have also practiced well... We graduated the two guys from up front from a year ago (Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson)... These guys are as good or even better than last year.” If Miles’ statement proves to be accurate, LSU could be exceptionally strong on defense because every other defensive unit looks significantly improved over last year.

Two other unknowns on defense include who will start at middle linebacker, and who will start at free safety. The middle linebacker battle between DJ Welter and Kendell Beckwith is too close to call, and I look for both to see considerable playing time regardless of who starts. Likewise, the competition at free safety appears to be tight between Rickey Jefferson and hot-shot true freshman Jamal Adams who’s been as impressive as any member of LSU’s outstanding 2014 signing class. Regardless of whether Adams or Jefferson emerges as the starter, look for both to see the field quite a bit considering that Coach Chavis plays as many as six DBs at a time when he goes to the Mustang package.

Speaking of defensive backs, 2015 target Roney Elam of Newton, Texas chose Texas A&M over LSU yesterday. Elam would have certainly been a good get, but LSU is in great shape at defensive back with so much young talent on the current team (like Adams, Ed Paris, Devin Voorhies, John Battle, etc.), and commitments from Kevin Toliver, Kevin Henry and Xavier Lewis in this year’s recruiting class. Plus, there are several other talented 2015 DB prospects on LSU’s radar including Louisiana’s own Donte Jackson and Deshawn Raymond. 

With only two weeks until the season-opener, today we'll continue our Countdown to Game Day by profiling a former player who wore No. 14 - Michael Clayton. Clayton played at LSU from 2001 to 2003 and was a member of the 2003 National Championship team. An argument could be made that he was one of the best all-around players to ever play at LSU as he not only excelled as a wide receiver, but also as a great downfield blocker and a hard-hitting speedster on special teams kickoff coverage. He also served as LSU's holder. Of course, Clayton's forté was clearly as a wide receiver where he caught 182 passes for 2,582 yards and 21 TDs in his three years at LSU. When his time as a Tiger was all said and done, Clayton held the record for career TD receptions with 21. (The record was later broken by Dwayne Bowe in 2006.) To this day, he is the only player in LSU history to have at least 700 yards receiving in three consecutive seasons. After his junior season, Clayton entered the NFL draft and was selected by Tampa Bay in the first round of the 2004 draft. He had a tremendous rookie season with the Buccaneers, but his football career went downhill from there. Clayton spent six years with the Buccaneers before a brief stint in the United Football League, and then closed out his career with the New York Giants where he earned a Superbowl ring in 2011. While with the Giants, Clayton began sharing his Christian faith with his teammates and led them in prayer. Clayton now continues his ministry by speaking to faith based organizations such as the First Emmanuel Baptist Church in Baton Rouge where he shared his testimony a couple of weekends ago. For more on that, please see this article by the Advocate: Faith Matters: Ex-Tiger Clayton considers ‘what makes a man good.’

For a reminder of what a versatile and talented football player Clayton was, check out the first half of this video (which I've added to our Media Gallery) and then be sure to tune in to the SEC Network this morning at 8 a.m. for a replay of LSU beating OU for the 2003 BCS Title.

In basketball news, the 18-game SEC men’s schedules for all 14-teams in the league were announced last night on the SEC Network. For more on that, please see this article: SEC Announces 2015 Men's Basketball Slate

In closing, I’d like to point out that I’ve updated our ticket exchange with several new listings. Have a great weekend, Tiger Fans.

8/15/14 5:40 am CT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

The LSU football team took a day off from contact yesterday to hold a walk-through, and today they will practice twice before scrimmaging tomorrow in Tiger Stadium. Tomorrow’s scrimmage will be the second of three scheduled for the preseason. The third and final scrimmage will be next Tuesday. (All scrimmages are closed to the public and to the media.) At this point, most positions are pretty much settled, although there are still quite a few up for grabs. Today, let’s take a look at three position battles on offense that are still too close to call. Here we go…

Of course, the biggest position battle of them all is for the starting quarterback position. The brief access to practice that was given to the media during the first week of camp just wasn’t enough to draw any conclusions about whether sophomore Anthony Jennings or freshman Brandon Harris has the edge, and the coaching staff isn’t giving anything away. In fact, I found it interesting that Coach Miles wouldn’t even say which quarterback(s) was/were on the throwing end of the two touchdown passes in Wednesday’s scrimmage. What that tells me is that one quarterback probably threw both TD passes, otherwise I don’t see why Miles would have hesitated in saying they each threw one. Hopefully there will be more detailed stats issued after tomorrow’s scrimmage and we can get a little better feel for how the competition is shaping up.

At the wide receiver position, one player who has seen his stock rise lately is Avery Peterson. After Wednesday’s scrimmage, Miles called him one of the fastest players on the team and credited him for one of the touchdown receptions. The other came from Travin Dural. Heading into fall camp, most of the attention was on hotshot freshmen receivers Malachi Dupre and Trey Quinn, and they’ve been as good as advertised, but veterans John Diarse, Travin Dural and Peterson have also been outstanding and their experience cannot be taken lightly. At this point, I have those three veterans at the top of my unofficial depth chart. Two other freshman receivers who have received a lot of compliments are DJ Chark (for his speed) and Tony Upchurch (for his size and physicality). On the flip side, two other receivers who have been relatively quiet this fall (at least from my vantage point) are Quantavious Leslie and Kevin Spears.

The other highly contested position on offense is right guard. The two candidates are Fehoko Fanaika and Evan Washington, and they are a lot alike. Both are seniors, both are roughly 6-6, 330 pounds, and the two are best friends. In the spring, I would have given Washington a very slight edge over Fanaika, but since then “Hoko” has worked hard to lose weight and has been getting a lot of individual attention from Coaches Miles and Grimes. Regardless of which of the two earns the starting role, look for both to see significant playing time, along with utility lineman Ethan Pocic, as the Tigers look to keep fresh legs in the trenches.

Tomorrow we’ll take a look at a few unsettled positions on the defensive side of the ball. Stay tuned.

In recruiting news, LSU target Roney Elam (DB, 6-3, 170) of Newton, TX is set to announce his school of choice today, and it is expected to be either LSU, Texas A&M or Texas. Elam has taken two unofficial visits to LSU, but his most recent visit was to Texas A&M and most analysts believe the Aggies lead for his services. His announcement is supposed to come via Twitter sometime before noon, and I’ll pass along the news to those of you who follow DandyDonLSU on Twitter as soon as I can. 

In other recruiting news, yesterday I mentioned that wide receiver Daylon Charlot of Patterson would be visiting LSU this weekend, and later I received some encouraging news from a longtime reader of this site who has connections to the Charlot family. From what I was told, the Charlot family would love to see Daylon stay close to home, and one of the big reasons why he committed to Alabama when he did (in February) is because LSU had not yet offered him. Coaches Frank Wilson and Corey Raymond, who are recruiting him for the Tigers, appear to be in very good position to flip Charlot before it’s all said and done, and that would be a big coup for LSU.

Now, with only 15 days remaining until Game Day, we’ll continue our countdown to game day by remembering one of the Tigers greatest wins in my lifetime - one that came in a game where only 15 total points were scored. Of course I’m referring to LSU’s 9-6 win over Alabama in 2011. When I started to do my research for this write-up, I went back and looked at what my Dad and I wrote about the game on the day after. Instead of recapping the game for you here, I decided to do what I’ll call a “Friday Flashback” and give you our full report for that day. And if you want to further relive the moment, be sure to watch these video highlights of that outstanding game. I hope you enjoy this journey back in time.

From DandyDon.com’s November 6, 2011 Report:

Whoa! What a great game and great 9-6 overtime win by the No. 1 LSU Tigers over the Alabama Crimson Tide. Congratulations to Coach Les Miles for a great job of coaching, and to the entire team who played their hearts out and managed to pull out an epic road win against a very good opponent.

LSU's defense played spectacularly, as did Alabama's. In fact, the two teams had very similar offensive and defensive stats. But on special teams, LSU had a solid advantage, and that was a significant difference in the game. Alabama's special teams were plagued by four missed field goals, including one in overtime, while LSU's special teams were highlighted by Drew Alleman's perfect field goal kicking (3 for 3) and Brad Wing's exceptional punting. Wing landed four punts within Alabama's 20 and came up with a very timely 73-yard punt in the fourth quarter when the Tigers were pinned back on their own 7-yard-line.

On offense, LSU struggled in the passing game, but did enough in the rushing department to keep victory always within reach. I really feel for Jarrett Lee who had played very well throughout the first eight games of the season, then struggled last night throwing two interceptions. Coach Miles' two-quarterback philosophy really showed its merit when Jefferson was inserted and gave the offense a new dimension and much needed spark. Jefferson ran for 43 yards on 11 carries and was 6 of 10 passing for 67 yards including a 34-yard pass to Russell Shepard.

LSU held Alabama to 96 yards of rushing while gaining 148. LSU's leading rusher was Michael Ford who had 11 carries for 77 yards, including a long gain in overtime. Kenny Hilliard carried the ball two times for only two yards, but picked up a very big block on Ford's overtime run. Jefferson was LSU's second leading rusher with 43 yards and Spencer Ware added 28 yards on 16 carries. As for total net yards, LSU had 239 while Alabama had 295.

On the defensive side of the ball, I thought Eric Reid had a super night, as did Morris Claiborne, Ryan Baker and Sam Montgomery. Ried and Claiborne each had a very impressive interception.

As expected, the game was very physical. The Tigers' strength and conditioning, as well as their depth, was an apparent advantage that took its toll on the Crimson Tide. Six Alabama players left the game with injuries at one time or another.

Let's revel in this win and appreciate it for the great victory that is was, but let's not forget that there's still a lot of football to be played and won in order to reach the national championship. This LSU team demonstrated once again that it's a special bunch, and, if they keep playing with the unity and resolve that they showed last night, great things will continue to happen. Isn't it great to be a Tiger fan?

A few tid-bits in closing:

• The LSU men's basketball schedule will be announced this evening during the 6 p.m. SEC Now show on the new SEC Network which launched last night. If your provider carries the SEC network but you don’t know which channel it’s on, you can check out this SEC Network Channel Finder.

• For those of you still looking for tickets, please note that I will update our Ticket Exchange later today.

• It is about the time of the year when LSU alumni associations will begin planning view-in parties. If you are in charge of an LSU alumni group and would like for me to post your view-in announcement, please email me the information.


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