11/25/15 5:55 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
I know that many of you will be traveling tomorrow, so I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving. Those of you who’ve followed this site for a while know that Thanksgiving is a very special time of year for me, just as it was for my Dad, “Dandy Don” Long. Every year at this time, Dad would give thanks for his many blessings and remind us that as great as LSU sports are, there are more important things in life. I think that’s a great tradition worth continuing, and today I intend to do just that by sharing with you my fourth annual Thanksgiving Message. In it, you’ll find links to my Dad’s legendary Thanksgiving stories about the good ol’ days gone by, as well my own stories that I shared with you last year about how this website came to be, and about my life as a kid in the 70s and 80s. As lagniappe, I’ve included links to a few of our recipes that you might find useful this time of year, and to a poem written by one of our readers that was inspired by Dad’s stories. I hope you find it enjoyable and worth sharing with your families.
Before moving on with our normal order of business, I want to thank all of you who emailed me with regard to the message I posted yesterday about the handling of Les Miles. I’ve been publishing this site for a long time, and I can tell you without a doubt that I received more email about that one post than any I’ve ever written. My sincere thanks goes out to each of you who chimed in. I stated yesterday that I thought I would get a lot of email from people who disagreed with my stance, but I was pleasantly surprised to find quite the opposite. Of the hundreds of fans I heard from, I’d say 95% agreed that the way things were handled Monday was wrong, and probably 80% expressed that they wish Les Miles would have a chance to right the ship in 2016, although many realize that it’s probably too far gone for that now. That’s all I want to say about that today because there’s really nothing more to report at this time, and Coach Miles and LSU have a game to play this Saturday – a very big one at that. With that said, let’s jump right to our weekly stat-comparison.
LSU-Texas A&M Stat Comparison
• The two biggest surprises I noted in these stats are that LSU is averaging more points on offense (31.9 vs 30.3) but is allowing more points on defense (25.7 vs 21.8) than A&M. After allowing 22.6 points per game during a 7-0 start to the season, LSU’s defense has allowed 33 points per contest while the offense has only averaged 15.7 per contest the last three games (Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss). On the flip side, after starting 5-0 on the season, Texas A&M has gone 3-3 with wins over South Carolina (35-28), Western Carolina (41-17) and Vanderbilt (25-0) and losses at home to Alabama (41-23) and Auburn (26-10) and at Ole Miss (23-3). In its last five SEC games, A&M is only averaging 19.2 points per game and is allowing 23.6, which includes last week’s 25-0 shutout at Vanderbilt.
• While LSU typically leans heavily on the run, A&M under head coach Kevin Sumlin has heavily leaned on the pass until this season. With Kyle Allen (3 INTs vs Alabama) and Kyler Murray (3 INTs vs Auburn and 2 INTs vs Western Carolina) struggling at quarterback, A&M has moved more towards running the football and has a 52/48 run-to-pass ratio. In fact, A&M ran the football 38 times last week at Vanderbilt.
• Texas A&M is allowing 202.5 rushing yards per game (13th in SEC) while LSU is averaging 246.1 yards per contest (1st in SEC). On the flip side, A&M averages 259.6 passing yards per game (4th in SEC) while LSU allows 216 passing yards per contest (10th in SEC). Defensively, A&M has allowed 15 rushing TDs but only eight passing TDs. So the key matchups are LSU’s run offense vs A&M’s run defense and A&M’s passing offense vs. LSU’s passing defense.
• While the red zone score % is similar (84% for LSU vs 80% for A&M), LSU has scored TDs on 66% of its red zone possessions compared to just 55% for A&M. This is part of the reason A&M has kicked so many field goals (22/29 – 76%). Limiting A&M to field goals will likely be a key to this game.
• Texas A&M is averaging more sacks per game (2.9) than LSU (2.4) but is also allowing more sacks per game (2.4) than the Tigers (1.6). Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall lead the defensive line with a combined 17.5 sacks and 29.5 tackles for loss. It will be critical for LSU’s offensive line to protect Brandon Harris and limit A&M’s DL from creating negative plays.
• Neither team is particularly good at kick returns (18 for LSU vs 20.5 for A&M) but A&M averages 19.7 yards per punt return whereas defensively, LSU allows 18.9 yards per punt return. Both teams struggle with penalty yards with 49.5 per game for A&M vs 63.3 per game for LSU. While LSU had 95 costly yards in penalties last week’s loss to Ole Miss, A&M was able to overcome their 70 yards in penalties in last week’s shutout win vs Vanderbilt.
Now turning to men’s basketball… LSU suffered its second straight loss in less than 24 hours, falling 83-72 to NC State in overtime last night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. After falling behind early in the second half, the Tigers fought back to a 63-58 lead with under two minutes remaining before a 7-2 run sent the game to overtime. There, Ben Simmons fouled out, and LSU couldn’t stop NC State’s inside game. Simmons, Tim Quarterman, Josh Gray and Antonio Blakeney struggled from the field, shooting a combined 14-54 (25.9%). LSU’s offense was unable to score consistently in the half court, oftentimes settling for contested outside jump shots. LSU’s defense was much better than against Marquette as the Tigers held NC State to just 39.7% (27-68), but the Tigers gave up 16 offensive rebounds (11 in the second half and overtime), were out-rebounded 54-42 and committed 23 fouls, which resulted in the Wolfpack shooting 23-29 from the free throw line. On the flip side, LSU’s lack of aggression resulted in only 11 NC State fouls, with the Tigers making only five of 10 free throw attempts.
Tim Quarterman led all scorers with 19 points (7-20 from the field) and grabbed eight rebounds, but Simmons certainly had quite an impact in the game with 16 rebounds, 10 assists, three steals and three blocks to go along with four points. I never thought I’d say Simmons was six points away from a triple double, but that’s what happened last night as he shot the ball just six times, which is incomprehensible to me for a man of his talent. Another interesting bit on Simmons is that he is the only D-1 player listed at 6’10” or taller with 10 assists and 0 turnovers in a game in the last 20 seasons.
Brandon Sampson was the most efficient offensive player as he scored 18 points on 7-12 FG shooting, and Blakeney added 11 but shot just 4-17 from the field. Just as I mentioned yesterday, I think the additions of Craig Victor and Keith Hornsby will help the team both defensively and offensively, but ultimately, this team must improve in rebounding (especially preventing so many second chance points) and the offense must attack the rim and not settle for so many contested outside shots.
• LSU suffered its second football de-commitment in as many days as 2017 ATH Jacoby Stevens (6-2, 190, Murfreesboro, Tennessee) decommitted yesterday, citing the uncertainty of Les Miles’ future as a factor. Unfortunately, the longer it takes for the administration to clear up the uncertainty, the more of this kind of thing we will see.
• I learned last night that wide receiver Travin Dural will miss the remainder of the football season after suffering a torn hamstring in his right leg in last week’s game against Ole Miss when he leaped for a ball in the end zone and took a huge hit. Dural is scheduled to have surgery this week and I know I speak for all of you when I wish him a full and speedy recovery.
• Since this is the season for giving thanks, I would be remiss if I’d didn’t recognize a couple of friends who’ve been helping out with this site. Thanks to Mark Towery for his help with today’s report. He’s the one who broke down the stats and recapped the basketball game so that I could spend time with my brother who drove in from Texas for the Thanksgiving holidays. I also want to extend my gratitude to Jake Martin who has been helping with the weekly unit breakdowns among other things. It’s good to have help, especially at this time of the year.
• Please note that I’ve updated out ticket exchange with several new listings.
That’s it for today folks. Now it’s time for me to walk out to the garden and pick a big mess of turnips and mustard greens to prepare for tomorrow’s feast, which by the way I’m preparing for 30+ family members. (Wish me luck!) Have a great day, Tiger Fans, and make the most of this holiday time.