7/30/15 5:50 am CDT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Yesterday turned out to be a very newsworthy day as Coach Les Miles held his annual meeting with the Baton Rouge Rotary Club and dished out lots of information. What made the event even more informative was that East Baton Rouge district attorney Hillar Moore was also in attendance, and afterwards he spoke briefly to the local media about the case involving Anthony Jennings, Maquedius Bain and Dwayne Thomas. Basically what was learned, according to reports I’ve read (like this one) and tweets from media who were present, is that the case against the three players could be dismissed very soon. Hillar reportedly said that the victim in the case (the person who allegedly had items stolen from him by the three LSU players) has requested the charges be dropped. Hillar also said that if this case did not involve athletes, the charges would have probably already been dropped, but that he wants to take his time and make sure he gets it right. Reading between the lines, I would not be surprised at all to see the three players in question back on the team when fall practice starts a week from today.
As for Coach Miles’ comments from the address, here’s a quick rundown of the most interesting points:
On the quarterbacks…
Miles said he thinks both quarterbacks, Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris, will compete and that the best quarterback will play. He also said he’s excited about quarterback, Justin McMillan, and that he’s very competitive.
On the offensive line…
At this time the starting line would be Jerald Hawkins at left tackle, Ethan Pocic at left guard, William Clapp at center, Josh Boutte at right guard, and Vadal Alexander at right tackle. This comes as no surprise as this is what we show on our unofficial depth chart.
On the defensive ends…
Lewis Neal and Tashawn Bower will be the starters, but a lot of guys will play. Miles singled out Isaiah Washington and Arden Key as freshmen who will contribute at the position this year.
On the running backs….
Miles called Leonard Fournette a Heisman contender and Darrell Williams an “elite running back.” He also spoke highly of freshmen tailbacks Derrius Guice and Nicholas Brossette and said John David Moore will start at fullback.
Trent Domingue and Cameron Gamble will compete for kickoff duties. Miles mentioned Colby Delahoussaye as a place-kicker.
On the return game…
Fournette will be one of several guys who gets looks as a kick returner. Tre’Davious White will continue to handle punt returns. Miles also named freshman Donté Jackson (4.3 forty) as someone who could be used on special teams in the return game and on both offense and defense.
Miles also said that LSU currently has 21 commitments in the 2016 class, even though only 18 have been announced, meaning there are three “silent commits.”
In baseball news, Coach Paul Mainieri will hold a press luncheon today to discuss the 2016 team roster, including the Tigers’ incoming recruiting class. And speaking of baseball recruiting, LSU picked up a big commitment for the class of 2017 on Tuesday from pitcher Blayne Enlow of St. Amant High School. Enlow is a 6-foot-3 right hander whose fastball touches 90 mph.
Moving on with our series on LSU’s 2015 football opponents, today we’ll take a look at LSU’s most highly anticipated game of the season - the November 7th contest at Alabama. Of all the games on LSU’s schedule, this is the only one that Vegas oddsmaker Golden Nugget predicts LSU to lose. (They call the Ole Miss game a toss-up and have LSU favored in every other contest.) As I stated back in early June when we previewed LSU’s toughest games of 2015, this is a contest that LSU needs to win for several reasons. Not only for the sake of SEC West standings and national rankings, but also for the sake of recruiting and Tiger pride. LSU has lost its last four games against this SEC West nemesis, and in two of those contests, including last year’s 20-13 overtime loss, the Tigers had the Crimson Tide on the ropes with victory in clear site only to watch it slip away in the last minutes of regulation. Of course, I don’t need to tell you how much a win against Alabama would mean this year, so let’s get right to their team preview.
Saturday, Nov. 7 — Alabama (Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa)
Much like LSU’s, Alabama’s quarterback situation is far from settled. Florida State transfer Jacob Coker is the leading candidate to replace Blake Sims, but he’ll have a battle on his hands with redshirt freshman David Cornwell, who was the nation’s No. 3 pro-style QB prospect in 2014. For Coker, this will be his second attempt to win the starting job after losing it to Sims in 2014. The Crimson Tide also have question marks at the wide receiver position, as they lost their top three receivers including Heisman Trophy finalist Amari Cooper. What is less questionable is that Alabama will once again feature a pounding running game with 6-foot-3, 240-pound junior running back Derrick Henry leading the charge, even though they did lose last year’s starter, T.J. Yeldon, to the NFL.
On defense, Alabama returns seven starters and will have a very formidable front seven. Defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson and inside linebackers Reggie Ragland and Reuben Foster should eviscerate running games in 2015, and considering LSU’s question marks at quarterback, this is what scares me most about the Crimson Tide. As for Alabama’s secondary, that’s another question mark. Over the last two seasons, Alabama has had some problems with this unit, but that could change this year with new secondary coach Mel Tucker on board.
Even with as many question marks as Alabama possesses this year, there’s little doubt that this will be LSU’s toughest game on the schedule, especially with it being played in Tuscaloosa. Could this be the year LSU stems the tide and breaks its streak of losses against its most hated rival? That, of course, will depend largely on whether LSU can provide an answer for its own biggest question mark and get significant improvement at the quarterback position.
Now let’s continue our Countdown to Game Day, which is at the 37-day mark, by looking at one of the all-time greatest Tigers to ever play the game - No. 37, Tommy Casanova. During his time at LSU from 1969 to1971, Casanova (6'1", 186) was an extremely versatile athlete who played offense and defense, returned punts and kickoffs, and did just about everything except handle the water cart. Casanova was selected to the College Football All-America Team and the All-SEC Team during each of his three years as a Tiger, and in September of 1971, Sports Illustrated included Casanova on their cover along with the headline, “Tommy Casanova of LSU, Best Player in the Nation.” (Click here to see the cover image.) At that time, Casanova was a top contender for the Heisman Trophy, but a pulled hamstring in the second game of the 1971 season sidelined him for five weeks and pretty much took him out of the running. One of Casanova’s more notable individual performances came in a 1970 LSU win against Ole Miss that wrapped up an Orange Bowl bid for the Tigers. Casanova returned two punts for touchdowns that day, tying a national record, and LSU’s Craig Burns added a third. As the Tigers steadily increased their lead in the second half en route to a 61-17 win, LSU fans who hadn't seen their team beat the Rebels since 1964 began to throw oranges on the field. Casanova went on to a successful NFL career with the Cincinnati Bengals from 1972-1977 and was selected to the Pro Bowl in ’74, ’75, ’76, and ’77. While playing for the Bengals, Casanova began to pursue his M.D., and in 1977 he quit football to pursue his degree full-time. Casanova is now an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) in his hometown of Crowley, LA.
• I’ve updated our unofficial LSU football depth chart in light of Coach Miles’ comments from yesterday’s event.
• Also, I’ve updated our Ticket Exchange with several new listings.