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LSU vs. Wisconsin - August 30, 2014 - 8:00 P.M. Kickoff (ESPN)
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7/29/14 6:00 am CT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

With what has been a relatively quiet offseason quickly coming to a close, yesterday Nola.com’s Jim Kleinpeter reported that two LSU football players were issued misdemeanor summons by LSU police last week. The two are freshmen defensive tackles Trey Lealaimatafao and Davon Godchaux. According to the report, Lealaimatafao was issued a summons last Thursday for a bicycle theft committed on July 1. (He’s also the young man who injured his arm last week by punching through a glass window.) As for Godchaux, he was issued a summons on July 21 after throwing firecrackers into someone’s campus apartment. For more on the story, see this article.

On to more positive news… Class of 2016 quarterback Shea Patterson has de-committed from Arizona and reopened his recruitment. This is a great sign for LSU. You might recall that Patterson (6-2, 195, Calvary Baptist of Shreveport) is the quarterback who recently camped at LSU and whose brother recently left Arizona to take a job with LSU. All indications point to Patterson committing to the Tigers, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that happen sooner than later. Coach Miles already has a commitment from one 2016 quarterback - Feleipe Franks (6-5, 205, Crawfordville, FL), but I suspect he wouldn’t hesitate to take Patterson’s commitment as well. Patterson was recently elevated in Scout’s quarterback prospect rankings to the No. 1 spot, although I would hesitate to rank him higher than Franks, who in my opinion was every bit as impressive at the camp and has a stronger arm. I’ve added video highlights of both quarterbacks to our Media Gallery.

Another prospect who was very impressive at LSU’s camp was 2015 defensive back Ronnie Harrison, and it appears that he will be making some kind of announcement about his future school this afternoon. Harrison (6-3, 205, Tallahassee, FL) is currently committed to North Carolina, but has made recent camp stops at Alabama and LSU. The obvious question is whether LSU did enough last week to flip him, and we should have an answer in a few hours. Harrison’s announcement is expected to come at around 4 p.m. and I’ll be sure to tweet the news to those of you who follow DandyDonLSU on Twitter. Here are Harrison’s video highlights.

In other football news, ESPN has begun revealing its top-25 SEC players and pegged Leonard Fournette at No. 22. Considering that Fournette has never even played a down of college ball, I find that quite remarkable. Here’s what they have to say about him: “No, he hasn’t played a down of football at the college level, but the talk out of Baton Rouge is that this youngster is the real deal. He’s already being compared to Michael Jordan, for crying out loud! Fournette will make an immediate impact for the Tigers this fall after being the nation’s No. 1 recruit. He finished his high school career with 7,619 rushing yards and 88 rushing touchdowns, including 1,792 yards and 16 touchdowns as a senior. ”

With only 32 days remaining until LSU’s season-opener against Wisconsin, let’s continue our Countdown to Game Day by looking at LSU’s 32nd head football coach, Les Miles. Here we go…

When former head coach Nick Saban left LSU in 2005, expectations for the Tigers’ football program had been elevated to an all-time high. This created an exceptional challenge for whichever new coach would follow. As we all know, that head coach turned out to be Les Miles, and in my opinion he was the perfect fit for the job. Interestingly, Miles has battled criticisms for most of his LSU coaching career despite winning nearly five times as many games as he’s lost. Since becoming the Tigers’ 32nd coach in 2005, Miles has led LSU to more victories than any other team in the SEC (85), two SEC championships and two national championship appearances. Add in five Top-10 finishes and six 10-plus win seasons, and it’s easy to see that Miles is deserving of a lot of praise for LSU’s current success. One thing I really like about Miles that I think is often overlooked is his ability to attract not only the best players to join his team, but also the best coaches to join his staff. I can think of no pair of coordinators in the country as strong as defensive coordinator John Chavis and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. Another thing I appreciate about Miles is the fact that he doesn’t care what naysayers think about him, and he’s more than willing to confront criticisms face-to-face. (As Greg McElroy learned recently.) Love him or hate him, and hopefully most Tigers fans have come to love and appreciate him, there’s no denying that Miles is one of the most successful coaches in the game. And as his 51 NFL draft picks at LSU suggest, he has a knack for advancing his players to the next level, which in turn is a great recruiting tool. Miles is one of a kind, no doubt, and quite frankly, there’s a short list of coaches in the country that could have followed in Saban’s footsteps and been as successful.

One tid-bit in closing: In my previous report, I mentioned that LSU signee Jevonte Domond (OL, 6-6, 310, Glendale CC) had not yet reported to LSU, but I later learned that he finished his coursework and departed for Baton Rouge yesterday.

7/28/14 6:10 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

In just six days, the LSU football team will report to fall camp and in one week the team will practice for the first time. I’m looking forward to heading out there to check out the team and give you a report on what I see. As of now, the practice schedule has not been released, but as soon as it is I will post it here. In the meantime, here are a few dates of interest to keep in mind:

Sun., Aug. 3 - LSU reports for pre-season camp
Mon., Aug. 4 - First Day of LSU pre-season practice
Sun., Aug. 10 - LSU Fan Day
TBA - LSU Media Day
Mon., Aug. 25 - First “Lunch with Les” Press Luncheon
Sat., Aug. 30 - Season opener: LSU vs. Wisconsin (Houston, Texas) 

As far as I know, 23 of the 25 members of the 2014 signing class have made it to campus and the staff is still waiting on the two others. The two are defensive tackle Travonte Valentine (6-3, 340, Palm Bay, FL) and offensive lineman Jevonte Domond (6-6, 310, Glendale CC). About two weeks ago, Valentine tweeted that he would be in college the next week, but since then news has been hard to come by. Valentine is a big-time player who has the talent to step in and contribute as a backup right away, and his importance to the team was made more significant when fellow freshman defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao (DT, 6-3, 300, San Antonio, TX) injured his arm last week. While Lealaimatafao is expected to fully recover over time, I think its safe to assume that he won’t be ready to play anytime soon. As for Domond, he’s the big JUCO offensive lineman who signed with LSU in early June and was granted immediate eligibility. LSU is pretty stacked in the offensive line this season, with or without Domond, but he is expected to be a big contributor next year when LSU will likely be without four of this season’s five starters.

Speaking of offensive linemen and the 2014 signing class, yesterday a reader shared with me this brief video of freshman Garrette Brumfield squatting an incredible 506 pounds. I’ll go on the record now as saying that Brumfield will be a special offensive lineman before his playing days are over at LSU. In my opinion, he and fellow offensive lineman William Clapp are two members of the 2014 signing class who were overshadowed a bit by the elite skill players in the class (i.e. Leonard Fournette, Malachi Dupre and Trey Quinn) but will be huge a huge part of LSU’s quest for a national championship during the next three or four years.

In baseball news, several Tigers participated in the Cape Cod All-Star game last night and represented LSU very well. Coach Mainieri attended the game to support his players and was interviewed during the game. Right on cue, Chris Chinea hit a home run while Mainieri was being interviewed. Kramer Robertson, Conner Hale, Mark Laird and Chinea started for the West team which won 5-0, while Andrew Stevenson work as a reserve outfielder for the East. In addition to Chinea, Hale and Laird also had big nights at the plate. Hale produced two hits and a run, and Laird started the scoring with an RBI single in the third.

Now let’s close out today’s report with our countdown to LSU football’s season opener, which is 33 days away, by remembering a significant year in LSU’s football history, 1933. What makes that year particularly significant is not only that it was LSU’s most successful since 1908, it was also the first year of the Southeastern Conference. (Prior to that, LSU played in the Southern Conference which consisted of 23 teams.) LSU made a statement about being an SEC power from the get-go, ending the season with an undefeated 7-0-3 record. Oddly, two of the Tigers’ three ties came against in-state opponents - Centenary (0-0) and Tulane (7-7). The other tie was against Vanderbilt (7-7). Highlights of that historic season were wins over Arkansas (20-0), South Carolina (31-7), Ole Miss (31-0), and Tennessee (7-0). As you can see by those numbers, LSU was a dominant team on defense. In fact, the team only gave up 27 points all season and held opponents to an average of 2.7 points per game. The most disappointing fact about that season is that despite LSU’s undefeated record, the Tigers ended 3-0-2 in conference play and second in the conference standings behind a one-loss Alabama team (7-1-1) who was 5-0-1 in SEC play.

Reader Comments: Hey Scott, here's a preview of the LSU's season from an outsider's point of view and it makes some very interesting points.

7/27/14 6:05 am CT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Coach Les Miles and his staff concluded its elite football camp yesterday and by all indications it was a big success. As was the case last year, LSU didn’t pickup any commitments during the camp (at least none that have been made public), but I don’t find that concerning or surprising. Usually the benefits of a camp of this magnitude are not immediately seen, at least not from the outside, but if you were to attend the camp and see the level and amount of talent in attendance, for this year’s class and for well beyond, there’s no way you would leave without feeling good about the future of LSU football. 

After extending one offer Friday to 2016 tight end Jamal Pettigrew (6-6, 218, St. Augustine), LSU reportedly extended offers yesterday to 2016 defensive tackle Kendell Jones (6-4.5, 315, Killeen, TX) and JUCO cornerback Justin Martin (6-2, 179, Nashville, TN). Interestingly, I didn’t hear of any new offers being extended to Class of 2015 prep prospects during the camp, although there were a few in-state prospects who I think did enough to see their stock rise and merit closer attention. I mentioned two such players yesterday (D-linemen Jalen Bates of Kaplan and Oshead Dugas of Northside), and another is linebacker Arthur McGinnis (6'2", 225) of Warren Easton who is currently No. 18 on our list of Top LA Prospects for 2015. Look for each of those players to get a closer look throughout the 2014 high school season.

Earlier in the week we took a look at four veteran LSU football players who haven’t received much preseason recognition but should be very significant contributors this year, and today I’ll add another to that group. As a refresher, the first four mentioned were Connor Neighbors, Travin Dural, DeSean Smith and Christian LaCouture. Here we go…

Danielle Hunter

Les Miles turned heads a few months back with a comment he made, saying his defensive end tandem of Jermauria Rasco and Danielle Hunter might be the best he’s ever had. With Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery still fresh in the minds of LSU fans, that was a bold statement. Perhaps Miles’ statement should be taken with a grain of salt, but I would’t call it far-fetched. Last year, Hunter and Rasco combined for 113 tackles and 14 tackles for loss, including seven sacks. That was both players’ first season as starters, so naturally, progression is expected, especially from Hunter who started to get into a groove late into a season. You could see towards the Texas A&M game that he was becoming the player his popping veins and muscular build suggested he would be from day one. The growth he showed during the season was remarkable. In the early goings he seemed timid and unable to shed blockers, but by the end of the year he was frequently in the backfield making a name for himself. Imagine the growth of Hunter after spending a full spring and summer with John Chavis and company. I foresee Hunter as a legitimate All-SEC contender, and if he has the kind of year I think he will, the Tigers’ pass rush defense could match the depth and athleticism of its secondary.

With 34 days remaining until Game Day, today we'll take a look at a special Tiger who played at LSU from 1957-59 and wore No. 34 - Johnny Robinson. Robinson played his high school ball at University High and was part of a hometown trio of running backs on the Tigers’ 1958 team championship team, along with Billy Cannon (Istrouma High) and Warren Rabb (Baton Rouge High). Although he was often overshadowed by Cannon, Robinson was an excellent back in his own right. In the 1958 regular season finale against Tulane, the Tigers needed an impressive win to secure the No. 1 spot in the polls, but the Green Wave was doing a great job of containing Cannon and had held him to 41 yards in the first half. Robinson took up the slack and broke loose for four touchdowns in the second half to help lead the Tigers to a 62-0 shutout. All four of Robinson's touchdowns came on plays of 23 yards or more. For his efforts, Robinson was named SEC Back of the Week. Robinson went on to earn All-SEC honors that year, as did Cannon and Rabb. After graduating from LSU, Robinson was selected in the first round of the 1960 AFL draft by the Dallas Texans who later became the Kansas City Chiefs. In the pro ranks, Robinson switched positions from running back to safety and turned out to be one of the best safeties to ever play the game. He is now a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s AFL All-Time Team and the LSU Sports Hall of Fame.

Interestingly, this year’s No. 34 for the Tigers could find himself in a situation similar to Robinson’s in 1958. I’m referring to running back Darrell Williams, a player I believe will be outstanding in his own right although largely overshadowed by a special running back named Leonard Fournette.

One more note on the countdown to game day: I’d like to thank all of you who answered my request for topic suggestions yesterday. A lot of you suggested that I write about LSU’s 34-18 win over Georgia in the 2003 SEC Championship game, but I decided not to since I had already written about it for number 87 when I featured Justin Vincent’s 87-yard run. Still, I appreciate the suggestions. Keep ’em coming!

In closing, I’d like to point out that I’ve updated our Ticket Exchange, and that LSU still has a limited number of tickets currently on sale to the general public for six of the seven home games in 2014. Please see LSUSports.net for more information on purchasing single game tickets.

Reader Comment: Scott, here’s a writeup on Jarvis Landry to share with your readers. Looks like he has impressed, as we Tiger fans knew he would! Rookie WR Landry off to good start with Dolphins

 

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