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11/30/15 12:00 am CST

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Good morning, Tiger Fans,

After the emotional rush of Saturday night’s strange turn of events which ended with Les Miles keeping his job after a 19-7 win against Texas A&M, today I’m left with the sobering question, “Now what?”  To steal a phrase from Les Miles himself, “I’ve gotta be honest with you.” As much as I’d like to say otherwise, the situation at LSU is not all roses now that Les Miles’ job is secure for the time being. To me, it’s clear that Alleva and a large faction of big boosters wanted Les Miles out, but for several reasons their plan did not materialize, and that leaves Coach Les Miles in a precarious position. If all of the same decision makers are in play next year and the Tigers begin to falter with an early season loss, it’s not a stretch to think that Miles’ job security could once again be in the media spotlight, and my fear is that this could impact recruiting in a big way. It also seems obvious that some staff changes are needed now, and that the team desperately needs to add a quarterback or two to this year’s recruiting class which currently contains none. My brief thoughts on these topics and others can be found in today’s Mail Call, linked below.

DandyDon.com Mail Call - Post Texas A&M Edition 

After concluding the regular season with an 8-3 record, the Tigers came in at No. 23 in both of the major polls this week. Now that we’re at this point, it’s interesting to note that if the McNeese State game would have been played, LSU would likely be sitting at 9-3. I call that “interesting” because before the season started, I conducted a poll asking you to predict LSU’s final regular season record, and the largest vote-getter was 9-3 (33.27%).

Please don’t misinterpret the last two sentences of the previous paragraph as me saying that I’m satisfied with LSU’s record this year – I am not. LSU’s talent-laden offense clearly underachieved (ending 54th in the nation in total offense, 111th in passing offense and 10th in rushing offense), and LSU’s defense took a step in the opposite direction (going from 9th in the nation in total defense in 2014 to 25th in 2015, and dropping from 3rd in passing defense to 45th.) I have to say though that I was very impressed with what I saw from the defense in Saturday’s game and find that encouraging. As for special teams, LSU ended the season 127th out of 128 teams in opponent punt return average, 73rd in opponent kick return average, 72nd in punting and 49th in field goals. Obviously, that won’t cut it.  

With that said, I’m confident that with the appropriate staff changes and a strong finish to this recruiting class, which is currently ranked No. 2 in the nation, 2016 could be a very exciting season for this young but very talented Tiger team.  And let’s not forget that there’s still a bowl game to be played this year. According to a report from ESPN 104.5 in Baton Rouge, representatives from the Citrus Bowl are considering a Michigan-LSU matchup in their annual New Year’s Day bowl game in Orlando, Florida. Imagine what a storyline that would be! 

Before going any further, I’d like to call your attention to something that I’m sure you’ve already noticed....

This is the first Monday after Thanksgiving, and that means it’s time for the start of our annual DandyDon.com fundraiser I ask that you please read this important message and consider pledging your support. For nearly 19 years, DandyDon.com has been dishing out a daily dose of Tiger News, and I look forward to continuing the site for many years, but I can only do so with your help. Believe me, soliciting your support is not a lot of fun, but I believe it’s the best business model for this site and the right thing to do. Back when my late father (Dandy Don Long) and I started this site, we decided to keep it free for our military men and women, college and high school students, elderly people living on social security, and for all those who simply cannot afford subscription fees. In order for that approach to work, I need those of you who can afford to do so to please make a donation. Thanks in advance for your consideration.

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In basketball, the LSU men’s team (3-2) is on the road in Charleston, South Carolina tonight to play against the Charleston Cougars (3-2). The Tigers are looking to snap a two-game losing skid after losing to Marquette (81-80) and NC State (83-72 in overtime) last week at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. This season, Charleston has beaten South Carolina State (74-54), Navy (72-58) and Western Carolina (57-56) and has lost to Davidson (82-81) and Coastal Carolina (67-61). Tipoff is at 6 p.m. tonight and can be heard on 98.1 FM in the Baton Rouge area. There is no television broadcast scheduled for the game, but live stats will be available through LSUsports.net. Look for a full recap on the game in tomorrow's report.

That’s it for today, folks. Have a great day!


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11/29/15 5:45 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Whoa! In true Les Miles fashion, the Mad Hatter pulled out an emotional 19-7 victory over Texas A&M in what was expected to be his last night in Tiger Stadium, and soon after we learned from Athletic Director Joe Alleva that Miles will remain as LSU’s head football coach. So what brought about this unexpected turn of events? Throughout the week, we heard criticism of how LSU’s administration was handling the matter from multiple media outlets, both locally (like this one) and nationwide. We also witnessed an outpouring of support from fans on Les Miles' weekly talkshow on Wednesday, which was followed by a resounding show of support for Miles from fans in Tiger Stadium last night. Even Shaquille O'Neal pledged his support for Miles and tactfully admonished the LSU administration for how they've handled the situation the past week. With LSU ultimately winning last night over an 8-3 Texas A&M squad, the sequence of events could not have been written any better for LSU to retain Miles as its head coach. Of course, another factor at play could have very well been that Joe Alleva’s main target to replace Les Miles, Jimbo Fisher, reportedly told associates yesterday that he is staying at FSU. Whatever the reason or reasons may have been, I am glad that the administration ultimately made the call they did, and my hope is that the damage caused by the events of the last two weeks will be minimized by Alleva putting an end to the speculation last night. (A complete transcript of Joe Alleva’s post-game comments can be found below.)

Although the head coaching position is secure for now, the next few weeks should be very interesting as there will undoubtedly be several staff changes made. With Cam Cameron's contract ending after this season, it seems doubtful that he'll return, and quite frankly the Tigers need a reenergized offense that I am not confident Cameron can provide. And, obviously, the special teams' woes this season seem to make Bradley Dale Peveto's return as Special Teams Coordinator unlikely. We’ll have plenty of time to discuss all the potential changes and what impact they might have in recruiting in the coming days and weeks, but for now let’s get back to last night’s big win.

Despite quarterback Brandon Harris struggling mightily in the passing game, LSU was able to win by leaning on its offensive strength, the running game, and solid defense. Leonard Fournette had a big night, running 32 times for 159 yards and a game-securing touchdown, and in doing so he surpassed Charles Alexander's 1977 single season rushing record of 1,686 yards. (Fournette is now at 1,741 yards with the bowl game still remaining.) Fournette also had a team-high four catches for 43 yards. The other offensive star of the game was freshman running back Derrius Guice who gave the Tigers a huge spark early in the second half with a 50-yard TD on an end-around to put LSU up for good, 13-7.

Defensively, LSU had its best game of the season, holding A&M to a season-low seven points on only 250 total yards. The Tigers only allowed two plays of more than 20 yards, and for the first time this season LSU’s defensive backfield looked like DBU. LSU’s defensive line also did a great job of generating pressure and came away with four sacks and five quarterback hurries. A couple of defenders who deserve special shout-outs are freshman DE Arden Key, who finished the game with a career-high eight tackles, 1.5 sacks and three quarterback hurries, and freshman DB Donte Jackson forced two turnovers in the game - an interception and a fumble recovery. LB Deion Jones led the team with 11 tackles for his fifth 10-plus tackle game of the season. 

Of course, not everything about the night was positive. As briefly mentioned earlier, Brandon Harris struggled mightily at quarterback, ending 7-of-21 for 83 yards and an interception. Against opponents better suited to stop the run, that kind of performance would have likely spelled doom for the Tigers. And while special teams play was improved as a whole, Trent Domingue missed three field goals and Jamie Keehn had one punt that went only 16 yards.  

Here are the game’s video highlights and a video of the postgame press conference, and below is the boxscore. 


Athletic Director Joe Alleva’s post-game comments:

“Obviously there's been quite a bit of speculation the past few days about the future of our football coach and football program. I made it very clear that my policy is to wait until the end of the season, and obviously it's the end of the regular season right now. The season is complete and I want to make it very clear and positive that Les Miles is our football coach and will continue to be our football coach. Okay? I'm looking forward to working with Coach Miles as he leads this team to a bowl game and another great recruiting class. Les and I have talked, we've talked about this program, and we are committed together to working to win and compete at the highest level. And I really, frankly, don't have much more to say than that. I'm very pleased about tonight's outcome and I'm very pleased that Coach Miles is our coach. We're going to go forward together and win championships here at LSU.”

Closing tidbits:

• Here are great videos showing Les Miles getting carried off the field by his players after the big victory, and that touching moment when he paused his post-game interview to sing the school’s alma-mater

• I’ll leave you with a couple of good reads to go along with your Sunday morning coffee.

CBSSports.com: LSU coach Les Miles deserves better than AD Joe Alleva's ineptitude

Les Miles gets his biggest upset victory, and it is well-earned


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11/28/15 5:45 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

At 6:30 tonight the LSU football team will conclude its regular season with a game against Texas A&M that will surely be overshadowed by a much bigger story line. Based on all the chatter out there, it would be surprising if this were not Les Miles’ last game as LSU’s coach, regardless of the game’s outcome. Combine that with the fact that this will be the last game in Tiger Stadium for 14 seniors, and the first in which LSU faces its former defensive coordinator, John Chavis, and it’s clear to see that emotions will be running high. 

If you’re making plans to attend tonight’s game, please note the following Times of Interest

As promised, today we’ll give you our Keys to an LSU Victory.

Establish the run
We’ve been saying LSU needs more balance all season, but with Texas A&M giving up 202.5 yards per game (13th in the SEC), the Tigers need to pound the ball against the Aggies. I’m not saying LSU should abandon the pass by any means, but Fournette and the other running backs should be given the ball early and often to move the chains, eat up the clock and wear down the A&M defense. LSU ran the ball 57 times for 384 rushing yards last season vs A&M, and while I don’t believe they’ll have that level of success this year, I still think it’s imperative to lean heavily on the run this Saturday.

Avoid negative plays and costly penalties
LSU has committed way too many costly penalties this season and allowed too many sacks and tackles for loss. Against Ole Miss last week, the Tigers had 10 penalties for 95 yards, including a costly holding penalty early in the game that wiped out a 62-yard run by Fournette. In LSU’s 35-28 win vs Florida earlier in the season, the Tigers only committed three penalties for 20 yards and gave up zero sacks. A similar performance for the Tigers tonight would greatly increase the likelihood of a victory.

Prevent explosive plays
Two weeks ago vs Arkansas, LSU held the Razorbacks to 239 yards on 53 of their 56 offensive plays. Unfortunately, the other three plays went for 201 yards and three TDs. Last week vs Ole Miss, the Tigers gave up five receptions and two runs that totaled 197 yards, an average of 28 yards per play. Ole Miss’ other 58 plays totaled just 235 yards. For the Tigers to end the regular season on a high note, they’ll need to avoid allowing such big plays today.

Win in the red zone
As noted a few days ago in our stat comparison, Texas A&M’s red zone TD percentage is only 55%. Last week vs Vanderbilt, the Aggies kicked six field goals, three of which were in the red zone. In fact, A&M failed to score a TD in the red zone last week, as their only TD was a 95-yard pass from Kyle Allen. So holding the Aggies to field goals when they reach the red zone (hopefully there won’t be too many of those trips) will be another critical factor for LSU to win this game.

Home crowd needs to be loud and supportive!
The crowd was electric and extremely loud in the Florida game less than six weeks ago, and that had a big impact in the game as the Gators’ offense was often rattled and struggled communicating. Two weeks ago at home vs Arkansas, the Tigers fell behind 21-0 and fans never really got back in the game. Regardless of how this contest starts, LSU needs the fans to pack the stadium and make it extremely difficult for A&M’s offense to communicate the entire night. A strong and supportive crowd will serve not only as a difference maker in the game, but as a fitting way to pay tribute to the 14 seniors who’ve given their all for the last four or five years, and a coach who has given LSU football its best 11 years in school history.

Today’s closing tidbits: 

• A lot of you have emailed me about reports of Les Miles speaking to the Gridiron booster club about his future. What I make of it all, based on reports like this one and emails I have received, is that Coach Miles realizes that this could indeed be his last game and wanted to express his sincere gratitude to his boosters in case he doesn’t have another chance to do so. As reported by the Advocate, athletic director Joe Alleva has declined comment until after the season and Miles says Alleva hasn’t yet told him anything about his job status. 

• The LSU Lady Tigers basketball team dropped to 3-3 on the season with a 69-52 loss to undefeated Purdue (4-0) in the first round of the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Florida. More on that game, including video highlights, can be found here. The LSU men’s team will return to action Monday at Charleston.

• All of last night’s LA High School Football Playoff Scores can be found in our statewide scoreboard.


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