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9/19/14 5:50 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
LSU’s much-anticipated conference opener against SEC West foe Mississippi State will kickoff tomorrow at 6 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN. For those of you fortunate enough to be heading out to Tiger Stadium to take in the action, here is a list of Times of Interest for Tomorrow's Game, and here are some Reminders and Suggestions from LSU.
LSU seems to always have MSU’s number, and the last time the Bulldogs beat the Tigers in Death Valley was way back in 1991 when I was 21-years old and sitting in LSU’s student section. There’s a part of me that considers that fact and thinks that surely the Bulldogs are due for a win, but then I think of the way LSU has been playing defense lately, the fact that this will the largest crowd in Tiger Football history, and the fact that LSU has no reason to come out flat, take the opponent lightly or look ahead to the next game, I just don’t see this as MSU’s year. (Knock on wood.) With that said, MSU will present the stiffest challenge LSU has faced this season, and the stakes will be much higher than in the first three games. I look for a very competitive battle that could very well be decided late in the game.
Here are my three keys to an LSU victory:
Contain Dak Prescott
Clearly, the biggest key to LSU winning the game is to contain dual-threat quarterback Dak Prescott. As the Bulldogs’ most dynamic offensive player, Prescott can hurt you through the air and on the ground, but it’s his ground attack that has me most worried. Prescott is 6-foot-2, 230 pounds (the same size as Leonard Fournette), and he can get up field in a hurry. It will be imperative for LSU’s defensive ends and linebackers to maintain containment without over-pursuing, and for the Tigers to tackle soundly.
Improve Offensive Line Play
LSU’s offensive line was supposed to be its strongest unit this year, but it has yet to live up to expectations. Wednesday night Coach Miles said that with Elliot Porter more comfortable now, and with Ethan Pocic recovered from his ankle injury, the Tigers O-line should be improved, and I sure hope he’s right. Mississippi State has a big, physical front four and one of the best defensive ends in the country in Preston Smith who was named SEC defensive linemen of the week for three consecutive weeks this season.
Air It Out, & Spread the Wealth
Statistically, MSU’s pass defense is among the worst in the country (118th), and they’ve been prone to giving up big plays. Against Alabama-Birmingham, MSU gave up 334 yards on just five passing plays, including touchdown passes of 88, 81 and 75 yards. LSU wide receiver Travin Dural is obviously a dangerous deep threat, and MSU will be keeping a close watch on him. This could create a big opportunity for LSU to target some of its other talented receivers like Trey Quinn, John Diarse and Malachi Dupre (or maybe even an unexpected tight end.)
Moving on, here are my weekly predictions. Last week I went 10-3 and on the season my record is 34-8 (.809), straight-up.â€¨
LSU 31 Mississippi State 24â€¨
Alabama 35 Florida 17
South Carolina 38 Vanderbilt 17
Georgia 54 Troy 13
Texas A&M 53 SMU 16
Arkansas 45 Northern Illinois 23
Missouri 24 Indiana 10
Boise State 42 UL-Lafayette 20
Southeastern LA 30 SE Missouri State 28
Duke 37 Tulane 24
LA Tech 41 Northwestern State 24
In recruiting news, LSU will be entertaining several prospects this weekend including our two most highly rated uncommitted in-state talents in Tyron Johnson and Donte Jackson. Johnson (WR, 6-1, 185, Warren Easton) is the top-rated player on our list of Top LA Prospects for the Class of 2015, while Jackson (ATH, 5-11, 175, Riverdale) is rated No. 7 on our list. Another elite in-state prospect who will be visiting is 2016 offensive tackle Willie Allen (6-7, 300, John Curtis). I’m not expecting any of these elite prospects to commit anytime soon, but you never know. With SEC play getting underway, recruiting news will really start to heat up soon.
One more recruiting related tidbit: Elite wide receiver Damarkus Lodge (6-3, 190, Cedar Hill, Texas) decommitted from Texas A&M yesterday. This is an interesting development for LSU fans because Lodge is the teammate of LSU quarterback commit Justin McMillan, and back in April Lodge had named LSU his clear leader before changing courses.
A reminder in closing: The deadline for picking this week’s games in our Louisiana High School Football Pickem is today at 5 p.m. If you haven’t yet signed up to play, please know that it’s not too late as we’ll be naming a winner each week. It fun and free and I encourage you to participate. But even if you don’t participate, you can still refer to our weekly schedule/scoreboard of every LHSAA high school football game played.
9/18/14 5:30 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
LSU fans are really getting pumped about this Saturday’s conference opener, and it has been great hearing from many of you about Mississippi State and their quarterback Dak Prescott. Being that Prescott is from Louisiana (Haughton High School) and that Les Miles called him “as good a quarterback as there is in the league,” many of you have asked how it is that LSU missed out on signing him, so I figured I would briefly address that question today. LSU did in fact recruit Prescott, but they were late to the party. Mississippi State was one of the first schools to offer him, and they never relented. LSU started really pursuing Prescott late in his senior season and for a while it looked like Miles was going to flip him, but it turned out to be too little too late. LSU ended up taking two quarterbacks that year for the 2011 signing class – Stephen Rivers and a JUCO quarterback from Butler Community College named Zach Mettenberger.
When the Tigers take on Mississippi State Saturday at 6 p.m., a record-breaking crowd is expected at Tiger Stadium. If you plan on heading to the game, you might want to read these reminders and suggestions issued by LSU last night and make plans to arrive early. Oh, and wear gold as this is the annual Gold Game.
Last night I enjoyed listening to the Les Miles radio show and hearing what the Coach had to say about last week’s game and Saturday’s big contest. Below is my weekly recap:
• The first caller of the night was Sadie from Denton, Texas who asked Coach Miles two questions: Is it hard to motivate his team for non-conference opponents, and what are the keys to victory for this week’s game? Miles answered the first question by saying that his team works so hard that when we they get to the backend of the week they need victory. As for keys to victory this week, Miles said they must run and throw with balance, get some big plays running and passing, take care of the ball and make good decisions. He added that the defense and special teams have to play well and that all three phases have to compliment each other.
• Gary from Baton Rouge asked about the health of Kwon Alexander and Lamar Louis and whether we would see them this weekend. He also asked when we would see “the unleashing” of Malachi Dupre at receiver. Miles answered by saying that Dupre is improving everyday, and that he will see the field Saturday night. As for Alexander and Lewis, they are both healthy and will play. He added that Deion Jones and Duke Riley had great games in their places and that their speed was visible from the sideline. And even though Gary didn’t ask about Kendell Beckwith this time, as he usually does, Miles added that Beckwith is developing quite nicely and will be a very, very good middle linebacker.
• A little later, Rickey from Birmingham asked Coach Miles to explain how the offense could be penalized for lining up in neutral zone when the ball was not even snapped. Miles clarified by saying that once a receiver takes a position [beyond the line of scrimmage] and maintains it without movement, then he is aligned offsides. He added that the official was trying to backup DJ Chark, but that he never noticed.
• Michael from Loranger asked something like, “Am I missing something or is Malachi Dupre just entering in the 4th quarter? Miles answered very matter-of-factly with something like, “No, I don’t think you are.”
• Patrick from Mandeville called to ask about the offensive line, saying the holes seem smaller than last year and that Jennings has been under pressure often. Miles pointed out that center Elliot Porter was sidelined in the first two games and didn’t play his best in the third, but that once Porter gets comfortable at center, and Elliot Porter moves to a guard or tackle position the O-line will be better.
• The next caller was a lady who very disrespectfully asked why LSU is ranked No. 8 when they haven’t even played any reputable opponent. Miles reminded the caller that they played a very good school from the Big-10 in Wisconsin and that the other two opponents were undefeated. He added that the ranking is justified, and that the caller seemed to be looking at LSU through glasses tinted red, green or some other color.
• Brett from Lake Charles asked why the Tigers aren’t spreading the ball out a little more and said the team seems to excel with the spread, read option, and play action. Miles responded by saying they’ve worked in the spread formation during every practice and are getting there, but that his personnel can operate in a variety of formations and attacks. He added that his team will have to defend an interesting spread offense against MSU.
• A little later, Jason from the live audience said he noticed Willie Robertson (of Duck Dynasty) was talking to Coach Miles before the game and asked if he was giving Miles advice on growing a beard. Miles said no to the beard and added that he really likes Willie and what he stands for. Interestingly, Miles added that he first met Willie at a lively poker game and really enjoyed it.
• The Evil Twin, a longtime regular on the show, asked how many freshmen would play this year, and how difficult it is to motivate the youngsters. Miles said they’ve already put 17 on the field and that motivating them is not difficult at all, as they work hard and want to be champions.
• Back to the phone lines, Paul from Lake Charles asked Miles what team he fears the most this season. Miles answered by saying that fear is not a part of it, adding that if the Tigers play as they are capable, execute well and don’t turn the ball over, then they win.
• Jack from Lafayette asked about the status of Jerald Hawkins who was injured last week, and also whether LSU would be wearing any different uniforms this year. Miles said that Hawkins was just nicked in the game and probably could have returned, and that he’s fine now and will play. As for the uniforms, Miles didn’t rule out wearing something new at some point this season but said he's a purist and enjoys LSU's traditional uniforms.
• Quentin from Walker called Miles how he feels about the Tigers having the third best defense in nation and whether they can they keep it up all season even against SEC competition. Miles answered affirmatively, saying that although he has great respect for his opponents he believes LSU can maintain excellent defensive play.
I hope you enjoyed this roughly interpreted summary of the show’s key points.
In basketball news, several tip-times for this seasons games were announced yesterday, and I’ve updated our 2014-15 LSU Basketball Schedule accordingly. Here’s the press release sent out by LSU on the start times and TV coverage announced yesterday.
MORE LSU BASKETBALL GAMES MOVED TO SEC NETWORK; SEVERAL START TIMES ANNOUNCED
BATON ROUGE – The Southeastern Conference announced which non-conference games will appear on the SEC Network and also filled in some of the blanks for the starting times for several leagues games.
The SEC Network picked up five non-conference games at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center: UMass (Dec. 2, 6 p.m.); Sam Houston (Dec. 13, 6 p.m.); Charleston (Dec. 22, 8 p.m.); Southern Miss (Dec. 29, 6 p.m.); and, Savannah State (Jan. 3, 6 p.m.).
Three games will air over SECNetwork+ on WatchESPN.com – the exhibition on Nov. 7 against Morehouse (7 p.m.); the regular season opener against Gardner-Webb (noon, Nov. 15); and, the Nov. 29 game against McNeese State (7 p.m.).
Give more SEC game start times have also been announced with the Jan. 24 game at Vanderbilt on ESPNU now set for a 5 p.m. tipoff; the Jan. 31 game at Mississippi State on the SEC Network will go at 1 p.m.; the first meeting with Tennessee in Knoxville will tip at 3 p.m. on the SEC Network (Feb. 14) while the contest with Ole Miss on Feb. 28 will have a 1 p.m. start on the Fox Sports Network.
The home finale on March 4 against Tennessee will be televised by the SEC Network at 6 p.m. The only conference start time not announced yet is the March 7 tilt at Arkansas to close the regular season, but it is known that the contest will be televised on either ESPN or ESPN2.
The only non-conference game waiting a tip time (other than the later rounds of the Paradise Jam) is the Dec. 18 game at UAB.
Ticket information for the 2014-15 LSU men’s basketball season can be found at LSUtix.net. Follow LSU Basketball on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/LSUBasketball and on Twitter @LSUBasketball.
A couple of tidbits in closing:
• I will be updating our Ticket Exchange later this morning, so if you’re looking for tickets to this weekend’s game (or any game), be sure to check it out.â€¨
• Also, please note that the deadline for picking this week’s games in our Louisiana High School Football Pickem is tomorrow at 5 p.m. If you haven’t yet signed up to play, please know that it’s not too late as we’ll be naming a winner each week. It fun and free and I encourage you to participate. But even if you don’t participate, you can still refer to our weekly schedule of every LHSAA high school football game played.
Reader Comments: Scott, thanks for sharing the link to the YA Title article. Here’s another great read you might want to share with DandyDon readers: Juggling life as an active-duty Marine and a LSU football player is a rewarding challenge for Luke Boyd.
9/17/14 5:45 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
The LSU football team is busy preparing for what will be its most important game of the season so far when they take on SEC West foe, Mississippi State.
After three games this season, it’s hard to know just how good this LSU team is, but we should have a much better idea after Saturday’s game. At this point in time, LSU’s defense looks to be dominant and is ranked among the nation’s best in several categories. These include a No. 2 ranking in scoring defense at 8.3 points per game, and a No. 3 ranking in three categories: yards per play (3.53), total defense (205.7 ypg), and pass defense (94.3 ypg). In addition, LSU is one of just eight schools nationally that has yet to allow a passing touchdown. Those numbers are impressive anyway you look at them, but it’s hard to know just how significant they are considering that LSU hasn’t yet faced SEC competition or a quarterback like MSU’s Dak Prescott. Likewise, it’s hard to know how good Mississippi State is considering they’ve played Southern Miss, UAB and South Alabama.
Even though stats never tell the whole story, and they tell even less this early in the season, I thought it would be interesting to compare the two teams’ stats. This is something we’ll do for every game this season, and as the season progresses the stats should be more and more telling. Here we go…
A few observations about the stats:
• MSU holds a moderate advantage in most offensive stats, while LSU holds a significant advantage in the defensive stats, as you would expect after reading the first paragraph of this report. On special teams, both teams have excellent punters, while LSU has the advantage in the return game and in field goals (MSU has missed their only attempt).
• LSU and MSU both utilize a run-heavy offense, although MSU is slightly more balanced. While MSU generally runs it a little less often than LSU, they average more yards per carry (5.3 vs. 4.3) and more yards per game. Of course, they haven’t faced the same caliber of run defenses that LSU has faced.
• On paper, MSU would appear to have an advantage in defending the run, but again these numbers are skewed because of the quality of opponent the two teams have played. Still, there’s no denying that the Bulldogs’ big and experienced defensive line will be a challenge to LSU’s offensive line that has yet to live up to its preseason expectations.
• One of the most impressive things about last year’s LSU offense was their success rate on 3rd down conversions. In fact, the 2013 Tigers led the nation in this category with a 57.14% success rate. This year’s Tiger team has taken a pretty big step backward in that regard and is 31st in the nation at 48.84%, but that’s still considerably higher than MSU’s (42%).
• The one stat that really jumps out at me is “opponents’ passing yards per game.” LSU’s pass defense is among the best in the nation (3rd, behind Standford and Clemson), whereas MSU’s is near the bottom of the pack (118th).
• Another thing not shown on my chart but worth noting is that MSU leads the SEC in giving up plays of 20+ yards (12), 30+ yards (6), 40+(5), 50+(4), 60+(3), 70+(3), 80+(2). This could make for a big night from LSU deep-threat receiver Travin Dural.
Speaking of Dural, yesterday he was named as one of 12 receivers on the watch list for the 2014 Biletnikoff Award, which is presented to college football’s most outstanding receiver. Dural has 12 receptions on the year for 370 yards and four touchdowns, which makes him tied for first in the SEC in scores and second in receiving yards. Dural is also eighth in the nation in yards per catch (30.83) and has touchdown receptions of 94 and 80 yards.
A few of tid-bits in closing:
• I know a lot of you like to follow former Tigers in the NFL, so I’m sharing with you this link to stats on former LSU players currently on NFL rosters, as published by LSUSports.net.
• Searching for tickets for this week’s game and beyond? Check out our Ticket Exchange which was updated yesterday. â€¨
• Looking to watch this weekend’s game with like-minded Tiger Fans? Check out our page of LSU Alumni Association View-Ins.
• According to LSU SID Michael Bonnette, LSU football legend YA Title will be attending this weekend’s game in Tiger Stadium, exactly 50 years after the historic photo featured in this touching story about Title’s battle with dementia was taken.
This web site is not officially affiliated with Louisiana State University. Opinions expressed herein are the property of Donald Long, Scott Long and friends, not Louisiana State University.