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DandyDon is proud to recognize David Toms as a great ambassador of the Tiger Nation.

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11/25/124 6:00 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

The LSU football team is busy preparing to close out the season in College Station in what will be the Tigers’ first Thanksgiving Day contest in 31 years. The last time the Tigers played on Thanksgiving Day was November 23, 1983 when LSU defeated Tulane in the Louisiana Superdome. I have mixed feelings about the game being played on Thanksgiving Day, and I kind of liked the day-after tradition that we’ve enjoyed for so long, but it is what it is and hopefully the game will provide us with a fitting ending for a special day.

An LSU win Thursday would extend the nation’s longest streak of seasons with at least eight victories to 15 straight. LSU has won at least eight games every year since 2000. Now I know a lot of you are saying to yourself that eight wins is nothing to brag about and that we should be setting our standards higher, and I understand your point. But when you consider that LSU has reached that mark 14 years in a row, that really says a lot about the stability of the program. An LSU loss on Thursday would not only break that streak, it would also mark the first time in Les Miles’ tenure at LSU that the Tigers would have fallen in three consecutive games. As I’ve said before, I don’t think that’s going to happen, and evidently the oddsmakers agree. After opening as a 2.5 favorite, LSU is now favored by three. 

Yesterday Coach Miles met with the media for his weekly press conference, and, as usual, I’ve summarized his comments below. 

• Miles started the conference by wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and recognizing that he, his family, and his football team have a lot to be thankful for. 

• Next, Miles spoke of the attention Odell Beckham, Jr ’s spectacular catch on Sunday received, and said that he saw OBJ and Landry do things like that all the time on the practice field.

Sidenote: I heard from many of you yesterday who expressed the same sentiment, stating that we as Tiger Fans have seen many spectacular catches from OBJ and Landry and asking that I repost their LSU highlights. I’ve done so here: OBJ LSU Highlights | Landry LSU Highlights 

• Miles said the team practiced twice during the open week and that Sunday’s practice was full of energy. On Monday the team watched film, on Tuesday they took a day off, and then on Wednesday and Thursday they went back at it before taking two “fresh‑leg days” on Friday and Saturday.

• Miles confirmed that left guard Vadal Alexander is expected to play Thursday. He added that Ethan Pocic will be at center (meaning Porter will be out, as expected), Evan Washington will be at right guard, and Hoko Fanaika will be the first offensive lineman off the bench.

• While Miles admitted that the quarterback is going to have to play better, he said the key is for the QB to make the 10 players around him play their best and to provide the best opportunity to win the game.

• Later when Miles was asked whether he would be “surprised if [Brandon Harris] does not play Thursday,” Miles said that Harris continues to improve, but that he wants to assess this week fully before commenting on the question. Based on that response, and on Miles’ previous comments (above), it sounds unlikely to me that Harris will play unless the game is in hand.

• When asked whether he expects to hear from Michigan when there is a job opening, Miles said he has given little or no thought to other jobs and that he is comfortable with his team and what he is doing.

• When asked about the letter he received from the Secretary of Louisiana Department of Veteran Affairs about getting Luke Boyd some snaps in Thursday’s game, Miles said that although he is touched by the way so many people have championed Boyd’s cause, having him travel and take one of the spots on the limited travel-roster would be very difficult to do this late in the season. Miles affirmed that the whole team can travel to the bowl game and that Boyd will be a part of that.

There was a lot more said than what I summarized above, and I’ve posted the entire transcript for those of you who have a few minutes to spare.

In recruiting news, according to multiple reports including this one by Shea Dixon of 247Sports, Coach Miles confirmed yesterday that he is taking a look at JUCO quarterbacks. Among the JUCO QBs who have ben evaluated are Chad Kelly, the dual-threat QB I wrote about a couple of days ago who was dismissed from Clemson, and Daniel Fitzwater, a pro-style QB who played high school ball at Calvary Baptist in Shreveport before heading to Co-Lin Community College in Mississippi. 

Before moving on to basketball news, I want to remind you that because of this week’s game being played on Thursday, Coach Les Miles’ weekly radio show will be tonight instead of the normal Wednesday time.

In men’s basketball news, LSU fell to 3-2 on the season with a 61-64 loss against Clemson. The Tigers finished the game shooting only 37.7% from the field (23-61) and 7.7% from 3-point range (1-13). This is going to have to improve quickly if the Tigers are to obtain their goals for the season. Despite the team’s shooting woes, the game was a close one with 10 ties and 13 lead changes. Josh Gray converted a layup to give LSU a 56-52 lead with 3:46 remaining, but Clemson quickly responded with a layup and then converted a 3-pointer to take a 57-56 advantage with two minutes remaining. After Gray made one of two free throws, Clemson converted an offensive rebound into two points and made one of two free throws to increase their lead to 60-57 with 51 seconds remaining. Both teams traded two free throws before Jarell Martin tipped in a missed shot to trim the Clemson lead to 62-61 with 18 seconds remaining, but after two Clemson free throws, Jordan Mickey missed a 3-pointer as time expired.

For the second straight game, Mickey led LSU with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Tim Quarterman scored a season high 16 points on 5-8 shooting (5-6 FT shooting), grabbed seven rebounds and dished out three assists. Keith Hornsby, Gray and Martin struggled from the field as the three combined for only 20 points on a combined 8-32 shooting. The Tigers committed 13 turnovers but forced 15 from Clemson and out-rebounded them 38-35. 

LSU’s men return to action this Saturday at 7pm in the PMAC against McNeese State. The game will be on SECN+ and the broadcast will be available on 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge.

Reader Comments: Hi Scott...Since the conversation has been about QB's at LSU, this article may give some insight as to what Hayden Rettig thought of his time at LSU.

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11/24/14 5:50 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

In just three days, LSU will take on Texas A&M on Thanksgiving Day in a game that should show us a lot about the character of this Tiger team. The game will kickoff at 6:30 p.m. CT and will be televised by ESPN. LSU has opened as a 2.5-point favorite, and I think that’s just about right. Yesterday we looked at how the two teams compare statistically, and today we’ll take a look at how LSU’s offense matches up against A&M’s defense, and vice versa. Of course we’ll also look at special teams and intangibles. Here we go…

LSU offense vs. Texas A&M defense
Considering the way LSU’s offense played against Arkansas a week and a half ago, it’s hard to give LSU’s offense an advantage against any defense at this time. Fortunately for the Tigers, the Aggies are one of the few defenses that wouldn’t be favored in this matchup. This is because the Aggies’ rushing defense is last in the SEC and 106th in the nation, plus the Aggies are a little banged up from multiple injuries in November. Josh Walker, a freshman starter at linebacker, broke his foot and is out for the rest of the season. Meanwhile, defensive lineman Ivan Robinson, linebacker Otaro Alaka and the sensational Myles Garrett are all recovering from injuries and listed as probable for the game against LSU. The possibility of Garrett, who is a freshman defensive end who has taken the SEC by storm with 11 sacks this season, being absent or not 100% is fortunate for LSU, although most feel he will play. As for LSU injuries, offensive linemen Elliot Porter and Vadal Alexander were badly missed against Arkansas, but Alexander is expected to play in this game. Porter is unlikely. With Alexander back, the Tigers should be able to move the ball on this Aggie defense with a ground and pound attack. Of course, the optimist in me wants to believe Miles and company have added some offensive wrinkles to go along with that running game, but the realist in me has doubts. 
Toss-up 

LSU defense vs. Texas A&M offense
For a freshman quarterback coming off of the bench, A&M’s Kyle Allen has been pretty darn good for the Aggies. In his last two starts, including a win against Auburn, Allen has thrown for roughly 500 yards and seven touchdowns, so his presence at quarterback should be respected. However, since LSU’s defense turned the corner in the second half against Florida, it has been phenomenal. The secondary, fueled by Tre’Davious White and Jalen Mills, has been stingy, while the middle of the defense has been much stouter with Davon Godchaux at tackle and Kendell Beckwith at middle linebacker. Plus, during the past two seasons, John Chavis has proven to be quite successful against Texas A&M, figuring out how to beat Kevin Sumlin’s team in back-to-back defensive struggles. 
Advantage LSU 

Special Teams 
For the first time this season, I’m giving an LSU opponent the advantage in special teams. With the combination of kicker Josh Lambo (second in the conference in field goal percentage), Drew Kaiser (third in the conference in yards per punt) and Louisiana’s own Speedy Noil returning kicks, the Aggies would hold an advantage in this area against most teams. Generally speaking LSU’s special teams have been very strong, but Colby Delahoussaye is coming off a career-worst performance against Arkansas in which he missed two field goals, leading to concern of his confidence being shaken. Personally I think Delahoussaye will return to his normal super-dependable ways, but at this point I have to give a slight edge to A&M.
Slight Advantage Texas A&M 

Intangibles
LSU is coming off of a 17-0 loss to Arkansas, has to travel to play Texas A&M on Thanksgiving and has to overcome the public chatter surrounding the team’s offensive flaws. Obviously, the intangibles department favors the Aggies. How LSU responds to all of this will say a lot about the makeup and mindset of this team. Meanwhile, the Aggies, despite coming off a close loss to Missouri, have found some momentum with Kyle Allen, and the “12th man” will likely build off of it in a wild environment Thursday night.
Advantage Texas A&M 

In other football news, a couple of former Tigers deserve big props for their performances yesterday:

Former LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger threw for 345 yards in the Titan’s 43-24 loss to the Eagles, making  him just the fifth LSU quarterback to throw for 300-plus yards in an NFL game. He joins Matt Flynn, Bert Jones, David Woodley and Y.A. Tittle as former Tigers to accomplish that feat. Congrats @mettshow!

And how ’bout the outstanding catch by Odell Beckham, Jr. that many are calling the best catch ever! If you haven’t seen it yet (or even if you have), check out this video and judge for yourself. Amazing! 

In basketball news, LSU will be facing Clemson today at 3 p.m. CST in their last game of the Paradise Jam at the UVI Sports and Fitness Center in the US Virgin Islands. A win today would give LSU (3-1) two wins in the tournament and a fourth place finish, which is nothing to sneeze at. Clemson is 2-2 after losing in the opening round to Gardner-Webb, 72-70, and then downing Nevada, 59-50, on Saturday. Today’s game can be heard on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network and is also available in the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net.

A few tidbits in closing:

• To those of you will be traveling and away from the internet for the next few days, I'd like to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving in advance. Wednesday morning I'll post my annual Thanksgiving message, including my late father’s (Don’s) legendary Thanksgiving stories (and a few of my own) that so many of you enjoy each year.

• I’ll be updating our Ticket Exchange page later today, so if you have Arkansas tickets that you would like me to post, please let me know.

• In our Louisiana High School Football Pickem, three participants tied for 1st place this week by correctly picking 49 of 56 Round 2 playoff games each. The three are tensas65, robplaisance, and ryan nash. User mmr (Mr. Bob Register) is one of several participants who correctly picked 48 games, and that was enough to keep him firmly in the lead in the overall standings (up by five over CoachMJ). Voting for the Round 3 playoff games in now open. 

Reader Comments: Scott, be sure to share this in-depth article by Ross Dellenger of the Advocate on LSU’s quarterback issues and recruitment. It’s called “Digging into the roots of LSU’s quarterback quandary” and it ran in the Sunday paper. Very informative.

Reader Comments: Scott, we need to recognize former Tiger, Kevin Mawae. He is among a list of 26 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015 announced on Tuesday. He is also one of eight first-year eligible nominees on the list. The list will be further reduced by a mail ballot to 15 modern-era finalists and announced in early January. Mawae played 16 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets and Tennessee Titans. The former Leesville High School and LSU standout was an eight-time Pro Bowler and eight-time All-Pro. He also served as president of the NFL Players Association for four years from 2008 to 2012, which says a lot about his leadership and respect. He retired from the NFL in 2010. Let’s hope Kevin gets in on the first ballot.

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11/23/14 5:50 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

In just four days, LSU will conclude the regular season with a Thanksgiving Day battle against the Aggies of Texas A&M, so let’s begin taking a closer look at how the two teams stack up.  Both teams enter the contest 7-4 overall and 3-4 in SEC play. LSU’s three SEC wins have come against Florida, Kentucky and Ole Miss, while A&M’s three conference wins were against  South Carolina, Arkansas and Auburn. LSU is coming off an overtime loss to Alabama and a disastrous shutout against Arkansas. (Speaking of LSU’s loss to Arkansas, it doesn’t look quite as bad today after Arkansas shutout Ole Miss yesterday, 30-0. Then again, LSU’s signature win over Ole Miss doesn’t look quite as impressive anymore either.) A&M is coming off a three-point win at Auburn and a 7-point home loss to Missouri. As Mike Detillier put it in our recent Q&A, A&M is a “mercurial” team, and I guess judging from LSU’s last five games one could say the same for the Tigers. 

Let’s take a look at how the Tigers and Aggies compare statistically, and in a subsequent report we’ll breakdown LSU’s offense, versus A&M’s defense and vice versa. 

stats LSU AM pregame

A few observations from the stats:

• As expected, LSU dominates the defensive stats while A&M dominates offensively.

• A&M is extremely pass-heavy, which plays to LSU’s defensive strength. LSU is 5th in the nation and No. 1 in the SEC in pass defense. 

• A&M gives up an average of over 200 yards per game against the rush. Obviously, this also plays to LSU’s strength as the Tigers are likely to rely heavily on their run game, as usual.  

• Special teams stats are pretty even, but LSU has an advantage in turnover margin.

Considering each teams’ strengths and weaknesses, the stats clearly favor LSU. On paper, this looks like a game that LSU should be able to win by pounding the rock and playing stout defense, especially against the pass. Of course, a lot of the Tigers’ success will depend on their mindset and their will to win. The difference in a win and loss could be the difference in a pretty good bowl game and a not-so-special one, but more importantly a win would keep the Tigers from having what would surely be a demoralizing three-game skid for the team and fans.  

Turning to basketball… LSU rebounded from its first loss of the season and came away with a big win over Weber State last night, 72-58. For the third straight game, LSU went on a cold spell late in the first half and allowed the opponent to make a run. With the Tigers leading 26-18 with under three minutes left in the half, Weber State went on a 9-2 run to cut LSU’s lead to 28-27 at the break. The Wildcats scored the first points of the second half, but Jarell Martin responded by scoring his first points on a dunk, and LSU took control of the game after that. Weber State tied the game at 41 with 14:35 remaining, but then the Tigers went on an 8-1 run on two Jordan Mickey jumpers and layups from Josh Gray and Tim Quarterman to lead 49-42 with just over 12 minutes remaining. The Wildcats never got closer than five, and LSU finished the game on a 15-7 run in the final seven minutes of the game for the final margin.

After struggling on Friday against Old Dominion, it was good to see Mickey bounce back in a big way with a career-high 27 points and 14 rebounds. Keith Hornsby added 18 points, four rebounds and four assists and Martin scored all 11 of his points in the second half and grabbed four rebounds. The Tigers committed 13 turnovers but forced 18 from the Wildcats and out-rebounded them 34-29. LSU shot 49.2% from the field (32-65), 83.3% from the free-throw line (5-6) and 37.5% from the 3-pt line (3-8). LSU held Weber State to 42.6% shooting from the field (20-47). 

LSU got hot from the field in the second half after only shooting 38% (13-34) in the first half. Led by Mickey’s 8-10 shooting in the second half, the Tigers shot 61% from the field (19-31).  After attempting 58 3-pointers in their first three games, LSU only attempted eight against the Wildcats and committed to its inside game to take control in the second half. The Tigers were also able to stay out of foul trouble, as Martin was the only Tiger with four fouls, and his fourth foul was committed with about five minutes remaining in the game with LSU ahead 61-53. All in all, it was a solid win for the Tigers.

LSU’s men return to action on Monday at 3pm CT against Clemson for their last game at the Paradise Jam Classic in the US Virgin Islands. There will be video streaming of the game and the broadcast will be available on 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge

In women’s basketball news, LSU’s Lady Tigers lost to No. 22 Rutgers, 64-57. For more on that game,  please see this article on LSUSports.net.

In closing, I’ll leave you with two good reads:

• This first one is about David LaCerte, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs, sending a letter to Coach Miles Tuesday asking him to give walk-on Tiger player and war veteran Luke Boyd "a few snaps" in LSU's regular season finale at Texas A&M on Thanksgiving Day. I sure would like to see that too. La. state official asks LSU coach Les Miles to give Luke Boyd 'a few snaps' vs. Texas A&M

• This second one is about legendary former LSU men’s basketball coach Dale Brown being inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame tonight. The ceremony begins at 7:30 p.m. and will be televised by ESNPU. Congratulations, Coach Brown! The honor is certainly well-deserved. Rendered humble & speechless, LSU legend Dale Brown is ready to join the elite

 

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