NCAA Baseball Championships:
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10/16/14 5:50 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Yesterday Coach Les Miles met with the media and said his team has had a great week of practice and that they’re looking forward to this weekend’s contest against Kentucky. In what was no surprise at all, Miles stated that Anthony Jennings will start at quarterback and Leonard Fournette will start at running back again this week. He also confirmed that fullback Connor Neighbors and defensive tackle Quintin Thomas have been practicing this week and are expected to play. Neighbors missed all of last Saturday’s game and Thomas was in on only about a handful of plays. Miles also commented on defensive tackle Travonte Valentine (who still hasn’t been cleared by the SEC), saying that some administrative mail has gone back and forth. When asked if Valentine would be playing now if he were eligible, Miles answered, “No question.”
A little later, Miles went on to TJ Ribs for his weekly radio show where he fielded questions from several fans who were understandably in a better mood than last week. Below is my rough recap of what was said.
The first caller of the night was Gary from Baton Rouge who complimented the play of Kendell Beckwith at middle linebacker and asked whether Clifton Garrett would receive a redshirt year. Miles answered by saying that Garrett has been nicked a little but might have an opportunity to play in the backend of the season, and that he is not going to redshirt. As for Beckwith, Miles said he is playing better and that the linebackers are coming along.
Jeffrey from Picyune, MS, commented on Anthony Jennings staring down Travin Dural and asked if this is indicative of a problem in quarterback development. Miles responded by saying that it takes time for coaching to reach the field, and pointed out that some of those throws to Dural have been very successful. He then agreed with the caller’s sentiments and said that there needs to be more quarterback development and that the guys are working hard on that.
Rickey from Birmingham asked whether defensive back Corey Thompson would receive a redshirt. Miles called Thompson a very talented guy and said he is recovering from his knee injury and taking more reps in practice. He didn’t answer definitively about the redshirt.
The next caller was Patrick from Mandeville who asked a couple of very good questions. First he asked whether Coach Miles has considered taking Leonard Fournette off of special teams to avoid risking injury and to give someone else a chance to return kicks. Then he asked about the offensive line starting slow and whether this had something to with the transition to new offensive line coach Jeff Grimes. Miles said they have given thought to taking Fournette off of kick returns but that they’re not ready to relinquish his big play potential back there. As for the O-line, Miles said the scheme under Coach Grimes is very similar to what they were doing before, that Grimes has done a great job of introducing techniques and making a positive difference, and that the line is getting better each week.
Jack from Lafayette asked about Kentucky and how they compare to other opponents LSU has faced this year. Miles said Kentucky throws the ball well and has a nice receiving core. He also praised their dual-threat quarterback and said he’s dangerous from the wildcat formation.
Danny from Watson commended Coach Miles and the players for the respect they showed for the injured Florida player, and I’d like to echo that sentiment as well. Miles said he is fortunate to represent such a quality group of young men and that he can’t imagine that they would not respect an opponent who got hurt.
Jason from the live audience asked how important the crowd noise will be this Saturday night in Tiger Stadium. Miles said he wants it to be loud and can't imagine that it won’t be.
A little later in the show, the Big Ragoo asked about the play that Ronald Martin made to prevent a touchdown on the long reception. Miles started by complimenting Rashard Robinson for being an outstanding cover corner even though he was beaten on the play, and then praised both Robinson and Martin for the hustle and determination they showed on the play.
The Evil Twin asked about two injured players - Connor Neighbors and Jermauria Rasco - and whether we can we expect to see them play anytime soon. Miles said both guys practiced all week and that there are no issues. Both will play this week.
Jonathan in Shreveport asked Coach Miles what he tells players about leaving early for the NFL. Miles gave a pretty long, convoluted answer that contained a lot of numbers, but I believe the gist of it was that he believes the NFL has been getting a good deal by having so many Tigers leave earlier than they probably should. He then acknowledged how difficult it is for players who’ve never brought in any income to consider passing on what seems like a lot of money instead of coming back, getting a degree and raising their draft value. Miles said all the right things, but didn’t give a clear answer on what it is he tells the players and how hard he tries to convince them to stay.
The next caller complimented the play of Leonard Fournette and asked Coach Miles if he thought LSU would surpass last week’s rushing production in this week’s game, or whether they would have to throw the ball more. Miles answered by saying they will strive for balance and that he hopes to be able to run it and throw it better.
I hope you enjoyed my very rough interpretation of the show.
In LSU basketball news, the men’s and women’s teams held their annual Media Days yesterday and below are links to full press releases from the events, as provided by LSU’s Sports Information Department. The men’s team will hold a free exhibition game against Morehouse in just over three weeks (Nov. 7, 7 p.m.) and then will open their season against Gardner-Webb on Saturday, Nov. 15, at noon. As for LSU’s Lady Tigers, they will host a pair of exhibition games against Loyola at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 5 and Mississippi College at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 9.
LSU basketball fans are invited to head out to the PMAC tomorrow night at 6:45 for the annual family-friendly “Bayou Madness” event. The evening will start with a pep rally, and then the men’s and women’s teams will be introduced before the women hold a brief team scrimmage. Following that will be a contest involving the players from the three-point arc and a return of last year’s popular player dunk contest. Yesterday Coach Jones indicated that LSU President F. King Alexander will be showing off his three-point shooting skills in the contest, and the word is that he is surprisingly good. All of the Bayou Madness events are free-of-change.
Here’s one more basketball tidbit that’s sure to get you fired up about the upcoming season: LSU’s new men’s basketball hype video. Enjoy!
Two tidbits in closing:
• Our Ticket Exchange was updated yesterday and contains lots of new listings.
• If you’re participating in our LA High School Football Pickem, please note that the deadline for picking this week’s games is today at 5:00. I had mistakenly listed the deadline as tomorrow at 5:00, but there are several games being played today. I regret the error.
10/15/14 5:55 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
The LSU football team is busy preparing for the first of a three-game home stretch beginning with Kentucky this Saturday at 6:30 p.m. The game will be televised on the SEC Network with Brent Musburger, Jesse Palmer and Maria Taylor on the call. LSU enters the game with a 5-2 overall mark and a surge of confidence after last week’s thrilling 30-27 win over Florida in Gainesville. Kentucky is off to its first 5-1 start since 2007 after beating ULM last week, and are just a triple-overtime loss at Florida from being undefeated. With huge contests against Ole Miss and Alabama looming for LSU, the Tigers really need to come away victorious this weekend, and the more I look at the way LSU and Kentucky stack up, the more confident I am of that happening. If the Tigers do win, they’ll be 6-2 next week when they take on an Ole Miss team that will likely be ranked in the top-3, and that will make for an electric night in Tiger Stadium. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, this weekend’s opponent is not the Kentucky of old, and the Wildcats will give the Tigers all they can handle.
As we do on most Wednesdays during the season, today we’ll take a look at the two teams’ stats, and later in the week we’ll look at keys to an LSU victory.
What I find encouraging in the stats is that Kentucky’s offense is more effective in the air than on the ground, while their defense is most susceptible to the run. That bodes well for the Tigers on both sides of the ball. If LSU’s O-line plays as well as it did last week, the Tigers should be able to move the ball against Kentucky. But we all know that it’ll be that much harder to run the ball, especially against Ole Miss and Alabama, if the Tigers don’t improve their passing game, and that should be a key objective this week. Speaking of the passing game, I found it interesting that LSU’s pass efficiency (146.7) is better than Kentucky’s (139.8).
Moving on… In recruiting news, LSU’s 2015 class suffered a big blow last night when running back Derrius Guice (5'11", 219, Catholic of Baton Rouge) “reopened his recruitment.” The news came in the form of a tweet from Guice sent out at 9:49 p.m. saying, “I’ve decided to reopen my recruitment again!! Now who shall get my five official visits.” A little later he added, “Want to take things slow now and make sure that I know whatever decision I make is truly what I feel.” Guice has been having an outstanding senior season and is currently No. 1 on our list of Top La Football Prospects for 2015 after rushing for 793 yards and 13 touchdowns and racking up 1,233 all-purpose yards, through six games.
Without Guice, LSU’s 2015 recruiting class currently includes 14 commitments. By comparison, last year’s recruiting class had 15 at this time. With three home games coming up, official visits to LSU should start picking up soon. As for visitors for this week’s Kentucky game, I haven’t heard anything definitive, but I have read that offensive tackle Emanuel McGirt (6-6, 275, Durham, NC) is working on lining up a visit and that it could come as early as this weekend. McGirt originally committed to North Carolina but then de-committed in August.
In other football news, LSU announced its 2015 football schedule yesterday. Below is the press release sent out by LSU:
LSU ANNOUNCES 2015 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
BATON ROUGE – Home games against Southeastern Conference rivals Auburn, Arkansas, Texas A&M and Florida highlight the 2015 LSU football schedule, which was announced Tuesday by the league office.
LSU opens the 2015 season against McNeese State on Saturday, Sept. 5 in Tiger Stadium in the first of four non-conference games for the Tigers next year. LSU will travel to face Syracuse in the Carrier Dome on Sept. 26 followed by a home game against Eastern Michigan on Oct. 3. Western Kentucky rounds out the non-conference portion of the schedule on Oct. 24 in Tiger Stadium.
LSU’s game against Syracuse will be just the third meeting between the teams and the first since the 1989 Hall of Fame Bowl in Tampa. LSU and Syracuse also played in the 1965 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans with the Tigers posting a 13-10 win over the Orange. Syracuse will make the return trip to Baton Rouge in 2017.
LSU opens league play in week 2 next year, traveling to face Mississippi State in Starkville on Sept. 12. The Tigers will play their first SEC home game the following week, hosting Auburn on Sept. 19 in Tiger Stadium.
LSU plays two SEC Eastern Division foes in back-to-back weeks, traveling to face South Carolina on Oct. 10 followed by the Florida game in Tiger Stadium on Oct. 17.
After an open date on Oct. 31, LSU closes out the season with a road game at Alabama on Nov. 7, followed by Arkansas in Tiger Stadium on Nov. 14, Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss., on Nov. 21 and the regular-season finale against Texas A&M in Baton Rouge on Nov. 28.
In closing, congratulations are in order for former Tiger running back Kevin Faulk and former LSU softball coach Yvette Girouard for being named to the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. The two will be inducted during a ceremony in June of 2015. For more information on these two greats and the six others who will be inducted next June, please see this article by nola.com: Former LSU star Kevin Faulk, softball coach Yvette Girouard to be inducted into La. Sports Hall of Fame
10/14/14 5:50 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
It was great hearing from many of you yesterday about LSU’s win over Florida and about what LSU needs to do moving forward to finish strong. The general consensus among the fans I’ve heard from is that while it was great to see LSU come away with a win in The Swamp, the Tigers will have to be less predictable and step up the passing game to avoid being too one-dimensional moving forward. I agree 100%, but was very pleased to see LSU establish its running game against one of the better rush defenses in the SEC. This coming weekend LSU will face a Kentucky defense that is middle-of-the-pack in terms of stopping the run, but is third best in the conference in passing defense, so I suspect we’ll see another relatively safe game plan. While looking up those stats on Kentucky, I was surprised to see who is number one in the conference in passing defense – LSU. I don’t think enough has been said about the outstanding play of LSU’s defensive backs this season. With the exception of a few big plays, they’ve looked outstanding. We’ll take a closer look at the strengths and weaknesses of LSU and Kentucky later in the week, but for now let’s get on with our normal order of business by looking at Coach Miles’ comments from yesterday’s “pressers.”
Coach Les Miles met with the media for his weekly press luncheon, and here’s a full transcript of what he had to say. Below are a few key points that I found particularly interesting:
• Coach Miles said he’s very proud of the way his team played like Tigers and overcame adversity in Saturday’s win in Florida.
• According to Miles, quarterback Anthony Jennings handled the situation, understood the game, and had a pretty good day minus a couple of mistakes. Miles added that he and Coach Cameron wanted to play Brandon Harris, but the situation didn’t present itself and it was the right decision to stay with Jennings.
• Miles praised the offensive line, saying it keeps getting better and that it was “a dominant day for them.” Later he praised the play of La’el Collins and said Vadal Alexander has as complete a game as he’s had in quite some time.
• As for fullback Connor Neighbors who didn’t make the trip because of injury, Miles said he’s much better now and would practice yesterday. He also praised Melvin Jones, who started in Neighbors’ place, for stepping up and making several big catches and blocks.
• Miles said he wants to see if they can move the ball more in the air and said he’s looking for more productivity out of Trey Quinn and Malachi Dupre.
• Rashard Robinson and Ronald Martin received praise for “tackling that man before he crossed the goal line” on that long passing play late in the game, and pointed out just how different the game would have been if they hadn’t done that.
• As for the 50-yard game-winning field goal, Miles said Colby Delahoussaye said he wanted the ball anywhere but the right hash, and they tried to get it to the center. Delahoussaye ended up having to kick it from the right hash and made it anyway.
• Miles acknowledged the problems on special teams punt coverage and said that is something they will spend time on this week.
• When asked about Leonard Fournette, Miles said he’s the type of running back who gets stronger as the day gets longer.
• When asked about what it means to him to have reached the 100-win mark, Miles thanked his assistant coaches, administrative staff and everyone who has allowed the program to have success. He also said his family has really enjoyed their time in Baton Rouge and that it’s been really good for them.
• As for quarterback Brandon Harris, Miles said he’s had a great week of practice, as has Jennings, and that both could see playing time against Kentucky. Of course, he said both might see playing time against Florida but that didn’t happen.
There was actually a lot more said in the conference than what I’ve included above, including Miles’ comments on the clock almost expiring at the end of the game prior to the field goal, but I encourage you to see the full transcript for that explanation.
In other football news, RB Leonard Fournette and OG Vadal Alexander received SEC Player of the Week recognition for their outstanding play against Florida. As I mentioned in yesterday’s report, Fournette had the best game of his seven-game career, rushing for a career-high 140 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. The 140 yards were the most by an LSU true freshman since 2003 when Justin Vincent ran for 201 yards in the SEC Championship Game win over Georgia. Alexander, a junior who’s in his third year as a starter on the offensive line for the Tigers, played all 73 snaps and led the Tigers with 11 knockdowns in the win over the Gators. Hats off to both of these Tigers!
Also, it was announced yesterday that LSU’s game against Ole Miss next week will be a night game (either 6:15 or 6:30 p.m. CT) and will be televised by either ESPN, ESPN2 or the SEC Network. At the beginning of the season Athletic Director Joe Alleva promised that there would be more night games in Tiger Stadium this season, and he’s certainly kept that promise. The Ole Miss game will mark the 9th consecutive night game in Tiger Stadium, and that’s something that hasn’t occurred since 1958.
In closing, I want to point out that I’ve updated our LSU football depth chart to match the latest one issued by LSU yesterday. A few changes you’ll notice are that RG Ethan Pocic, DT Davon Godchaux and CB Rashard Robinson are now listed as the starters. Also, RB Fournette and MLB Kendell Beckwith are now listed at the top of their respective positions as co-starters.
Reader Comments: Scott, here’s a good article on Leonard Fournette to share with your readers: LSU RB Leonard Fournette is becoming Tigers' offensive centerpiece
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