NCAA Baseball Championships:
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11/5/13 6:00 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
In just a few days, the No. 13 LSU Tigers will travel to Tuscaloosa to square off against the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in a crucial game in both the SEC and national landscape. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. CT, and the game will be televised in primetime by CBS for the third straight year. Alabama opened as a 9-point favorite according to the odds makers, but since then the line has risen a bit. I mentioned yesterday that the last several regular season meetings between these two teams have been exceptionally close (a fact which is often overlooked in light of Alabama’s 21-0 domination of LSU in the 2011 BCS championship), and yesterday’s Game Notes released by LSU back up this point, stating the following:
• No team has won by more than four points in the last three regular season meetings. A combined 10 points separates the last three regular season contests: 24-21 LSU in 2010, 9-6 LSU in 2011, 21-17 Alabama in 2012.
• Since the 2005 season, a span of 9 games, a total of 12 points separates the two teams. LSU has scored 179 points in the last 9 games against Alabama, while the Crimson Tide has scored 191 points in that span.
• Not counting the 2012 BCS National Championship Game, there’s just a six-point difference that separates the teams in the five regular-season meetings between Les Miles and Nick Saban. LSU has scored 127 points in those 6 games, while Alabama has 133 points during that span.
Yesterday Coach Miles met with the media for his weekly Lunch with Les press conference, but really there wasn’t much new information to gather from it other than an injury status update. The good news is that everyone has benefitted from the off week and the team heads into the game in good health. Coach Miles said that fullbacks JC Copeland and Connor Neighbors are healthy and in a position to contribute Saturday. He also said Craig Loston is healthy and will back in the center of the secondary and that we will probably see Ronald Martin and Rickey Jefferson at safety as well. Colby Delahoussaye, who injured his kicking leg in warm-ups against Furman, is also much improved and ready to contribute. To read a full transcript of what was said, please click here.
This week I'll begin giving you my position-by-position comparisons of LSU and Alabama, starting today with the quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers. Here we go...
LSU and Alabama are both led by senior quarterbacks, and the two are a lot alike. Both are very accurate, and both have extremely high quarterback efficiency ratings. On the season, Mettenberger has completed 151-of-231 passes (65.4%) for 2,492 yards and 19 TDs with seven interceptions. His quarterback efficiency rating of 177.07 is the 6th best in the nation. McCarron has completed 145-of-209 passes (69.4%) for 1,862 yards and 16 TDs with three interceptions, and his quarterback efficiency rating of 166.61 is 9th in the nation. Both quarterbacks were exceptional in last year’s contest as Mettenberger had the best game of his career (at that point) and McCarron was exceptional in leading his team to the game-winning touchdown during the last 90 seconds of the contest. After Week 7 of this season I would have given Mettenberger the clear advantage here, but his stock dropped a bit in the last two games. For what it’s worth, I'm predicting he returns to his early season form and has a great game in Tuscaloosa. Slight Advatage Alabama
LSU has the best receiving tandem in the country, hands down, in Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry. Those two are averaging an incredible 112 and 98 yards per game, and 21 and 15.2 yards per catch, respectively. Alabama spreads the ball around much more and has a very impressive foursome of receivers in Kevin Norwood, DeAndrew White, Amani Cooper, and Christian Jones, the first three of which are each averaging approximately 15 yards per reception. Even
The Tigers, led by running back Jeremy Hill, are averaging 200.56 yards per game and 5.19 yards per carry. Alabama, led by running back T.J. Yeldon, is averaging 210.75 yards per game and 5.94 per carry. LSU has four backs in Hill, Terrance Magee, Kenny Hilliard and Alfred Blue who have had more than 40 carries on the season, whereas Alabama leans more heavily on two backs - T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake - for the bulk of their carries. LSU's Hill and Magee are averaging 7.2 and 7.5 yards per carry, respectively, while Alabama’s Yeldon and Drake are averaging 6.3 and 7.8 yards per carry. With Saturday’s game expected to be a slugfest in the trenches, LSU's added depth at running back could be very significant in the fourth quarter. Slight Advantage LSU
Stay tuned, Tiger Fans, as we’ll look at the remaining units throughout the week.
In basketball news, the LSU men will play an exhibition game tomorrow night against Xavier (New Orleans) at the PMAC before opening the 2013-14 season on November 12 at Massachusetts. Tomorrow’s exhibition game is free to the public, and I hope that many of you in the Baton Rouge area will turn out to support this Tiger team, which should be a lot of fun to watch. If you need any help getting pumped up about basketball season, I hope you’ll take a moment to check out this great new LSU Basketball Hype Video.
Reader Comments: Scott, please remind your readers to check out ESPN today: “ESPN's "Inside the Program" looks at #LSU beginning Tuesday morning at 8:40 CST with hourly look-ins/interviews at 9:40/10:40 and 12:40.”
Reader comments: Scott, my suggestion is to do away with redzone scoring and redzone touchdowns statistics which are very confusing and instead keep up with redzone opportunities and average redzone points. Redzone points would include field goals, touchdowns, and extra point conversions (including 2-point conversions). Using the LSU/Alabama comparison the stats would look like this (assuming all extra points were converted for 1-point each):
Redzone Opportunities = LSU 43 - Alabama 32
Average Redzone Points = LSU 6.23 - Alabama 5.28
11/4/13 5:40 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans, it’s Game Week!
Despite having a bye week, LSU moved up one spot in the AP and USA Today Coaches polls, coming in at No. 10 and No. 11 respectively, while remaining at No. 13 in the BCS poll. The top-5 in the BCS are now Alabama, Florida State, Oregon, Ohio State, and Stanford. SEC teams in the top-25 include Alabama (1), Missouri (8), Auburn (9), LSU (13) and Texas A&M (15). You can check out the complete rankings here.
Before going any further, I'd like to thank all of you who emailed me regarding Part 1 of the Q&A session I posted with college and pro football analyst Mike Detillier yesterday morning. Today I've posted Part 2 of the interview, and in it I ask Mike a lot more about the huge upcoming game in Tuscaloosa against Alabama this Saturday, including what it will take for a Tiger victory. I've also included another link to Part 1 for those of you who missed it yesterday.
As I stated last week, the more I research this upcoming game, the more I feel like it will be an outstanding contest, and the more I like LSU’s changes of pulling off the huge upset. I say, “huge upset,” but really an LSU win shouldn’t be too shocking when you consider how well these two teams match up and the fact that LSU has been more successful against Alabama in the last nine years than any other team. Since 2005, Coach Miles’ first year, LSU has beaten Alabama five times, including three times in Tuscaloosa. In the last six years, Les Miles is 3-3 against Nick Saban in the regular season, and all six games have been extremely competitive. I look for this one to be another great game.
Last night I put together the following chart comparing a few key LSU and Alabama stats. What they show is pretty much what I expected to see. That is, Alabama leads in almost every defensive category (although they do not lead in sacks per game), while LSU leads in most offensive categories (although the trail very slightly in points per game and rushing yards per game.) One stat that shows a key LSU advantage is 3rd down conversions where LSU is second in the nation with a 58% success rate. Continuing that kind of success on third down against Alabama, and keeping LSU's defense off the field as much as possible, is key to LSU having success in Tuscaloosa.
Of course I'll have much more on the game throughout the week including unit-by-unit comparisons and other keys to victory, so be sure to stay tuned.
A few tid-bits in closing:
• Last week was very competitive in our Louisiana High School Football Pickem contest as three users tied for first place - CoachMJ, joeollar, and L Ward Jr. All three users correctly picked 121 of 142 games. With his strong showing, L Ward remains in first place in the overall standings. The deadline for picking this week’s games is Thursday at 5 p.m. If you haven’t yet signed up to play, I encourage you to do so. It's a great way to test your knowledge of Louisiana high school football and it's free to participate. Each week we’ll name a winner, and at the end of the year we’ll give props to the overall winner.
• I’ve decided to include the following rather long but extremely optimistic Reader Comment from longtime DandyDon.com reader and supporter, Charlie Duncan, for your enjoyment. I like the way Charlie thinks!
Reader comments: Hey Scott, LSU can still win the SEC this year. If LSU wins next Saturday, then Georgia beats Auburn the next week, then LSU beats Texas A&M and Arkansas, and finally Auburn beats Alabama.
At that point, LSU is in The SEC Title Game. All they have to is take care either Missouri or South Carolina and it's on to the Sugar Bowl and a win there and LSU ends up with an SEC Title, a BCS Bowl victory and a likely Top 5 ranking to give them momentum for a Top 3 finish in recruiting. You all may have the straight jacket ready for me.
However, I must remind you that a similar scenario occurred in 2001. LSU had just lost to Ole Miss 35-24 to go to 4-3 and people were actually calling for Nick Saban's head. LSU beat Alabama the next week 35-21 in Tuscaloosa, while Ole Miss lost in multiple overtimes to Arkansas 58-56 in Oxford that same weekend. Two weeks later Alabama beat Auburn at Jordan-Hare 31-7. On the Friday after Thanksgiving, LSU outlasted Arkansas 41-38 to set up a winner take all game with Auburn the first week in December at Tiger Stadium. LSU won 27-14 and shocked the football world by beating Tennessee 31-20 to capture the SEC Title. The Vols thought they were headed to Pasadena to play in the National Championship Game against Miami.
LSU went to win the Sugar Bowl 47-34 over Illinois to finish 10-3 and ranked 7th in the country. That was the beginning of what is now called the Golden Age of LSU football. It also established the Saban Mystique.
It can happen again, folks!! There are similarities to 2001-LSU has just lost to Ole Miss this year also. LSU's next sec opponent is Alabama and it is in Tuscaloosa. LSU closed the 2001 season with 6 straight wins. If LSU runs the table, they will close the 2013 season with 6 straight wins.
The 2001 season ended with a Sugar Bowl victory, and if LSU runs the table, they will close the 2013 season with a Sugar Bowl win.
When this all proves true, I will buy my powerball tickets and enjoy the rest of my life...LOL. Ok, it is far-fetched, but have fun and believe people!! Scott, save this in case I am proved to be correct.
11/3/13 5:15 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
I'm happy to start this Sunday morning update by directing you to this new Q&A session I conducted with college and pro football analyst Mike Detillier that I’m sure you will enjoy. In it, I ask Mike his thoughts on a variety of topics including LSU juniors who might leave early, and, of course, the huge upcoming contest against Alabama. Today I've posted the first half of the Q&A, and tomorrow I'll add the remainder. So, grab yourself another cup of coffee and then settle in for a good Sunday morning read.
Scott Long chats with Mike Detillier about LSU Early Departures, the Huge Contest in Tuscaloosa, and Much More - Part 1 of 2 (Tune in tomorrow for part 2 of 2)
Earlier in the week we took a look ahead at LSU's 2014 offense and defense, and today will wrap up that topic by taking a look at what LSU's special teams might look like next year. Here we go...
Returners: LSU will almost certainly lose Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry and that will be a big hit to the return game, although speedsters Travin Dural, TreDavious White and Jeryl Brazil all have the potential to be truly elite return men. Of course, questions remain about Brazil’s future in light of his recent arrests.
Placekicking and Kickoffs: LSU will be in great shape here with James Hairston, Colby Delahoussaye and Trent Domingue all returning. LSU's kicking game appears to be in great shape for many years to come.
Punter: Jamie Keehn will return next year and hopefully this year's experience will improve his consistency. I've also received positive reports on freshman Alex Kjellsten who is expected to redshirt this year and be in position to challenge for playing time next season.
In basketball news, the LSU Lady Tigers blew out Mississippi College last night, 104-30, in their final exhibition game of the preseason. Junior guard DaShawn Harden, a junior college All-American last season, led all scorers with 20 points to go along with a game-high seven steals in her debut. Five Lady Tigers finished with double-figure scoring including 17 points from freshman Raigyne Moncrief and 18 points from sophomore guard Danielle Ballard. The Lady Tigers now turn their attention to the season-opener and preseason WNIT. LSU hosts Stephen F. Austin in the Sue Gunter Classic at 7 p.m. CT Friday in the Maravich Center. Tickets for the season-opener, season tickets and mini-plans are now available at www.LSUtix.net.
In other news, members of the LSU baseball team participated in the Buddy Walk and in the Walk to Defeat ALS on Saturday as the Tigers continue to perform active roles in philanthropic events. The Buddy Walk, designed to raise awareness and inclusion of people with Down Syndrome, took place at Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge. The Walk to Defeat ALS was held at Baton Rouge’s Forest Park. The event promotes awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. I'm writing about this because a lot of us only see the good things these young men do on the baseball diamond, but the reality is the Tigers log over 400 hours of community service each academic year. The team regularly participates in children’s hospital visits in the Baton Rouge area, meeting with patients and their families while signing autographs, posing for pictures and lifting their spirits. The Tigers also take part in reading programs at local elementary and middle schools, encouraging students to enhance their reading and studying skills.
Few tid-bits in closing:
• Remember to tune in tomorrow for Part 2-of-2 of the Mike Detillier Q&A.
• In case you’re wondering about my fishing trip I mentioned yesterday, I had a good time by didn’t do good enough to brag with photos. The river where I was really hoping to fish was just too high, so I took my daughter (along with my brother and his boys) to a couple of kid-friendly ponds where we caught a few white perch and bass and had a good time. Enjoy your Sunday, Tiger Fans.
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.