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LSU vs. Wisconsin at Lambeau Field - September 3rd, 2:30PM
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6/28/16 5:45 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Our first day in San Antonio was all we had hoped for. Beautiful city, great food, and most of all, quality family time. On the agenda for today: SeaWorld. Now for your daily dose of Tiger News…

Today, we’ll cover a couple of topics in baseball and basketball before moving on to Part 2 of our LSU football statistical trends and observations and our countdown to Game Day. Here we go…

In baseball news, yesterday, it was announced that LSU first baseman Greg Deichmann will participate in the 2016 TD Ameritrade College Home Run Derby. The event is in its seventh year and will be broadcast on ESPN2 on Sunday, July 3rd at 7:30 p.m. CT. Deichmann, who hit 11 home runs and totaled 57 RBI this past season, joins Matt Gaudet (2010) and Mason Katz (2012) as Tigers who have participated in the event.

Turning briefly to basketball, Head Coach Johnny Jones met yesterday with the media for an SEC coach’s teleconference. Not too many topics were covered, but Jones did praise guard Brandon Sampson, noting that he’s having a great offseason recognizing the opportunity he has with Keith Hornsby leaving due to graduation. Jones is also looking forward to having five juniors on this year’s team, which will make the Tigers one of the more experienced teams in the SEC for 2016-2017.

LSU Football Statistical Trends/Observations, Part 2:  Penalties

After committing only 71 penalties in 2014, which was the Tigers’ fewest in at least the last seven years, LSU committed 97 in 2015 despite playing one less game. While penalties are obviously detrimental to a team’s chances of winning, the Tigers’ wins and losses were not much different when it came to penalties. In fact, LSU averaged 63 yards in penalties in its three losses but averaged even more penalty yards in its nine victories at 66.1 yards per contest. However, numbers don’t always tell the whole story. Looking back at the stats for LSU’s last two championship seasons, 2007 and 2003, reveals that LSU was heavily penalized in those two seasons (83 penalties in 2007 and a whopping 102 in 2003). Sometimes a high number of penalties goes hand-in-hand with aggressive defensive play, and those two teams were definitely aggressive. Of course, avoiding costly penalties in close contests is always important, and with a veteran squad returning (17 starters, 9 offense, 8 defense), I am optimistic that the Tigers will be improved in that regard.

With 67 days remaining until LSU’s season opener vs Wisconsin at Lambeau Field on September 3rd, let’s recognize an impressive fact about LSU football – the Tigers have produced 67 First-Team All-Americans. Of course, Leonard Fournette was LSU's 67th First-Team All-American last season when he set school records with 1,953 rushing yards and 22 rushing touchdowns. As long as he remains healthy, he is likely to become just the 11th Tiger to earn multiple First-Team All-American honors, the last being Glenn Dorsey in 2006 and 2007. 

Tommy Casanova is the only Tiger to earn three First-Team All-American selections (1969-1971), playing cornerback on defense, wide receiver on offense and returning punts and kickoffs. Billy Cannon (1958, 1959), Jerry Stovall (1962), Charles Alexander (1978, 1979) and Jimmy Taylor (1957) are the other running backs to earn First-Team All-American honors. Kevin Faulk, a running back from 1995-1998, earned First-Team All-American honors as a return specialist in 1996. The entire list of First-Team All-Americans through the 2014 season can be seen on pages 62-63 of the 2015 Media Guide.

Those of you who have read this site for years have often heard me refer to 2000 to the present as the Golden Age of LSU football. Well, consider this: from 1935-1999, a span of 65 years, the Tigers had 40 First-Team All-Americans, but from 2000-2015 (16 seasons), LSU has had an astounding 27 First-Team All-Americans! In fact, in 2011, LSU set a school record with five First-Team All-Americans (Will Blackwell, Morris Claiborne, Tyrann Mathieu, Sam Montgomery and Brad Wing), which was also the school's first ever 13-0 regular season finish. Will Leonard Fournette earn another First-Team All-American honor in 2016? Will anyone else join him like Jamal Adams or Kendell Beckwith? Regardless, LSU has the talent to produce multiple First-Team All-Americans, and I expect to see LSU eclipse 70 very soon. This is just another reminder that it’s a great time to be a Tiger!

Speaking on the Paul Finebaum show yesterday, longtime sportscaster and Louisiana native Tim Brando revealed his College Football Playoff predictions, and among his four teams is LSU. While I realize predictions and preseason awards mean very little, it is great to see yet another analyst recognizing that LSU has great potential to win the SEC and reach their first CFP.

Before closing, I’d like to congratulate Alex Bregman for being promoted to the Astros Triple-A affiliate in Fresno, CA and Andrew Stevenson for being promoted to the Nationals Double-A affiliate in Harrisburg, PA. For LSU fans familiar with these former Tigers, this comes as no surprise, as both men are extremely hard workers dedicated to improving their game. Bregman has reportedly gained 20 pounds of muscle through offseason workouts and has hit 14 home runs for the AA Corpus Christi affiliate, which is five more than his best power season in the SEC. Given his work ethic and determination, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him in the big leagues very soon. Here’s wishing both Bregman and Stevenson the best of luck with their new teams.

Speaking of professional baseball, here’s a link to LSUsports.net detailing how former Tigers are doing in the minor leagues. It’s interesting to note that players from this year’s squad, Riley Smith and Parker Bugg, have already recorded innings for their minor league teams.

That’s it for today, folks! Stay tuned, as tomorrow we’ll continue our statistical trends/observations series as well as the countdown to LSU’s season opener vs. Wisconsin on September 3rd.


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6/28/16 5:45 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Our first day in San Antonio was all we had hoped for. Beautiful city, great food, and most of all, quality family time. On the agenda for today: SeaWorld. Now for your daily dose of Tiger News…

Today, we’ll cover a couple of topics in baseball and basketball before moving on to Part 2 of our LSU football statistical trends and observations and our countdown to Game Day. Here we go…

In baseball news, yesterday, it was announced that LSU first baseman Greg Deichmann will participate in the 2016 TD Ameritrade College Home Run Derby. The event is in its seventh year and will be broadcast on ESPN2 on Sunday, July 3rd at 7:30 p.m. CT. Deichmann, who hit 11 home runs and totaled 57 RBI this past season, joins Matt Gaudet (2010) and Mason Katz (2012) as Tigers who have participated in the event.

Turning briefly to basketball, Head Coach Johnny Jones met yesterday with the media for an SEC coach’s teleconference. Not too many topics were covered, but Jones did praise guard Brandon Sampson, noting that he’s having a great offseason recognizing the opportunity he has with Keith Hornsby leaving due to graduation. Jones is also looking forward to having five juniors on this year’s team, which will make the Tigers one of the more experienced teams in the SEC for 2016-2017.

LSU Football Statistical Trends/Observations, Part 2:  Penalties

After committing only 71 penalties in 2014, which was the Tigers’ fewest in at least the last seven years, LSU committed 97 in 2015 despite playing one less game. While penalties are obviously detrimental to a team’s chances of winning, the Tigers’ wins and losses were not much different when it came to penalties. In fact, LSU averaged 63 yards in penalties in its three losses but averaged even more penalty yards in its nine victories at 66.1 yards per contest. However, numbers don’t always tell the whole story. Looking back at the stats for LSU’s last two championship seasons, 2007 and 2003, reveals that LSU was heavily penalized in those two seasons (83 penalties in 2007 and a whopping 102 in 2003). Sometimes a high number of penalties goes hand-in-hand with aggressive defensive play, and those two teams were definitely aggressive. Of course, avoiding costly penalties in close contests is always important, and with a veteran squad returning (17 starters, 9 offense, 8 defense), I am optimistic that the Tigers will be improved in that regard.

With 67 days remaining until LSU’s season opener vs Wisconsin at Lambeau Field on September 3rd, let’s recognize an impressive fact about LSU football – the Tigers have produced 67 First-Team All-Americans. Of course, Leonard Fournette was LSU's 67th First-Team All-American last season when he set school records with 1,953 rushing yards and 22 rushing touchdowns. As long as he remains healthy, he is likely to become just the 11th Tiger to earn multiple First-Team All-American honors, the last being Glenn Dorsey in 2006 and 2007. 

Tommy Casanova is the only Tiger to earn three First-Team All-American selections (1969-1971), playing cornerback on defense, wide receiver on offense and returning punts and kickoffs. Billy Cannon (1958, 1959), Jerry Stovall (1962), Charles Alexander (1978, 1979) and Jimmy Taylor (1957) are the other running backs to earn First-Team All-American honors. Kevin Faulk, a running back from 1995-1998, earned First-Team All-American honors as a return specialist in 1996. The entire list of First-Team All-Americans through the 2014 season can be seen on pages 62-63 of the 2015 Media Guide.

Those of you who have read this site for years have often heard me refer to 2000 to the present as the Golden Age of LSU football. Well, consider this: from 1935-1999, a span of 65 years, the Tigers had 40 First-Team All-Americans, but from 2000-2015 (16 seasons), LSU has had an astounding 27 First-Team All-Americans! In fact, in 2011, LSU set a school record with five First-Team All-Americans (Will Blackwell, Morris Claiborne, Tyrann Mathieu, Sam Montgomery and Brad Wing), which was also the school's first ever 13-0 regular season finish. Will Leonard Fournette earn another First-Team All-American honor in 2016? Will anyone else join him like Jamal Adams or Kendell Beckwith? Regardless, LSU has the talent to produce multiple First-Team All-Americans, and I expect to see LSU eclipse 70 very soon. This is just another reminder that it’s a great time to be a Tiger!

Speaking on the Paul Finebaum show yesterday, longtime sportscaster and Louisiana native Tim Brando revealed his College Football Playoff predictions, and among his four teams is LSU. While I realize predictions and preseason awards mean very little, it is great to see yet another analyst recognizing that LSU has great potential to win the SEC and reach their first CFP.

Before closing, I’d like to congratulate Alex Bregman for being promoted to the Astros Triple-A affiliate in Fresno, CA and Andrew Stevenson for being promoted to the Nationals Double-A affiliate in Harrisburg, PA. For LSU fans familiar with these former Tigers, this comes as no surprise, as both men are extremely hard workers dedicated to improving their game. Bregman has reportedly gained 20 pounds of muscle through offseason workouts and has hit 14 home runs for the AA Corpus Christi affiliate, which is five more than his best power season in the SEC. Given his work ethic and determination, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him in the big leagues very soon. Here’s wishing both Bregman and Stevenson the best of luck with their new teams.

Speaking of professional baseball, here’s a link to LSUsports.net detailing how former Tigers are doing in the minor leagues. It’s interesting to note that players from this year’s squad, Riley Smith and Parker Bugg, have already recorded innings for their minor league teams.

That’s it for today, folks! Stay tuned, as tomorrow we’ll continue our statistical trends/observations series as well as the countdown to LSU’s season opener vs. Wisconsin on September 3rd.

6/27/16 5:45 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Grass is cut, garden is prepped, tomatoes are blanched, coup is cleaned and bags are packed. River City, here we come…

By the time most of you are reading this, my family and I will be on our way to a much-anticipated vacation getaway. Thanks to all of you who sent suggestions on what to see and do in the San Antonio area. Much appreciated! 

While I’m out this week, we’ll keep these reports rollings with a multi-part series on LSU football statistical trends and observations, which we’ll begin today, as well as our countdown to Game Day.  Then, if there are any other newsy bits to touch on (you know there will be!), my buddy Mark will cover them so that we don’t miss a beat.

LSU Football Statistical Trends and Observations:

Part 1: Rushing Offense, Run to Pass Ratio

After having increasingly heavy run-to-pass ratios in 2012 (60/40), 2013 (62/48) and 2014 (69/31), the Tigers actually ran the ball a smaller percentage of time last season (64/36) than they did the year before. But, when you look deeper into the stats, you see that a higher percentage of throws doesn’t necessarily equal a more effective Tiger offense.


In LSU’s three November losses last season, the Tigers passed the ball 53% of the time. Against Alabama (54 rushing yards) and Arkansas (59 rushing yards), the Tigers were forced to pass due to an ineffective running game. In the loss vs. Ole Miss, LSU did run for 184 yards, but two interceptions and a fumble ultimately forced the Tigers to pass more in that contest. Things were vastly different in LSU’s nine wins as the Tigers relied heavily on the run and passed the ball only 30% of the time. Of course, some of that had to do with eating up the clock late in the game with handoff after handoff. LSU averaged a robust 309.4 yards per game in those victories, but when the Tigers faced teams that were tougher against the run, they were forced to turn to their passing game and came up short. In my opinion, this can be attributed, in large part, to not having utilized the short to intermediate passing game enough early in the season.

With a seasoned offensive line, one of the best stables of running backs in the country led by Heisman front-runner Leonard Fournette, and a still somewhat unproven quarterback, it could be tempting to lean very heavily on the run game early this season, but I think that would be a mistake. LSU should look to establish a strong passing game early if for no other reason than to help prepare Brandon Harris and the receivers for later in the season when they face tough running defenses like Ole Miss, Alabama and Arkansas. A successful aerial attack early on, particularly in the short to intermediate passing game, would give LSU’s offense a valuable boost of confidence and give future opponents a reason to think twice before stacking the box. 

Now, a quick note about our countdown before jumping to it:  If you are one of our early morning readers, you’ll get a strong sense of déjà vu when reading today’s countdown topic. That’s because yesterday morning I got my days mixed up and mistakenly posted the following write-up instead of the one I was supposed to use for No. 69. At about 6:50 a.m. I realized the error and posted the correct write-up. Sorry about that!

With 68 days remaining until LSU’s season opener vs Wisconsin, let’s continue our countdown by looking at a special 68-yard play that helped set the tone for a historic win. I’m referring to Cedric Donaldson’s 68-yard interception return in the Tigers’ 28-21 victory over No. 1 Florida in 1997. After an excellent Kevin Faulk punt return and subsequent Herb Tyler option TD, Florida’s QB, Doug Johnson, threw an interception that Donaldson returned 68-yards all the way to the Florida 7-yard line. Tommy Banks scored from there to give LSU a 14-0 lead less than halfway into the first half. Even after Florida evened the score at 14, Donaldson returned an interception 31 yards for a TD and 21-14 lead. Mark Roman intercepted Johnson on the ensuing Florida drive, and Herb Tyler had his second TD of the game to put LSU in command at 28-14. After a Florida TD and subsequent LSU punt, Florida still had a chance to tie the game, but Raion Hill picked off Doug Johnson and LSU was able to run out the clock and come away with its only  home win over a No. 1 ranked team in school history. For a reminder of what a special game that was, check out these video highlights

Since I didn’t leave you with any Sunday morning coffee reads yesterday, I’ll make up for it today with a few very good links. 

The first two come from The Advocate’s two-part Q&A with LSU baseball coach Coach Paul Mainieri. In Part I, Mainieri addresses the question about whether he overachieved this year, the lack of an established fourth starter, Nolan Cain’s third-base coaching, and more. In Part II, Mainieri looks ahead to next year and dishes out some good information about incoming freshmen who could help shore up LSU’s bullpen. 

And in this article by Tiger Rag, editor Cody Worsham recounts the story of LSU legend Pete Maravich’s remarkable freshman season that was nearly lost to history. 

Lastly, I’ve updated our Ticket Exchange with a few new listings.

6/26/16 5:45 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

We’ll start this report with more great news on the recruiting front: LSU landed another 4-star wide receiver, its second in as many days, when Jhaman Ausbon (6-2.5, 217, IMG Academy) gave his verbal pledge to Tigers. Ausbon chose LSU over Texas A&M and several other offers including Auburn, Michigan and Baylor. With his pledge, the Tigers’ 2017 recruiting class now contains 14 commitments and is up to No. 5 in 247Sports’ National Team Rankings. Ausbon transferred to IMG Academy from Houston’s St. Thomas High and was long believed to be a strong lean to Texas A&M before LSU turned up the heat at its recent Houston satellite camp. From what I understand, new LSU wide receiver coach Dameyune Craig was highly instrumental in landing not only Ausbon, but both of LSU’s other four-star wide receivers in this class – Mannie Netherly, who committed Friday, and Stephen Guidry, the No. 1 ranked JUCO receiver who committed to LSU back in May. Suffice it to say that Craig wasted no time in living up to this reputation as a great recruiter. One thing that makes Ausbon’s commitment even more noteworthy is that he is friends and teammates with safety Grant Delpit (6-3.5, 181) who is expected to announce his school of choice at The Opening in a few weeks and is believed to be leaning to LSU. 

To see for yourself what kind of receiver LSU will be getting in Ausbon, check out these very impressive video highlights.

Sticking to the topic of football, we recently completed our series ranking LSU’s seven position groups but didn’t include anything on special teams. So, today I’ll give you my brief thoughts. Obviously, last year’s special teams left a lot to be desired. Punt and kickoff return coverage was particularly atrocious as the Tigers were dead last nationally in average yards allowed per punt return (18.91) and 44th in the nation in average yards allowed per kick return (20.36). Whether they will be better in this area is a big unknown, and an important one as well. Kickoffs were also an issue for the Tigers last year, as LSU was unable to find someone to consistently kick the ball deep. Cameron Gamble returns and I’d like to think he’ll be better with a year of experience under his belt, but if he’s not we might see the likes of true freshman Connor Culp, who kicking guru Chris Sailer describes as having one of the strongest legs in the nation. Another big question mark is at the punting position. With Jamie Keehn gone, LSU will turn to it’s third consecutive Aussi punter in Josh Growden. Having never seen him punt in a game situation, it’s hard to know what to expect, although I’ve heard nothing but positive things about him. Where LSU should be improved is at punt and kick returns with TréDavious White, Derrius Guice and Donté Jackson returning, as well as at extra-point and field goal kicking with senior Trent Domingue set to resume that duty. All told, it’s hard to say whether LSU will be significantly improved on special teams, but considering the Tigers’ struggles there last year, I would bet they will. 

With 69 days remaining until LSU’s season opener vs Wisconsin at Lambeau Field on September 3rd, let’s look at a great special teams play from last season. I’m referring to TréDavious White’s 69-yard punt return for a TD in the Tigers’ 34-24 win at Syracuse. While special teams really struggled in 2015 for the Tigers, this was one special teams play that was a huge difference maker in a game that shouldn’t have been as close as the final score, especially considering Leonard Fournette ran for 244 yards in the contest. One big reason LSU was unable to run away with the contest was due to 120 yards in penalties, which included a false start that negated an 87-yard scoring run by Fournette. With White returning as a senior, will he continue the punt return duties? Could sophomore speedster Donte Jackson take over the job, assuming he regains academic eligibility over the summer? Whoever it is will need to be able to have explosive plays like this one to help give LSU the advantage in close contests. Many would consider last season to be Les Miles’ worst at LSU in terms of special teams’ performance as a whole, but given his track record of producing solid special teams plays in his previous 10 seasons at the helm, I am optimistic that we will see many big plays in 2016 that will help LSU contend for the SEC title.

Today’s closing tidbits: 

• Congratulations to legendary Voice of the Tigers Jim Hawthorn for being inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame last night. Without a doubt, Jim is very deserving of the honor.  

• Also, hats off to Coastal Carolina for advancing to the College World Series finals with a second consecutive win over TCU last night. The Chanticleers sure have proven a lot of people wrong, haven’t they? They’ll take on Arizona tomorrow at 7 p.m. in the first contest of the best-of-three championship round, and I’ll be rooting them on from San Antonio, though not necessarily watching ;) 

• Speaking of our San Antonio trip, we’ll be departing tomorrow right after I post my morning report. To those of you who enjoy reading DandyDon.com as part of your morning routine, rest assured that the daily doses will continue to flow without missing a beat. My friend, Mark “The Shark” Towery, will be keeping an ear to the ground and helping out with the writing to minimize the time I have to spend “working” while away.

 

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