5/6/16 5:40 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans, it’s game Day!
After what seems like an awfully long time without baseball at the Box, the No. 13 Tigers (28-16, 11-10 SEC) return to action at 7 p.m for the start of a very important series against Arkansas (26-19, 7-14 SEC). The Tigers are currently in fourth place in the SEC West, three games behind first-place Texas A&M and just one game behind Ole Miss and Mississippi State, who are tied for second-place. Coach Paul Mainieri announced yesterday that Alex Lange will get the start tonight while Jared Poché will start tomorrow’s game. (One interesting thing to note is that this will be the first Friday night series-opening home start of Lange’s career, which is hard to believe.) Mainieri said he’ll wait to see how the first two games go and what pitchers are used before determining who to send to the mound on Sunday. John Valek III has been LSU’s Game 3 starter all year, and Mainieri said it’s possible he’ll get the call again this Sunday if he’s not used earlier in the series. If it’s not Valek on Sunday, my best guess is that it would be Doug Norman.
On paper, the Tigers compare favorably to the Razorbacks across the board. LSU is No. 4 in the SEC in batting average (.302) and No. 2 when counting only league games (.303). The Razorbacks are ninth in the SEC in hitting, batting .284 as a team, but they do have a league-best 44 homers. Their leading hitter is sophomore outfielder Carson Shaddy, who is batting .357 with 10 doubles, one triple, eight homers and 33 RBI. As for the two teams’ pitching staffs, LSU’s is ranked 10th in the league in team ERA (4.27) while Arkansas is 14th (4.81). Arkansas’ pitching stats aren’t particularly impressive, but it should be noted that tonight’s starter, junior right-hander Dominic Taccolini, fired 10 shutout innings and allowed just five hits in a 1-0 win over Kentucky two weeks ago.
Here’s a look at this series’ start times, TV coverage, and pitching match-ups:
I look forward to tweeting score updates and a few moments during tonight’s game for those of you who follow DandyDonLSU on Twitter.
Turning to football, yesterday Athletic Director Joe Alleva and Coach Les Miles both spoke publicly about LSU football. In an interview with 104.5/104.9 ESPN Radio, Alleva suggested that all of the drama at the end of last season might have a positive impact on the program. “I really think all the speculation that happened at the end of the season with Coach Miles – I think at the end of the day it actually has inspired and motivated the whole program to achieve at higher levels,” said Alleva . “I think now everyone realizes that we have tremendous potential, and our goal is to compete at the highest level… Sometimes things like that are good to wake everybody.”
Later in the day, Coach Miles spoke during the SEC West Division coaches teleconference. Here’s the complete audio of what was said, and below are a few quick key points:
• Miles enjoyed how his team and staff participated in the spring and spoke highly of his three new coaches – Dave Aranda, Dameyune Craig and Jabbar Juluke – saying they have made a “nice impact.”
• When asked about defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, Miles described him as very knowledgeable, adding, “He’s not a screamer or hollerer. He's a teacher.” As for the type of defense LSU will employ, Miles said sometimes it will be a 3-4 and sometimes a 4-3, and that it will give opponents a “scheme issue.”
• Two defensive players singled out for their play this spring were freshmen Devin White and Saivion Smith. Miles said both of these players will play very quickly.
• Miles said all three quarterbacks – Brandon Harris, Danny Etling, and Justin McMillan – have improved in decision-making and mechanics.
• Despite being nicked up in the spring, Miles is confident that he’ll have his offensive line back in good health this summer and that it will be a team strength.
• Miles also confirmed the recent reports of LSU conducting satellite camps this summer. He said they will hold one in Shreveport and two in New Orleans, one of which will be a joint venture with the Saints. For more on that, see this article by The Advocate.
Now let’s move on and wrap up this update by continuing our series on LSU football newcomers reporting this summer who will make an early impact. So far we’ve covered two in-state D-lineman – Rashard Lawrence and Edwin Alexander – and today we’ll flip to the offensive side of the ball and look at another homegrown lineman who could see early playing time.
LSU newcomers reporting this summer who could make a splash as freshmen, Part 3:
Donavaughn Campbell (OG, 6-4, 347, Ponchatoula)
Another top-10 Louisiana prospect making his way to LSU is Donovaughn Campbell of Ponchatoula. Campbell, a composite 4-star offensive guard, had offers from all over the country, including Alabama, Florida State, and UCLA. The heavily sought after O-lineman is expected to aid an LSU offensive line that lost its two starting tackles from last year’s team – Vadal Alexander and Jerald Hawkins. Sophomore Maea Teuhema is moving from guard to occupy one of those tackle spots, leaving a guard position open for the taking. Garrett Brumfield and Josh Boutte are battling it out for the position, but Campbell’s athleticism and size could put him in the mix as well, or at least keep both men ahead of him sharp and on their toes. It’s very rare for a true freshman to come in and start, so placing those expectations on Campbell would not be realistic, but if he’s as good as advertised we could see him contribute early this season. As Mike Detillier suggested in our recent Q&A, a big part of LSU’s quest to match-up physically against the big boys of November involves building depth in the trenches. Campbell could be a valuable asset in that regard.
Today’s closing tidbits:
• Tis the season for post-spring football rankings and yesterday Sports Illustrated published theirs. In it, LSU checked in at No. 6 behind Oklahoma, Alabama, Florida State, Clemson and Ohio State.
• Some of you might have already seen this really cool uncut raw footage of LSU’s pregame show by Moe Athmann. If you haven’t, and you’ve got a few minutes to spare, watching it might put a little spring in your step on this Friday morning. Have a great day, Tiger Fans.