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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:

Game 1 - Friday, 7 p.m. (streamed on SECN+)
LSU – So. RHP Alex Lange (5-3, 4.05 ERA, 73.1 IP, 34 BB, 82 SO)
UA – Jr. RHP Dominic Taccolini (5-2, 4.81 ERA, 58.8 IP, 17 BB, 53 SO) 

Game 2 - Saturday, 6:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
LSU – Jr. LHP Jared Poché (5-4, 3.62 ERA, 64.2 IP, 25 BB, 54 SO)
UA – Jr. RHP Zach Jackson (3-4, 5.11 ERA, 44.0 IP, 30 BB, 54 SO) 

Game 3 - Sunday, 1 p.m. (streamed on SECN+)
LSU – TBA
UA – So. RHP Keaton McKinney (1-3, 5.84 ERA, 44.2 IP, 26 BB, 26 SO) 

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. 


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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:

Game 1 - Friday, 7 p.m. (streamed on SECN+)
LSU – So. RHP Alex Lange (5-3, 4.05 ERA, 73.1 IP, 34 BB, 82 SO)
UA – Jr. RHP Dominic Taccolini (5-2, 4.81 ERA, 58.8 IP, 17 BB, 53 SO) 

Game 2 - Saturday, 6:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
LSU – Jr. LHP Jared Poché (5-4, 3.62 ERA, 64.2 IP, 25 BB, 54 SO)
UA – Jr. RHP Zach Jackson (3-4, 5.11 ERA, 44.0 IP, 30 BB, 54 SO) 

Game 3 - Sunday, 1 p.m. (streamed on SECN+)
LSU – TBA
UA – So. RHP Keaton McKinney (1-3, 5.84 ERA, 44.2 IP, 26 BB, 26 SO) 

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. 

5/5/16 5:45 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

With 121 days remaining until the start of LSU’s 2016 football season, expectations continue to climb for Coach Les Miles’ Tigers. Yesterday morning I heard from several of you who were pumped about Campus Insider ranking LSU No. 1 in the post-spring rankings, and then later in the day the same media source generated more excitement among Tiger fans when they projected LSU to play in this year’s National Championship against Ohio State on January 9 in Tampa. (Here are their complete bowl projections.) While it’s pretty well established that LSU has the talent to make a title run this year, and it’s great to be optimistic, I think those of us who follow LSU closely realize that in order for the Tigers to reach such lofty expectations they will need to show improvement in the passing game (I think they will) and match up physically in the trenches this November against Alabama, Ole Miss, and Arkansas. Yesterday I wrote about one defensive player who can help LSU in the trenches by providing depth along the line, and today we’ll take a look at another as we continue our series on LSU newcomers reporting this summer. Here we go…

LSU newcomers reporting this summer who could make a splash as freshmen, Part 2: 

Edwin Alexander (DT, 6-2, 310, St. Thomas Aquinas)

Rashard Lawrence isn’t the only player expected to make waves as a true freshman defensive lineman. Edwin Alexander was No. 3 on our list of Top Louisiana Prospects for 2016, trailing No. 1 Lawrence by just two. What makes Alexander such a valuable commodity is the power he generates at contact. Alexander dealt with injuries as a junior, but when he was on the field, he demonstrated the power and athleticism needed to move blockers, shed blocks and disrupt plays in the backfield. Where Lawrence’s explosiveness and speed may allow defensive coordinator Dave Aranda to move him around and get creative, Alexander’s abilities make him a perfect fit to fill in for Davon Godchaux at the nose tackle position where he’ll be tasked with occupying multiple blockers. The hope is that a fresh Alexander and Lawrence (to go along with Frank Herron, Greg Gilmore, and others) will provide little to no drop-off when filling in for Christian LaCouture, Lewis Neal and Godchaux. If this is the case, the month of November could be a really exciting and vengeful one for the Tigers.

In baseball news, LSU picked up an interesting commitment for the class of 2018 yesterday when Drew Bianco, the son of Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco,  gave his verbal pledge to the Tigers. If you find it puzzling that Coach Bianco's son would choose LSU, this article by The Advocate helps shed some light and how and why this came to be. You see, several years ago Mike and his wife decided that if any of their four sons were talented enough to play Division I college baseball, none would play for their father. The reason? Mike wants his sons to enjoy “that true college experience” without being thought of and recognized as the coach’s son everywhere he goes. It also helps that Mike, himself, had an outstanding experience playing catcher at LSU in 1988-89 and serving as an assistant coach on Skip Bertman’s staff in the 90s where he was part of three national championship teams. In Drew Bianco, LSU will be getting a 6-foot, 190-pound middle infielder (projected to play shortstop) who really knows and loves the game of baseball.  

While speaking of baseball, here’s a good radio interview of D1Baseball.com’s Kendall Rogers by Matt Moscona of ESPN Radio in which he discusses LSU’s  postseason outlook. Rogers, who is widely considered one of the best in the business, still projects LSU to be a Regional host in the upcoming NCAA tournament but calls this weekend’s series against Arkansas a must-win. He had nothing but good things to say about the job Coach Mainieri has done with this young team and had a message for those fans who constantly compare Mainieri to Skip Bertman. The message: Bertman was a truly exceptional coach, perhaps the best ever, but  it’s unfair to compare Mainieri to the Skipper as this is a totally different era in college baseball. Back when Bertman coached, there were a select few schools who were truly committed to college baseball, whereas today there are a ton. 

Today’s closing tidbits:

• About a month ago, the NCAA Council approved a proposal to shut down the controversial satellite football camps, and then a couple of weeks later they repealed the ban. 247Sports reports that Coach Miles is gearing up to take advantage of the opportunities these events afford as he and members of his staff will attend camps in Atlanta, Houston, Tampa and Detroit next month as part of the Sound Mind Sound Body Academy summer tour.

• Here’s a great football hype video released by LSU last week that somehow I missed. It’s called “LSU Classic” and it’s sure to bring back a surge of memories for those of you who’ve spent a lifetime following LSU football. Kind of appropriate for #TBT (Throwback Thursday).

5/04/16 5:40 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

It seems odd to not have a midweek LSU baseball game to write about today, but I do have a few baseball tidbits to start this daily dose of Tiger News. Yesterday, Coach Mainieri held a luncheon at L’Auberge in Baton Rouge to discuss the Tigers’ 2016 season and to look ahead to the future, and there were a few interesting nuggets of information dished out. (Note: I wasn’t able to attend the event, but was able to piece together the following info from tweets by @JacquesDoucet of WAFB, @ChandlerRome of The Advocate, @SmartestMoran of Tiger Rag, and comments from DandyDon readers who were in attendance.)

• After acknowledging that Saturday’s game at Ole Miss and last week’s loss at Tulane were “complete disasters,” Coach Mainieri said the team is better now than a month ago. He also said all of their goals remain in front of them, the players’ attitudes are great, and he expects his team to make a strong push the remainder of the season.

• Coach Mainieri brought up the “third starter situation”, saying “the book is out” on John Valek III. It was unclear whether someone else will be looked at in that Game 3 role, but Mainieri did say there would be some pitching rotation changes this weekend. 

• Mainieri made it clear that Jordan Romero will be the team’s starting catcher and cleanup hitter. He likened playing Saturday’s game without Romero to LSU football playing without Leonard Fournette. 

• After feeling discomfort in his elbow following his long awaited start a few weeks ago, Jake Latz has been throwing “long toss” (Up to 200 feet.) Mainieri didn’t speculate on when he might return to action, but said he won't make the trip to Notre Dame next week.

• As for O’Neil Lochridge, who has been dealing with back issues, Mainieri is not confident that he will return to action this season and said the staff is exploring a medical redshirt option.

• When asked about the upcoming Major League Baseball draft, Mainieri said he’s nervous about 13 of his recruits and 10 of his players. He specifically mentioned Jared Poché and Jake Fraley as current players he’ll probably lose to the draft, and said it is unlikely that commit Riley Pint will be able to turn down the big money thrown at him. Pint, a 6-4 righty from Lenexa, Kansas, whose fastball touches 100 MPH, is projected to be a very early 1st round pick.

The Tigers will return to action Friday at 7 p.m. (SEC Network +) when they host the Arkansas Razorbacks in Game 1 of a very important series.  

Switching gears to the gridiron… At this time of year, a lot of folks are turning their attention from newcomers who made a big splash in the spring to top recruits like LSU’s two recent quarterback commits. What sometimes gets lost in the shuffle is that LSU will have a ton of talented newcomers joining the team this summer – members of LSU’s 2016 signing class which was ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation. In today’s report, we’ll begin a brief series highlighting a few of these newcomers who could make a splash as true freshmen. Here we geaux…

LSU newcomers reporting this summer who could make a splash as freshmen, Part 1:

Rashard Lawrence (DT, 6-3, 305, Neville)

Rashard Lawrence was the No. 1 target in-state for many reasons, and he’ll be a valuable asset for the Tigers from the moment he steps onto the practice field. The Under Armour All-American from Monroe gives LSU its best prospect from North Louisiana in years, which should serve LSU well on the recruiting trail, but more importantly, Lawrence fills a pressing need for depth along the defensive line. 

Jake Martin, a frequent contributor to this site who writes for the Ouachita Citizen, got to watch Lawrence a good bit at Neville High School and raved about his explosiveness (even when playing with a hurt ankle). Lawrence’s quickness off the ball, combined with his strength, tenacity and exceptional size, should allow him to see the field early as a Tiger. That’s important, as last year’s team lacked the ability to shuffle in multiple players along the defensive line – a hallmark of Coach Ed Orgeron’s highly successful D-lines at USC – without a pretty significant dropoff. This year, with the entire starting defensive line returning to go along with a new crop of talent that includes Lawrence and fellow in-state sensation Ed Alexander, that should no longer be the case.

Be sure to tune in tomorrow for part 2 of this series. 

Today’s closing tidbits:

• CollegeFootballNews.com has released its Post-Spring College Football Rankings of all 128 teams, and guess who’s at No. 1? That’s right, the Fighting Tigers of LSU. Here’s what author Pete Fiutak had to say about the Tigers: “You know how everyone was gushing over all the Ohio State players being taken throughout the 2015 NFL Draft? Next year it’s going to be LSU that keeps the pros stocked with fresh bodies, especially in the first round. The 2016 Tigers really are that good. It might be hard to see considering how flaky they were last season, but this year they’re so deep, so talented, and so solid now that Les Miles survived his brush with coaching death that it should all come together in what should be a dream season.”

Here’s a brief but informative video that accompanied Fiutak’s article highlighting their Post-Spring Top-5 College Football Teams.

• Fiutak’s mentioning of the draft reminds me to share with you the following info tweeted out from LSU Sports Information Director Michael Bonnette: LSU ranks No. 1 in the SEC in NFL Draft picks since the 2006 draft (the Miles era) with 69, and has had at least 5 players picked 10 of 11 years. Here’s how the SEC ranks in NFL Draft picks during that period:

1. LSU (69)
2. Alabama (63)
3. Georgia (59)
4. Florida (58)
5. SoCar & Ark (38) 

Reader Comments: Scott, Just thought your readers would like to hear about Aaron Nola'a latest gem: 7 IP, 2 H and 0 ER in a 1-0 victory over St. Louis. He's now 2-2 on the year with a 2.93 ERA for the Phillies.

 

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