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LSU vs. McNeese State - Saturday, September 5th, 2015 6:30 PM (SEC-Alt)
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9/2/15 5:55 am CDT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

It’s almost here, folks, and I can hardly wait!  If you’re making plans to attend this Saturday’s game, as I am, please note that LSU has made some changes with regard to traffic flow and parking. You may recall that last year LSU utilized contraflow on Nicholson Drive, something that was recommended by the SP Plus Gameday consultant group. Well, this year LSU is trying a different approach in an effort to help relieve vehicle congestion. Instead of using contraflow on Nicholson, LSU will take advantage of Burbank Drive and utilize that four-lane road to move as much traffic away from campus as possible in an efficient manner. Law enforcement officials feel as if Burbank Drive will be able to move more cars in a timely fashion toward exiting city routes with better access to neighborhoods and the interstate. Nicholson Drive will still be used for fans exiting campus, however it will no longer be done by contraflow. For more information on this, as well as a few parking updates, please see: LSU FOOTBALL GAMEDAY TRAFFIC, PARKING REMINDERS FOR 2015.

Back in February, right after signing Day, we conducted a poll asking which members of LSU’s incoming recruiting class would have the greatest impact this year, and now that the season is upon us I thought it would be interesting to revisit the results. A lot has changed in the last seven months and we know a lot more about these freshmen now than we did then, but still I think the results of the poll were fairly close to what they would be if we asked you the same question today, with a few notable exceptions. Let’s review…  

The true freshman who most of you said would make the greatest impact this year was Kevin Toliver, and that could very well turn out to be the case. On our latest depth chart (which is based on the one released by LSU on Monday), the starter at the cornerback position opposite of TréDavious White is listed as Kevin Toliver OR Dwayne Thomas. The only other place where a true freshmen is listed in a No. 1 slot is the left guard position, where Maea Teuhema OR redshirt freshman William Clapp are at the top of the list. Based purely on the depth chart, it looks like the true freshmen best situated to play big roles this year are Teuhema and Toliver, but I would also keep an eye out for Donté Jackson, Derrius Guice, and Arden Key who are all likely to make big impacts this Saturday. Perhaps the most surprising depth chart revelation is that true freshman Bry’Kiethon Mouton is listed No. 2 at fullback behind John David Moore but ahead of fellow true freshman David Ducre, who received 13 times more votes than Mouton in our February poll.

Mentioning fullbacks reminds me to pass along the news of LSU offering two interesting 2017 prospects this week, one of whom is fullback Ben Miles. In case you didn’t make the connection, Ben is Coach Miles’ son who attends Catholic High. At 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, Ben is a heck of a prospect who will likely draw scholarship offers from several schools if it turns out that he shows interest in going elsewhere. According to reports like this one, Miles received the offer by phone from LSU recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson and hadn’t yet discussed it with his Dad. The other 2017 prospect who recently received an LSU offer is athlete Jamyest Williams of Lawrenceville, GA. Williams (5-9, 170) is listed as the No. 1 athlete in the nation and is projected to play cornerback at the next level. LSU currently has one commitment for the class of 2017 in defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin from Northside High School in my hometown of Lafayette, LA. 

With Game Day quickly approaching, here’s a quick injury update on LSU and McNeese:

• LSU enters the game relatively healthy with only safety Jalen Mills expected to be withheld from action. I say “only” Jalen Mills, but we all know that his loss is very significant, as he’s the Tigers’ most experienced defender. As for Trey Quinn who suffered an injury in the first scrimmage, it’s unclear whether he is back to 100% but Miles said on Monday that Quinn will play a lot of football Saturday, and I sure hope that’s the case. Last week offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins was seen limping out of practice with an ankle injury, but the word is that he returned to practice and is good to go. 

• McNeese, on the other hand is a little more banged up. According to the Cowboys’ website, “Several Cowboys will miss Saturday's game including defensive end Brian Hine who is nursing an injured knee. Hine, a starter in all 11 games last season, led the team with 9.5 tackles for a loss last year and was second on the squad with four sacks. Also out for Saturday will be offensive linemen Matt Wilson and Jalen Smith, quarterback Joe Lissard, and linebacker Callen Smith. Senior running back Dylan Long, who injured his knee in the first scrimmage of the preseason, is listed as doubtful.” 

Now let’s wrap up this update with our countdown to game day, which is only 3 days away, by remembering a recent Tiger All-American who wore No. 3,  Odell Beckham, Jr. As stated in his official LSU bio, Beckham was one of the most dynamic players in LSU history. As a junior in 2013, Beckham earned All-American honors and was named college football’s most versatile player. He also set the LSU record and finished No. 2 in SEC single-season history with 2,315 all-purpose yards. Teamed with Jarvis Landry, the two became the first receiver tandem in school history to each surpass 1,000 yards in a single season. Beckham, Jr. also finished his career with 15 TDs and 4,118 all-purpose yards, which ranks No. 5 in school history. I could go on and list a full page of accomplishments by OBJ, but I suspect none of you reading this need any convincing that he was a truly exceptional player. To relive some of his greatest moments as a Tiger, take a moment to check out Beckham’s LSU Career Highlights Video. As most of you know, Beckham was selected by the New York Giants as the 12th overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Despite missing the first four games of last season, Beckham still had a remarkable rookie season finishing with 1,305 receiving yards and 12 TDs. OBJ also made the Pro Bowl team and had this amazing catch I’m sure most of you have seen numerous times. One last interesting fact that you younger Tiger fans may not know is that OBJ’s dad, Odell Beckham, was a running back for LSU from 1991 to 1993 and his mother, Heather Van Norman, was an All American track runner for LSU from 1991 to 1993. 

A reminder in closing: The deadline for making your picks in our Louisiana High School Football Pickem is tomorrow at 5 p.m. If you’re a fan of Louisiana prep football, I encourage you to participate in this free fun and friendly contest. It’s a great way to stay up-to-date on what’s happening while testing your knowledge. For more info or to make your picks, please click here. Please note that even if you do not participate, you can use this resource to view a complete statewide schedule of each week’s games

Also, I’ve updated our ticket exchange and view-in parties pages.

Oh, and that final installment of Kinny Haddox’s series on my love of fishing is posted on LakeDarbonneLife.com and is called “Clean the small ones first.” Enjoy!

Reader Comments: Scott, here’s a great article about LSU cornerback Tre'Davious White making a point to make an impact well beyond football. I think it will give Dandy Don readers an even greater respect for this year’s No. 18. 



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9/1/15 5:45 am CDT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

With Game Week in full swing, we’ve got a lot to get to in today’s report, starting with the news of Coach Les Miles falling ill yesterday. Miles was scheduled to speak at his first press luncheon of the season, but instead had to go to the hospital to get checked out after reportedly suffering from migraine headaches. Considering that Miles had a brain cyst removed in 2001, it’s easy to see why he would want to get something like that checked out as soon as possible. The good news is that Miles’ stay at the hospital was brief and he returned in time to conduct practice before addressing the media at 6:45 p.m. Here are a few key points I picked up from the evening press conference:

• In classic Les Miles fashion, the coach opened his presser by saying, “Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.” He went on to say that he drank too much coffee and it gave him an awkward feeling. He started feeling bad right in front of a trainer, who advised that he go to the hospital. 

• Miles addressed the quarterback situation by confirming that Brandon Harris will start in the season-opener. He said he told Harris the news on Saturday, but that he “can’t image” Harris didn’t expect it.

• When asked about freshmen Donté Jackson, Miles said “I think you can expect to see him in a number of spots.”

• Miles said Trey Quinn returned to practice yesterday after suffering a neck injury in the first scrimmage and will play a lot of football this Saturday. That is certainly great news.

• No injury status update was given on Jalen Mills, but Miles said trainer Jack Marrucci is motivated to get him healthy fast.

• Team Captains for Saturday’s game (as voted by the team) will be Jerald Hawkins/Vadal Alexander offense, Tré White/Kendell Beckwith defense, Reid Ferguson/Jamie Keehn special teams.

You can check out a video of Les Miles’ entire presser here

In other football news, yesterday morning LSU released its updated depth chart and there were a few noteworthy items on it. In what should come as no surprise, the quarterback position was listed as Brandon Harris OR Anthony Jennings, but as we mentioned above, Miles later said that Harris will start. Also as expected, Ethan Pocic was listed as the starting center, even though he started fall camp at left guard. I guess the biggest surprise was at the cornerback position opposite of TréDavious White where the starter was listed as Dwayne Thomas OR Kevin Toliver. (My guess would have been Thomas OR Ed Paris). Another thing I found surprising was that Jamal Adams was listed as the number two punt returner behind White. I’ve updated my unofficial depth chart to take these changes into account.

Also, LSU announced yesterday that the group OneRepublic will perform at halftime of the LSU-Florida football game this year.  In addition, in the coming days, a second “world-renowned” act will be announced to perform at another SEC home game. (I put “world-renowned” in quotes because that is how the acts are being billed, but to tell you the truth I’ve never heard of OneRepublic, although that might not mean anything other than I’m getting up in age.) These Super Bowl styled performances will be held in conjunction with the Golden Band from Tigerland. It appears that LSU is trying its best to enhance the in-stadium viewing experience in an attempt to keep pace with the rapidly improving TV viewing experience, and I can understand that, but as someone who loves LSU’s traditional halftime performance, I’m not sure how I feel about it.

Speaking of that Florida game on October 17, LSU will have at least two five-star visitors on hand for that contest. The two are defensive lineman Shavar Manuel and his teammate at IMG Academy, LSU cornerback commit Saivion Smith. Getting them both on campus at the same time is great news for LSU as Smith has been said to be working hard on getting Manuel to join him in being a Tiger. The two visited LSU together in June. Now that the season is about to start, recruiting news will start picking up again, and I’ll do my best to keep you informed on LSU’s efforts.

With only four days remaining until the much anticipated season-opener, today we’ll continue our Countdown to Game Day by remembering one of my childhood heroes who wore No. 4 - Charles Alexander. “Alexander the Great,” as he was known, was a two-time All-American and Heisman Trophy finalist who played running back at LSU from 1975 to 1978. Some of my earliest football memories include going with Dad to Tiger Stadium to see Alexander take the field. During his time at LSU, Alexander set nine SEC records and tied for another. At the end of his stellar career, which included a pair of All-America and All-SEC honors, Alexander’s name sat atop 27 LSU records. In fact, he still holds the school records for most rushes in a game (43), most yards in a season (1,686) and most yards gained per game in a season (153.3). After his days as a Tiger, Alexander was selected as the 12th pick in the first round of the 1979 NFL Draft by Cincinnati where he played for seven years and participated in Super Bowl XVI. In December of 2012, Alexander became only the eighth player in LSU history to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, and one of just four living LSU members along with Billy Cannon, Tommy Casanova and Jerry Stovall. To see a video which starts with his induction into the HOF and then shows a couple of of his awesome highlights, click here.

A few closing tidbits:

• HeroSports.com released its 2015 College Football Strength of Schedule Top 25 and has LSU as tied at 6th for the hardest schedule in college football. While that seems awfully discouraging at first glance, it should be noted that six other SEC schools make up the top-6. All this tells us is that the SEC is the toughest conference in the land, but of course we knew that already. By the way, Alabama’s schedule was ranked as the most difficult, followed by Texas A&M (2), Arkansas (T3), Auburn (T3) and Mississippi State (T3). 

• Thanks for the great feedback on Part 1 of the series that LakeDarbonneLife.com wrote about my love of fishing. Today author Kinny Haddox has posted part two, and it’s called “Scott’s Creek fishing tips.” Hope you enjoy it.

• If you enjoy Louisiana high school football, be sure to sign up for our Louisiana High School Football Pickem. It’s free and fun, and as mentioned yesterday, small prizes will be given to the weekly winners. The deadline for picking this week’s games is Thursday at 5 p.m., so get at it, folks!



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8/31/15 5:45 am CDT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Game Week is finally here, and to help kick it off right I’ve got a great SEC Football Hype Video by SaturdayDownSouth to share with you that’s sure to get you pumped! It’s not an LSU video per se, but it’s a great one worth viewing.

After spending I don’t know how many days talking about the 2015 LSU football team, today we’ll finally begin turning our attention to LSU’s first opponent, the McNeese State Cowboys, but first here are a few “newsy” tidbits to pass along…

With the season opener only five days away, Coach Miles will hold his first weekly “Subway Fresh Take by Les Miles” press luncheon of the season today at 12:15 p.m. CT. The program will be produced each week by the LSU Sports Radio Network and can be heard in the Baton Rouge area on 104.5 FM and 104.9 FM and on affiliates of the network across the state and region. Those fans outside the 104.5 FM/104.9 FM listening area, can catch free audio of the press conference each week in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live or in the LSUsports Mobile App. Members of the Geaux Zone have access to a live video stream of the press conference each week, and from what I understand a free live video stream will also be available on SECN+, which you can access here. I look forward to giving you a report on what was said in my morning report.

During the last couple of days I’ve heard from many of you who are excited about not only the start of LSU’s football season, but also the start of prep football and our Louisiana High School Football Pickem Contest. If you haven’t yet signed up to play, please consider doing so today. This year we’re doing things a little differently. Instead of having you pick winners for all 140+ games, we’ve scaled it down to 50 games each week to make it less overwhelming but still very challenging. Also, for the first time ever, we’ll be giving small prizes to the winners. The weekly winner(s) will receive snazzy DandyDon koozies and bumper stickers. The overall winner will receive a DandyDon coffee mug and a signed hardcopy of Ces Guerra’s book, Gumbo for the Tiger Soul. Of course, one of the best perks of participating is the bragging rights it can earn you, as each week the top 10 players will be listed on our leaderboard and the winner will receive props in our daily report. The contest is a great way to test your knowledge of Louisiana high school football and it’s completely free. Even if you decide not to participate, please note that you can always refer to our weekly schedule, which will also serve as a statewide scoreboard once the games are played. To sign up or read more about how this all works, please click here.

Now let’s jump back to our normal order of business and begin taking a look at the McNeese State Cowboys through our “team comparisons” that many of you have grown accustomed to seeing on this site. As you longtime readers know, each week we’ll compare LSU and its opponent in all three aspects of the game (offense, defense and special teams) and take a look at “intangibles.” Later in the week we’ll do a statistical comparison and also talk about some things to watch for in the game, and of course I’ll post my prediction for this game and several others. So without further ado, let’s get on with it…

LSU offense vs. McNeese defense

There should be no reason LSU can’t line up in a Power-I formation and pound the rock against the Cowboys’ defense. Look for Les Miles and the Tigers to establish the run early on with Leonard Fournette and Darrel Williams, getting enough separation on the scoreboard to allow Brandon Harris to work on developing chemistry with his talented wide receiver corps. While McNeese’s football program is not on the same level as LSU’s, the Cowboys should not be taken lightly, as they almost knocked off Nebraska last season. To go along with that, the Cowboys have a big-time playmaker in defensive back Brent Spikes, who led the team in tackles (83) and interceptions (4) last season and is a preseason All-American. Other Cowboys to watch on defense are free safety Wallace Scott and linebacker Bo Brown. If McNeese State has success loading the box and limiting LSU’s explosive running backs, the game may very well rest on the shoulders of Harris, which could be interesting. Though McNeese has several returning starters on defense, including the three aforementioned playmakers, it shouldn’t have the personnel to match LSU athlete for athlete, and getting Harris on the same page as Malachi Dupre, Travin Dural, D.J. Chark, Trey Quinn and John Diarse would be hugely beneficial when SEC play begins the following week. The Tigers have too many ways to score, so barring any mental lapses, expect LSU to score often Saturday night.
Advantage LSU 

LSU defense vs. McNeese offense

The Cowboys have no shortage of running backs, and they’ll likely have to use all of them against a physical LSU front. With four returning starters on the offensive line, the Cowboys will test the Tigers upfront and look to open up running lanes for Derrick Milton (a Mississippi State transfer) and Ryan Ross (rushed for 326 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2014). Add shifty quarterback Daniel Sams, who gained experience last season and can beat teams with his legs as well as his arm, and the Cowboys will have a potent offense. But this game is all about LSU’s ability to use its speed advantage. The Tigers’ athleticism at linebacker and in the secondary should allow LSU to close on the ball quickly and stall drives. Linebacker Kendell Beckwith is made for games like this, and I look for him and the entire Tiger defense to have success slowing down the Cowboys’ attack.
Advantage LSU 

Special Teams

This might be the most intriguing aspect of the game. A couple of LSU freshmen, Derrius Guice and Donté Jackson, could be on the fielding end of kicks or punts, and that could be very interesting. (No amount of practicing can prepare you for such a moment in front of 100,000 screaming fans.) Another intriguing aspect of special teams play is the stability of kicker Colby Delahoussaye. As we’ve already discussed, Delahoussaye had trouble at the end of last season, so it’ll be interesting to see if the junior placekicker can get things back on track. As for McNeese State, the Cowboys will debut a new field goal kicker this season since Alex Kjellsten graduated. Handling the punting duties again for the Cowboys will be Jean Breaux, who has been a consistent punter for McNeese State since starting as a freshman in 2012.
Advantage LSU  

Intangibles 

On one hand, the fact that this is the season opener and a night game in Tiger Stadium makes it tempting to give LSU a big advantage in intangibles. But on the other hand, with two big conference games looming in the next two weeks, LSU could very well be looking ahead and underestimating this in-state foe. For McNeese, this is the biggest game on their schedule, and a large percentage of their players grew up dreaming of playing in Tiger Stadium. You can bet your bottom dollar they will be sky-high for this game, and if LSU doesn’t match their intensity this could be a very interesting contest.
Toss-up.   

Now let’s jump to our Countdown to Game Day, which is at the 5-day mark, by remembering a huge come-from-behind victory by the top-ranked Tigers over the 9th ranked Florida Gators in 2007. LSU entered the contest 5-0 (with big wins over No. 9 Virginia Tech and No. 12 South Carolina) and had just vaulted to the No. 1 spot in the AP poll for the first time since 1959. By this point in the season, it was plain to see that this was a very special LSU team, and the Florida Gators (led by quarterback Tim Tebow) were a powerful bunch as well. ESPN’s Game Day crew setup on the Parade Grounds and Mike VI made his Death Valley debut for what would be a truly epic contest. Although LSU trailed by double digits entering the fourth quarter, the Tigers would prevail thanks to the gritty play of fullback Jacob Hester and the gutsy play-calling of Coach Les Miles who went for it on fourth down on five different occasions and was successful on all five attempts. What a game! If you’ve got time to spare on this Monday morning, check out these video highlights of the game. Warning: The video, by YouTube user Kevin Parnella, is very roughly edited, but it should be good enough to rekindle a special memory for any of you who witnessed that incredible game.

In closing, I want to call your attention to something that’s not related to LSU sports but might be of interest to some of you - a question and answer series that Kinny Haddox of LakeDarbonnelife.com conducted with me on the topic of my love of fishing. He’s posted the first of three installments today, which is titled “Long Way to fishing Fun.” I hope many of you will give it and read and share your thoughts.

Oh, and I’ve updated our Ticket Exchange and View-in Parties pages.



 

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