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LSU vs. McNeese State - Saturday, September 5th, 2015 6:30 PM (SEC-Alt)
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8/3/15 5:50 am CDT

Good Morning, Tiger Fans,

In just two days, the LSU football team will report to fall camp and in three days they’ll begin practice. As of now, LSU hasn’t sent out its press release to the media announcing the practice times and media availability, but if practice is open to the media on Thursday I’ll be sure to attend at least one of the day’s two sessions so that I can give you a report on what I see. If the last couple of years are any indication, the first four practice days will probably be split with “veterans” practicing in the morning and the “freshmen and select veterans” in the scorching heat of a south Louisiana August afternoon. (It’s almost cruel to call it “fall practice,” isn’t it?) As soon as I have more information on the schedule, I’ll be sure to pass it along. 

As promised, today I’ll write a bit about five incoming freshmen I’m really looking forward to seeing in fall camp. Here we go…

Donté Jackson (CB, 5-11, 168)

Without a doubt, Jackson will be the fastest player on the team, but this defending state champion in the 100 meters has more going for him than just elite speed. At Riverdale High, and on the camp circuit, Jackson demonstrated that he also possesses exceptional athleticism and great football instincts. Coach Miles has stated that Jackson could be used not only as a lockdown cornerback, but also on special teams as a returner and even occasionally on offense. The word coming out of summer workouts is that Jackson has been extremely impressive in 7-on-7 competition.

Arden Key (DE, 6-5, 230)

Key is one of two players, along with offensive tackle Chidi Valentine-Okeke, who has not yet reported to LSU, but both are expected to enroll this week in time for Fall camp. A fierce pass rusher who draws comparisons to Keke Mingo, Key could help fill one of the team’s biggest needs, that is, the need to replace last year’s starting defensive ends, Danielle Hunter and Jermauria Rasco. Whether or not Key earns a starting role, look for him to see the field this season as a situational pass-rusher, either as an end in a 4-3 defense or as a standup guy in the 3-4. 

Isaiah Washington (DE, 6-4, 240)

The word is that Washington has had a great summer and is really turning heads. Like Key, this incoming defensive end has the potential to see the field early because of the Tigers’ lack of experienced depth at the position. When JC Shurburtt of 247Sports listed “sleepers” for each SEC team in 2015, he named Washington as LSU’s sleeper, and I think he might be onto something. 

George Brown (OT, 6-6, 283)

Hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, Brown was a highly regarded four-star prospect out of high school who originally committed to Florida before flipping to LSU. Back when he signed with the Tigers, he was listed at 253 pounds, but since that time he has really transformed his body in a good way by gaining 30 pounds of muscle, and the word is that he’s still packing it on. Like Washington, I consider Brown one of the “sleepers” in this years class, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him receive some early playing time in a backup role this year.

Derrius Guice (RB, 5-11, 216)

Guice is known as a workout warrior (remember he’s the one that passed out in a recent workout after dehydrating) and he’s another player who has been receiving rave reviews this summer. Even though he’s not as big as the two veteran running backs ahead of him on our unofficial depth chart (Leonard Fournette and Darrell Williams), he’s exceptionally strong for his size and tough as nails. Another thing he has going for him, as demonstrated in the US Army All-Star Game, is great hands. In that game, Guice accounted for over 150 receiving yards on just two catches and was named MVP.  

Stay tuned, as tomorrow I’ll write a bit about five or six returning players who are expected to play much bigger roles this season.

Speaking of returning players who will play big roles this year, one of them is the topic of today’s Countdown to GameDay. With 33 days remaining until the season-opener against McNeese State, I thought it appropriate to feature No. 33 on this year’s team - Jamal Adams.  

Rated as a five-star safety, the No. 31 overall player by 247Sports.com and the No. 1 safety prospect in the nation by Scout.com, Adams came to LSU last year with lots of fanfare, and the Carrollton, TX native did not disappoint. Adams finished the season with 66 tackles, five tackles for loss, one sack and five passes broken up. Despite only starting two games for the Tigers, Adams was the sixth leading tackler for LSU in 2014. Although the Tigers lost their bowl game vs. Notre Dame, Adams shined in the contest, totaling 10 tackles, two of them for a loss. One of those tackles for loss was a critical four-yard loss on 4th and 1 that ended a Notre Dame drive after they had reached the LSU 20. Adams also had one of the most crushing blocks in 2014 on a key punt return TD by Tre’Davious White against Kentucky.  

One thing that says a lot about the kind of player Adams is, and how highly he’s regarded, is that he became the first freshman in Coach Les Miles’ 10 years as head coach to serve as a team captain for a contest when he did so versus ULM, which was just the third game of Adam’s career. I noted a couple of weeks ago that Adams was voted as a third-team preseason All-SEC selection at safety, but I think he’ll easily surpass that when the post-season All-SEC team is selected. With Adams, Jalen Mills, Tre’Davious White, Kevin Toliver, Ed Paris and Rickey Jefferson in the secondary, LSU should once again have the SEC’s top passing defense, and their DBU moniker will only be strengthened.

Note: I was hoping to post a video of Adams’ freshman highlights at LSU and I found two good ones, but unfortunately the background music was inappropriate, to say the least.  

In baseball news, LSU left-handed pitcher Jake Latz, who missed all of his highly anticipated freshman year due to an elbow injury, returned to the mound Saturday. Pitching two innings for the Du Page County Hounds of the Midwest Collegiate League, Latz retired the side in order in the first and worked around a leadoff triple in the second for two scoreless innings with five strikeouts. That’s all I’ve heard about the outing, but it sure sounds encouraging.  

A bit of lagniappe in closing: Yesterday I mentioned that I’d be heading out to my favorite north Louisiana creek for a little fishing and a lot of you asked me to let you know how I did. Well, I only fished for about an hour and a half, but did very well. Under a thick canopy of cypress trees, the early morning temperature was very pleasant with a slight breeze blowing from the north, and the fish seemed as excited about that as I was. I ended up catching a half dozen good-sized bass and a few bream. There was no one there to take a picture for me, but I did manage to shoot this selfie to share with you today. 

Reader Comments: Last year Tiger Fans generously donated 225 tickets and 35 parking passes to the LSU/ELS Dream Game which allowed mentally challenged residents of Louisiana to enjoy the “Tiger Stadium Experience,” and it was a huge success. Evergreen Life Services (ELS) provides care for over 700 residents in 7 Divisions throughout the state of Louisiana. LSU/ELS Dream Game II in 2015 will be October 24th versus Western Kentucky. If you are not planning to attend this game, please consider a tax deductible donation of your tickets and parking passes so these less fortunate individuals can fill your seats. Contact Clint McAlister: email cgmca@bellsouth.net or phone 318-469-6326.

 

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8/2/15 5:45 am CDT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Wow, yesterday sure was a big day for email as many of you wanted to express your opinion about the reinstatement of the three players to the football team. The general sentiment from most of the Tiger Fans I heard from is that the quarterback situation will be a replay of last year now that Jennings is back, and that his missing six weeks of the “offseason” won’t have any bearing on the quarterback competition. I don’t know about that, but I do know that if all things were indeed equal between the two quarterbacks at the end of spring practice, then Jennings’ foolishness combined with the extra time Harris had with the receivers in 7-on-7 drills this summer (and the extra pounds he gained), should put Harris in a better position to earn the starting job. It sure will be interesting to see if one quarterback or the other works more with the No. 1s when practice starts this Thursday. 

In today’s report, we’ll conclude our series on LSU’s 2015 football opponents and move on with our countdown to Game Day, but first here’s a little news on the basketball front.

In preparation for its Australian tour, the LSU men’s basketball team held its first of 10 scheduled practices yesterday evening. The practice courts at LSU were arc-taped according to international standards, with the three-point line at 22 feet-1 inch instead of at 20 feet-9 inches as it is here in college ball. I am excited that the Tigers are getting this added Australian experience before the season starts. With the highly touted incoming class of Ben Simmons, Antonio Blakeney and Brandon Sampson joining returning starters Keith Hornsby, Tim Quarterman and Jalyn Patterson as well as key reserves Josh Gray, Aaron Epps, Elbert Robinson, Brian Bridgewater and Darcy Malone on this trip, I look for the Tigers to build chemistry and reap the benefits of this additional work during their non-conference slate, which begins November 16 against Kennesaw State. Over the next few weeks, I’ll occasionally post more about LSU’s practices and the Australian games, as well as Coach Johnny Jones’ comments.

In other basketball news, three players from Elfrid Payton Elite, Louisiana’s Nike circuit team, were reportedly on unofficial visits to LSU yesterday afternoon. According to Ben Love of TigerSportsDigest, Brison Gresham and DeJon Jarreau, both of whom will be seniors this year at McDonogh 35, and incoming junior Brandon Rachal of Natchitoches Central, visited the campus as well as LSU’s first practice yesterday. As you may recall, Gresham and Jarreau received offers from LSU in mid-July, and although Rachal has not received an offer yet, word is that Johnny Jones and assistant coach David Patrick have increased their interest in him and are staying in regular contact with him.

Now for the final installation in our preview of LSU’s 2015 football opponents, let’s look at LSU’s last regular season opponent, the Aggies of Texas A&M. Here we go…

Saturday, November 28 — Texas A&M 

It’s hard to say just how good the Aggies will be this season. If their defense continues to struggle, they could be mediocre or worse. Last year A&M allowed 450 yards per game and finished 102nd in total defense. But if John Chavis is able to turn things around, the Aggies could be a contender because of the offensive star power they return. The Aggies return eight starters on offense, including quarterback Kyle Allen who showed last season that he has what it takes to be another great Aggie gunslinger, throwing for 1,322 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions after taking over for Kenny Hill in October. If Allen somehow falls off the map, the Aggies have one of the greatest Texas high school players of all-time in Kyler Murray to back him up. Murray won three straight state titles and amassed a 42-0 record at Allen High School. Surround either quarterback with Josh Reynolds, Speedy Noil and Ricky Seals-Jones at wide receiver and Kevin Sumlin’s offense should be capable of putting points on the board in 2015, despite not having a great rushing game. Of course, doing so against LSU’s secondary, which is expected to be among the best in the nation, will be a very tall order.

With 34 days until LSU’s season opener against McNeese State, let’s continue our Game Day countdown by looking at a big win for the Tigers in 1988, a 34-9 victory over Tennessee. Although the Volunteers were not very good that year (they’d finish 5-6 for the season), LSU had never won a game in Knoxville until that day on September 17 and trailed the series by a whopping 2-15-3 deficit. The Tiger defense, led by Verge Ausberry, Ron Sancho and Eric Hill, came to play, holding the Volunteers to just 199 yards of offense. Tommy Hodson fired three TD passes, the LSU running game piled up 257 yards, and the offense totaled 503 yards. The Tigers never trailed in the contest, leading 17-0 at the half. LSU would lose to Florida a couple of weeks later but would win their last five SEC games to win a share of the SEC Title. Including the 1988 victory, the Tigers have gone 7-5 in their last twelve contests against the Volunteers, including four straight wins. LSU still trails in the series 9-20-3. The ’88 victory is one of only three victories over UT in Knoxville. LSU also defeated the Volunteers in Knoxville in 2006 (28-24) and 2011 (38-7). You can relive the 1988 victory here.

While on the topic of 34, let’s also look at LSU’s current No. 34 – Darrel Williams. Williams came to LSU as a four-star recruit from Rivals.com, Scout.com and 247Sports.com after rushing for 2,201 yards and 32 touchdowns as a senior from John Ehret High. Although the Marrero native was rated the No. 11 running back nationally by Rivals, he was overshadowed by LSU’s other prize running back recruit, Leonard Fournette. Undeterred, Williams came to LSU determined to make a difference, and he did just that as a true freshman in 2014. Despite a crowded backfield that included Fournette and senior running backs Kenny Hilliard and Terrance Magee, Williams finished the season with 302 rushing yards, three rushing TDs and 63 receiving yards. Williams also played fullback in many sets for LSU, clearing paths for the other Tiger running backs to gobble up yardage. Although Fournette is expected to get the bulk of the carries, big things are expected from Williams in 2015.

As I do most weeks, I’ll leave with a few good reads to go along with your Sunday morning coffee, but first I want to thank all of you who commented on the recipe I shared yesterday. Also, just so you know, by the time most of you are reading this I’ll be wetting a line in my favorite North Louisiana creek. With any luck, I might have a few pics to share tomorrow. 

Rabalais: LSU’s passing game struggles aren’t all on Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris — there’s plenty of room for everyone to improve

Anthony Jennings or Brandon Harris? LSU great quarterback debate rages on as 2015 preseason camp arrives this week

• LSU hopes to unleash Chark attack

Stay tuned as tomorrow we’ll take a look at five incoming freshmen I’m looking forward to seeing in fall football camp.

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8/1/12 5:45 am CDT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

As I’m sure many of you have heard by now, East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore has announced that no charges will be filed against Anthony Jennings, Dwayne Thomas or Maquedius Bain. In a statement, Moore said, “This decision is based upon the request of the victim that no charges be filed and inconsistent and contradictory statements provided. Although the conduct of these students in this situation is unacceptable, it is not one, based on the facts, that warrants prosecution, although their actions could have subjected them to such.” 

Shortly after Hillar released his statement, Coach Les Miles announced that the three players have been reinstated to football the team. The three players, as well as the rest of the team, will report to camp on Wednesday and begin fall practice on Thursday. In the statement provided by LSU, Miles indicated that the players will “undergo further in-house discipline.” Whether that means any of them will miss playing time because of this ordeal is yet to be seen. Last year, on the very first day of fall practice, District Attorney Moore announced that charges against Jalen Mills would be reduced to a misdemeanor (which was considerably less severe than the charge of second degree battery originally considered), and Coach Miles immediately reinstated Mills to the team. A few weeks later, Mills started in the season opener against Wisconsin. The year before that, running back Jeremy Hill was reinstated to the team just hours before fall camp began after Judge Bonnie Jackson extended Hill's probation rather than revoking it and sending him to jail. Hill participated fully with the team in fall practice but was held out of the season opener and the first quarter of the second game. I don’t expect Jennings, Thomas, or Bain to miss any playing time this year because of this latest incident, but at this point it’s obviously too early to say for sure.

Where this story gets even more interesting is that late last night the Advocate broke this report about former LSU cornerback Rashard Robinson being arrested for unauthorized entry into the apartment of Anthony Jennings on the same day that Jennings, Thomas and Bain were arrested in the aforementioned incident. Robinson, you’ll recall, was suspended from the team last fall and then dismissed from the team after the season.  (Is your head spinning yet? Mine sure is.) 

Moving on and switching gears… Coach Johnny Jones and his LSU basketball team will begin practice today in advance of their trip to Australia. The team departs for Australia on August 11th. This will be the fourth LSU trip outside the United States, as the Tigers travelled to Italy twice and to Canada once during John Brady’s tenure as head coach. This trip is unique in that it brings the nation’s number one recruit, freshman Ben Simmons, and junior center Darcy Malone, back to their home countries. Also, Assistant Head Coach David Patrick played with Ben Simmons’ father, Dave, on the Melbourne team of the country’s National Basketball League. LSU will open the tour against a group of All-Stars in Newcastle on Saturday, August 15, at 7:30 p.m. (4:30 a.m. CT). The next day, August 16, at 7 p.m. (4 a.m. CT), LSU will take on the Sydney Kings of the NBL at Brydens Stadium at University of Sydney. The Tigers will then move to the Gold Coast of Australia for two days, facing another All-Star team on August 18 at 7:30 p.m. (4:30 a.m. CT) before heading to Melbourne, the home of the Simmons family, for the final leg of the trip. The Tigers will play the first of two games against Melbourne United at the home stadium of the Dandenong Basketball Association. That game on August. 20 will tip at 7 p.m. (4 a.m. CT). The final game may be the most interesting of the tour, as LSU and Melbourne United will meet under the retractable roof of Hisense Arena (one of the facilities used for the Australian Open tennis championships) for a night game on August 22.

In baseball news, congratulations are in order for LSU outstanding right-handed pitcher, Alex Lange, who was selected as the male winner of the 2014-15 James J. Corbett Award presented by the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The Corbett Awards are presented annually to the top male and female amateur athletes in the state of Louisiana. Lange, a native of Lee's Summit, Missouri, is coming off what could be described as the best season ever by an LSU freshman pitcher, and that’s saying a lot. In a press release issued by LSU, Coach Mainieri is quoted as saying, “Kevin Gausman, Aaron Nola, Anthony Renaudo. None came close to him as a freshman. What Alex did was nothing short of amazing.” I tend to agree. 

While on the topic of LSU pitchers, highly heralded southpaw Jake Latz will put his elbow to the test today. Latz, who missed all of his highly anticipated freshman season at LSU due to an elbow injury, will return to the mound today for the Du Page County Hounds of the Midwest Collegiate League. His outing is scheduled to be only two innings, but those two innings could be very telling in terms of indicating how close Latz is to a full recovery. If Latz is 100% by the time LSU’s 2016 season starts, and if he’s as good as expected, he could be the missing piece in LSU’s search for a consistent third starter.  

With 35 days until the football season opener, let’s jump back to football and take a look at a special former Tiger who wore No. 35 as a safety for LSU from 1985 to 1988 – Greg Jackson. Jackson was a hell of a defensive back with a knack for making big plays, and as a senior he earned first team All-SEC and first team All-American honors. Many of you will recall Jackson’s record-setting 100-yard interception return for a touchdown against Mississippi State in 1988, and then his 71-yard pick return for a touchdown in LSU's regular season finale over Tulane. (I wish I could have found a video of the big returns online, but surprisingly I wasn't able to. If any of you locate them, please let me know.) Jackson ended his senior season with a record-setting 219 return yards on seven interceptions, which was the most picks by an LSU player at that time since Chris Williams picked off eight in 1978. After his playing days at LSU, Jackson was selected by the New York Giants in the third round of the 1989 NFL draft. Five other Tigers were drafted in the NFL that year including Eric Hill, Ralph Norwood, Mike Mayes, Ron Sancho and Rudy Harmon. Jackson went on to play five seasons for the Giants before finishing his last seven seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers. Since retiring from the NFL, Jackson has spent several years as an assistant coach at the collegiate level including three years at Tulane. He currently serves as the defensive backs coach at the University of Michigan.

Now for Part 11 of 12 in our ongoing series previewing LSU’s 2015 football opponents: Today we look at the Rebels of Ole Miss. For Parts 1 through 10 of the series, click here

Saturday, November 21 — Ole Miss (Oxford, Miss)

Individual talent across the board makes the Ole Miss Rebels a legitimate contender in the SEC West. Laremy Tunsil, Laquon Treadwell, Robert Nkemdiche and Tony Conner are all projected first-round picks in the 2016 NFL draft. These are just four of several great athletes Ole Miss brings to the table. Can the Rebels put it all together, though? Long gone are the days of Bo Wallace leading the offense, and some Rebel fans will say that’s a good thing. They can reference last year’s LSU/Ole Miss game for starters, where Wallace forced an interception to solidify the victory for LSU. But much like LSU, if Ole Miss finds solid quarterback play (most think it will come from Chad Kelly), the Rebels will be a force to be reckoned with. The Rebels are immensely talented at every position, and while Ole Miss struggled to provide a strong running game last season, head coach Hugh Freeze has made it his priority to improve in that area this year, which would of course take pressure off of Ole Miss’ new starting quarterback, whomever that ends up being. Defensively, with multiple returners at every position, Ole Miss should be even better than a year ago (despite losing defensive backs Senquez Golson and Cody Prewitt). Ole Miss was fourth in the SEC in total defense last season. In several regards, Ole Miss and LSU are in similar situations. If both teams find solid quarterback play, it’s not a stretch to say that this November 21st showdown could have serious implications for the SEC West. 

A little lagniappe in closing: 

Today is the birthday of my dearly departed mother, Joy Ardoin Long, and in her honor I’ve posted a recipe for a dish she cooked better than anyone: Round Steak with Rice and Gravy. Bon appétit!  

 

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