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LSU vs. Wisconsin - August 30, 2014 - 8:00 P.M. Kickoff (ESPN)
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7/17/14 6:00 am CT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Coach Les Miles, offensive tackle La'el Collins, running back Terrence Magee and linebacker D.J. Welter spoke during yesterday’s session of SEC Media Days, and were very upbeat about the 2014 LSU football team. Here’s a full transcript of Coach Les Miles’ comments to the media, but for those of you who just want the quick version of what was said, here are the most significant points:

• When naming freshmen he expects to come in and play, the first four Miles mentioned were Leonard Fournette, Malaci Dupre, C.J. Garrett and Brandon Harris.

• As for the QB battle, Miles said it will be “a very competitive event from the start to the finish” and that Coach Cameron will do “exactly the right things with those guys.”

• Miles said La’el Collins and Jerald Hawkins will be two of the finest tackles in the SEC.

• As for the wide receivers, Miles said Travin Dural had a very strong spring and is developing nicely, and Trey Quinn continues to be viewed as a guy who is really experienced with great understanding and ball skills.

• Miles said Danielle Hunter and Jermauria Rasco may be two of the finest defensive ends in the country.

• Linebackers DJ Welter, Kwon Alexander, Lamar Louis and Deion Jones all received praise. Miles said Jones may be the fastest.

• Miles said safety Ronald Martin continues to improve, had a great summer and lost weight. He also mentioned freshmen safeties Jamal Adams and John Battle as guys who will play significant roles.

• There will be great competition for kickoff duties between Trent Domingue, Cameron Gamble and Kyle Pfau, according to Miles.

• In the return game, Miles said Terrence Magee will return kickoffs. Jamal Adams and Tre'Davious White were mentioned as other returners.

• Leonard Fournette was described as quiet, not assuming and humble in his approach.  Miles’ quote: “I think it's exactly where he needs to be.”

• As for the style of play we’ll see from the quarterbacks, Miles said they are not in a position where they have to dial up a quarterback carry and that he really hasn’t changed the offense.

• When asked what he likes about Brandon Harris, Miles called him “innately accurate” and said his best trait is how he anticipates the play. He went on to say there are some real advantages with him.

• I’ve also posted videos of the three players’ press interviews in our Media Gallery.

In recruiting news, congratulations are in order for LSU commits Nick Brossette and Kevin Tolliver who were both named to the MaxPreps 2014 Preseason All-America Team. Brossette was the only player from Louisiana named to the 30-man team. By comparison, last year there were four players from Louisiana’s 2014 recruiting class on the list. Obviously, Louisiana’s pool of talent for 2015 isn’t nearly as strong as it was in 2014, but that was simply an exceptional year and there may not be another class that strong for many years to come. With that said, there are plenty of talented in-state players for 2015 (many of whom are still uncommitted), and 2016 is shaping up to be much stronger. We’ll learn a lot more about these players in the coming days as LSU will hold it’s final three camps of the summer within the next 10 days, starting Saturday with a 7-on-7 passing camp and lineman camp.

Below is the schedule for the upcoming camps. I plan on heading out there for the final high school session (known as the “elite camp”) and I look forward to sharing with you what I see. Later this week I’ll give you a list of LSU targets that I’ll be monitoring closely.

7/19 - Team 7-on-7 Passing Camp & Lineman Camp

7/20 - Kicking, Punting & Snapping Camp
7/24 - High School Camp Session II 

Throughout the week we’ve been reviewing LSU’s 2014 opponents, game-by-game, and so far we’ve covered the first four contests. Today we’ll continue by looking at LSU’s fourth game, which should be a welcome breather after a competitive contest against Mississippi State the week before.

Saturday, Sept. 27 — New Mexico State (Baton Rouge). New Mexico State didn’t have the best of seasons in 2013. In fact, they had a six-game stretch of giving up 292 points and 3,272 yards. Entering the 2014 season, the Aggies (yes, they’re called the Aggies, too) are going to have to replace their best players on defense in linebackers Trashaun Nixon and Bryan Bonilla and safety Davis Cazares. Is it possible New Mexico State could put an even worse product on the field than a defense that gave up 44.6 points per game last season? Should that be the case, LSU’s reserves could see action by the middle of the second quarter. As for the Aggies’ offense, New Mexico State has to replace its top receiver, top running back and starting quarterback from a team that averaged just 20.1 points per game. Even though the Aggies may return some experience on the offensive line, their 2014 season outlook isn’t much brighter than 2013’s 2-10 season. There’s no reason why LSU shouldn’t roll in this one and play a lot of youngsters along the way.

With the start of LSU football season only 44 days away, let’s continue our countdown to game day by remembering the Tigers’ first bowl victory in school history - the 1944 Orange Bowl win over Texas A&M. As stated in The LSU Football Vault by Herb Vincent, only five SEC schools fielded teams in 1943-’44 due to World War II. LSU, like virtually all schools nationwide, had to use mostly freshmen and sophomores along with a few veterans who were rejected for military service for one reason or another. Fortunately, senior running back Steve Van Buren was among the Tigers who received Class 4-F exemption (due to an eye defect) and was able to remain in school and play ball. Van Buren was, literally, a man among boys, and that was obvious in the Tigers’ 19-14 victory over Texas A&M on New Year’s Day, 1944. In that game, LSU avenged an early season loss to the Aggies, thanks in large part to Van Buren who accounted for three touchdowns including a 63-yard scoring run in the third quarter to put the game away. I’ve added video highlights of that historic game to our Media Gallery.

An interesting fact I found while doing my research for this writeup is that the Tigers’ trip to and from the game in Miami presented some challenges of its own. According to an article I found on goldenrankings.com, trains were not an option for traveling to the game because of wartime regulations that gave rail priority to troop movements. Thankfully, Baton Rouge banker and Tiger supporter Lewis Gottleib purchased eighteen used cars to transport the team to the game and then sold them upon returning home. The trip back home from Miami was challenging, too. Along the way, one of the cars had mechanical trouble, and the group also ran out of gas rationing stamps and had to beg each gas station they stopped at to let them buy a gallon of gas. Stories like this one make me especially thankfully for the times we live in today, and remind me to take nothing for granted.

Since we’re closing on a historical note, I want to pass an article that several of my readers shared with me yesterday. It’s an exceptionally well done story on former Tiger great Y.A. Tittle called “Awakening The Giant” and its subtitle is “As Y.A. Tittle's memory fades and his body breaks down, the Hall of Fame QB finds fleeting moments of solace in a daughter's love and a final trip home.

7/16/14 5:50 am CT

Good morning, Tiger Fans. It was great to hear from many of you yesterday about the personal tid-bit/recipe I posted yesterday. Glad you enjoyed it.

LSU will have its turn in the spotlight at SEC Media Days today from 1 pm to 4 pm. Coach Miles will be joined by a trio of seniors in offensive tackle La'el Collins, running back Terrence Magee and linebacker D.J. Welter, and will open his day with a 30-minute question and answer session starting at 1 pm which can be seen on ESPNU, ESPN3.com or on the WatchESPN app. Miles will also join ESPN’s Dari Nowkah and Tom Luginbill on the network’s set for College Football Live which can be seen tomorrow on ESPN from 1:30 to 2 p.m.

Yesterday I wrote a bit about the LSU football depth chart and heard from many of you who are concerned that Travonté Valentine’s name is nowhere to be found on it, or on the official LSU roster. That is because Valentine is not yet enrolled at LSU, although he is expected to be in time for preseason camp. As mentioned before, Valentine is taking care of some classwork this summer in order to qualify, and I’ve seen nothing that leads me to believe that there will be complications. In fact, to the contrary, Valentine tweeted Monday that he will be reporting to LSU next week.

The only football signee besides Valentine that LSU is waiting on is JUCO offensive tackle Jevonte Domond (6’6", 310, Glendale CC) who is also finishing up coursework. As with Valentine, everything appears to be on schedule, and at this point I remain confident that he and Valentine will report to LSU in time for the start of Fall practice on August 4th. With that said, I’ve been doing this long enough to know not to count your chickens before they hatch.

On a similar note, LSU baseball fans are eagerly awaiting confirmation that star signee Mac Marshall will in play for the Tigers and not sign with the Houston Astros. As mentioned last week, Houston is still negotiating a contract with their first round pick, Brady Aiken, and depending on what happens there the Astros could have a lot of money to throw at Marshall. According to this report by Randy Rosetta of the Times Picayune, Marshall says he wants to be a Tiger and has not been in contact with the Astros. The deadline for teams to sign their draft picks is Friday at 4 pm.

In other news, it was announced yesterday that LSU punter Jamie Keehn has been nominated for the most prestigious off-the-field honor in college football, the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. I’m pointing this out simply because college football players are rarely recognized for their positive off-the-field achievements, although they sure do get recognized quickly for any off-the-field transgression. Keehn’s good works cited in the nomination include include delivering gifts to children through the Pay it Forward event at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital, adopting an underprivileged child for the holidays through the Thanksgiving with the Tigers program, and visiting local schools to speak about education.

Now let’s continue our preview of LSU’s 2014 schedule by looking at LSU’s first SEC opponent - Mississippi State. Here we go…

Saturday, Sept. 20 — Mississippi State (Baton Rouge). If Coach Dan Mullen is going to breakthrough at Mississippi State, he’s going to do it this year. The pieces are in place with a dark-horse Heisman contender in Dak Prescott, a potential Bednarik Award winner in Bednardrick McKinney and a luxury of skill players, like Jameon Lewis, who can give defensive coordinators fits. For better or for worse, the Tigers will get to see how well this team comes together early in the season. Prescott can hurt teams with his arm and/or legs, McKinney is a big-time defensive performer with 173 tackles and 11.5 tackles for loss in his first two seasons with the Bulldogs, and Lewis displays great agility in both receiving and kick return situations. This is as talented of a team that Mullen has ever had at Mississippi State, and in a crowded SEC West, Mississippi State will have to go through LSU to stake its claim as one of the division’s best in September. By this time of the season I look for LSU’s quarterback competition to be pretty much settled (I predict Harris will be starter for this game), and for theTigers to be firing on all cylinders for this very important first game of conference play.

With the LSU football season opener just 45 days away, let’s continue our Countdown to Game Day by taking a look at Alvin Dark, who wore No. 45 and was one of the greatest athletes to ever grace the campus of Louisiana State University. I’ve got to admit that I didn’t know a lot about Mr. Dark before I began researching him for last year’s countdown, but what I found was simply amazing, and I’m sure a lot of you old-timers out there will remember him and his legacy of greatness. Dark was a three-sport superstar at LSU in the early 40s who received a scholarship to play basketball and baseball and then ended up trying out and making the football team too. He lettered in all three sports, and on the football field he led the 1942 team in both rushing and passing yards and was one heck of a punter. In the Tigers’ 21-7 homecoming victory over Ole Miss in 1942, Dark ran for touchdowns of 70 and 46 yards. However, according to his Louisiana Hall of Fame bio, his most vivid memories of that game were his four punts – a 75-yarder and three “coffin corner kicks” that pinned the Rebels inside their two-yard line. Before one punt, Dark asked the referee where the ball would be placed if he hit the flag, and the official replied, “Right on the one-foot line.” Dark proceeded to hit the flag and later recounted that it was one of those things that couldn’t be repeated in two lifetimes of punting. In 1943, Dark helped lead the LSU baseball team to an SEC title, but then, because of World War II, joined the Marine Corps’ V-12 program and was assigned to a unit at the Southwestern Louisiana Institute in Lafayette where he continued to excel in baseball and also quarterbacked the football team to an undefeated season and a New Year’s Day Oil Bowl victory. After serving in Asia during the war, he returned home and chose to pursue what turned out to be a long and successful professional career in baseball, as a player and as a manager. For those of you interested, more info on this incredible Tiger can be found on his Wikipedia page and at the LA Hall of Fame Sports website. I wasn’t able to find a video of him playing, but I did find this photo of Dark taken from the 1942 contest against Auburn.

Reader Comments: Scott, check out The Sporting News’ 5 most underrated teams for 2014. I agree with what he says about LSU. Never sleep on the Tigers!

7/15/14 6:00 am CT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

SEC Media Days got underway yesterday, signaling that the start of the 2014 college football season is right around the corner. The four day event which runs through Thursday is televised on ESPN, and LSU will have it’s turn at the podium tomorrow at 2pm. Coach Les Miles will be joined by three seniors in offensive tackle La’el Collins, running back Terrance Magee and linebacker D.J. Welter. Look for Miles to be asked a lot about his highly-touted freshman class, the Jalen Mills situation, and of course the quarterback position with Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris battling for the starting role.

Speaking of the quarterback position, things became a little more interesting yesterday when Jim Kleinpeter of Nola.com reported that backup quarterback Rob Bolden is planning to transfer. During the spring, Bolden was moved from quarterback to wide receiver because of lack of depth at WR, but he wasn’t really expected to see much action there. With Stevan Rivers and Hayden Rettig having transferred earlier this year, LSU is currently down to only two scholarship quarterbacks, Jennings and Harris, and a trio of walk-ons. According to multiple reports, another quarterback could be joining the team as LSU outfielder Jared Foster is said to be strongly considering a return to football. You may recall that Foster originally came to LSU as a football and baseball walk-on before deciding to forego his football career and concentrate solely on baseball.

Another sign that football season is drawing near is that an official LSU depth chart from the 2014 Media Guide was released yesterday, prompting me to make a few edits to my recently updated unofficial depth chart. Here are a things worth pointing out about LSU’s official depth chart:

• Anthony Jennings is listed No. 1 at quarterback, as expected. Interestingly, Rob Bolden is listed third at quarterback, although we now know that he will be transferring (see above.)

• Quantavious Leslie is listed as the No. 1 X receiver, ahead of Avery Peterson, Malachi Dupre and Tony Upchurch.

• D.J. Chark and Trey Quinn are listed at the bottom of the chart at Z receiver, behind Travin Dural, John Diarse, and Kevin Spears

• Ricky Jefferson is listed as a No. 1 safety

• Jalen Mills is not on the depth chart, although he is included on the roster.

• Reserve QB Brad Kragthorpe is listed as the starting holder.

• Josh Boutte is now listed at right tackle, behind Jerald Hawkins.

• Jonah Austin is now listed at left tackle behind La’el Collins.

I know some of you will be surprised to see hotshot freshmen like Malachi Dupre and Trey Quinn so low on the depth chart, but I wouldn’t read anything into that. Looks to me like all the true freshmen who haven’t yet practiced are listed alphabetically at the bottom of their respective positions, and that makes sense. As for the Jalen Mills situation, I suspect that LSU is just being cautious in not including him on the depth chart. He is, by the way, included on the official roster. The last I heard on Mills’ situation is that the Baton Rouge District Attorney's Office is still determining whether to pursue charges for a second degree battery arrest.

With interest in the upcoming football season really picking up, yesterday we began our game-by-game preview of LSU’s 2014 opponents, and today we’ll continue it by looking at Games 2 and 3. Here we go…

Saturday, Sept. 6 – Sam Houston State (Baton Rouge). Though Sam Houston may be an FCS opponent, the Bearkats have some credibility to their name. Afterall, Sam Houston has reached the NCAA FCS championship game twice in the past three years. However, Sam Houston has lost most of its marquee players, including quarterback Brian Bell, who started for Sam Houston the past four years. Still, they have some talent in defensive lineman Mouf Abedo, who led the Bearkats in tackles for loss last season with 11, and tight end Shane Young, who earned a spot on the 2014 College Football Performance Awards FCS tight end award watch list. If the Tigers take care of business and don’t underestimate the Bearkats, this game could be a great opportunity to get both LSU quarterbacks some valuable playing time.

Saturday, Sept. 13 –  UL-Monroe (Baton Rouge). LSU isn’t the only Louisiana team that’s having to find a replacement at quarterback. ULM’s Kolton Browning graduated following his immensely entertaining career with the Warhawks, and the man who’s looking to fill that spot is N.C. State transfer Pete Thomas. Thomas, who started for the Wolfpack last season, is an all-around athlete and I expect him to make a big splash for the Warhawks in 2014. The Warhawks are coming off a 6-6 2013 season. ULM’s creative offensive concepts allowed the Warhawks to win eight regular season games in 2012, and with a talent like Thomas at their disposal, expect ULM to try to find unique ways to move the ball on the Tigers.

In other football news, LSU announced yesterday that tickets to the season-opener against Wisconsin are still on sale to the general public through the LSU athletic ticket office. Tickets can be purchased at www.LSUtix.net and prices range from $40 to $60 based on the seat location. Also, please note that we’ve updated our ticket exchange which contains several new listings.

With the season opener just 46 days away, the topic for today’s brief Countdown to Game Day is former Tiger Great Kevin Faulk. If you’re wondering why we would be featuring Kevin Faulk at No. 46, it’s because he holds the record for the most career rushing touchdowns in school history with 46. Of course, this is just one of many records the former Tiger All-American set while at LSU from 1995-98. He also ended his time as a Tiger as the school’s all-time leading rusher with 4,557 yards in 41 games (which was second best in SEC history behind Herschel Walker of Georgia), and holds the record for best career yard-per-rush and yard-per-game averages (5.32 and 111.2, respectively). After his time as a Tiger, Faulk was selected by New England in the second round (46th overall) of the 1999 NFL Draft and went on to a very successful 12-year pro career. As a Patriot, Faulk was a three-time Superbowl Champion and a five-time AFC Champion.

Changing gears here.... Those of you who have followed this site for a while know that occasionally I post a personal tid-bit completely unrelated to LSU or sports, just like my father (the late “Dandy” Don Long) did before me. If you’re one of the readers who thinks this site should be only about LSU sports, kindly stop reading here and return tomorrow for more LSU news.

What I’ve got for you today is a family recipe for Cajun Rice Dressing (Dirty Rice) made with eggplant. (And a brief story about why my parents always made it with eggplant instead of liver.) Why am I posting this today? Well, I cooked some last night in honor of the four-year anniversary of my mother’s passing, and while doing so it occurred to me that many of you may be fellow gardeners with extra eggplant at this time of year. Last year I posted a recipe for Corn Maque Choux that many of you enjoyed, but unfortunately, I won’t be making my normal large batch of maque choux this year because coons got all my corn. Sneaky little rascals!

Here’s the recipe for Cajun Dirty Rice with Eggplant. Bon appétit!


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