NCAA Baseball Championships:
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10/18/14 5:30 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans, it’s Game Day!
The LSU football team will be looking to build on last week’s success and come away with another very important SEC win tonight when they take on Kentucky at 6:30 in Tiger Stadium. The game will be televised on the SEC Network and I’ll be tweeting occasional comments and stats for those of you who follow DandyDonLSU on Twitter.
Yesterday I gave you my prediction for tonight’s game, and later in the day I decided to contact College Football and NFL Analyst Mike Detillier to get his thoughts on the game. Here’s the brief exchange I had with him via email:
Scott: Hey Mike, a few of my readers have pointed out that you’ve been spot on with your LSU predictions this season and have asked me to get your thoughts on the LSU-UK game. What are you predicting for this one, and what do you think is LSU’s biggest key to victory?
Mike: I have LSU winning 30-23. And congrats, by the way, for nailing the Florida score. I had LSU 17-13 and didn't think either could score that much.
Kentucky doesn't stop the run well and they aren’t a real good rushing team. I’d play "small ball" with Kentucky and kinda rip a page out of what LSU did against a much better Florida defensive front and control the ball with the run.
LSU's offensive line really played well last week against a stout defensive line when running the ball. Same plays as earlier in season, but they executed much better and again I have been saying this, you have to give the ball more to Leonard Fournette and let him wear down opponents and then you start to rotate your backs.
I like that they finally started to throw the ball, at least a little, to the fullback and they need to do that more with their halfbacks, Fournette, Magee, Williams and Hilliard. Not sure how much improvement you will see with the downfield passing game because Anthony Jennings is so erratic right now with his short to medium throws and he bird-dogs his initial target downfield.
Defensively LSU's strength is in pass defense, and throwing the ball is Kentucky's strength offensively. Patrick Towles is a very talented downfield passer, but he is not aided that much from their rushing attack. LSU has to put him in 3rd and long and turn D. Hunter and J. Rasco loose on him. Next year, Towles and Kenny Hill at Texas A&M will be the signature QBs in the SEC.
Playing at home, with an improved running game, and I like that finally LSU is getting some turnovers on D… I like the Tigers here against a very improved Kentucky team and one with a really good passer in Patrick Towles.
Oh, and watch for Kwon Alexander. Over the past few weeks he has really played well. He has a chance to really develop into a top SEC linebacker and freshman Jamal Adams is playing well also.
Mike and I are on the same page as far as keys to an LSU victory, and I agree 100% with his response. I’ll just interject one more key of my own - LSU must be able to defend the Wildcat’s “wildcat.” Kentucky has had some success running the “Wildcat” with RB Jojo Kemp taking direct snaps, and I expect them to turn to that early as a way to test LSU’s defensive middle.
With this being the first of three consecutive home games for the Tigers, recruiting news should really start to heat up soon. LSU is currently sitting on 15 commitments and will be entertaining several prospects tonight including many of LSU’s current commitments, several players committed to other schools, and a few relatively new targets.
Here is a list of a few of the in-state class of 2015 prospects I’ve heard will be visiting tonight. The number shown in parenthesis indicates where the prospect is ranked on our list of Top LA Football Prospects for 2015.
Derrius Guice (LSU-commitment)
RB, 5-10, 220, Catholic (No. 1)
Nicholas Brossette (LSU commitment)
RB, 6-1, 220, University High (No. 3)
Donte Jackson (uncommitted, an LSU-Georgia battle)
CB, 5-11, 175, Riverdale (No. 7)
David Ducre (LSU commitment)
RB, 6-0, 228, Lakeshore (No. 5)
Jason Pellerin (Ole Miss commitment)
QB, 6-5, 220, Catholic-New Iberia (No. 19)
Jalen Bates (Arizona commitment)
DE, 6-5, 235, Kaplan (No. 20)
Kendall Bussey (Nebraska commitment)
RB, 5-9, 210, Newman (No. 29)
Reggie Walker (uncommitted)
DE/LB, 6-2, 235, Ponchatoula, 2015 (No. 30)
There will also be a few big-time 2015 out-of-state prospects visiting LSU tonight, including defensive end Dylan Jackson who will be in on an official visit. Jackson (6-6, 250, Maryville, TN) is currently committed to Tennessee, but I understand Coach John Chavis has been recruiting him hard and that LSU is very much in the picture. Another 2015 out-of-state prospect expected to be in on an unofficial visit tonight is Johnathan Abram, (6-1, 210) of Columbia, Mississippi. Abram is listed as an ATH but is being recruited as a linebacker by LSU.
A few tidbits in closing:
• Yesterday LSU defensive back Dwaye Thomas took to Twitter to announce that his knee surgery was successful. As you probably recall, Thomas tore his ACL in the New Mexico State game in late September. Thomas is expected to make a full recovery and return to action next season, and that is certainly great news. In his absence, Jamal Admas and Rickey Jefferson have manned the nickleback position and have done very well.
• There were some great LA prep football games played last night and you can check out the scores in our statewide scoreboard. Once tonight’s games are done and the remaining scores are entered, we’ll process the picks and name the Week 7 winner in our Louisiana High School Football Pickem.
• I’ve updated our Ticket Exchange with several new listings.
Reader Comments: LSU fans looking to take the next step in their game-watching experience will be able to do so this Saturday for the Kentucky-LSU game on Talk Back. Former LSU quarterback Josh Booty and former Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen will take your questions, comments and smack talk live during the game at www.att.com/talkback. Here’s how Talk Back works: Just go to www.att.com/talkback during the Kentucky-LSU game Saturday night, post your questions and comments about the game or anything else, and watch as Booty and Lorenzen answer your questions live.â€¨You can also grab the link to the clip of your question and share with your friends.
10/17/14 5:45 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
The LSU football team will be looking for its second consecutive conference win tomorrow night when the Tigers host the Kentucky Wildcats in Tiger Stadium. I’m no weather man, but it looks as though the Game Day forecast is just about perfect and I hope a lot of you will make it out to campus and enjoy the day. For a full list of times of interest, please click here. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:39 p.m. CT and the game will be televised by the SEC Network.
In just a bit I’ll give you my prediction for the big game (and for several other contests), but first let's take a look at how the two teams stack up:
LSU Offense vs. Kentucky Defense
Leonard Fournette is finding his groove, but will the Tigers’ run-centric offense be able to wreak havoc on a proven Mark Stoops defense? Well, the good news is that South Carolina showed that it’s possible to have a big day on the ground against the Wildcats. In a 45-38 Kentucky win, South Carolina’s Mike Davis rushed for 183 yards and three touchdowns, averaging eight yards per carry. What I’ve seen from the Kentucky defense thus far leads me to believe this group is athletic, but vulnerable against a strong rushing offense. Florida, for instance, was able to pile up 237 yards on the ground, and Matt Jones had 156 yards in the overtime victory. When Kentucky has faced a potent rushing attack (Florida, South Carolina), it has given up an average of 37 points. For these reasons, I give a slight edge to LSU’s offense and predict that Fournette will have another 100-yard rushing performance. But, with that said, it’s clear that LSU needs to strive to become less one-dimensional and more balanced in this game and throughout the remainder of the season.
LSU defense vs. Kentucky Offense
Classified as a dual-threat quarterback, I view Kentucky’s Patrick Towles as more of a pocket passer, so LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis should have less nightmares heading into this week’s matchup. Towles has the ability to make plays with his legs and arm, but he’s far from a Nick Marshall or Dak Prescott, who gave LSU fits running earlier this season. As Auburn and Mississippi State illustrated by piling on more than 1,000 total yards, dual-threat quarterbacks have generally had more success against LSU’s defense than pocket passers. Towles has just barely more than 100 yards rushing this season, so if LSU gives up a lot of yards on the ground to Towles, that will be alarming. LSU’s defensive backfield has played well, despite Rashard Robinson giving up a couple of big plays (to Auburn’s Sammy Coates and Florida’s Demarcus Robinson), and I like the Tigers’ pass defense in this matchup. However, LSU is still trying to anchor down the middle and stop the run, and that worries me with Jojo Kemp running behind Kentucky’s talented offensive line. Kemp and fellow running back Braylon Heard have combined for just under 600 yards rushing, and they could prove worrisome against LSU’s interior. Defensive tackle Davon Godchaux played great against Florida, but until I see more from the DTs on a consistent basis, I’ll give the Wildcat’s strong running offense an edge over LSU’s defense.
Kentucky is a middle-of-the-pack team as far as special teams goes, while LSU has proven to be very good, for the most part. Where the two teams are similar is in kickoff and punt returns, but LSU is much stronger in the kicking game. In fact, the Tigers are 3rd in the conference in punting and 1st in field goal kicking. Kentucky is 10th in punting and 8th in field goals.
I’m not a big believer in moral victories, nor do I like to overemphasize wins or losses. However, I can acknowledge that anytime a team has to scratch and claw to get a victory on the road with its back against the wall it’s a big deal. That’s exactly what LSU did in The Swamp last week. The win should serve as a confidence booster, and with so many young players contributing, that’s essential. The Tigers are getting their mojo back, and the setting is a night game in Death Valley, where opponents’ dreams come to die. All signs point to an LSU win.
Look for my Keys to an LSU Victory in tomorrow’s report.
Now, it’s time for my weekly predictions. In last week’s wacky action I went 9-2, and on the season my record is 64-20 (.761), straight up. Here we go…
LSU 33 Kentucky 27
Alabama 30 Texas A&M 24
Ole Miss 35 Tennessee 17
Georgia 35 Arkansas 28
Florida 27 Missouri 17
South Carolina 40 Furman 6
SE Louisiana 41 Central Arkansas 14
LA Tech 38 Texas-San Antonio 17
Northwestern State 28 Sam Houston State 31
McNeese State 42 Abilene Christian 10
Tulane 14 UFC 35
In other football news, yesterday LSU announced a couple of exciting future additions to LSU’s football schedule. The additions include a home-and-home two-game series against the University of Texas starting in 2019, and a contest against Miami in the Cowboys Classic to open the 2018 season. For more on these games, please see this press release from LSU.
In recruiting news, my friend Jimmy Smith of nola.com wrote this article on running back Derrius Guice re-opening his commitment that I think many of you will find interesting. In it, Smith states that there’s more to the story than meets the eye and that he still considers Guice’s commitment solid. I’ve decided to put Guice back on my list of LSU commitments and consider him as a soft commitment at this time.
Reader Comments: Hey Scott, here is a great read about the historical meaning of LSU playing in the Cowboys Classic again. It shows how the Bayou Bengals and their fans always show up to play and will tie a "certain school" for most appearances in that game.
10/16/14 5:50 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Yesterday Coach Les Miles met with the media and said his team has had a great week of practice and that they’re looking forward to this weekend’s contest against Kentucky. In what was no surprise at all, Miles stated that Anthony Jennings will start at quarterback and Leonard Fournette will start at running back again this week. He also confirmed that fullback Connor Neighbors and defensive tackle Quintin Thomas have been practicing this week and are expected to play. Neighbors missed all of last Saturday’s game and Thomas was in on only about a handful of plays. Miles also commented on defensive tackle Travonte Valentine (who still hasn’t been cleared by the SEC), saying that some administrative mail has gone back and forth. When asked if Valentine would be playing now if he were eligible, Miles answered, “No question.”
A little later, Miles went on to TJ Ribs for his weekly radio show where he fielded questions from several fans who were understandably in a better mood than last week. Below is my rough recap of what was said.
The first caller of the night was Gary from Baton Rouge who complimented the play of Kendell Beckwith at middle linebacker and asked whether Clifton Garrett would receive a redshirt year. Miles answered by saying that Garrett has been nicked a little but might have an opportunity to play in the backend of the season, and that he is not going to redshirt. As for Beckwith, Miles said he is playing better and that the linebackers are coming along.
Jeffrey from Picyune, MS, commented on Anthony Jennings staring down Travin Dural and asked if this is indicative of a problem in quarterback development. Miles responded by saying that it takes time for coaching to reach the field, and pointed out that some of those throws to Dural have been very successful. He then agreed with the caller’s sentiments and said that there needs to be more quarterback development and that the guys are working hard on that.
Rickey from Birmingham asked whether defensive back Corey Thompson would receive a redshirt. Miles called Thompson a very talented guy and said he is recovering from his knee injury and taking more reps in practice. He didn’t answer definitively about the redshirt.
The next caller was Patrick from Mandeville who asked a couple of very good questions. First he asked whether Coach Miles has considered taking Leonard Fournette off of special teams to avoid risking injury and to give someone else a chance to return kicks. Then he asked about the offensive line starting slow and whether this had something to with the transition to new offensive line coach Jeff Grimes. Miles said they have given thought to taking Fournette off of kick returns but that they’re not ready to relinquish his big play potential back there. As for the O-line, Miles said the scheme under Coach Grimes is very similar to what they were doing before, that Grimes has done a great job of introducing techniques and making a positive difference, and that the line is getting better each week.
Jack from Lafayette asked about Kentucky and how they compare to other opponents LSU has faced this year. Miles said Kentucky throws the ball well and has a nice receiving core. He also praised their dual-threat quarterback and said he’s dangerous from the wildcat formation.
Danny from Watson commended Coach Miles and the players for the respect they showed for the injured Florida player, and I’d like to echo that sentiment as well. Miles said he is fortunate to represent such a quality group of young men and that he can’t imagine that they would not respect an opponent who got hurt.
Jason from the live audience asked how important the crowd noise will be this Saturday night in Tiger Stadium. Miles said he wants it to be loud and can't imagine that it won’t be.
A little later in the show, the Big Ragoo asked about the play that Ronald Martin made to prevent a touchdown on the long reception. Miles started by complimenting Rashard Robinson for being an outstanding cover corner even though he was beaten on the play, and then praised both Robinson and Martin for the hustle and determination they showed on the play.
The Evil Twin asked about two injured players - Connor Neighbors and Jermauria Rasco - and whether we can we expect to see them play anytime soon. Miles said both guys practiced all week and that there are no issues. Both will play this week.
Jonathan in Shreveport asked Coach Miles what he tells players about leaving early for the NFL. Miles gave a pretty long, convoluted answer that contained a lot of numbers, but I believe the gist of it was that he believes the NFL has been getting a good deal by having so many Tigers leave earlier than they probably should. He then acknowledged how difficult it is for players who’ve never brought in any income to consider passing on what seems like a lot of money instead of coming back, getting a degree and raising their draft value. Miles said all the right things, but didn’t give a clear answer on what it is he tells the players and how hard he tries to convince them to stay.
The next caller complimented the play of Leonard Fournette and asked Coach Miles if he thought LSU would surpass last week’s rushing production in this week’s game, or whether they would have to throw the ball more. Miles answered by saying they will strive for balance and that he hopes to be able to run it and throw it better.
I hope you enjoyed my very rough interpretation of the show.
In LSU basketball news, the men’s and women’s teams held their annual Media Days yesterday and below are links to full press releases from the events, as provided by LSU’s Sports Information Department. The men’s team will hold a free exhibition game against Morehouse in just over three weeks (Nov. 7, 7 p.m.) and then will open their season against Gardner-Webb on Saturday, Nov. 15, at noon. As for LSU’s Lady Tigers, they will host a pair of exhibition games against Loyola at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 5 and Mississippi College at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 9.
LSU basketball fans are invited to head out to the PMAC tomorrow night at 6:45 for the annual family-friendly “Bayou Madness” event. The evening will start with a pep rally, and then the men’s and women’s teams will be introduced before the women hold a brief team scrimmage. Following that will be a contest involving the players from the three-point arc and a return of last year’s popular player dunk contest. Yesterday Coach Jones indicated that LSU President F. King Alexander will be showing off his three-point shooting skills in the contest, and the word is that he is surprisingly good. All of the Bayou Madness events are free-of-change.
Here’s one more basketball tidbit that’s sure to get you fired up about the upcoming season: LSU’s new men’s basketball hype video. Enjoy!
Two tidbits in closing:
• Our Ticket Exchange was updated yesterday and contains lots of new listings.
• If you’re participating in our LA High School Football Pickem, please note that the deadline for picking this week’s games is today at 5:00. I had mistakenly listed the deadline as tomorrow at 5:00, but there are several games being played today. I regret the error.
This web site is not officially affiliated with Louisiana State University. Opinions expressed herein are the property of Donald Long, Scott Long and friends, not Louisiana State University.