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LSU vs. Wisconsin at Lambeau Field - September 3rd, 2:30PM
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7/30/16 5:45 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

LSU released its schedule for preseason football practice, which gets underway Thursday, and announced that a portion of the first eight practice days will be open to the media. Starting on August 13, the date of the team’s first scrimmage, no media access will be allowed. As usual, the team will be split for the first four practice days with veterans practicing in the morning and “freshmen and select veterans” practicing in the afternoon. The first time the team practices as a complete unit, and with full pads, will be Monday, August 8th. I look forward to attending several practices during the open sessions and attending Media Day on Sunday, August 14th before Fan Day activities begin later that evening. 

Here’s the full preseason schedule.

As mentioned yesterday, there are a half dozen true freshmen who we are especially looking forward to seeing in the purple and gold for the first time next week. Yesterday, we wrote about three of them, and today we’ll look at the others. Here we go…

Six Incoming Freshmen We’re Most Looking Forward to Seeing in Purple and Gold – Part 2 of 2

Kristian Fulton

Fulton’s is a a name we haven’t mentioned much recently, but let’s not forget that this 6-foot, 165-pound cornerback from Rummel was ranked as the No. 2 cornerback in the country when the Tigers signed him. The problem is, it’s easy for even the brightest shining young stars to get overshadowed in the Tigers’ crowded secondary. The Tigers return starters TréDavious White, Kevin Toliver, Jamal Adams and Rickey Jefferson, and then there are Dwayne Thomas, Ed Paris, Donté Jackson and John Battle who return as experienced reserves. To make it even tougher for a newcomer like Fulton, fellow freshman corner Saivion Smith had an incredible spring as an early enrollee. Still, opportunities are available, especially since Aranda has moved White to nickel-back for the purpose of adding strength and physicality at the position. This opens the door for intense competition during fall camp, and since we know what the other talented defensive backs bring to the table, it’ll be interesting to see what Fulton adds.  

Rashard Lawrence

It took one meeting during his recruiting process to get Rashard Lawrence and Dave Aranda on the same page. LSU’s new defensive coordinator was a huge factor in Lawrence deciding to sign with the Tigers over Ohio State and Alabama, and you better believe that was a result of Aranda telling Lawrence how he would be utilized. Entering camp, many presume Lawrence (6-3, 305) can earn a spot in the defensive end rotation, despite two returning starters currently occupying the starting roles (Christian LaCouture and Lewis Neal). Lawrence is a savvy, technical defensive lineman with the tools needed to contribute immediately. He helped build a dynasty at Neville High School, where the Tigers are looking to compete for a third straight 4A state championship this fall. By the way, Lawrence was the top prospect on our in-state list for 2016, which makes us all the more eager to see if he lives up to his billing this fall.

Edwin Alexander

It’s still unclear whether Ed Alexander will be eligible at the start of LSU fall camp, although Coach Miles has said recently that he expects the mammoth D-lineman to report “shortly.” What we do know is that when this 6-foot-2, 333-pound DT from St. Thomas Aquinas arrives, he will be quickly thrust into one of the most interesting storylines to monitor this fall – the battle for the nose tackle position. Right now, Davon Godchaux is the projected starter, but this battle is not only about who will start but also about who will rotate in to provide valuable relief. Because of Alexander’s size, hand quickness, agility and explosiveness at the point of attack, he figures to be squarely in the mix.

Another defensive lineman who figures to be in the mix for the nose tackle position IF he ends up returning to LSU is Travonté Valentine. I’ve been getting a ton of inquiries about Valentine’s status lately and whether he is expected to rejoin the team next week. I wish I had a definitive answer for you, but as of now I do not. Since Valentine is technically still a recruit, coaches are prohibited to speak of him and information is slow to come by. We should find out very soon with preseason camp set to start in five days.

Moving on… The family of LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye issued the following statement yesterday as a result to the outpouring of support the family has received following the tragic car crash last week in Wisconsin:

“Our family sincerely appreciates the outpouring of support for Colby since the accident last weekend. The number of calls, emails and text messages that we have received from people throughout the country has been overwhelming and much appreciated. Colby is in good hands with treatment to his injuries and he’s making progress with his recovery. 

“We ask that you continue to pray for the families of Mike Sadler and Sam Foltz during this very difficult time. Mike and Sam were wonderful young men who Colby had great admiration for. Please keep their families in your thoughts and prayers.”

With 35 days remaining until LSU’s season opener vs Wisconsin at Lambeau Field on September 3rd, let’s look at one of the Tigers’ exciting wins last season, a 35-28 victory over Florida. After a 21-19 season opening victory at Mississippi State, LSU coasted in their next four games, winning all by double-digits and an average margin of victory of 19 points. Already claiming four SEC victories, Florida entered the contest 6-0 and ranked eighth in the country. The game got off to a rough start for the Tigers when TréDavious White fumbled a punt early in the first quarter that led to an easy 13-yard TD drive and 7-0 lead for the Gators. LSU’s defense responded by shutting down Florida’s offense on its next three drives. In the process, the Tiger offense had perhaps its best quarter of the season, as LSU erupted for 28 points in the second, including a huge 50-yard TD pass from Brandon Harris to Malachi Dupré with just 15 seconds remaining in the half. Despite a commanding 28-14 halftime lead, the Tiger offense went stagnant in the third quarter, and special teams again failed LSU when the Gators returned a punt 72 yards for a score, tying the contest at 28 apiece. With just 11 yards of total offense on its previous three drives, the Tigers embarked on a classic 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive that culminated in a 16-yard touchdown run on an epic fake field goal by Trent Domingue, giving the Tigers a 35-28 lead early in the fourth quarter. Again, LSU’s defense stepped up as the Tigers prevented Florida from scoring on their next three offensive drives to preserve the victory. Harris finished with 202 passing yards and two touchdowns, both to Dupré, who ended with 115 receiving yards. Leonard Fournette rushed for 180 yards and two touchdowns, although his yards were more difficult to come by than previously in the season as he needed 31 carries and had no run greater than 25 yards. For the Tigers, this win was probably their most impressive of the season, as Florida finished 7-1 in the SEC and 10-4 overall. You can see the highlights of this great victory here.


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7/30/16 5:45 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

LSU released its schedule for preseason football practice, which gets underway Thursday, and announced that a portion of the first eight practice days will be open to the media. Starting on August 13, the date of the team’s first scrimmage, no media access will be allowed. As usual, the team will be split for the first four practice days with veterans practicing in the morning and “freshmen and select veterans” practicing in the afternoon. The first time the team practices as a complete unit, and with full pads, will be Monday, August 8th. I look forward to attending several practices during the open sessions and attending Media Day on Sunday, August 14th before Fan Day activities begin later that evening. 

Here’s the full preseason schedule.

As mentioned yesterday, there are a half dozen true freshmen who we are especially looking forward to seeing in the purple and gold for the first time next week. Yesterday, we wrote about three of them, and today we’ll look at the others. Here we go…

Six Incoming Freshmen We’re Most Looking Forward to Seeing in Purple and Gold – Part 2 of 2

Kristian Fulton

Fulton’s is a a name we haven’t mentioned much recently, but let’s not forget that this 6-foot, 165-pound cornerback from Rummel was ranked as the No. 2 cornerback in the country when the Tigers signed him. The problem is, it’s easy for even the brightest shining young stars to get overshadowed in the Tigers’ crowded secondary. The Tigers return starters TréDavious White, Kevin Toliver, Jamal Adams and Rickey Jefferson, and then there are Dwayne Thomas, Ed Paris, Donté Jackson and John Battle who return as experienced reserves. To make it even tougher for a newcomer like Fulton, fellow freshman corner Saivion Smith had an incredible spring as an early enrollee. Still, opportunities are available, especially since Aranda has moved White to nickel-back for the purpose of adding strength and physicality at the position. This opens the door for intense competition during fall camp, and since we know what the other talented defensive backs bring to the table, it’ll be interesting to see what Fulton adds.  

Rashard Lawrence

It took one meeting during his recruiting process to get Rashard Lawrence and Dave Aranda on the same page. LSU’s new defensive coordinator was a huge factor in Lawrence deciding to sign with the Tigers over Ohio State and Alabama, and you better believe that was a result of Aranda telling Lawrence how he would be utilized. Entering camp, many presume Lawrence (6-3, 305) can earn a spot in the defensive end rotation, despite two returning starters currently occupying the starting roles (Christian LaCouture and Lewis Neal). Lawrence is a savvy, technical defensive lineman with the tools needed to contribute immediately. He helped build a dynasty at Neville High School, where the Tigers are looking to compete for a third straight 4A state championship this fall. By the way, Lawrence was the top prospect on our in-state list for 2016, which makes us all the more eager to see if he lives up to his billing this fall.

Edwin Alexander

It’s still unclear whether Ed Alexander will be eligible at the start of LSU fall camp, although Coach Miles has said recently that he expects the mammoth D-lineman to report “shortly.” What we do know is that when this 6-foot-2, 333-pound DT from St. Thomas Aquinas arrives, he will be quickly thrust into one of the most interesting storylines to monitor this fall – the battle for the nose tackle position. Right now, Davon Godchaux is the projected starter, but this battle is not only about who will start but also about who will rotate in to provide valuable relief. Because of Alexander’s size, hand quickness, agility and explosiveness at the point of attack, he figures to be squarely in the mix.

Another defensive lineman who figures to be in the mix for the nose tackle position IF he ends up returning to LSU is Travonté Valentine. I’ve been getting a ton of inquiries about Valentine’s status lately and whether he is expected to rejoin the team next week. I wish I had a definitive answer for you, but as of now I do not. Since Valentine is technically still a recruit, coaches are prohibited to speak of him and information is slow to come by. We should find out very soon with preseason camp set to start in five days.

Moving on… The family of LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye issued the following statement yesterday as a result to the outpouring of support the family has received following the tragic car crash last week in Wisconsin:

“Our family sincerely appreciates the outpouring of support for Colby since the accident last weekend. The number of calls, emails and text messages that we have received from people throughout the country has been overwhelming and much appreciated. Colby is in good hands with treatment to his injuries and he’s making progress with his recovery. 

“We ask that you continue to pray for the families of Mike Sadler and Sam Foltz during this very difficult time. Mike and Sam were wonderful young men who Colby had great admiration for. Please keep their families in your thoughts and prayers.”

With 35 days remaining until LSU’s season opener vs Wisconsin at Lambeau Field on September 3rd, let’s look at one of the Tigers’ exciting wins last season, a 35-28 victory over Florida. After a 21-19 season opening victory at Mississippi State, LSU coasted in their next four games, winning all by double-digits and an average margin of victory of 19 points. Already claiming four SEC victories, Florida entered the contest 6-0 and ranked eighth in the country. The game got off to a rough start for the Tigers when TréDavious White fumbled a punt early in the first quarter that led to an easy 13-yard TD drive and 7-0 lead for the Gators. LSU’s defense responded by shutting down Florida’s offense on its next three drives. In the process, the Tiger offense had perhaps its best quarter of the season, as LSU erupted for 28 points in the second, including a huge 50-yard TD pass from Brandon Harris to Malachi Dupré with just 15 seconds remaining in the half. Despite a commanding 28-14 halftime lead, the Tiger offense went stagnant in the third quarter, and special teams again failed LSU when the Gators returned a punt 72 yards for a score, tying the contest at 28 apiece. With just 11 yards of total offense on its previous three drives, the Tigers embarked on a classic 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive that culminated in a 16-yard touchdown run on an epic fake field goal by Trent Domingue, giving the Tigers a 35-28 lead early in the fourth quarter. Again, LSU’s defense stepped up as the Tigers prevented Florida from scoring on their next three offensive drives to preserve the victory. Harris finished with 202 passing yards and two touchdowns, both to Dupré, who ended with 115 receiving yards. Leonard Fournette rushed for 180 yards and two touchdowns, although his yards were more difficult to come by than previously in the season as he needed 31 carries and had no run greater than 25 yards. For the Tigers, this win was probably their most impressive of the season, as Florida finished 7-1 in the SEC and 10-4 overall. You can see the highlights of this great victory here.

7/29/16 5:50 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

With just six days until the start of LSU preseason football practice, today we’ll begin looking at six incoming freshmen we’re really looking forward to seeing in purple and gold. Then we’ll get you up to speed on the latest relevant news before closing out with our Countdown to Game Day. Here we go…

Six Incoming Freshmen We’re Most Looking Forward to Seeing in Purple and Gold – Part 1 of 2

Donavaughn Campbell

This 6-4, 347-pound freshman offensive guard from Ponchatoula has the size and potential to play as a freshman. As Mike Detillier pointed out in a recent Q&A on this site, Campbell is a force in run blocking, driving his opponents off the ball and physically moving them down the field. Because of his ability to do so, he could join Ethan Pocic, Maea Teuhema and Toby Weathersby as current Tiger offensive linemen who have played under Les Miles as freshmen. Of course, in order to do so, Campbell is going to have his work cut out for him with all three of those linemen returning as well as fellow guards Josh Boutte and K.J. Malone who gained valuable experience last season. Whether or not Campbell gets time in the limelight this season, his future as a Tiger is very bright.

Drake Davis

With Malachi Dupre, Travin Dural and D.J. Chark returning, not to mention Tyron Johnson and Jazz Ferguson, it will take a special kind of freshman to see the field at wide receiver in purple and gold this season. That, however, is just the type of player many expect Drake Davis to be. Heralded for his leaping ability, speed and athleticism (I encourage Tiger fans to check out his dunk highlights here) at IMG Academy, Davis was a 4-star recruit with offers from all over the country. Unfortunately for the 6-4, 215-pound receiver, he was still finishing up school while fellow freshmen receivers Dee Anderson and Stephen Sullivan were gaining a valuable advantage this spring as early enrollees. Anderson and Sullivan were very impressive, so if Drake wants to make an instant splash, he’ll need to get off to a fast start in fall camp. Judging from his senior football highlights, Davis is well suited for anything dealing with the word fast. If Davis is unable to see the field as wide receiver, don’t be surprised to see his speed and athleticism put to use on special teams.

Rahssan Thornton

If Rahssan Thornton’s first week of practice is anything like fellow freshman Devin White’s was in the spring, the Tigers’ 2016 linebacker class could be a lot fiercer than first perceived. Listed at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, Thornton has speed going for him more so than size. Fortunately for Thornton, LSU’s new 3-4 defensive scheme under Dave Aranda and the fact that the Tigers are still somewhat thin at linebacker should give him an opportunity for early playing time. Of course, the freshman linebacker who is most likely to receive significant playing time this season is White because of the waves he’s made in the spring. In fact, Coach Miles said recently that White will play in every game. Still, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Thornton on the field at times this year adding quality depth to the Tigers’ linebacker corps.

Now for a few newsy items before moving on to our Countdown to Game Day:

For the second time in three years, LSU running back Leonard Fournette has won the Corbett Award, presented annually to the most outstanding amateur male and female athletes in the state of Louisiana. Fournette claimed his first Corbett Award following his senior season at St. Augustine High School as he wrapped up one of the most decorated prep football careers in Louisiana history. Now two years later, Fournette becomes the first two-time winner of the male Corbett Award since Shaquille O’Neal won in back-to-back years in 1991 and 1992. Fournette, O’Neal and Pete Maravich are the only two-time male winners in Corbett Award history.

AthlonSports has published its ranking of SEC running back tandems for 2016 and has LSU’s tandem of Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice as No. 2. Their top-ranked tandem is Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Just as I disagreed with their ranking of Les Miles as the 25th best collegiate coach, I also disagree with this ranking as I think LSU’s duo is deserving of the No. 1 spot. Of course, I recognize that I might just be a little biased ;). 

Now, with 36 days remaining until LSU’s season opener vs Wisconsin at Lambeau Field on September 3rd, let’s continue our countdown by looking back on the history of LSU's live Bengal tiger mascot, which began in 1936. Collecting 25 cents from each student, LSU purchased its first Bengal tiger for $750 from the Little Rock zoo. Born on October 10, 1935, the new mascot was originally named Sheik after his father. He was renamed to Mike after LSU's popular athletic trainer Mike Chambers and arrived on campus October 21, 1936. LSU’s first tiger mascot was even once kidnapped by Tulane fans in 1950 on the eve of their annual game, which ended in a 14-14 tie. You can read more on that in this interesting article that was published a few years ago. After 20 years as LSU’s mascot, Mike I died in 1956 from kidney disease. Students quickly funded the purchase of Mike II, who was born 2/28/56 and was unveiled on campus on September 29, 1956. While some say Mike II died of pneumonia at just eight months of age and was secretly replaced by a second Bengal tiger, the LSU media guide states he died of pneumonia in the spring of 1958. Mike III (1958-1976), Mike IV (1976-1990) and Mike V (1990-2007) followed as LSU’s live mascots, and all witnessed varying degrees of success, ranging from National Championship seasons (1958, 2003) and SEC Championship seasons (1958, 1961, 1970, 1986, 1988, 2001, 2003) to losing seasons (1975, 1981, 1983, 1989-1994, 1998-1999). Perhaps Mike VI, who arrived in Baton Rouge from the Great Cats of Indiana on August 25, 2007, has been the most successful mascot, reigning for one National Championship (2007), two SEC Championships (2007, 2011) and five double-digit win seasons in his nine years (2007, 2010-2013). Unfortunately, Mike VI was recently diagnosed with spindle cell sarcoma, a form of cancer. It's estimated that with treatment, he'll live 1-2 more years. I know I speak for all Tiger fans everywhere when I wish Mike VI nothing but the best.

One last tidbit: Former LSU pitcher extraordinaire Anthony Ranaudo collected his first hit since his high school days on Wednesday and he did it in style. His home run was the first for a White Sox pitcher in seven years, and you can check it out here.

7/28/16 5:50 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Coach Les Miles held his annual meeting with the Baton Rouge Rotary Club yesterday and by all accounts it was an entertaining event even though football was rarely discussed. Miles spent much of his time expressing support for local law enforcement in light of the recent Baton Rouge shootings and entertained the crowd with stories of being raised as the son of a law enforcement officer, standing up to an elementary school bully, and with other anecdotes delivered as only he could. Here’s a very brief video montage of Miles entertaining the crowd, as tweeted by Brian Holland.

When Miles did speak about football from the podium or to local media who were covering the event, he reportedly gave an update on LSU’s two signees who have not yet enrolled, DT Edwin Alexander and DE Andre Anthony. Alexander is expected to enroll “shortly,” although Miles was less confident about Anthony. As stated last month, Anthony’s hold up has to do with waiting for clearance of his transcripts from the NCAA clearinghouse. Miles suggested that an appeal may be necessary, although they’re not at that point yet. Miles also indicated that kicker Colby Delahoussaye will miss a portion of preseason camp, as expected, while he recovers from the second-degree burns and emotional trauma he endured in last weekend’s tragic car crash. He also confirmed that alcohol was not involved in the accident, which occurred as the three players were en route to a wedding reception. 

Another LSU coach who spoke publicly recently is recruiting coordinator and D-line coach Ed Orgeron who joined 104.5 FM’s Culotta and the Prince show on Tuesday. Coach O mentioned two defensive linemen – Rashard Lawrence and Glen Logan – as newcomers who could see early playing time. Logan, he said, reported to camp a little heavy but is down to 310 pounds and is ready to go. While speaking of big bodies, Coach O said that last year’s defensive line was a little on the small side, averaging 275 pounds, while the teams that gave them trouble had offensive lines that averaged about 325 pounds. This year the Tigers’ D-line averages 300-320 and has quality “two-deep” depth across the board. Of course, part of the increased weight average has to do with moving to a 3-4 defense, but still, it was obvious in Coach O’s comments that he believed this line will be better equipped to handle big physical lines like those of Alabama, Ole Miss and Arkansas, which is good to know. If you’ve got about 12 minutes to spare, you can hear his full interview here. By the way, yesterday was Coach O’s 55th birthday.

Turning to basketball, I’m very happy to pass along the following news of former Tiger Keith Hornsby signing a free agent deal with the Dallas Mavericks. Here’s wishing him a long and prosperous NBA career.

DALLAS MAVERICKS SIGN LSU PLAYER KEITH HORNSBY

BATON ROUGE – The positive rehab from a second surgery that ended his senior season early took a big step forward Wednesday when LSU guard Keith Hornsby, who played the last two seasons and graduated in May, signed a contract with the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.

Hornsby missed the first part of the season and then was reinjured and had to miss the end of the 2015-16 season.

Hornsby (6-4, 210) went undrafted in the 2016 NBA Draft after a 1,000-point collegiate career at the University of North Carolina-Asheville and LSU. After graduating from prep power Oak Hill Academy, Hornsby began his collegiate career at UNC-Asheville before transferring to LSU for his junior and senior seasons.

In two years at LSU, the Williamsburg, Va., native played in 53 games (52 starts) and finished with averages of 13.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 33.6 minutes per game. As a senior, Hornsby averaged 13.1 points, second on the team to 2016 NBA Draft first overall pick Ben Simmons.

Now for a few tidbits before continuing with our countdown to the start of LSU football:

• One-time LSU football commit and 5-star safety, Jacoby Stevens, is set to announce his school of choice on August 8th at 2:30 pm CT. His finalists are Auburn, Alabama, Georgia and LSU.

• LSU extended a scholarship offer to class of 2020 pro-style QB Harrison Bailey, a 6-4, 195-pound prospect from Marietta HS. That’s right, Class of 2020, meaning he hasn’t even started high school yet. The young man (kid really) already holds offers from Alabama, Florida, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M. I never make to much out of these things because so much can happen in four years. Heck, a lot can happen in one year, as evidenced by the following tidbit with seems appropriate for #ThrowbackThursday…

• A year ago today I reported that 2017 quarterback target Nowell Narcisse committed to Auburn and said I wasn’t too worried about it since there was still a year and a half between then and 2017 Signing Day. As you know well, Narcisse is now back on board, joining Myles Brennan to give LSU two elite QB commits in this year’s class.

• NFL Media draft analyst Lance Zierlein ranked his Top 15 sophomores in college football and two Tigers made the list: outside linebacker Arden Key at No. 4 and running back Derrius Guice at No. 8.

Now let’s continue our Countdown to Game Day, which has already reached the 37-day mark, by looking at one of the all-time greatest Tigers to ever play the game – No. 37, Tommy Casanova. During his time at LSU from 1969 to1971, Casanova (6'1", 186) was an extremely versatile athlete who played offense and defense, returned punts and kickoffs, and did just about everything except handle the water cart. Casanova was selected to the College Football All-America Team and the All-SEC Team during each of his three years as a Tiger, and in September of 1971, Sports Illustrated included Casanova on their cover along with the headline, “Tommy Casanova of LSU, Best Player in the Nation.” (Click here to see the cover image.) At that time, Casanova was a top contender for the Heisman Trophy, but a pulled hamstring in the second game of the 1971 season sidelined him for five weeks and pretty much took him out of the running. One of Casanova’s more notable individual performances came in a 1970 LSU win against Ole Miss that wrapped up an Orange Bowl bid for the Tigers. Casanova returned two punts for touchdowns that day, tying a national record, and LSU’s Craig Burns added a third. As the Tigers steadily increased their lead in the second half en route to a 61-17 win, LSU fans who hadn't seen their team beat the Rebels since 1964 began to throw oranges on the field. Casanova went on to a successful NFL career with the Cincinnati Bengals from 1972-1977 and was selected to the Pro Bowl in ’74, ’75, ’76, and ’77. While playing for the Bengals, Casanova began to pursue his M.D., and in 1977 he quit football to pursue his degree full-time. Casanova is now an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) in his hometown of Crowley, LA.

Oh, almost forgot: I’ve updated our Ticket Exchange with several new listings.

 

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