NCAA Baseball Championships:
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6/23/14 5:45 am MDT
Good morning Tiger fans,
There’s a lot to get to in today’s report, including our continued analysis of every LSU position this fall and a trip down memory lane to LSU’s first Peach Bowl victory. But first, this tid-bit in basketball recruiting:
Unfortunately, 2016 U-High point guard Skylar Mays has decommited from LSU. Mays is a 4-star recruit and a target Tiger basketball fans want. But I wouldn’t worry too much about his decommitment just yet. In this article by Andrew Lopez of Nola.com, Mays states that he wants to make sure he makes the right choice and that he still loves LSU. He also said he plans on attending football and basketball games at LSU.
Now, let’s get right to our ongoing position-by-position review of the 2014 football team by looking at the Tigers’ running backs:
LSU will have to replace its leading rusher from 2013 – Jeremy Hill – and that’s no small task. Hill was a special back whose vision, power, speed and agility allowed him to break off numerous long runs and amass 1,401 rushing yards despite the Tigers possessing two 1,000-yard receivers. And, I might add, he did this despite not getting nearly as many carries as most featured backs receive.
The good news is that LSU remains loaded at running back with two veterans returning and two hotshot incoming freshmen, including Leonard Fournette who comes to LSU as the most highly regarded signee of my lifetime. If you’ve seen Fournette’s video highlights, you know what a special back he is. I look for huge things from him, but predicting a Hill-like performance in his freshman season might be asking too much, especially considering that there are several other talented backs on the roster like veterans Terrance Magee and Kenny Hilliard. Those of you who’ve followed this site for a while know that I (and my father before me), have been high on Magee since his days at Franklinton High School. This could be his season to shine, especially early on when the young quarterbacks are coming of age and Fournette is adjusting to the college game. And let’s not forget about incoming freshen Darrell Williams of John Ehret High School who is a heck of a back in his own right, as you can see in William’s highlight video.
With so much talent and the veteran leadership of Magee and Hilliard, LSU’s stable of running backs is very impressive. And when you consider the strength of LSU’s offensive line, which returns four starters, LSU’s running game looks to be in great shape.
Stay tuned as tomorrow we’ll take a look at what is probably the second biggest position of interest on the 2014 team – the wide receiver position.
Now, with 68 days remaining until the start of LSU football season, let’s continue our countdown by remembering a special Tiger win that took place in 1968.
1968 was a disappointing season for LSU football fans. The Tigers would finish 7-3-0 with a heartbreaking loss to Ole Miss 27-24, an uninspired 16-7 loss to Alabama in Birmingham, and an embarrassing rout at the hands of the Miami Hurricanes, 30-0. The Tigers were picked to do much better. But on a cold and rainy December 5th night, the Tigers did come away with a great win over the 19th ranked Florida Seminoles in the inaugural Peach Bowl, and by all accounts it was a heck of a game.
Those of you who were there probably remember the Tigers’ awful start. After fumbling the opening kickoff and spotting Florida State a 13-0 lead in the second quarter, the Tigers needed to rally. LSU did just that when they seized momentum on a 39-yard punt return touchdown by Craig Burns. That led to 24-unanswered Tiger points and a 24-13 lead entering the fourth quarter. The game was far from over though, as Florida State regained the lead on two fourth-quarter scores. Down 27-24 with six minutes to play, quarterback Mike Hillman went to work, carving up the Seminoles’ defense on a 61-yard drive, including a 20-yard completion on 3rd-and-19 at the Florida State 37-yard line. The drive culminated in a 2-yard touchdown run by Maurice LeBlanc with two minutes to play. The Tigers held on to win 31-27 against the No. 19 Seminoles in the first of many Peach Bowl classics to come.
Two tid-bits on the Peach Bowl: • From 2006 to 2013 the Peach Bowl was known as the Chick-fil-A Bowl, but on April 21 it switched back to the Peach Bowl name. • LSU is 5-1 in Peach/Chick-fil-A Bowl games.
Reader Comments: Scott, here’s a nice read by Randy Rosetta on Collin Strall: Newest LSU signee Collin Strall is anxious to carve a role once he arrives
06/22/14 6:05 am MDT
Good morning Tiger fans,
I’d be remiss if I didn’t start today’s post with a congratulatory tip of the cap to Alan Faneca for his induction into the Louisiana Hall of Fame last night. Faneca was a consensus First-Team All-American at LSU in the mid-90s before being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers as a junior in 1998. One of his most memorable moments as a Tiger was in the 1997 upset against No. 1 Florida, where Faneca mauled Florida’s defense and opened up gaping holes for Kevin Faulk and Herb Tyler. As a Steeler, Faneca became a nine-time pro bowler and Super Bowl champion. Today, Faneca is an accomplished marathon runner and is 100 pounds lighter than he was when he retired from the Arizona Cardinals in 2010. He is every bit deserving of the induction.
Another former Tiger who was inducted last night was pole vaulter Pete Boudreaux. The SEC champion later became the cross country coach at Catholic High-Baton Rouge, where he defined greatness for several decades. Since the early 1970s, Boudreaux has won 41 state titles (14 outdoor, 11 indoor and 16 cross-country through 2014). Those numbers speak for themselves, and Boudreaux deserves applause from the Tiger faithful.
In recruiting-related news, LSU commit Feleipe Franks has accepted an invitation to play in the 2016 Army All-American Bowl. Franks is a 6’6”, 210-pound dual-threat quarterback that sits at the top of 247 Sports’ composite rankings at that position. He and Stephen Sullivan are the lone LSU commits in the 2016 class, and both have 4-star ratings. It’s worth noting that Franks’ mother was wearing an LSU shirt when Franks received his Army All-American Bowl jersey at a football camp in Florida.
Two quick baseball tid-bits before continuing our countdown: Tiger fans should be happy to hear that former Tiger Sean McMullen is continuing to rip the ball as a rookie with the Greenville Astros. In his first two games, McMullen was 5-for-9 and recorded an RBI. Not bad for a 30th round pick, right? Also, LSU legend Aaron Nola will make his professional debut Monday with the Clearwater Threshers.
Now for countdown to Game Day… with 69 days before kickoff, let’s travel back in time to remember a team that hardly relented a yard – the 1969 LSU Tigers. This team was a fierce, grinding squad that won nine games in the 1968 season, and if not for a 26-23 loss to Ole Miss, the Tigers would have had an undefeated regular season. Most remember the 1969 Ole Miss/LSU game because of Tommy Casanova’s incredible one-handed interception. But the magnificence of Archie Manning kept the Tigers from running the table, despite LSU having a then NCAA-best rush defense record of 32 yards allowed per game. Despite losing to Ole Miss, the Tigers remained on a collision course to meet No. 1 Texas in the Cotton Bowl that year, but Notre Dame decided to end its 45-year self-imposed bowl game ban at the last minute, which kept LSU out of the 1970 Cotton Bowl. Texas defeated Notre Dame 21-17 to win the undisputed national championship, and Tiger fans were left asking, “What would’ve happened if the Tigers had played instead?”
As for our 2014 LSU football position breakdown, we’ll continue that tomorrow morning as we take a look at the running backs. Due to fact that readership is generally down on Sundays, and because of the hype LSU freshman Leonard Fournette has generated, we figure it’s only fitting to generate a little hype about previewing the running backs here.
I’ll leave you today with a couple of quick reads to go along with your Sunday morning coffee:
• Here’s a piece by Jim Kleinpeter of Nola.com that’s a lot of fun to read. It’s his look at an LSU All-Name team: What's in a name? Everything on the LSU football All-Name teamâ€¨â€¨
• This one is about former Tiger Anthony Johnson making a big impression with the Miami Dolphins: Johnson takes bumpy path to Dolphinsâ€¨
6/21/14 5:55 am MDT
Good morning Tiger fans,
I hope all of you are off to a great weekend. My family and I enjoyed a nice evening in Boulder, Colorado, last night and will arrive at our final destination of Glenwood Springs this afternoon. So far I’ve been impressed by the number of Tiger Fans I’ve seen sporting their purple and gold throughout Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. The Tiger Nation is certainly alive and well.
Today we’ll continue our position-by-position breakdowns of the LSU football team and our countdown to Game Day, but first let’s kick things off with a small baseball snippet. Yesterday, LSU’s Alex Bregman arrived at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina, to begin training camp for Team USA. Bregman is one of 22 players that are guaranteed a spot on the 24-man roster, and it’s great to see him back out there for the second year in a row. Team USA's first game is set for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday against the Catawba Valley All-Stars.
Switching gears to football, we’ll talk about the strength of LSU’s offense today – the offensive line. With all the uncertainty and fresh faces occupying skill positions across the field, it’s good to know that experience and athleticism returns upfront.
LSU’s strongest unit in 2014 will be the offensive line. The Tigers return four starters from last year’s team – including one of the best left tackles in the country, La’el Collins, who gave Coach Miles some very welcome news last January when he announced that he would be returning for his senior season. Add in the acquisition of Jeff Grimes as Offensive Line Coach, and its clear to see that there are a lot of reasons to be excited about this unit. I have nothing against former offensive line coach Greg Studwara, but based on a few comments I’ve heard or read from people in the know, Coach Grimes appears to be shaking things up by putting a big emphasis on fundamentals and technique, and I think that will go a long way toward elevating this already strong unit. (In this article by Rene Nadeau of SportsNola.com, returning center Elliott Porter said the Tigers are “10 times better” because of Coach Grimes’ emphasis on technique, and in this video interview of La’el Collins by the Advocate, a similar message is expressed.)
As for competitive battles in the O-line, all eyes will be on the right guard position this fall. Trai Turner moved on to the NFL, and in the spring the position battle to replace him came down to three potential candidates — Evan Washington, Ethan Pocic and Fehoko Fanaika. Like a T.V. drama nearing the climax of the story, the battle ended in a “to be continued…” scenario. As for the offensive line as a whole, fall camp’s primary objectives should be simple: keep the returning starters healthy, find the best replacement at right guard and develop depth. Collins, Vadal Alexander, Porter and Jerald Washington are an exceptional unit, and with quality players like Washington, Pocic and Fanaika each battling for the right guard spot, the victor should be battle-tested enough to step in and help anchor on the right side.
Given Miles’ expertise at the position and Grimes’ track record at Virginia Tech, newcomers like Garrett Brumfield and William Clapp should be in good hands. Brumfield and Clapp are 4-star prospects according to 247 Sports’ composite rating, and their star power – mixed with other young, maturing lineman like Andy Dodd, Jonah Austin, Josh Boutte and Karl Marlone Jr. – gives me confidence in saying that this will be not only an exceptionally talented and experienced offensive line, but also a deep one. That’s comforting news for Tiger fans, as the O-line will be heavily counted on with a fresh face at quarterback and young skill players surrounding him.
Now let’s continue with our countdown to the start of LSU’s 2014 football season, which is 70 days away, by remembering a special Tiger win in 1970 – LSU’s 61-17 thrashing of Ole Miss. On that December 5th night, college football fans saw one of the first night games televised in Tiger Stadium as LSU and Ole Miss squared off for the SEC Title. Rebels quarterback Archie Manning had broken his wrist three weeks earlier in a 24-13 win over the Houston Cougars, and the Rebels were coming off of a loss to Mississippi State a week earlier without Manning. Although Manning courageously played in this game, he was no match for an inspired Tigers team. Ole Miss jumped out to an early 7-0 lead and were up 10-7 in the 2nd quarter before the Tigers began their onslaught with a touchdown pass, a punt return by All-American Tommy Casonova and a safety by Ronnie Estay. LSU led 23-10 at the half, but the Tigers were just getting started. LSU would end up returning two more punts for touchdowns (another from Casanova and one from Craig Burns) and outscored the Rebels 38-7 in the second half. Afterwards, LSU fans stormed the field as the Tigers accepted a bid to the Orange Bowl and celebrated their first SEC Title since 1961. (You can relive a few moments from that special game in LSU’s history by watching this video I found on YouTube.)
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