NCAA Baseball Championships:
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5/7/14 5:45 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Since the LSU baseball team doesn’t have a mid-week game this week, I’ll lead today with a little on football.
Yesterday I heard from many of you in response to ESPN’s Mark Schlabach ranking LSU No. 13 in his preseason draft. Later in the day, CBS’ Dennis Dodd came out with his post-spring top-25 and pegged LSU at No. 9. Personally, I don’t ever put much stock in these way-too-early rankings, and I certainly wouldn’t do so this season with there being so many questions surrounding this LSU team. Questions like: “Who will emerge as the starting quarterback and how affective will he be, who will fill in for Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry as the go-to receivers, and just how good will running back Leonard Fournette be as a freshman. The more I think about it, the more I think that last question could be the most significant, especially early in the season. Many have spoken about Fournette and former Oklahoma running back sensation Adrian Peterson in the same breath. Considering the strength of LSU’s offensive line which returns four starters, I’d say that if Fournette proves to be comparable to Peterson there won’t be much urgency in answering the quarterback and receiver questions, and LSU could really surprise some people.
I also heard from many of you about the news of former Tigers Zach Mettenberger and Anthony Johnson having their NFL Combine drug tests flagged. Those of you who read the article I referenced in yesterday’s report know the reason given in Mettenberger’s case. His urine sample was flagged for being diluted, and his agent has attributed this to Mettenberger drinking extra water for leg cramps during his ACL rehab. According to reports, Mettenberger’s physical therapist wrote a letter explaining this to the NFL. None of the reports I’ve read has mentioned an illegal substance being detected in his urine. As for Johnson, I haven’t heard much of anything regarding his situation other than what Fox Sports reported Monday. It will be interesting to see whether any of this has any impact on where these two are selected in the upcoming NFL draft which gets underway tomorrow.
Speaking of the NFL, today we’ll continue our series on recent former Tigers who have made it big in the pros by looking at a special wide receiver. Here we go…
Kansas City Chiefs
Whether it was delivering a shattering block or making an athletic catch and accelerating up the field with grace, Dwayne Bowe made one brilliant play after another as a Tiger. After being one of four first-round LSU draft picks in the 2007 NFL draft, Bowe excelled as a Kansas City Chief. He’s had three 1,000 receiving yard seasons, including a 2010 season that saw him lead the league with 15 touchdown receptions.
At LSU, Bowe was the main target on one of the best wide receiving corps in school history. Alongside Early Doucet, Brandon LaFell and Craig “Buster” Davis, Bowe led the team with 990 receiving yards his senior season. Of all the notable games Bowe took part in at LSU, a few really stand out. Of course, his performance against Oregon State in 2004, which included a 38-yard touchdown reception in the last minute of the fourth quarter to help send the game into overtime, is one of them. Another is the Arkansas game in which he demonstrated his physicality on several plays, including this memorable wide receiver screen when he trucked right over the Razorback linebacker. Last but not least, who could ever forget his touchdown reception against Alabama in the 2005 overtime game to give LSU the victory? (Here’s a video of that memorable game. Bowe’s catch is at the 7:07 mark.)
Because of LSU’s recruiting success and ability to coach up raw athletes, the Tigers have almost become a farm system for the NFL. Defensive linemen and defensive backs have been the most successful in making the transition in recent years, but there have been a few LSU wide receivers who have successfully made the jump as well. Check back tomorrow to see which Tiger is the next to be featured in our five-part series.
In recruiting news, LSU has offered a scholarship to 2015 JUCO offensive tackle Jamal Danley of East Mississippi Community College. There’s no question that offensive tackle is the biggest position of need for the upcoming signing class, and this 6-5, 310 prospect could fit the bill. Danley has named LSU, Mississippi State and Oklahoma as his leaders, in no particular order.
Speaking of JUCO prospects, one month from today (6/7/14) LSU will hold a Post Grad and JUCO football camp. As far as I know, this is the first year that Coach Miles will be holding such a camp. Below is the full list of this year’s Les Miles Football Camps. For more information, please see lsucamp.com.
06/01/14 - Tiger Youth Camp (Grades 4-8, ages 8-14)â€¨
06/07/14 - Post Grad & JUCO Camp (Ages 18-22)
06/08/14 - High School Camp Session I (Grades 9-12, Ages 14-18)
07/19/14 - 7-on-7 Passing Camp & Lineman Camp (Grades 9-12, Ages 14-18)
07/20/14 - Kicking, Punting and Snapping Camp (Grades 9-12, Ages 14-18)
07/24/14 - High School Camp Session II (Grades 9-12, Ages 14-18)
In softball news, congratulations are in order for four LSU players who named All-SEC. After a breakout freshman season that saw her lead the team in batting average in conference play and hit the most home runs for any first-year Tiger in program history, LSU’s Sahvanna Jaquish headlined the group by earning first team All-SEC honors. A .J. Andrews was named to the second team. Freshmen Baylee Corbello and Bailey Landry, along with Jaquish, were named to the SEC All-Freshman team.
Reader Comments: Hey, Scott. Here is a great article on former LSU Tiger Bradie James announcing his retirement from the NFL after 10 seasons. He has made the LSU Family proud with his achievements on and off the field.
5/6/14 5:50 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
After losing two-of-three at Texas A&M, LSU took a hit in most of the weekly polls but stayed put at No. 6 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. In Perfect Game’s rankings, LSU fell five spots to No. 10. In Baseball America’s, the Tigers dropped seven spots to No. 15. Collegiate Baseball dropped the Tigers six spots to No. 15. Perhaps more significant is that the Tigers’ RPI, according to warrennolan.com, fell three spots to No. 17. RPI stands for Rating Percentage Index and is used to rank teams based on wins and losses and strength of schedule.
At one point during Sunday’s broadcast, Kendell Rogers of Perfect Game, whose opinion I respect a lot, said something to the effect that Coach Mainieri has overachieved this season considering what he has to work with. That comment got me thinking. On the one hand, it’s clear to me that LSU doesn’t have the star power of some of the recent Tiger teams, especially last year’s squad. Key players like Mason Katz and Raph Rhymes are sorely missed in the batting order, and pitching depth isn’t nearly what is was in 2013, partly due to injuries. But, on the flip side, it would be easy to argue that LSU has not made the most of the talent it has. The Tigers have had some issues with fundamentals like base-running and bunting, and some of the veterans that looked awfully talented last year seem to be regressing. Cody Glenn comes to mind. I’m not sure what to make of all that, but I can assure you that I’m not down on this team. There’s still a lot of baseball to be played, and there’s a part of me that agrees with a statement Lyn Rollins made in our last Q&A about the Tigers not yet playing their best ball. With that said, I think it’s clear that LSU will have to turn it up a notch and play much better than they did this past weekend to reach its goals and make a splash in the postseason.
There will be no mid-week LSU baseball game this week due to final exams. Next up for the Tigers is an important weekend home series against Alabama.
Now let’s jump back to football and continue the series we started yesterday on recent former Tigers who have done well in the NFL. Yesterday we wrote about Patrick Peterson and received a lot of positive feedback. Today we’ll continue by looking at a special former Tiger running back - Stevan Ridley.
New England Patriots
An NFL running back has to be able to endure an incredible amount of punishment to have longevity in the pros. Luckily for Stevan Ridley, he was built to last. Flash will only get you so far in the college ranks and in the pros, but a running back that runs with a hard-nosed motor, along with a gift of vision like Ridley, is a commodity all coaches would like to have. Having a weapon like this is one of the reasons why Bill Belicheck decided to make the running game a focal point of the offense, despite having Tom Brady as his quarterback. Ridley’s production in the system has been largely positive, despite a few fumbles. In 2012, Ridley rushed for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns, and last year he rushed for 773 yards and seven touchdowns.
At LSU, Ridley rushed the ball much like he does currently for the Patriots – north and south with great vision and durability. Following in a long lineage of stellar LSU backs, Ridley encompassed the same mentality as a fan-favorite a few years before him – Jacob Hester. When games became crucial, the Tigers would load up on Hester’s back and ride him to victory (of course, the 2007 Florida game is what Tiger fans remember the most). In that same fashion, LSU rode Ridley in 2010. Against Tennessee, Ridley rushed for a college career-high 123 yards and the game-winning rushing touchdown in a 16-14 chaotic victory. Ridley would go on to provide more impressive performances like his 89-yard, three-touchdown showcase against Ole Miss that season.
With a one of a kind athlete in Jeremy Hill entering the NFL draft this Thursday and others like Leonard Fournette preparing to become the next great LSU back, the Tigers’ running back stable never stops producing great talent. Much like Ridley’s running style, the Tigers’ backfield always seems to trample over opposition, steadily improving along the way.
Stay tuned, Tiger Fans, tomorrow we’ll continue this series by taking a look at a special former LSU receiver.
The LSU TAF Tiger Tour continues tomorrow with a presentation in Baton Rouge and will conclude this month with stops in Houston (14th), New Orleans (18th), Alexandria (19th) and Lafayette (20th). I’ve heard from several readers who attended one of the first three presentations (Bossier City, Monroe and Houma) and all reports have been very positive. If you get a chance to catch one of the stops, I encourage you to do so. Below is an announcement about the upcoming stop in my hometown of Lafayette, which I look forward to attending. If you are in charge of a TAF chapter in a host city and would like for me to post your announcement, just let me know.
The LSU Tiger Tour will be in Lafayette on Tuesday, May 20th at River Oaks Catering and Events Center. The Lafayette Tour stop will feature Les Miles, Johnny Jones and Joe Alleva. It is a great opportunity for Tiger Fans to support LSU while learning about the successes of its student-athletes on and off the playing field. You get right into the action with the BancorpSouth Photo Area, L'Auberge Trivia Challenge and other interactive experiences. Featured areas include a silent auction with items provided by the Tiger Athletic Foundation and plenty of LSU gear for sale from the LSU Alumni Association. For table or ticket information, contact Mike Prejean with the Acadiana Tigers at meprejean at gmail dot com or visit lsutigertour.com for order forms and additional information.
Two more football tidbits in closing:
• Here are a couple of good articles by nola.com about Zach Mettenberger: “LSU's Zach Mettenberger is ready to step up to the next level” and “Former LSU QB Zach Mettenberger's drug test 'clean, he did nothing wrong,' agent says”
• ESPN’s Mark Schlabach released his Post Spring Way-Too-Early Top 25 and has LSU at No. 13. Four SEC teams came in ahead of LSU including Alabama at No. 2, Auburn at No. 4, Georgia at No. 8, and South Carolina at No. 10. Texas A&M came in at No. 14. Here are his complete rankings.
5/5/14 5:55 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
The LSU baseball team lost yesterday’s rubber game against Texas A&M, 4-3, marking the Tigers’ first SEC series loss since late March. Much like in Saturday’s defeat, the Tigers missed on several golden opportunities, such as in the third and seventh innings when LSU had a runner at third with one out and failed to drive him home. The Tigers were also caught stealing twice and picked off once. Sure, there were some questionable calls by the officials, and a near home-run robbing catch by Jake Fraley in left field, but the bottom line is LSU just didn’t play well enough to win.
Alden Cartwright got the start for the Tigers and pitched well, but the six bullpen pitchers who followed him struggled. Cartwright allowed four hits in four innings with two strikeouts and two walks. Cody Glenn entered in the fifth with the Tigers leading 2-1 and promptly gave up a double and an RBI single. The Tigers went on to use two more pitchers –Brady Domangue and Zac Person – to get out of the fifth inning, and three more pitchers – Nate Fury, Kyle Bouman and Joe Broussard – in the final three innings.
The Tigers were led at the plate by Connor Hale who went 2-for-4 with a solo home run in the fifth. Christian Ibarra went 1-for-3 with a game-tying RBI double in the seventh. Mark Laird drove in the Tigers’ first run with a sacrifice fly that scored Andrew Stevenson who led the game with a sun-aided triple.
Here are a few quotes from Coach Mainieri on the game:
“A very tough loss today, but I thought we competed as hard as we could and had a chance to win the game. Our pitching staff is short-handed right now, and today we pieced it together with seven pitchers and nearly earned a win. This was a very tough, hard-fought series with all three games being decided by one run, and I feel like our players really battled in a difficult, road environment.
“We’re still very much in the thick of the SEC Western Division race, so we’re looking forward to playing our final six league games over the next two weekends. Our players have final exams this week, and then our focus will turn toward playing back at home next weekend against Alabama.”
In softball news, LSU dropped the series finale to Mississippi State 4-3. After battling back to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth, the No. 25 LSU softball team found itself needing to do so again in the bottom of the seventh, but a bases loaded opportunity came up empty. Even with the loss, LSU still won the series and locked up the sixth seed and a first-round bye in the 2014 SEC Softball Tournament which begins on Wednesday at the Carolina Softball Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. The Tigers will take on No. 3 seeded Missouri at 10 a.m. CT on ESPNU.
Now turning to football… With the NFL draft days away, this week presents a perfect time to reflect on recent LSU stars transitioning from the beloved purple and gold to the colors of the NFL. With that in mind, I asked my friend Jake Martin to help out with a five-part series in which we’ll take a look at former players that have made a nice splash in the NFL. We’ll begin today with one of the most talented Tigers to ever don an LSU helmet, Patrick Peterson.
One could argue that Patrick Peterson is currently one of the best football players in the world. He’s proven it – both in the NFL and in his tenure at LSU. Peterson is a lockdown cornerback with speed, athleticism and range. He can make tackles in the open field, he can intercept passes (has 12 in three NFL seasons) and he’s deadly with the ball in his hand (strike Heisman pose here). His greatest accomplishment to date came as a rookie when he tied the NFL record for most punt return touchdowns in a regular season with four. He accomplished that feat in his first 11 games in the NFL.
When reminiscing about Peterson’s days in purple and gold, many visuals come to mind. Great memories like the Heisman pose after his punt return touchdown against West Virginia come to mind, but another one that Tiger fans remember well is the blown interception call against Alabama in 2009. In the crucial moments of the game, Peterson intercepted Greg McElroy and got not one, but two feet in bounds. (You can see this clearly in this video.) Of course, Tiger fans are still irate about the referees blowing the call, which further fueled what has developed into a very heated rivalry.
Peterson’s career at LSU was one of excitement. Any time Peterson touched the ball in a return situation, Tiger fans were on the edge of their seats, awaiting to see what this talented young man was about to do with the football. He also was a staple on great LSU defenses, isolating any potential offensive production on his side of the field. As a lockdown corner, he garnered several awards as a Tiger, including the 2010 Bednarik Award that recognized him as the nation’s top defender. Peterson always exhibited athleticism on Saturday nights in Death Valley, he was never involved in any off the field incidents, and now on the biggest stage of them all, he’s become a standout among the best players in the world.
Stay tuned, Tiger Fans. Tomorrow we’ll continue this series by looking at a special former Tiger running back.
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