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7/6/14 6:05 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
In just eight weeks from today we’ll be discussing the results of LSU’s highly-anticipated season opener against Wisconsin. After going eight months without Tiger football, LSU’s season-openers are always highly-anticipated, but this one is especially interesting for several reasons. First, Wisconsin is a formidable opponent. Last year the Badgers averaged 283 yards rushing per game, and this year they return two of their best running backs in Melvin Gordon (7.8 ypc) and Corey Clement (8.2 ypc). This should provide quite a test for LSU’s young defensive line. The flip-side is that Wisconsin will be doing a bit of rebuilding in their defensive front, and that could provide some comfort for an LSU team that will likely lean heavily on the run game early in the season.
There are also several looming questions that raise the level of anticipation and intrigue for the upcoming LSU season, like: How much of last year’s offensive success was the Cam Cameron factor, and how much was veteran leadership? Who will be the starting quarterback? How different will the offense look with a mobile quarterback? Will the tight ends be more involved in the passing game? Are the highly-touted freshmen wide receivers good enough to step in and contribute immediately? Just how much of a game changer will running back Leonard Fournette be? Some of these questions will begin to be answered in less than a month when preseason practice begins (August 4), and I can hardly wait.
Regarding that last question listed above about Fournette, Ron Higgins of the Times Picayune published this article which suggests that we should not go overboard with our expectations for him, and I tend to agree. I’m as high on Fournette as anyone, but with veteran backs like Terrance Magee and Kenny Hilliard returning, don’t look for Fournette to get 25-30 carries per game, especially not early on.
Now, with only 55 days remaining until the season opener, let’s continue our countdown to Game Day by remembering a huge LSU 55-21 win over Florida State back in 1982. But first, allow me to set the stage by briefly reminding you of what was going on in LSU football at that time. In 1982, Jerry Stoval was in his third year as head coach at LSU. After a promising 7-4 record in his first season, Stoval and his Tigers won just three games in 1981 and ended 3-7-1 after an embarrassing 48-7 loss to Tulane. In 1982, Coach Stoval (along with new Athletic Director Bob Broadhead) was determined to turn things around, and was able to do so in large part because of two outstanding freshmen running backs, Dalton Hilliard and Garry James. The Dalton-James Gang, as they were called, hit the ground running and led LSU to wins in their first three games, including a stunning upset at No. 4 Florida. After tying Tennessee, the Tigers reeled off four consecutive victories, including their first win over Alabama since 1970 (remember those “We Beat the Bear” bumper stickers?) and skyrocketed to No. 6 in the national rankings. The following week, however, LSU was upset by Mississippi State, which setup a huge contest against Florida State which would send the winner to Miami for the Orange Bowl and the loser to Jacksonville for the Gator Bowl.
The big game against the Seminoles took place on November 20, 1982, and I’ll never forget being there in Tiger Stadium with my Dad. Each time LSU scored a touchdown, Tiger Fans would throw oranges down onto the field, and man were there a lot of opportunities for orange throwing thanks to Hilliard. The true freshman from Patterson, La. ended up running for 183 yards and accounting for four touchdowns as LSU went on to defeat the 7th ranked Seminoles convincingly. The next day, the Tigers accepted their Orange Bowl invitation and moved back into the top-10, but once again they would fall out with a shocking 31-28 loss to Tulane in Tiger Stadium the following week. The Tigers ended the season 8-3-1 after a 21-20 loss to Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.
One more note about the night it rained oranges: Although I was only 12 years old at the time, I remember clearly the oranges flying at the end of the game as time expired. There was an elderly lady who sat directly in front of us, and as she was standing up to leave her seat an orange hit her squarely in the head with such force that it knocked her to the ground. I remember my father lending a hand and helping her to her feet. It’s funny the memories that stick with you, isn’t it?
Reader Comments: Scott, Sportsbook Bovada released its SEC Championship odds for each team in the league. They’ve got LSU’s chances at 5/1. They’ve also got LSU at 16/1 to win the national title. Here's their “Football Futures Betting, Super Bowl Odds & Lines.”
7/5/14 6:05 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans. I hope all of you enjoyed a nice Independence Day holiday.
With the dog days of summer upon us, it’s hard to believe that in just eight weeks it will be Game Day for our beloved LSU Tigers football team. Perhaps even harder to fathom is the fact that in less that a month the team will begin preseason practice. Between now and then, LSU will hold its final three summer camps of the year and that should provide some excitement to those of us who follow recruiting. Below is a list of Dates of Interest related to LSU football:
Saturday, July 19: 7-on-7 Passing Camp & Lineman Camp
Sunday, July 20: Kicking, Punting and Snapping Camp
Thursday, July 24: High School “Elite” Camp (Session II)
Sunday, August 3: LSU Football Team Reports to Camp
Monday, August 4 - First Day of Preseason Practice
Saturday, August 31 - LSU Season Opener against Wisconsin
Coach Miles could get some good news on the recruiting front even before his final summer camps as cornerback Xavier Lewis will supposedly commit to his school of choice in the next few days. Lewis (6'0", 175, East St. John, No. 9 on our list of Top LA Prospects) is expected to announce his decision sometime next week during Nike’s big invitation-only football camp, The Opening, which gets underway Monday and runs through Thursday. You may recall that Lewis committed to LSU in the spring before re-opening his recruitment. The word is that LSU feels confident in Lewis re-committing to the Tigers. Other players of particular interest to Tiger Fans who will be participating in the Nike event are LSU commits Kevin Toliver II (CB, 6'2", 180, Jacksonville, FL), Maea Teuhema (OT, 6'4", 346, Keller, TX), and Nick Brosette (RB, 6'0", 210, University High), as well as key targets Tyron Johnson (WR, 6'1", 185, Warren Easton), and Tarvarus McFadden (CB, 6’3”, 198, Fort Lauderdale, FL).
With only 56 days until the Tigers take the field, let’s continue our countdown to Game Day by taking a brief look at a former Tiger All-American who wore No. 56, and the Tiger who wears No. 56 on the current team. In addition to being great Tigers, something these two have in common is very interesting names.
The former Tiger I’m referring to is All-American center Joseph “Nacho” Albergamo. Nacho played center at LSU from 1984-1988 and his list of accomplishments on and off the field is quite impressive. Before leaving LSU, the Marrero, La. native was a three-year member of the Academic All-SEC team, a two-time Academic All-American, and a consensus first team All-American at center. In addition, Albergamo was one of only 11 athletes named a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete his senior season. After graduating from LSU in Baton Rouge, Nacho went on to earn his MD degree at LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans, and for the last 21 years he has worked as a physician. Dr. Albergamo currently specializes in Internal Medicine at the Baton Rouge Clinic on Perkins Road.
A few weeks ago, Jim Kleinpeter of the Times Picayune put out an LSU Football All-Name team and included “Nacho” in his list. If it weren’t for the fact that Kleinpeter’s list only included lettermen, it may very well have included the No. 56 on this year’s team, Trey Lealaimatafao (pronounced “Lay-ah-lah-ee-ma-ta-fow”). With 13 letters in his name, Lealaimatafao can boast the longest last name of any Tiger football player, past or present. According to this article by ESPN’s David Ching, Coach Miles is very high on Lealaimatafao and has compared him favorably to former Tiger great defensive tackle Drake Nevis. For now, Lealaimatafao’s claim to fame may be his last name, but, as Ching points out, that could change soon if Miles’ comparison holds water.
Reader Comments: Scott, sounds like Johnny Jones has acquired a transferring primo shooting guard with skills, experience and convictions who has a loving father in support. Check it out: LSU guard Keith Hornsby ready to hit his own high notes
7/4/14 6:10 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans. The first thing I’d like to do today is wish all of you a Happy Independence Day, and to thank the military men and women who work hard each day to safeguard the freedoms we enjoy here in the greatest country on Earth, the United States of America.
Since today is a holiday, I’m going to keep this report relatively brief and jump directly to our countdown to the start of LSU’s football season.
With only 57 days remaining between now and kickoff, the topic for today’s feature is LSU’s nation-leading 57.1% third-down conversion rate last season. That statistic is remarkable anyway you look at it, but what I find particularly interesting is what it potentially says about the “Cam Cameron effect.” Before Cameron was hired as LSU’s offensive coordinator, LSU was 63rd in third-down conversions in 2012 (40.21%) and 30th in 2011 (44.71%). Of course, I realize that not all of last year’s success can be attributed to Coach Cameron, considering that LSU’s offense featured four spectacular veterans in QB Zach Mettenberger, WRs Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry, and RB Jeremy Hill.
For some perspective on just how good last seasons’s 57.1% completion rate was, consider this: Only nine of the 125 Division 1 college football teams converted 50% or more third down attempts. Of those nine, the only other SEC school was Texas A&M at 50.3%. Alabama was third in the conference at 47.6%. Another interesting stat: According to the website CFBstats.com, which is a great source for stats from 2007-2013, the only team during that time span that equaled or surpassed the success LSU enjoyed last season was the 2010 Stanford team which converted 57.56%.
In doing my research for this writeup, I came across a great article by David Ching (ESPN.com) on the topic of LSU’s third down success. In it, Ching points out that Mettenberger threw the ball 94 times on third downs last year, completing 59 of them for a total of 978 yards. 44 of those passes resulted in a first down, and nine more went for touchdowns. Mettenberger was picked off only once in third down situations. In the last game of the season, then-freshman quarterback Anthony Jennings also had success on third down. In that game against Arkansas, Jennings was 5-of-11 on third downs, with four of the completions going for a first down, and one completion to Travin Dural producing the dramatic game-winning touchdown. On the flip side, Jennings also threw a third-down interception in the Outback Bowl win against Iowa, and struggled mightily in the Spring Game, converting only one of seven third downs. Brandon Harris, on the other hand, got off to a sluggish start in the Spring Game (failed to convert on his first five third down attempts), but finished strong by converting six of his final eight, including three touchdowns.
I hope you’ve been enjoying this new flexible format for our countdown to game day, and I hope you’ll continue to send me topic ideas. The next 10 numbers (56-47) are wide open and I would appreciate your suggestions. Please email me if you have a topic to suggest.
That’s it for now, Tiger Fans. Go out and fly the Old Glory, fire up the grill, ice down some cold drinks, enjoy your day with friends and family and be proud when you hear the Star-Spangled Banner being played!
Reader Comments: Scott, this remarkable play by former Tiger infielder D.J. LeMahieu made the SportsCenter Top-10 Wednesday night! (The video has been added to our Media Gallery.)
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