NCAA Baseball Championships:
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4/20/17 5:50 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
In just two days, LSU fans will get a chance to see something they’ve never seen before – an LSU spring football game played in Tiger Stadium, at night, under the direction of head coach Ed Orgeron and his fiery new offensive coordinator, Matt Canada. Those facts alone make the contest compelling, but there’s another big factor that should make it much more intriguing than in year’s past – its format. Last week, Coach Orgeron suggested that the game will be played like a “real game.” I contacted LSU’s Michael Bonnette to find out exactly what this means and was told that details would be announced today. I’ll be sure to share the news on Twitter as soon as I get it and post it here in tomorrow’s report. (If you haven’t done so yet, now would be a good time to follow DandyDonLSU on Twitter.)
If you’re heading out to campus to take in Saturday’s Spring Game action, please note the following Times of Interest:
3:00 p.m. - Rock & Roar Block Party
4:00 p.m. - Cowboy Mouth Performs
5:00 p.m. - Tiger Stadium Gates Open
5:00 p.m. - LSU Sports Shop Spring Sale Begins
5:46 p.m. - Team Walks Down Victory Hill
6:34 p.m. - Callin’ Baton Rouge Video
6:53 p.m. - Golden Band Performs
7:03 p.m. - Kickoff (Televised on SEC Network)
A few players I am particularly looking forward to seeing Saturday are Justin McMillan, Darrel Williams, Kevin Toliver and Jack Gonsoulin. It’s safe to assume that LSU’s offense will likely center around quarterback Danny Etling and running back Derrius Guice, but what happens if one, God forbid, goes down with injury? Obviously, that’s where McMillan and Williams come in. I’m sure mentioning McMillan there will catch a few of you by surprise – especially after hearing all the talk of Lindsey Scott playing the role of scout quarterback last season as the Tigers prepared for Alabama’s Jalen Hurt and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson – but the word I’m getting is that McMillan has really been excelling in Matt Canada’s offense and is next in line for the job. As for junior cornerback Kevin Toliver, he had an outstanding rookie season and then kind of fell off the charts last year while dealing with personal issues. He’s been garnering rave reviews this spring and appears to be in line to start at cornerback opposite of Donté Jackson. As for Gonsoulin, he is competing with fellow sophomore placekicker Connor Culp for field goal kicking duties and seems to have a leg up. In the last scrimmage before spring break, Gonsoulin reportedly nailed a 51-yarder.
More than any particular player, what Tiger fans are looking forward to seeing this Saturday is a reinvigorated team, and the same can be said for the large contingency of recruits who will be visiting. This is especially true for prospects on the offensive side of the ball where LSU currently only has two commitments for 2018. I’ve been told that at least eight of the 12 offensive players in the top-20 of our list of Top Louisiana Prospects will be in attendance. These include the state’s No. 1 player, wide receiver Terrace Marshall and his quarterback teammate at Parkway High, Justin Rogers. Others include wide receiver JaMarr Chase of Rummel, tight end Glen Beal of John Curtis, athlete Slade Bolden of West Monroe, and wide receivers Jamaal Houston of John Ehret and Lawrence Keys of McDonough 35. For more on visitors expected in, see this list by SECCountry’s Sam Spiegelman. Absent from the list are the state’s top two running backs, AJ Carter of Many and Tony St. Julien of Vinton. I have been told that Carter will be visiting UCLA this weekend and that the Bruins have made him feel like a priority in this, whereas LSU has been relatively lax in their recruitment of him.
Sticking to the topic of recruiting, there’s good news on the basketball front. LSU announced yesterday that combo point guard Daryl Edwards of Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, Florida has signed with LSU. Edwards is the second signee for new LSU head coach Will Wade and a great get. With his signed letter of intent, Coach Wade’s first signing class now contains four signees – two players that were signed by former coach Johnny Jones and two signed by Wade. Of the four players signed, three are Top 150 prospects, according to 247Sports. Combo guard Brandon Rachel of Natchitoches Central and shooting forward Galen Alexander of Lafayette Christian, both signed by Jones, are consensus four-stars. Power forward Mayan Kiir of Bradenton, Florida is also a four-star, accounting to several recruiting sites. Edwards would likely boast a four-star rating too, but recruiting services don’t rank JUCO transfers. All in all, this is a solid first signing class for Coach Wade which should give him considerable talent to work with.
Attention LSU fans in the Lafayette area: The Tiger Tour is coming to the Hub City on May 8 and it features a lineup you won’t want to miss. This year, the Acadiana Tigers are bringing in head football coach Ed Orgeron and new head basketball coach Will Wade to Lafayette’s Le Pavillon on May 8, 2017, to speak to local Tiger fans. The event makes for a great night out with a dinner buffet, door prizes, and a silent auction. It is my understanding that this is the only stop on the tour that will feature Coach Wade, who, as most of you know, is quite an enthusiastic speaker. The full lineup includes Coach O, Coach Wade, Athletic Director Joe Alleva, and women’s basketball coach Nikki Caldwell. I look forward to attending the event and hope to see many of you there. Tickets can be purchased in advance at LSUTAF.org/TigerTourLafayette. (Note: If you represent a TAF Chapter that’s hosting one of the Tiger Tour stops, send me the details and I’ll post them here.)
Today’s closing tidbits:
• Shareef O'Neal, the son of LSU legend Shaquille O’Neal, has committed to Arizona. O’Neal is one of the country’s top prospects for the Class of 2018.
• Former LSU coach Johnny Jones has been hired as the associate head coach at Nevada. There he’ll join head coach Eric Musselman who was on Jones’ staff at LSU during the 2014-15 season when LSU made the NCAA Tournament.
• No. 8 LSU is gearing up for a huge baseball series against No. 10 Kentucky which gets underway in Lexington tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. I mention the early start time so that you can make plans to sneak out of work a little early and catch all of the action. Unfortunately, the series won’t be televised on standard TV, but it will be streamed online via SECN+. More on the big series in tomorrow’s report.
4/19/17 5:50 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
The LSU baseball team improved to 26-12 last night with a 10-4 win over Lamar. After a delay of 70 minutes due to lightning and rain, the game began with a thunderous home run by Lamar on the first pitch of the night. That would be the first of five home runs hit between the two teams, including back-to-back shots by LSU in a six-run second inning. All told, the Tigers collected 13 hits on the night with every member of the starting lineup logging at least one.
The Tigers sent six pitchers to the mound with mixed results. Caleb Gilbert got the start and allowed two harmless hits after the leadoff home run before giving way to Matthew Beck in the third. Of the six pitchers who threw, Beck was hit the hardest, as he allowed three runs on five hits in 1.2 innings of work. This was surprising since Beck had only given up four hits all season in 14 innings of work. Austin Bain, Nick Bush, Zack Hess and Hunter Newman combined to keep the Cardinals off the board in the final 5.1 innings while allowing only one hit and three walks.
Here’s a quick recap of how the game played out: After giving up the first-pitch home run, LSU stormed back with six runs on six hits in the second inning to take a 6-1 lead. The first three runs came on back-to-back boomsticks – a two-run dinger by Nick Coomes and a solo shot by Josh Smith. The other two were driven in on singles by Zack Watson and Jordan Romero. Lamar would cut the Tigers’ lead to two, 6-4, with a run in the third and two in the fourth. All three of the runs would come on homers, including a second dinger of the night by leadoff hitter Cutter McDowell. LSU extended its lead in the fifth on back-to-back singles by Beau Jordan and Antoine Duplantis to make it 7-4 and tacked on its final three runs in the seventh on an RBI single by Kramer Robertson and a two-RBI single by Greg Deichmann.
Next up for the Tigers is a treacherous seven-game road stretch beginning this Friday at 5:30 p.m. against a very good Kentucky team that sits atop the SEC East standings. Last night the Wildcats beat the consensus No. 1 team in the country, Louisville, by a score of 11-7.
In softball news, LSU snapped a four-game skid with a 5-2 win over Northwestern State. The Tigers (33-12) put up a pair of crooked numbers in the third and fourth innings to jump out to a 4-0 lead and added an insurance run in the sixth after the Demons scored twice in the top of the inning. Leading the way offensively for the Tigers was Emily Griggs who had two of the team’s six hits in the game, including two doubles. Sophomore pitcher Sydney Smith bounced back from a tough loss against Ole Miss on Saturday to earn the win. In 6.1 innings of work, Smith allowed only one hit while striking out five and walking one. The Tigers will return to action this weekend when they host Tennessee for the three-game series beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m.
Turning to football, Coach Ed Orgeron’s Tigers returned to the practice field yesterday for their second-to-last practice before Saturday’s Spring Game. You can find a thorough report on the practice by The Advocate here, but if you just want the basic cliff notes, here ya go:
• Speedster Donté Jackson was running jet sweeps. I couldn’t help but smile as I typed those words.
• Coach Aranda employed a new-look pass-rushing nickel package with outside linebackers André Anthony and Ray Thornton on the field at the same time.
• Michael Divinity worked out as a first-string inside linebacker in place of Donnie Alexander, who’s out for the rest of spring while recovering from shoulder surgery.
In basketball news, it sounds like LSU is closing in on landing JUCO transfer combo guard Daryl Edwards. According to Tiger Rag’s Cody Worsham, Edwards had an “amazing” visit last weekend and left sky high on LSU. Edwards already had a good relationship with Coach Will Wade, who recruited him while at Chattanooga and VCU, but also left very impressed with new assistant coach Greg Heiar. Edwards particularly enjoyed the unusual workout Heiar put him through during the visit, which involved “crazy ball handling drills with a tennis ball” and “hook shots from outside the block.” LSU currently has one scholarship available if all of the current players and signees remain Tigers.
Today’s closing tidbits:
• I doubt you need any help getting pumped about football returning to Tiger Stadium in just three days, but in case you do here’s a brand new LSU Spring Game Hype Video. LSU has also published additional info on the game including a parking map and seating chart which you can find at LSUSports.net/SpringGame.
• I heard from a lot of you yesterday who are pumped about LSU’s newest football commitment, defensive lineman Breiden Fehoko. Just as the video highlights I posted yesterday left many of you impressed with Fehoko’s talents, I suspect this piece by The Advocate will leave you impressed with his maturity as well: Q&A with new Tigers defensive lineman Breiden Fehoko: 'I know I'll be in good hands at LSU’
• Reading the Q&A with Fehoko and seeing him mention how much he enjoyed eating crawfish on his visit reminds me to mention our page of LSU Alumni Crawfish Boils. A couple of the dozen or so alumni associations listed will be holding their boils this weekend and most of the others will be in the next two to three weeks.
• LSU announced yesterday that its gymnastics, men’s golf, and women’s golf programs will each host NCAA Regional Championships between 2019 and 2021. For more on this topic, here’s the full press release.
• Lastly, I’ve updated our Ticket exchange with a few new listings.
Reader Comments: Scott, just wanted you to know we lost two lifelong LSU supporters in the Shreveport area this week. Dr. Eugene St. Martin (age 98) and Eddie Blanchard (age 90). Both were LSU grads and great supporters of the program. May they rest in eternal peace.
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