NCAA Baseball Championships:
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7/15/17 5:40 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
The preseason Media Days All-SEC teams were announced yesterday and seven Tigers made the cut. RB Derrius Guice and LB/DE Arden Key earned spots on the First Team, with Guice also earning a spot on the second team as an All-Purpose back. OL K.J. Malone, DL Christian LaCouture and DB Donté Jackson were selected as second team members. Center Will Clapp and DL Rashard Lawrence earned third-team recognition.
In addition to picking the preseason All-SEC teams, the media predicted the league’s final standings and pegged LSU to finish third in the SEC West behind Alabama and Auburn. Georgia was predicted to win the East while Bama was picked to win the SEC Championship. With this being somewhat of a transitional year for LSU (new head coach, new offensive coordinator, new running backs coach, new wide receiver coach), and with LSU having lost three first-round draft picks – not to mention the Tigers’ brutal schedule which includes five SEC road games – it’s not hard to understand why LSU wasn’t picked higher. Still, I think a lot of folks are sleeping on these Tigers, which is just fine by me.
We’ll jump back to football with our Game Day Countdown in a bit, but first a quick follow up on baseball…
Turning to the diamond, yesterday I wrote a bit about Coach Paul Mainieri’s No. 1 and No. 2 priorities for next season being rebuilding the pitching staff and the catching position, and there’s some info to pass along on two players who could help with that task.
One is catcher Hunter Feduccia, originally of Barbe High School, who is transferring to LSU from LSU-Eunice. Feduccia has been playing for the Rockford Rivets in the Northwoods League and has been putting on a show behind at the plate, both offensively and defensively. Thursday night he went 2-4 with a home run (his 7th) and a triple, and the night before he hit a game-tying home run in the 8th and another dinger in the 9th to win it. Experienced and talented, Feduccia could be an immediate impact player next season.
As for the pitching position, former E.D. White Catholic right-hander Cameron Sanders is heading to LSU and could also make an immediate impact. Sanders has spent the last two years at Northwest Florida State College and was selected in the 18th round of this year’s MLB draft, but has decided to head to LSU to further his development and improve his draft stock. According to this article by houmatoday.com, Sanders can touch 96 miles per hour with his fastball and also throws a curveball, a slider, and a changeup. The article also notes that Sanders is the son of Scott Sanders, a former Nicholls State University pitcher who was drafted by San Diego in the first round of the 1990 draft.
I look forward to learning more about these potentially impactful transfers when Coach Mainieri announces all the newcomers in the coming weeks.
Now, let’s jump back to football and our countdown to Game Day, which is 49 days away, by looking at one of the best athletes to ever wear No. 49 for LSU - Todd Kinchen. Before coming to LSU, Kinchen was already known across the state as a freakishly talented athlete. At Trafton Academy in Baton Rouge, Kinchen was the Class AA Most Valuable Player in football, the second-leading scorer on his state championship basketball team, a star shortstop and outfielder on his state championship baseball team, an all-district long jumper in track, and a regional finalist in tennis. Kinchen came to LSU in 1988 with a lot of fanfare, but his college football career got off to a slow start after he suffered a season-ending injury as a freshman on the first day of fall drills. By the time Kinchen left LSU, however, he had worked himself into the LSU record books by finishing with the fifth most receiving yards in school history (1,991) and the fourth most career receptions (112). The best game of his career was against Mississippi State when he caught nine passes for an SEC record 248 yards, earning him SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors. In addition to being an All-SEC wide receiver, Kinchen was also a heck of a punt returner. In his senior season, he returned punts for touchdowns in back-to-back games against Arkansas State and Kentucky.
After graduating from LSU, Kinchen was selected in the third round of the 1992 NFL draft by the Los Angeles Rams. He went on to play seven years in the NFL (with Los Angeles, St. Louis, Denver, and Atlanta), and currently holds an NFL record for scoring two touchdowns on punt returns in a single game.
Kinchen comes from a great Tiger bloodline as his father, Gaynell “Gus” Kinchen, was a member of the 1958 LSU Tigers football team and one of the famed Chinese Bandits. Todd’s brother, Brian, also played football at LSU (and in the NFL), as did Brian’s two sons, Austin and Hunter Kinchen, who were long snappers for the Tigers from 2010-11. I’ve added Todd Kinchen’s video highlights to our Media Gallery for your enjoyment.
At this point in our countdown, I’d definitely be remiss to not give a shout out to LSU’s current No. 49 – Arden Key. An Atlanta (Ga.) native, Key had an outstanding sophomore season that included 56 tackles and 12 sacks, which tied for the school record. Key sat out this past spring for personal reasons and will likely miss all of preseason camp and even possibly some games after having shoulder surgery in May. It was reported in June that Key played much of last season with the injured shoulder, which got progressively worse, so much so that wore a protective brace in the Tigers’ Citrus bowl victory vs. Louisville. The good news is that Coach Orgeron recently said Key’s surgery was successful, and then just yesterday Key tweeted, “Feel good, doing good, ahead of schedule.”
Today’s closing tidbits:
• Here’s another one for those of you keeping track of LSU watch list nominations: Donté Jackson made the watch list for the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award given to the best defensive back in college football.
• Congratulations to former LSU basketball player Antonio Blakeney for signing a two-way contract with the Chicago Bulls. Basically, two-way contracts allow NBA franchises to sign two players, in addition to their 15-man regular season roster, who will split their time between the franchise’s NBA team and their D-League affiliate. Blakeney’s deal followed a strong week he had for the Bulls’ Summer League team, where he averaged 16.8 points and five rebounds in four games. Here’s wishing him continued success.
• Lastly, we updated our Ticket Exchange again with a few new listings.
Have a great Saturday, Tiger Fans.
7/14/17 5:50 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
In today’s daily dose of Tiger News, we’ll touch on a baseball injury, a bit of recruiting news, our Countdown to Game Day and more, but first I want to quickly touch on a topic many of you ask me about each week – LSU’s next live Tiger mascot. Earlier this week, the Tiger Athletic Foundation (TAF) sent out a message stating that updates to Mike the Tiger's state-of-the-art Habitat are moving right along. The renovations include, among other things, a high-tech rock that has a warm surface in the winter and a cool surface in the summer, a tree-like center column used to hold up the mesh above the habitat, and enhancements to the existing pool and waterfall. So far there’s been no word on exactly when LSU will get its new Tiger, but the school’s newspaper, the Daily Reveille, reports that the renovations should be complete by August 14, assuming Mother Nature cooperates.
In baseball news, LSU catcher/first-baseman Nick Coomes underwent successful hip surgery yesterday. According to the reports, Coomes dealt with a nagging hip issue all season, from the time he began as Michael Papierski’s backup at catcher to the time he transitioned to first place, a position he played most of the season. Recovery time for the procedure Coomes had yesterday is about four months, meaning he will miss most, if not all, of fall practice. Here’s wishing Coomes a quick and full recovery. You might recall that in the Advocate’s recent Q&A with Paul Mainieri, the coach said his No. 1 and No. 2 priorities for next season are rebuilding the pitching staff and the catching position. With Papierski and Jordan Romero no longer on the team, and with Coomes temporarily out, the catcher position will be especially interesting to monitor this fall and next spring.
In football recruiting news, a big-time defensive tackle by the name of Michael Thompson announced his top five schools on Twitter and included LSU in this list. Thompson (6-4, 290) hails from St. Louis, Missouri and is rated as the No. 2 overall defensive tackle for the class of 2018. Thompson plans on taking an official visit to LSU and would be a great get, but at this time his home state Missouri Tigers appear to be his leader. Other schools included in his top five were Alabama, Michigan and Ohio State.
Without a lot of other news to tackle today, let’s move on with our Countdown to Game Day which, believe it or not, has already reached the 50-day mark. (Where does the time go? Seems like just yesterday we were beginning our 100-day countdown.) For today’s topic, we’ll look at a single season school record for a running back – 50 receptions by Garry James in 1985. Under second-year coach Bill Arnsparger, the Tigers enjoyed a highly successful 1985 campaign, finishing the season 9-2-1 behind one of the best defenses in school history. In fact, the Tigers allowed just 11.2 points per contest including back-to-back SEC shutouts against Kentucky (10-0) and at Ole Miss (14-0).
The running back tandem of Garry James and Dalton Hilliard were the Tigers’ main offensive weapons, as the two seniors combined for 1,701 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns. While the passing game, led by senior Jeff Wickersham, was not highly explosive, it utilized all of its weapons, including James, who led the team with 50 receptions for 414 receiving yards (Hilliard added 34 receptions for 313 yards). LSU also heavily utilized the tight end, with senior Mitch Andrews hauling in 34 receptions, which is tied for the single-season record by a tight end with Malcolm Scott. A Houma (La.) native, Andrews also led the Tigers with three receiving touchdowns. One of his most memorable plays was a 21-yard reception late in the fourth quarter in South Bend that set up James’ game-winning touchdown in a 10-7 victory over Notre Dame. So while the Tigers’ passing game certainly didn’t set the world on fire in 1985, it had enough variety to win several close contests that year, including a 17-15 home win over Mississippi State, the school’s first win over the Bulldogs since 1979.
The Tigers will be looking to utilize all of their offensive weapons in the passing game in 2017. Under first-year Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada, LSU’s offense is expected to feature tight ends like Foster Moreau, who only had six receptions in 2016 but did have a key touchdown reception in the Tigers’ 29-9 Citrus Bowl victory over Louisville. Running back Derrius Guice, who had just nine receptions in 2016, also had a touchdown reception in that victory over the Cardinals, and Canada is sure to utilize the Baton Rouge native, as well as other running backs and fullbacks, more in the passing game this upcoming season. Will any of them come close to reaching the 50-receptions mark? Probably not, but I am looking forward to seeing these positions featured more prominently in the passing game than in recent years.
Today’s closing tidbits:
• For those of you keeping track of watch lists, there are a couple more to note. LSU’s Arden Key and Kevin Toliver landed on the watch list for the Nagurski Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top defensive player, while Will Clapp made the watch list for the Outland Trophy, given to the best college football interior lineman on either side of the ball.
• Congratulations to former Tiger shortstop Kramer Robertson for hitting two home runs Wednesday night in his fifth professional game with St. Louis’s Single-A Affiliate, the Peoria Chiefs. Robertson went 4-5 with three runs and three RBI that night with Momma Mulkey watching in the stands.
• Lastly, here’s a new offseason training hype video released by LSU showing the team in summer workouts. I get winded just watching it.
Have a great Friday, Tiger Fans.
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