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8/10/17 5:10 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Coach Ed Orgeron held a post-practice media session yesterday and dished out tons of good information which I’ll share with you today. I did not make the trip from Lafayette to Baton Rouge for the presser (I was busy enjoying my cooking night as my wife handled taking our kids to and from their extracurricular activities after a busy first day of school) but I did keep up with the LSU scoop by following the tweets of several media members including RossDellenger of the Advocate, James Moran of Tiger Rag, and Jacque Doucet of WAFB. Below is a summary of the key takeaways.
• The good news: Left tackle KJ Malone returned to practice. Other projected starting O-linemen, Toby Weathersby (LT) and Will Clapp (C) are still recovering from minor injuries and did not practice, although Coach O did say the two are expected back very soon.
• Unfortunately, another offensive lineman, sophomore Donavaughn Campbell, who we have at No. 3 at right tackle on our unofficial depth chart, had a minor setback. Coach O said he should be back in the next couple of days.
• Freshman running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who’s been drawing lots of praise this summer, also sustained a minor injury when he took a big hit and has missed the last few days of practice.
• Freshmen linebackers Jacob Phillips and Tyler Taylor “have risen to the occasion.” When speaking of the young inside linebackers, Coach O said they’re picking up things and suggested they will contribute this year.
• Freshman Aaron Moffitt, the son of strength and conditioning coach Tommy Moffitt, has been moved from defensive end to tight end.
• As for special teams, Orgeron said the kicker battle is still “neck and neck“ between Jack Gonsoulin and Conner Culp. Also, it sounds like Drake Davis, Derrick Dillon, and Donté Jackson are working on kick returns and Edwards-Helaire will work there too when he returns to action.
• In the defensive backfield, Donté Jackson and Kevin Toliver would be the starting cornerbacks today, while Kary Vincent and Xavier Lewis are working at the nickel position. Orgeron said the defense plays out of the nickel formation 85% of the time.
• At quarterback, right now Danny Etling is clearly No. 1, but the competition is still open with Myles Brennan, Lowell Narcisse, Justin McMillan and Lindsey Scott all in the mix. Orgeron suggested that those four are all tied for the No. 2 role, but did say Brennan’s release and ability to throw the ball is very special.
In other football news, AL.com ranked the SEC’s best running back situations and pegged LSU at No. 1. Here’s what the site had to say about our beloved Tigers: “LSU's running backs are extremely top heavy but when the top is Derrius Guice, that's as good as it gets in the SEC.” The brief write-up went in to say that LSU needs to get some contribution from Darrel Williams to lighten the burden on Guice and also mentioned that Edwards-Helaire has been making a statement in camp. Comments like those, including some made by us at DandyDon.com recently, have left a lot of fans wondering what has happened to junior running back Nicholas Brossette. Well, in player interviews earlier this week he indicated that he is squarely in the mix for playing time but was held out of last week’s scrimmage because of a minor back injury.
With anticipation building for LSU’s season-opener, here’s an interesting fact about BYU to chew on: Do you remember back in 2015 when a school made headlines by offering a scholarship to a 6-foot-7, 410-pounder who had never played a down of football? Well, that school was BYU and that young man, Motekiai “Mo” Langi is now a freshman nose tackle on the Cougars’ football team.
Now let’s close out today’s update with our Countdown to LSU’s season opener, which is 23 days away, by remembering a special Tiger who wore No. 23 - Sammy Martin. Martin played tailback at LSU from 1984-87 and was one of the fastest Tigers to ever wear the purple and gold. One play involving Martin that I’ve shared with you before in previous countdowns really demonstrates his speed. It came during an LSU-Texas A&M game in 1986 when Martin caught a short pass from Mickey Guidry on the LSU 37-yard-line and simply left everyone in the dust as he raced into the end-zone. (You can check out that play at the 1:02 mark of this video). For his career, Martin tallied 1,359 rushing yards and 668 receiving yards while the Tigers compiled a 36-9-3 record. Martin finished his career in one of the Tigers’ greatest wins of the ‘80s, a 30-13 Gator Bowl victory over South Carolina that led to a final No. 5 ranking in the polls. After his playing days at LSU, Martin went on to a successful NFL career with the New England Patriots (1988–1991) and Indianapolis Colts (1991). An interesting tidbit about Martin is that he had a receding hairline at an early age and looked much older than he was. The story goes that during his recruitment he arrived at LSU for an official visit and was asked by one of the coaches who his son was.
It also seems appropriate to mention the current Tiger who wears No. 23, Corey Thompson. A Missouri City (Tx.) native, Thompson has battled injuries throughout his Tiger career, which started back in 2012. Suffering season-ending injuries before the 2014 and 2016 seasons even began, Thompson has only played in nine games the last three seasons. Entering a rare sixth season, Thompson is projected to start at the F outside linebacker position opposite of Arden Key. Here’s hoping that Thompson can enjoy a successful, injury-free season for the Tigers as his contributions could help bolster a defense that allowed just 15.8 points per game in 2016.
That’s it for today, but I’ll leave you with this little bit of non-sports lagniappe about my aforementioned cooking night: Last night we enjoyed a wonderful stuffed boneless chicken from Hebert’s Specialty Meats, accompanied by an old standby – my maternal grandmother’s recipe for Cajun Dirty Rice. If you’re a fellow gardener with summer eggplants you need to put to use, or even if you not, I hope you’ll enjoy the recipe.
Have a great day.
8/9/17 5:15 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Okay, folks, in the last few days I’ve given you a half-dozen reasons to be optimistic about the LSU football season, and today we’ll wrap up the series with two more. But first, here’s a new LSU vs BYU hype video by YouTube user Dirty Dave that will help set the mood.
Reasons to be Optimistic about LSU Football - Part 4
To view the entire series (Matt Canada – Master of Disguise | Aranda 2.0 | Rougarou and Friends | More Bang for the Buck | Hardy Hybrids | Short on Experience, but Tall on Talent | Etling’s Back | Guice is Nice) click here.
Pardon the pun, but senior quarterback Danny Etling returns to the offense with a much healthier back after undergoing an offseason procedure, and the word is he’s better than ever. Because media members haven’t had a chance to watch him throw, it still remains unknown as to whether Etling has more zip on his throws. At SEC Media Days, D.J. Chark admitted he was caught off guard by Etling’s arm strength in throwing drills, suggesting he can put more power into his throws. With Etling back at quarterback, a few questions come to mind. Will his arm strength be significantly better as players have suggested? How will Matt Canada’s offense benefit him? Will Etling get revenge on Alabama? That last one is particularly interesting since Etling is the first quarterback to get a second chance at Alabama since Zach Mettenberger did in 2013. Etling returns after recording 2,123 passing yards and 11 passing touchdowns. We suspect his improved health and an unpredictable offense will help those numbers grow immensely.
Guice is Nice!
“Guice is nice” has a good ring to it, and he might be a nice guy, but man does he run angry. Showcased in his ability to rip through tackles and tiptoe on the sidelines, Derrius Guice is one of the nation’s best running backs. Obviously, he will be featured heavily in Matt Canada’s new offense and that in itself is a huge reason for optimism.
During LSU’s TAF Tiger Tour, Coach Orgeron spoke about Canada’s new offense and how he ran a play that had one of LSU’s offensive lineman score a touchdown in a scrimmage. Orgeron joked with Canada, complimenting him on the creativity but suggesting he better give Guice the football or they’re both out of a job. Obviously, Guice will get more than his fair share of touches. At Pittsburgh last season, Canada gave ultra talented running back James Connor 216 carries to go along with his 21 receptions. With a back as fast, elusive and durable as Guice, you’d better believe he will have similar numbers in 2017. On an offense that will have new faces on the offensive line and at wide receiver, Guice is one of the few proven commodities on the unit. Last season, he led the SEC in rushing with 1,387 rushing yards. He also broke the single-game rushing record with 285 yards against Texas A&M. What do you think he will do now that he doesn’t have to share the backfield with a fellow Heisman favorite?
Speaking of Guice, he met with the media yesterday and spoke about a player who finds himself in a situation much like the one he was in as a freshman, running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. From our previous reports, you know that Edwards-Helaire has been making waves throughout fall camp and has drawn a lot of praise from Coach Ed Orgeron. Evidently, it’s not only Orgeron who’s been impressed. “The whole team hates him right now,” Guice joked with the media. “They can’t find a way to stop him.” Guice also described Edwards-Helaire (5-8, 208) as “built like a tree stump” and revealed that his nickname is “Clyde the Glide.”
One more interesting tidbit from the player interviews: Outside linebacker Michael Divinity said he's gained 28 pounds since last summer and is up to 246 pounds (he’s listed on LSU’s roster at 239). That’s just one more reason why this year’s linebacker corps will be a major force to reckon with.
Before leaving the topic of football, The Advocate reports that a third former NFL assistant coach – wide receiver consultant Jerry Sullivan – has joined LSU’s staff. Sullivan (73) has a long history of coaching receivers at the pro level, most recently for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2012-16. He also is no stranger to LSU, as he coached receivers for the Tigers in 1984-1990. Since Sullivan is officially designated as a consultant, he will not be able to work “hands on” with players on the field, but he will be able to give a helping hand to wide receivers coach Mickey Joseph in an off-the-field role. Former Saints special teams coordinator Greg McMahon also serves as a consultant on Coach Orgeron’s current staff.
In baseball news, LSU released its 2018 schedule, which features 37 home games and two very attractive early-season home series. The Tigers open the season in mid-February with a three-game series against Notre Dame and follow it up the next weekend with a three-game series against Texas. The schedule also includes weekend home series against SEC West rivals Mississippi State, Alabama, and Arkansas, as well as the Tigers’ first-ever series versus Hawaii. You can check out the complete schedule here.
Now let’s continue our Countdown to Game Day, which is at the 24-day mark, with a brief look at a special former Tiger who wore No. 24 - Gaynell “Gus” Tinsley. Tinsley lettered at LSU from 1934-36 and was LSU’s first consensus All-American. He played on both sides of the ball as an end and was one of those special players that could have probably excelled at any position on the field. He also played baseball at LSU and was the captain of the team. After leading the Tigers to two SEC football titles and three Sugar Bowl appearances, Tinsley went on to a very successful NFL career with the Chicago Cardinals and was twice selected as an All-Pro selection. Later he returned to LSU to serve as Head Coach from 1948-54. Tinsley was a charter member of the LSU Athletics Hall of Fame and a member of the College Hall of Fame. His profile at the College Football Hall of Fame describes him this way: “Tinsley was a magnificent athletic specimen, standing 6-0, and weighing 196-pounds, size he used equally well as a defensive stalwart who was a blocking master.”
I’ll leave you today with a couple of school-issued videos that LSU Football released yesterday:
Lastly, Coach Orgeron is scheduled to meet with the media this evening, so hopefully, we’ll know more about LSU’s offensive line health soon. As they say, stay tuned.
Reader Comments: I know you are not closely following the "Olympic" sports, but LSU has 2 recent alums competing next week in women's golf Solhiem Cup, their equivalent of the Ryder cup. One, Austin Ernst, is playing for the USA & the other one, Madelene Sagstrom, for team Europe. Not bad in women's golf for a program not named USC, ASU, OR UCLA!
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