NCAA Baseball Championships:
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8/11/17 5:20 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
With LSU’s preseason football camp nearing the completion of its second week, it seems like a good time to step back and take inventory of what we’ve learned so far with a series of quick-hitting tidbits. We’ll dish out several today and several more tomorrow to bring you up to speed, but before that there’s some news to report on the recruiting front.
LSU’s number of commitments for 2018 was reduced by one yesterday when cornerback Nadab Joseph de-committed. Joseph – a four-star prospect out of Hialeah, Florida, who had been committed to LSU for about 14 months – announced his decision with a tweet that said, “Last year around this time I made a decision to commit to LSU. When I made that decision everything felt right. Every time I’m there it still feels the same but I am starting to feel that way at other places too. I want to make sure that I’m making the right decision.” Without his pledge, LSU’s 2018 recruiting class currently contains 19 commitments and is ranked 11th in the country, according to 247Sports. By comparison, last year at this time LSU’s 2017 recruiting class also had 19 commitments and was ranked No. 3 in the country.
Now back to that series…
Taking Inventory: 17 Things Revealed About the 2017 LSU Football Team (Part 1 of 2):
1. Offensive line is biggest concern: Depth was already a issue at this position as the summer unfolded, but the news of Seth Stewart’s departure coupled with a few minor injuries have really exacerbated the concern. Assuming projected starters Toby Weathersby (LT) and Will Clapp (C) return to full health soon and no more injuries are sustained, the Tigers should be fine here. But, obviously, the Tigers can’t afford many more injuries to this ever-important position group.
2. Danny Etling will be the starting quarterback: Maybe not exactly earth-shattering news, but it does lift the veil somewhat on a topic that Orgeron kept mysterious all summer – perhaps as a result of the back surgery and recovery time Etling needed but probably just in order to give all the quarterbacks an honest shot. The good news is that Etling is said to be better than ever. In the backend of this video from yesterday’s practice, you can see Etling (No. 16) throw a couple of long balls on the money.
3. No. 2 quarterback role is up for grabs. Freshman Myles Brennan has generated a lot of hype with his offseason weight-gain and passing ability, but at this point he’s still learning the playbook, which is to be expected from a quarterback who has only been on campus for a couple of months. Coach Orgeron has said that Brennan, Justin McMillan, Lindsey Scott and Lowell Narcisse are all tied for the backup role, which puts LSU’s quarterback position in an ideal position, depth-wise.
4. Clyde Edwards-Helaire has drawn praise as one of the biggest surprises of camp: Somebody has to back up Heisman-hopeful running back Derrius Guice, and his fellow Catholic High graduate seems to be making a strong case to be that person. Coach Ed Orgeron has called Edwards-Helaire the surprise of the camp, and Guice has joked that the Tigers’ defense hasn’t figured out how to stop him. On Wednesday, Orgeron said Edwards-Helaire had been held out of a couple of practices after sustaining a big hit.
5. Jacoby Stevens should make some noise at receiver: The number of stars in front of a recruit’s name can sometimes be misleading, but all indications are that Stevens – a former five-star athlete – is the kind of player who can impact a game as soon as he gets a shot. After transitioning to receiver from the safety position, Stevens was the leading receiver in the Tigers’ first scrimmage and has been drawing rave reviews.
6. Jerry Sullivan was added as consultant: Orgeron is seizing advantage of the opportunity to pad his coaching staff with ‘shadow coaches,’ and the addition of longtime receivers coach Jerry Sullivan makes a lot of sense. Mickey Joseph will head up the receivers but the fact that there is so much youth and inexperience is going to present a challenge. Sullivan’s proven expertise in route-running could be a huge boost.
7. Aaron Moffitt moved to tight end: This move may be tied to depth at the offensive line and defensive end spots, and could also be a hint as to how diverse offensive coordinator Matt Canada intends to make the offense. Moffitt was a dominant pass rusher at Catholic High the last two seasons and at 6-foot-2 and 266 pounder is capable of giving the Tigers an athletic presence on the defensive edge. By moving across the line of scrimmage, Moffitt may make it possible for a current tight end to focus more on a hybrid role as an extra offensive lineman while also giving Canada another potential wrinkle as a short-yardage receiver.
8. Kickers Jack Gonsoulin and Connor Culp are in contention for field goal duties: The cliché about ‘if you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have one’ doesn’t work with kickers because that’s a spot where coaches don’t mind having options and that seems to be the case with Gonsoulin and Culp, who remain “neck and neck” in a highly competitive battle for field goal kicking duties. Each are said to be comfortable from 54 yards out, and in last Saturday’s scrimmage, each went 5-for-5 with the longest makes coming from 43 yards.
9. A leader has apparently emerged for return duties: With TréDavious White in the NFL now, and Derrius Guice presumably too valuable to use in the return game, it was a bit of a mystery as to who would be returning kicks and punts this year. Wednesday evening, Coach O suggested that sophomore speedster Drake Davis is the leader in this position group, but other names to watch are Derrick Dillon, Donté Jackson, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Stay tuned for the conclusion of this series – which focuses on things learned about the defense – in tomorrow’s report.
Now, with only 22 days remaining until the season-opener against BYU on September 2, let’s continue our Countdown to game day by remembering a controversial game-winning 22-yard pass that was instrumental in LSU making it to the national title game in 2007. I’m referring to the 22-yard touchdown pass from Matt Flynn to Demetrius Byrd to lift the Tigers to a 30-24 victory over Auburn on October 20, 2007. Many people remember the fourth quarter comeback to beat Florida in 2007, and while that was an amazing game (to say the least), this victory was quite memorable as well. Many forget that LSU trailed most of this game, and even when the purple and gold Tigers took a 23-17 lead midway in the fourth quarter, Auburn mounted a huge nine-play, 83-yard drive that gave the Plainsmen a 24-23 lead with 3:13 remaining in the contest.
In eight plays, LSU marched to Auburn’s 22-yard line, comfortable field goal range for placekicker Colt David with about 30 seconds on the clock. Everyone thought the Tigers would setup to attempt a 39-yard field goal for the win, but Coach Les Miles, aka the Mad Hatter, had another idea. Rolling the dice, Miles dialed up a 22-yard pass from Flynn, and when Byrd came down with the game-winning catch in the end zone with just one second on the clock, much of the LSU crowd known for erupting into an earthquake-causing roar was stunned in disbelief and astonishment. Final score: LSU 30 Auburn 24. You can relive that incredible play by watching this video in our Media Gallery.
• Speaking of the Mad Hatter, it was announced yesterday that Miles will serve as a guest analyst for the SEC Network’s coverage of the season-opener between Michigan and Florida. It’s also been reported that former Florida and South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier is expected to appear on the show as well, which should make things all the more interesting.
• As for LSU’s season opener versus BYU at NRG Stadium, it was announced that LSU will be officially designated as the home team.
• Please keep former LSU wide receiver Malachi Dupre in your thoughts and prayers. Last night he sustained a very scary hit in his NFL debut last and was carted off the field on a stretcher. The Packers tweeted an update last night saying Dupré "has movement and feeling in all his extremities. He has been taken to a hospital for further evaluation."
• Last but not least, the LSU women’s basketball team continues to dominate its Italian Tour. Yesterday they defeated the Interclub Muggia Basketball squad by a score of 87-32 in the city of Trieste.
Have a great Friday, Tiger Fans
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.
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