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9/12/17 5:40 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
IT’S TIME FOR TUESDAY’S TIDBITS: Your Daily Dose of Tiger News Delivered in a Baker’s Dozen Quick-Hitters
As most of you know, each Tuesday throughout the season we’ll use this quick-hitting format to bring you up to speed. It comes in handy when Coach O dishes out lots of info each Monday during his weekly press luncheon. The first nine of today’s tidbits are key takeaways from Orgeron comments, but if you want more you can check out the entire video of his presser.
1. Let’s start with the best news of all: Coach O announced yesterday that Arden Key has been cleared to play this Saturday against Mississippi State. I’m sure you don’t need a reminder of what a difference-maker Key is, but I’ll give you one anyway just to brighten your day: Check out this Cityzen225 video of Key’s 11 regular-season sacks last year. (Key ended with a school-record 12 sacks after a 3rd-quarter sack of Heisman-winner Lamar Jackson in the Citrus Bowl.)
2. Orgeron said the plan all along was to have Key return for this game but that they weren’t sure he’d be ready. After undergoing strength tests with trainer Jack Marruci, it was determined he is good to go. As for how much he will play this Saturday, Coach O said that all depends on his conditioning. Key is currently 265 pounds, about 5-10 pounds above his optimum weight.
3. As for the status of defensive lineman extraordinaire Rashard Lawrence, Orgeron said he’s still not sure whether he will be ready to return to action this week. If he is not, they may have to move some guys around at the center of LSU’s D-line. Worth noting: Lawrence reportedly practiced yesterday afternoon in a normal jersey (not a gold non-contact jersey).
4. Orgeron acknowledged that the team has some things to fix and didn’t play its best last Saturday, but said there are many positives on offense that they're really pleased about. “Number one, zero turnovers again, five big explosive plays, the play of Danny Etling, the play of our wide receivers – the way they're catching the football and the plays they're making,” he said.
Side note: This is just the third LSU team since 1937 to have zero turnovers through the first two games.
5. On defense, Orgeron was pleased with the two turnovers created (the interceptions by freshmen Andreas “Greedy” Williams and Kary Vincent) and the five sacks, two of which were by freshmen K’Lavon Chaisson.
6. Coach O also pointed out a couple of positives on special teams: The 65-yard TD punt return by D.J. Chark and Cameron Gamble’s three touchbacks. “Obviously, we need to fix our field goal unit and we're going to work on it very hard this week and try some different things,” he said. “It won't be different guys because those are the guys we have. We'll try different techniques and work very hard with them.”
7. Asked about first-half penalties, Orgeron explained it this way: “I think we need to settle down. Obviously, we're coming out very fired up. We have some young players. Give you an example, Xavier Lewis missed the first game. He was so fired up to go hit somebody over on the kickoff team, he’s offsides, which is not an excuse.” He added, “We have to calm them down, maybe not as many shifts and motions at the beginning. Play the older guys at first and quit creating all these penalties that put us in negative situations.”
8. Asked about his “adaptive coaches” (coordinators Matt Canada and Dave Aranda), Coach O said they’re the best he’s been around, and he’s been around coaches like Pete Carroll and Jimmy Johnson. “Both of their styles are different and their personalities are different but the results are the same,” he said. Orgeron raved about the two coordinators’ abilities to make adjustments not only at the half but during the game, and about Aranda’s ability to “see all 22 players when the ball is snapped and know what everyone did.”
9. As for LSU’s next opponent, Orgeron expressed the utmost respect for head coach Dan Mullen and the Mississippi State program. He pointed out that the Bulldogs lead the SEC in scoring offense with an average of 53 points per game and have a defense that has given up only 174 yards and 10.5 points per game. Obviously, this will be by far the Tigers’ biggest test to date.
10. Speaking of the Mississippi State contest, it was announced yesterday that it will be televised by ESPN with Joe Tessitore, Todd Blackledge, and Holly Rowe on the call. The game kicks off at 6 p.m. CT in Starkville. By the way, LSU has opened as a 6.5-point favorite.
11. Along with this week’s game notes, LSU released an updated depth chart yesterday which shows Andreas “Greedy” Williams and Grant Delpit as starters. What that means is that Greedy has supplanted Kevin Toliver as the starting cornerback, which makes a lot of sense. “Someone blinked. He moved in. And he’s holding on to that spot,” Orgeron said. The coach then added: “There’s no sacred spots on our football team. We’re going to play the best players regardless of seniority or anything. We want the guys that are playing the best. And right now Greedy is doing that.” By the way, I’ve updated our unofficial depth chart accordingly.
12. In other news, hats off to former Tiger great Leonard Fournette who rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown and added three receptions for 24 yards in his much-anticipated NFL debut with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Of course, Fournette’s not the only former Tiger who shined in his NFL debut. Duke Riley (Atlanta Falcons) had six tackles, TréDavious White (Buffalo Bills) had four, and Jamal Adams (New York Jets) had five to go along with one tackle-for-loss and a forced fumble.
13.The lagniappe portion of this baker’s dozen: Here’s an awesome video of the LSU Golden Band from Tigerland’s “Fight Night” halftime show from last Saturday. I’m sharing this not only because it’s easily the coolest halftime show I’ve ever seen, but because I have a new appreciation for the hard work that goes into these shows now that my oldest daughter is part of Lafayette High School’s marching band. Enjoy!
In closing, I’d like to send out my condolences to the family of LSU and MLB great Mel Didier, who passed away Sunday night. Please keep the Didier family in your prayers.
9/11/17 5:25 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
It was great hearing from so many of you yesterday about LSU’s win over Chattanooga and my initial thoughts on the game. As promised, today I’ll share with you 10 of the many questions and/or comments I received that cover a wide range of topics, as well as my response to each. But before getting to that, here’s a quick word on the weekly polls.
After defeating UT-Chattanooga 45-10, the Tigers remained at No. 12 in the AP top 25 and moved up one spot to No. 11 in the Amway Coaches Poll. Other SEC teams in this week’s poll include Alabama (1/1), Georgia (13/13), Auburn (15/17), Tennessee (23/23) and Florida (25/25). LSU’s next opponent, Mississippi State, didn’t make the top-25 of either poll but did receive 37 votes in the Coaches Poll, which would put them at No. 30 if the poll extended that far.
DandyDon.com’s Monday Morning Mail Call: Post-Chattanooga Edition:
Reader Comments: Wow, what a change from a year ago! After 2 games, the Tigers look very impressive. I am still concerned about how the offensive line is going to match up with the likes of Alabama. After 2 games, how do you feel about Canada and his play calling when we get to the thick of the schedule?
My Response: Thanks for your message, Fred. There certainly have been many things to like through the first two games, as well as several things to work on. Like you, I am concerned with the offensive line matching up with the likes of Alabama, not because of the way it has played so far, but simply because 1) it hasn’t yet been tested like it will, and 2) depth is an issue and November is still several weeks away. As for your question about Canada’s play calling, I really like what I’ve seen so far, though I do think he’ll need to mix it up more in the red zone and utilize more of the short-to-intermediate passing game than he did against Chattanooga. The good news is the staff and players insist that we haven’t seen nearly all of the playbook and that the best is yet to come.
Reader Comments: Last night before the game and all during the game was the first time ever in 30 years of watching LSU football that I saw so much excessive celebration, dancing, beating their chest, crossing their arms as if they are the man, and running up to the fans in the stands to get extra pats on the back. Don't get wrong, I believe in getting pumped and fired up before and during the game but last night I believe our Tigers were more interested in themselves and showboating. I was actually glad when they flagged #5 for unsportsmanlike conduct. I hope Coach O will do something to get more focus and a lot less showboating.
My Response: Mickey, you’re right that LSU must get a grip on penalties and it’s clear that Coach O knows this, too. Last night after the game, Coach O said that penalties “are a mindset” and that he’s not putting up with it anymore. Evidently, that’s a message he relayed at halftime because after committing 10 penalties in the first half, the Tigers committed only one in the second. I can’t help but believe that several of the early penalties had to do with emotions running high for the home-opener.
Reader Comments: It seems Coach "O" has the team pointed in the right direction. Can you tell me how many Freshmen LSU played last night?
My Response: Thanks for your message, Tommy. I agree. As for your question, I don’t know an exact number of freshmen who played against Chattanooga, but it was a ton. I do know this: A total of 20 true freshmen have played so far, which is remarkable. Kary Vincent and Ed Ingram made their first starts in Saturday’s game, and three other freshmen – JaCoby Stevens, Tory Carter, and Mannie Netherly – saw their first action. I really don’t recall a freshman class making as big an impact as this one has this early in the season, and that certainly bodes well for LSU’s future.
Reader Comments: I continue to ask why do so many so-called LSU football fans evacuate Tiger Stadium at half time and leave basically an empty stadium in the 4th quarter? There are so many young players getting into the game in the final period, I'm sure they would love to play before a packed stadium. Plus, it was embarrassing when there a 4th quarter shot of the stadium and it was basically empty! That doesn't look great for recruiting. I'm sure opposing coaches will show that to young men considering LSU. There's no magic to Tiger Stadium when it's empty.
My Response: AJ, I’m not about to question one’s fandom for leaving early, but this is a problem that really needs to stop. We talk about this topic every year, and it seems to be getting worse. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. Some say it’s about traffic… or the ever-improving TV experience… or lackluster opponents… or the pre-game partying (nobody parties like Tiger Fans ;). Personally, I think it’s a combination of all of those factors, and the last two probably played a bigger than usual part in Saturday’s home-opener. Whatever the reasons, you’re right that it’s not a good look.
Reader Comments: Gonsoulin kicks everything to the right. Have you noticed that? Even on PATs. You would think that could be fixed. Culp is straight as an arrow, but does not appear to have the leg strength of Gonsoulin. Culp came up short on his 47-yarder, not wide, and nailed a 45-yarder right down the middle. What do you think about a two-kicker system for short and long FGs, à la Culp and Gonsoulin?
My Response: Good observations, John. And don’t forget that Gonsoulin made a 53-yarder in a preseason scrimmage, which supports your idea of using him in long range situations. The bottom line is that the coaching staff knows these guys’ capabilities better than any of us observing from the outside and I’m sure they’ll do what’s best for the team. If that’s a two-kicker system, I wouldn’t have a problem with that.
Reader Comments: QB Danny Etling was 8 of 14 for 227 yards. I am very happy for the big plays last night. I am cheering for him and his success but I can't help but be concerned that 3 of those completions were in double and even triple coverage. This won't work against legit defenses.
My Response: I hear you, Fred. Actually one of his completions – the 48-yarder to Chark –was thrown into quadruple coverage! There’s no doubt that Etling will have to be more careful about that, especially when going up against SEC defensive backs who won’t be at as big of a height disadvantage as the Mocs’ DBs were. He’ll also need to lead his receivers a bit more on the long balls as several were slightly under-thrown. With that said, I’ve been very impressed with Etling’s improvement, and even more so with the improvement of LSU’s receiving unit.
Reader Comments: I am wondering why didn't they throw to the backs and tight ends on the middle and short passes. The long passes looked much better, but they could throw under the coverage. The line is learning to work together and that is good. I hope they will be ready for a good Mississippi State team.
My Response: Allen, if I hadn’t seen LSU target the running backs and tight ends a good bit in Game 1, I would be more concerned with the lack of short-to-intermediate passing game against the Mocs. I’m hoping that it was just a matter of LSU wanting to intentionally work on the long ball game and/or seeing something from the opponent they thought they could exploit. Either way, it worked out pretty well with 232 yards coming through the air as part of a balanced attack.
Reader Comments: Scott, I noticed Nick Brossette got in the game and ran pretty hard with some nice runs. I am concerned a little about LSU’s depth at running back beyond Williams. Question: At this point, we know the top 3 WRs are Chark, Gage and Dillion but based on what you have seen thus far, who do you think is the 4th best WR?
My Response: Thanks for your message, Stephen. I’m not concerned with depth at running back. Between Guice, Williams, Brossette and Edwards-Helaire, that’s an embarrassment of riches, if you ask me. As for who I’d pick as the 4th best receiver, at this point, I’d say probably Drake Davis, though I’m sure Stephen Sullivan and JaCoby Stevens would have something to say about that. With both positions – running back and receiver – there may be a shortage of experience but there’s no shortage of talent.
Reader Comments: It wasn't very long ago that you were consistently writing about how LSU had better sign some linebackers and soon. You were correct. We were in a bad way. We signed a couple that didn't pan out and a couple of 5 stars transferred. We had no future stars at LB. Well, 2 short years later and just look at us now. We have studs at LB and more wanting to come be a part of Dave Aranda’s outstanding defense. I think it's a great testament to Coach O and his staff for getting the top talent in the nation to come to LSU. They may not all be 5 stars, but this group of recruiters has the eye for talent. They can spot it in a 0 star to a 5 star. Just goes to show us what good coaching can do. I hope coach O stays at LSU for many years. He is good for the University, for the State of Louisiana, but most importantly, he is good for the Kids.
My Response: Yeah, Mark, you’re right about the young linebackers. Recruiting of that position is clearly on the rise, but the group of newcomers that have impressed me more than any are the DBs. Guys like Greedy Williams, Grant Delpit, and Kary Vincent have all made big impacts. As my buddy Jake Martin tweeted, we're only two games in, but I feel this LSU secondary is the deepest it’s been since 2011. A similar statement could be made about the linebackers with freshmen like Tyler Taylor and K’Lavon Chaisson. The quality of freshmen across the board is a big testament to this staff’s eye for talent. And I feel the same as you about Coach O.
Reader Comments: Scott, you wrote before about this being a transitional year with Coach O in his first full season and so many new coaches on offense. For the mail bag, I’d like to know your thoughts on the coaching staff through two games.
My Response: Dan, some will point to penalties in the opener and in the first half of Game 2 and use that to discount coaching, but I’d say this team has been very well-prepared to play in each game. And that’s saying a lot when you consider the large number of freshmen who have played. I’ve rarely seen anyone out of position, everyone plays hard for the full 60 minutes, and I haven’t once noticed that confused glance to the sideline prior to the snap that we saw too often in previous years. Matt Canada’s game plans have been very different and very effective in each of the two games without showing too much, Danny Etling seems improved, and the new wide receiver coaching/consulting seems to be paying dividends. And what can you say about Aranda’s defense? I saw where LSU is currently first in the nation in run defense, fifth in total defense, and sixth in scoring defense. So, to answer your question, I’m very pleased with what I’ve seen so far from the staff.
Reader Comments: Your three-word description [sloppy, explosive, dominant] pretty much nailed it. I see a silver lining in the penalties. These guys seem to absolutely LOVE playing for Coach O. They are giving maximum effort and yes, they are a little out of control. However, the last defensive stand was proof of their mind set. This was a blowout against a weak opponent. Yet when they stopped them on 4th down, you would have thought that they had stopped Alabama on the goal line. How many times have you seen us sleep walk against a weaker team? Yes, we need to get it under control, and we will. I LOVE the effort of these guys. It looks like we have a whole team of Jamal Adams out there. I can't wait until next week and let's see what we have.
My Response: Well said, Ross. And great point about playing hard for a full 60 minutes. Bring on the next one!
That’s it, for the Mail Call. Thanks to all who chimed in.
• Here’s YouTube user Chris Forester’s weekly video of every one of Danny Etling’s throws in the game. Good stuff.
• Since I didn’t leave you with any Sunday morning coffee reads, today I’ll leave you with a couple of good ones by The Advocate that maybe you can sneak in while at work ;)
Have a great day, Tiger Fans, and be sure to tune in tomorrow for Tuesday’s tidbits.
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