NCAA Baseball Championships:
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11/12/17 5:20 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Despite a sluggish start offensively, the Tigers overcame several early missed opportunities en route to a dominating 33-10 win over Arkansas. With the win, the Tigers improved to 7-3 overall, 4-2 in SEC play, and kept the possibility of a 10-win season well within reach.
At first, it looked like the Tigers’ offense had hit the snooze button after the early kickoff. Errant throws, dropped passes, penalties, and a missed field goal led to a 7-7 halftime score in a game that felt like it should have been 21-7 Tigers. But credit the team and coaching staff for pulling things together at the break and coming out on fire to start the second half. Not only did the Tigers march down the field and score a touchdown on the opening drive of the third quarter (the series “Dandy Don” Long used to always refer to as the most important in the game), they also scored touchdowns on three of the next four to pull away.
Meanwhile, LSU’s defense turned in a strong performance, especially early in the game when they limited the Hogs to just 49 yards and no third down conversions until the final drive of the half. Aranda’s group would struggle a bit in the third quarter, but when the contest was all said and done, they had limited Arkansas to one TD and 318 yards, which is nothing to sneeze at.
The biggest negative of the game was the sudden reappearance of placekicking problems. Connor Culp entered the game having made eight consecutive field goals and all of his extra points, but that took a dramatic turn yesterday when he missed a chip shot field goal in the second quarter and then followed it up with two missed extra points. Coach Orgeron turned to placekicker Jack Gonsoulin for the team’s final two PAT attempts and he nailed them both. This will obviously be a concern moving forward and one the team needs to get a handle on.
A few props and observations:
• Danny Etling failed to execute on a few golden opportunities, but had a solid second half and ended with a strong stat line: 11-of-16 for 217 yards, two TDs, and no interceptions. Three of his completions and both touchdowns were on plays of more than 20 yards. A lot of folks have been down on Danny Etling and it’s true that quarterback play will need to be better next year than it has been this year for LSU to win championships, but that was a commendable outing.
• Two of Etling’s long touchdown completions were to DJ Chark who had the best game of his career. The first was a 45‐yard completion late in the first quarter that gave Chark his first receiving touchdown of the season. The second was a 68-yard beauty in the fourth quarter. Chark finished the day with four catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns.
• Two other receivers who deserve props are Stephen Sullivan and Dee Anderson. Sullivan tied his career‐best with two catches for 40 yards, including a long of 21 yards, and also had a key block that helped spring Derrius Guice’s 33-yard TD run. As for Anderson, he recorded his first catch of the season, a beautiful third down grab to move the chains in the Tigers’ second offensive series. In my opinion, these guys represent the future of LSU’s receiving corps and I hope to see them utilized a lot more down the stretch.
• Derrius Guice appeared to be at full health as he ran for 147 yards and three TDs on 21 carries, and this is despite only getting one carry in the second quarter. All of his TD runs came in the second half and he seemed to get stronger as the game went on, which is a great sign.
• Defensively, Devin White didn’t have his best game but still led the team in tackles with 12. Donté Jackson had an outstanding game, though there are a couple of plays he’d like to have back – one when he missed a tackle on third-and-1, allowing a conversion, and another when he couldn’t hold on to what would have likely been a pick-six. Also, props to Greedy Williams for closing out the game with his fourth interception of the season. That kid will be a lot of fun to watch the next couple of years.
As for coaching, I thought LSU had an excellent game plan and I credit Coach O for rallying the troops after a tough, disappointing loss to Alabama. The victory marked a season-high for Orgeron as a head coach. He won six as LSU’s interim coach last year and had six with USC in the same capacity. The way his team fought through adversity the last few weeks and in yesterday’s game should go a long way in winning over many of his most vocal critics. Closing out the season with two more SEC wins, which looks very achievable, would give LSU its most SEC wins since 2012 and land the Tigers in a quality bowl game. Seems to me that this LSU football program, which many left for dead after the Troy loss, is very much alive and well. It’s a great day to be a Tiger!
I’ll leave you for now with the game’s video highlights, the complete box score, and this video of Coach Ed Orgeron’s Post-game comments by WAFB.
As usual, I invite you to send me your comments and questions (not necessarily limited only to football) so I can select a few to include in tomorrow’s Mail Call. Have a great day, Tiger Fans!
11/11/17 5:40 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans, it’s Game Day!
Today is Veterans Day and I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all the veterans who have served to protect and safeguard the liberties we cherish, and often take for granted, here in the United States of America. Thank you for your service.
In just a few hours, LSU (6-3, 3-2 SEC) will look to get back on a winning track when the Tigers take on Arkansas (4-5, 1-4 SEC) in Tiger Stadium. LSU is rebounding from a disappointing but competitive loss to Alabama, while Arkansas is coming off a one-point Homecoming win over Coastal Carolina. LSU leads the all-time series between the two schools, 38-22-2, but Arkansas has won two of the last three meetings, including back in 2015 when the Hogs pulled off a stunning 31-14 upset over No. 9 LSU in Tiger Stadium. In order for LSU to avoid another such upset on its home turf, the Tigers will need to take care of the following keys.
Keys to an LSU Victory Over Arkansas
Come out on fire
Hangovers happen in college football. LSU is not immune, and a morning kickoff surely doesn’t help. The Tigers need a fast start to keep Arkansas from getting a confident foothold in Tiger Stadium. LSU’s loss last week to Alabama might take a little of the early fight out of the Tigers due to the losing result and the effort they expended. But coach Ed Orgeron had them ready last year in a similar situation on the road, so there is reason for optimism. Tiger fans may not quite be running on all cylinders at kickoff and the team might have to generate its own excitement to get things kick-started.
Run the ball effectively
Arkansas has had trouble stopping the run, as evidenced by the fact that they’re allowing 190 yards per game on the ground. LSU needs to exploit this weakness. A strong running game is invaluable in making the passing game more effective so don’t be surprised to see LSU pound away and wait patiently to strike big off the play-action. Derrius Guice should get close to 20 carries and throwing in some more Darrel Williams in the Wild Tiger offense would give future opponents more to think about. LSU still has plenty of its run personality left over from the Les Miles era and it should serve them well today.
Win turnover battle
Nothing equalizes a game between mismatched opponents like turnovers. Arkansas has forced 13 turnovers and has an edge on the Tigers there. One gripe about LSU’s defense is that it has produced just nine turnovers in nine games, which is surprising considering the Tigers have a whopping 30 sacks, second in the SEC. With a weakened Arkansas offense coming in, and with LSU having three of the best cover cornerbacks in the country to defend a pass-heavy attack, LSU should have ample opportunity to boost its turnover ratio today. If LSU winds up on the wrong end of this statistic, that could spell trouble.
No breakdowns on kick coverage
LSU’s kickoff coverage has been sketchy all year while Arkansas has a weapon on the other side of that coin. De’Vion Warren, a Louisiana native, is averaging 27 yards per kick return and has a TD already this season with a 100-yard return. LSU has improved in this area but is still near the bottom with only 23 touchbacks on kickoffs, meaning Warren may get a few opportunities. Mental discipline is the key on kickoff coverage and LSU will need it today.
Get after the quarterback, whoever it is
Arkansas lost starting quarterback Austin Allen on Oct. 7 but he could return today, which could be a boost for the Hogs. Cole Kelley has played fairly well in his absence but has missed some practice time this week. Regardless of which quarterback Coach Bret Bielema goes with, LSU’s pass rush versus Arkansas’ pass protection is a matchup LSU has to exploit by bringing the heat. Arkansas has allowed 28 sacks, the most in the SEC, while LSU has produced 30. Arden Key should be in line to ring up a few more today.
Turning to the hardwood, LSU basketball’s Will Wade era got off to a roaring start with a 99-59 win over Alcorn State. It’s hard to say just how good these Tigers are considering the quality of last night’s opponent, but the 11,856 fans who were on hand for the contest – the most for a season opener in 20 years – had to love what they saw. Watching from home, what I saw was a team that demonstrated textbook ball movement, good shot selection, non-stop hustle, and great defensive effort. In other words, a team that looked nothing like last year’s Tigers and was an awful lot of fun to watch.
LSU shot a remarkable 61% (36-59) from the floor and 58% (11-19) from three-point range. Leading the way was former Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year, freshman point guard Tremont Waters, and man did he put on a show. Waters tallied 18 points in the first half alone en route to a 27-point total. His final stat line: 9-of-13 from the field, 4-of-6 from 3-point range, 5-of-6 from the free-throw line, six assists, five rebounds and five steals. How’s that for a Tiger debut? As impressive as Waters was, he was far from a one-man show. In fact, 11 Tigers recorded points, including four who finished with double-digit scoring. Duop Reath and Wade Sims each scored 11 points while Brandon Sampson finished with 10. Defensively, the Tigers limited Alcorn State to 39% shooting including a 32% mark in the second half, which says a lot about the team’s persistence from the opening tip to the closing buzzer. Here’s the complete box score.
If you didn’t get to watch the game and are having trouble envisioning the Tigers putting up those kind of numbers, check out these video highlights. And while you’re at it, you might want to check out Coach Will Wade’s post-game press conference. Next up, the Tigers will look to build on their strong start with a home game against Samford on Thursday.
In women’s basketball news, LSU’s Lady Tigers weren’t as fortunate in their season-opener, as they fell to No. 23 FSU, 61-55 in Tampa, Fla. Junior Chloe Jackson led the team in scoring with 21 points, the seventh 20+ point game of her career. Senior Raigyne Louis had 11 points, nine rebounds and three assists, while freshmen Jailin Cherry and Faustine Aifuwa each chipped in seven points. For more on the game, see this article by LSUSports.net.
That’s it for today, but I’ll leave you with this link to the LHSAA scoreboard Twitter feed so that you fans of LA prep football can check out last night’s scores.
Have a great day, Tiger Fans!
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