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LSU vs. BYU - September 2nd, 8:30 PM CT
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11/13/17 5:30 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

It was great hearing from many of you about LSU’s big win over Arkansas and our initial recap of the game. As promised, I’ve selected several of the messages I received to share with you today in our Monday Morning Mail Call. Here we go… 

MONDAY MORNING MAIL CALL: POST-ARKANSAS EDITION

Reader Comments: Scott, If Clapp and Weathersby return, will there be better lines on both sides of the ball in CBF? 

My Response: Thanks for your message, John. If Clapp and Weathersby return and if there are no transfers or injuries, LSU’s O-line could be very good next year. Neither is likely to be rated a first-round pick and that will be the selling point for Orgeron. Another year in school could push them into being first-day picks. Weathersby has been hurt enough to where there may be some skepticism that could be cured by a healthy senior season. The Tigers should also return Ed Ingram, Saahdiq Charles, Austin Deculus, all of whom have received valuable playing time this year. Still, we know that injuries and attrition occur a lot along the line and that’s why it would be great to add a quality JUCO O-lineman (like Coach O has said he would like to do) to go along with the three high-school O-linemen LSU is expecting to sign. As for the D-line, it should be phenomenal with the return of Rashard Lawrence, Ed Alexander, Glen Logan, and with the availability of Tyler Shelvin and Texas Tech transfer Breiden Fehoko. The Tigers also already gave four DLs committed in this class including a couple of in-state kids I’m excited about – Dare Rosenthal of Ferriday and Davin Cotton of Evangel. As for your question about whether that will result in LSU having the best lines in CBF, I wouldn’t take it that far, simply because I’m not familiar enough with what other teams return. Suffice it to say that LSU appears to be moving in the right direction as far as fortifying its trench play, and Coach O fully recognizes the importance of doing so.

Reader Comments: Scott, I have to say I was once again amazed at how well this LSU team responded to the challenge they faced after not playing so well in the 1st half. The Tigers came out totally refocused from the onset of the 3d Qtr. and took care of business without blinking or looking back. Wow!! I think a big part of this team's identity is to fight and play hard for all 4 Qtrs. This has got to be in someway a testament to the quality of work by the coaching staff particularly in preparing the players and the game time planning, scheming and making adjustments. Hopefully recruits and others are taking notice. It looks like LSU might have a pretty darn good coaching staff.  

So Scott, here's my question: Lets say the Tigers finish with 10 wins (to include a big win in a major bowl), do you think anyone on LSU's coaching staff will be considered or at least talked about for jobs elsewhere? After the season is over, there's bound to be a lot of talk and speculation on the likely openings for HC and position coaches at Tennessee, Florida, Arkansas, Oregon State, possibly Ole Miss and others. GEAUX TIGERS!

My Response: Stephen thanks for the email. This is a valid concern, and the word is out on Aranda and Canada. Aranda is 41 and may not quite be ready to make the leap after two seasons at LSU. If he stays in Tigertown, he might build his reputation to get a shot at a Power 5 school, but I don't think he's there yet. As for Canada (45), there’s the possibility of him having a bad taste in his mouth after that deal with Orgeron earlier in the season when Coach O wanted to run a simplified offense against Troy. Still, I think they both stay, and I don't see the others going anywhere. None of the position coaches seem ready to move up to being a coordinator. One change we might see is Pete Jenkins retiring and Coach O hiring a younger D-line coach, or Dennis Johnson taking that job and O hiring an LB coach.

Reader Comments: I know that most every college wants their kicker to be a walk-on instead of a scholarship player. The fact of the matter is that special teams and kicking represents 1/3 of this game and most placekickers end up being one of the top three scorers on the team. My question is why do teams not spend a scholarship on getting the best possible kicker they can for a position that is extremely important instead of using it to get another DB, OL, DL, etc...? We're only talking one full scholarship! Having the best K is like already having points on the board before you even play! Too many games are won or lost by a 1-3 point margin and teams are basically relying on a player that they feel doesn't deserve a scholarship to win it.

My Response: Jim, Coach O was asked about this during last week’s radio show and said that he has no problem extending scholarships to specialists. LSU holds a kicking camp every summer and if they see someone who really catches their eye they sometimes offer him a full ride, just like they would a player at any other position. As a matter of fact, LSU’s Connor Culp (the guy who missed the field goal and two extra points Saturday) is a prime example. He really stood out at the 2015 kicking camp where he was making field goals from as far as 53-yards out. LSU offered him on the spot and he accepted. LSU punter Josh Growden also accepted a full scholarship when Les Miles was recruiting him. In other cases, specialists are asked to join the team as preferred walk-ons with the understanding that they could receive a full scholarship later. I believe LSU kicker Cameron Gamble is a prime example of this. It’s also worth noting here that LSU had a lot of success with walk-ons like Andre Lafleur, Colt David, and Drew Alleman.

Reader Comments: The game of football has three phases: offense, defense and special teams. LSU has hired an excellent offensive coordinator and an excellent defense coordinator. So why does the team split the special teams coaching functions between members of the staff? 

My Response:  Very timely question, Carlton. Coach O says he's going to hire Greg McMahon in January when staffs can expand to 10 assistants. Right now, they need the nine position coaches to make the offenses and defenses go. Special teams is important but a lot of the special teams players are working on offense and defense during practice. During special teams work, all the coaches are available and everyone pitches in because the field is so spread out, especially for coverage teams. The kickers spend most of practice just kicking until the full special teams get together. This is one of the main reasons college coaches have been calling for a 10th full-time assistant.

Reader Comments: Scott, do you think Brennan makes a start at any point this year over Etling? At this point in the season with the conference championship game out of the picture, what’s the point of sticking with a 5th year senior who appears to be holding this offense back by missing wide open receivers? My point is, we have to start thinking about next season, especially opening on the road against what will probably be a top 10 team in Miami. We need to quit worrying about getting to 10 wins and building for the future. I’d rather take a few lumps this year with a true freshman getting meaningful snaps and seeing what we have for next year than waiting to see what we’ve got on national tv to open 2018 and waiting yet another year with bad QB play. As always keep up the great work and GEAUX TIGERS!!!

My Response: Lance, I see what you are saying but it isn’t fair to the players who are playing their last season to give up trying to win games so the team is better next year. There isn't a coach in the country that would do that to guys that have worked hard every week. Etling is the team’s best overall quarterback at this time. Brennan will just have to wait his turn and work on becoming more prepared, physically and mentally, to take over the team. He may have the better tools but he's more likely to freak out during tough situations than a fifth-year senior and he’s awfully thin. Etling had a nice bounce back game vs. Arkansas and I don't think you will see Brennan start this year unless Etling gets hurt. That said, I do hope to see Brennan get considerable playing time and this week’s game against Tennessee could provide a good opportunity for that.

Reader Comments: Long time member, Vietnam Veteran… Topic: LSU BAND on the SEC Sunday Morning show  – LSU’s salute to Veterans at halftime was the only performance highlighted, and it was awesome - even the hosts and the analysts were speechless; YOU gotta give them some credit - they were even better than the team's 2nd half vs Arkansas. They sure made an ole vet proud of the LSU Tiger Band. shoutout.

My Response: First, sir, I thank you for your service. You’re right, that was an awesome show. The LSU Band is always a credit to the school. Many people can’t imagine just how hard they work to get those performances just right. (I can appreciate that all the more now that I have a daughter in the Lafayette High Marching Band’s Colorguard.) Also, I think it was outstanding that LSU honored our country’s veterans like yourself in such a spectacular way. Thanks again for your service and your longtime support of DandyDon.com.

Reader Comments: I read your comments on LSU quarterbacking and I am afraid I must disagree about Etling. Now I'm going to concede that Etling isn't Baker Mayfield but he's far from inadequate. In fact my money is that had he been quarterbacking LSU in 2012 LSU's chances of a national championship go way up. Right now Etling has a QBR of 152.3 which puts him at 19th nationally. He has a higher QBR than Lamar Jackson of Louisville, last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Jaylon Hurts of Alabama and Malik Rosier of Miami. Rosier and Hurts quarterback undefeated teams who are probably going to play in their conference championship games and are undefeated. Jackson and Hurts almost play as single wing tailbacks because of their running ability so I admit that gives them an edge. If you want to see a team that truly does need help at qb its Notre Dame which was totally exposed by Miami last nite.

Game Manager is a "damning with faint praise" term for quarterbacks but I would submit that if a quarterback is not a good game manager having a rocket arm and being able to hit a fly on a donkey's tail at 50 yards isn't going to matter all that much. The ability to make good decisions is vital at the position During the Miles administration tremendous athletes were recruited at qb but unfortunately a lot of them couldn't make good decisions under pressure. In fact the best quarterbacks under Coach Miles were inherited (Flynn) or recruited and developed by other programs (Mettenberger, Etling.) So if you're a Tiger fan count your blessings. I don't know what Gary Danielson's problem with Etling is but from where I sit LSU right now could do a heck of a lot worse.

My Response: Arthur, you make a lot of good points and I don’t disagree. I wasn’t saying Etling is no good. In fact, I’m a big fan of his. Etling is a good quarterback, the best LSU has had in a few years. He is clearly an excellent game manager, and in my opinion that is more important for a quarterback than arm strength; it always will be. That’s why Etling eventually took over for Brandon Harris, who had a better arm and was a much better runner. With that said, I wouldn’t call Etling an “elite quarterback,” and history has shown that’s what it usually takes to beat Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide, which is LSU biggest obstacle to a championship. But you’re correct… LSU is very fortunate to have Etling and Tiger fans should be mindful of that. Just imagine where we’d be without him?

From Mike: We've heard a lot about the recruiting of linemen, DB’s, and WR’s, but what about running backs? With both Guice and Williams leaving, that seems to be a very big need in this recruiting cycle.

My Response: God question, Mike. With LSU’s top two running backs (the only two that have gotten significant carries this season) expected to be gone next year, this is obviously a big position of need. Nick Brossette will return and he’s a talented back, but ball security seems to be an issue that has kept him from reaching his potential. Then there’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire who for some reason hasn’t seen much playing time since the start of the season. As for targets, so far LSU has received commitments from two running backs in this year’s recruiting class – Chris Curry (5-11, 200) of Florida and Tae Provens (5-11, 187) of Alabama. Both are ranked as three-star prospects. LSU is also in hot pursuit of four-star Harold Joiner (6-3, 218) out of Alabama and appears to be leading for his signature. Another back that I hear LSU is very high on is Louisiana’s own Anthony “Pooka” Williams (5-8, 165) of Hahnville High. He’s small in stature, but makes up for it with big-play potential. In last week’s first-round Class 5A non-select playoff game between Hahnville and Denham Springs, Pooka ran for 308 yards and five touchdowns, including runs of 61 and 57 yards. Pooka is currently committed to Kansas, but if I were a betting man, I’d bet on him ending up in LSU’s class. 

From Ryan: Great win for the Tigers. We were at the game and sitting 18 rows above the tunnel. Noticed Key limping off the field early in the game. After the game he walked into the locker room with Ice wrapped around his Knee. Chaisson got a lot of reps in the game. We will have to watch this during the week.

My Response: Ryan, I hope to learn more about Key’s injury this week. The good news is that he stayed on the sideline for the rest of the game after getting hurt. Had his injury been serious, the trainers would have insisted he go to the locker room and get off of his feet. He also wasn't on crutches. It's likely he twisted his knee and the ice was simply to prevent swelling so he could practice later in the week. With LSU in control of the game in the second half, there was no need to send him back in.

From Ken: With all of the upsets at the top of the polls this past weekend, what would be your best guess at LSU's ultimate bowl destination, if, of course, they win their last two games.

My Response: Ken, I hope you like Florida. The Tigers seem lined up for one of the bowls in the sunshine state, probably either the Taxslayer in Jacksonville or the Outback in Tampa. Really, they are deserving of the Capital One Bowl but usually teams don't like going to the same place two years in a row and the bowls don't like it either. I don’t pretend to be an expert in making bowl projections, but just for the heck of it I’m going to predict LSU concludes the season and ushers in the new year with big New Year’s Day win in the Outback Bowl.

Today’s Closing Tidbits:

Wanna see a video of that LSU band halftime performance referenced in the Mail Call above? I’ve added this sped-up version by YouTube usr cucciolo25 to our Media Gallery.

• As I do most Mondays during the season, I’ll leave you with a link to The Advocate’s Film Study by Ross Dellenger. LSU Film Room: Danny Etling's strong outing, Donte Jackson's expanding role and the box-loading Hogs

• Lastly, please note that I’ll be updating our Ticket Exchange later today or tomorrow. If you have a listing you’d like me to add or remove, just let me know.

Have a great day, Tiger Fans!

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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!



 

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