NCAA Baseball Championships:
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12/04/17 5:20 am CST
A New Year’s Bowl game against Notre Dame in sunny Orlando… I’ll take it! As most of you have heard by now, the No. 17 LSU Tigers are returning to the Citrus Bowl, this time to face a 14th ranked Fighting Irish team that should provide a great matchup for the Fighting Tigers. All things considered, I think this is about the best draw LSU could ask for. The game will mark the Tigers’ second consecutive trip to the Citrus Bowl (fifth overall) while providing an opportunity to avenge the Tigers’ 31-28 loss to Notre Dame in the 2014 Music City Bowl when the two teams last met. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET (noon CT) and the game will be televised to a national audience on ABC. Bring it on!
Interested in attending the game? LSU has announced that season ticket holders will receive their full request for the Citrus Bowl while others can purchase tickets using the following links: Public Tickets | Student Tickets
For those of you who have asked where LSU will be staying, I have not received that information yet, though I do know that it probably won’t be the same location as last year. Also, the many events scheduled for the team will be different so as to give the Tigers’ a brand new experience in Orlando. We’ll have more on that as details emerge, and we’ll have plenty of time to break down the two teams in the next four weeks.
In the meantime, with a little over two weeks until the early signing period, recruiting will remain a hot topic of discussion. LSU’s 2018 recruiting class currently contains 19 commitments and is ranked No. 13 in 247Sports’ composite team rankings. By comparison, last year at about this time LSU’s 2017 class had 18 commitments – highlighted by five-star JaCoby Stevens and ten four-star prospects – and was ranked No. 5 in the nation. That class ended up dropping to No. 7 in the final Signing Day rankings despite a strong finish that saw the additions of previously uncommitted targets K’Lavon Chaisson, Tyler Taylor, and Todd Harris. As for this year’s class, its eight four-stars and 11 three-stars don't make it as flashy as recent classes, but as I’ll point out below, that could change big-time with the addition of a few top targets that appear to be leaning LSU’s way.
FIVE TIGER TARGETS WHO COULD MAKE LSU’S RECRUITING CLASS A GREAT ONE:
CB Patrick Surtain 6-2, 181, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Surtain is the No. 1 ranked cornerback in the nation and the No. 4 overall prospect (regardless of position) in the country. Landing him would be a major coup for an LSU program that prides itself on being DBU. The good news is that LSU appears to be his clear leader. The Seminoles have long been considered LSU’s biggest threat for Surtain’s signature one has to think that Jimbo Fisher’s departure from Florida State only bolsters LSU’s chances.
WR Terrace Marshall, 6-3, 192, Parkway High
Marshall is not only the No. 1 player in Louisiana, he’s also the No. 1 wide receiver in the country. As with Surtain, LSU has been considered the favorite with Marshall for a long time and recent coaching changes at other schools could play into his decision. Marshall recently named LSU, Texas A&M, and Florida State as his top three, and it will be interesting to see how Fisher’s move to A&M affects his decision. At this point, LSU is still heavily favored to land his signature.
QB Justin Rogers, 6-4, 210, Parkway High
Although this newly-minted five-star has been committed to TCU since May 31, LSU is still very much in the picture. Rogers and Marshall visited LSU together for the A&M game and both left very impressed with what they saw from an LSU offense that racked up 45 points and 601 yards, including 347 yards through the air. Rogers remains committed to TCU and at this point, I’m not ready to call LSU his leader, though Coach Orgeron has put himself in a very competitive position, thanks in large part to the concern he’s shown for Rogers since he suffered a season-ending knee injury in early September.
Kelvin Joseph, 6-2, 191, Scotlandville Magnet
Joseph is the second-ranked player on our list of Top LA Prospects and is the No. 3 safety in the country. As many of you will recall, Joseph committed to LSU in February but then re-opened his recruitment in October. Joseph, who maintains that LSU is his leader, has visited Florida State and is scheduled to visit Clemson, Alabama and LSU before making a late decision. His announcement will likely be the hot topic of discussion for Tiger Fans on National Signing Day.
Badara Traore, 6-8, 315, ASA College
Traore is the No. 1 JUCO offensive tackle in the country and a huge priority, literally and figuratively, for coach Ed Orgeron. After making the long trip from New York to Baton Rouge for his official visit, Traore has raved about the atmosphere in Tiger Stadium during the big win over A&M and seems more likely than ever to sign with LSU. Traore’s decision could come soon and I predict it will be a welcomed one for Tiger Fans.
Of course, there are a lot more major targets in play for LSU. These include running backs Harold Joiner and Pooka Williams, a host of talented receivers, defensive lineman Dominic Livingston and several other prospects we’ll discuss in the coming weeks. By the way, Livingston is now set to take his official visit to LSU this weekend and is one to watch.
Now, as promised, let’s continue our series on Tigers who really stood out this season with a look at a few defensive MVPs. In case you missed the previous installments of the series, we named Foster Moreau and Greedy Williams as Breakout Players, Will Clapp and Greg Gilmore as Unsung Heroes and Derrius Guice, Darrel Williams, Danny Etling and DJ Chark as Offensive MVPs.
LSU 2017 DEFENSIVE MVPs
LB Devin White, 6-1, 248, So.
White should get some votes for SEC Defensive Player of the Year after four times being named the league's Defensive Player of the Week. He was clearly the Tigers' defensive touchstone with his passion and leadership. White led the SEC with 127 tackles, 12.5 of them for loss and 3.5 of those sacks. He picked off one pass, broke up three and recovered a fumble while playing sideline to sideline and goal line to goal line. He also took charge of the defense, calling the signals and exhorting his teammates. When the effort wasn't good, he called out the defense, himself included, and fans saw an improved product the following week.
DL Christian LaCouture, 6-5, 292, Sr.
More of a quiet leader than White, LaCouture was a rock of stability on the defensive line that was ravaged by injuries in the early going. He was versatile enough to play any of the line spots, and second on the team with 63 tackles. His six sacks were more than his three previous seasons combined. He also broke up four passes and had three quarterback hurries. Also worth noting, LaCouture was coming off major knee surgery that cost him the 2016 season and still didn't miss a single start. After torn ACLs, players usually don't get back to 100 percent until the second season after they return, which bodes well for LaCouture at the next level.
DE Rashard Lawrence, 6-3, 300, So.
Coach Ed Orgeron all but said Lawrence was the Tigers’ most important defensive player when he was missing during a three-game span in which LSU lost twice. He played nine games with nine starts and had 26 tackles, 2.5 for loss and 1.5 sacks with three hurries and a pass breakup. But his value was in his quickness and strength. Lawrence’s presence forced opponents to double team or run away from his side, and sometimes even a double-team wasn't enough to keep him out of the backfield. Like White, Lawrence is a leader who will be counted upon heavily by the 2018 Tiger defense.
CB Donté Jackson, 5-11, 175, Jr.
Jackson’s world-class speed and athleticism make him one of the best defensive backs in the SEC and no worse than a Day 2 pick in the NFL Draft. Jackson was moved to the nickel position because of his quickness and tackling ability and finished with 46 stops, 2.5 for loss, and one sack. He also broke up 10 passes while showing tremendous improvement and a big jump in confidence. With Greedy Williams and Kevin Toliver, he formed perhaps the best trio of defensive backs in the SEC.
In tomorrow’s report, we’ll take a look at our Special Teams MVP and then conduct our annual poll asking you to vote for the team’s overall regular-season MVP.
Today’s closing tidbits:
• In coaching carousel news, Guz Malzahn has agreed to a new deal with Auburn and is staying put, according to 247Sports. The report indicates that Malzahn’s new deal is structured with raises every year so that at the end of seven years he will be making north of $7 million annually. Malzahn's original deal was worth an average of $4.75 million per year through 2020.
• Also, FootballScooop.com reports that LSU offensive coordinator Matt Canada has expressed interest in the UL-Lafayette coaching job now that the Cajuns are parting ways with Mark Hudspeth. That would be a sizable pay cut for Canada and I would be surprised to see it happen.
Lastly, today starts the second week of our annual fundraiser. To those of you who have already shown your appreciation for the work that goes into producing a daily site like this one, my family and I offer our most sincere thanks. If you haven’t yet done so, please read this important message and consider donating today. Thanks in advance for your support.
12/3/17 5:55 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Later today, after what should be a very interesting College Football Playoff Selection Show, we’ll know the Tigers’ bowl destination, but in the meantime, since there’s no LSU game to recap today, we’ll continue looking back on the regular-season with a continuation of the series we started yesterday. After looking at two “breakthrough” players (Foster Moreau and “Greedy” Williams) in our previous report, today we’ll continue along those lines by looking at four Tiger MVPs on offense, then we’ll continue with our normal order of business, which includes a word on the SEC coaching carousel, a tidbit on recruiting, and more. Here we go…
LSU 2017 OFFENSIVE MVPs
RB Derrius Guice, 5-11, 218 Jr.
An obvious choice, although an injury prevented him from having the anticipated lights-out season. Guice rushed for 1,153 yards and 11 TDs on 216 carries despite missing one game and two starts. Once healthy, he looked like the same back that rushed for 1,387 and 15 scores last year and can match those totals with a monster bowl game. Guice was a workhorse and still averaged 5.3 yards per carry while catching a career-high 15 passes for 100 yards. His ever-churning legs made him difficult to bring down one-on-one and predict a strong NFL career to come. There's little doubt he will pass on his senior season but he leaves behind a big mark in LSU's legacy of running backs.
RB Darrel Williams, 6-1, 229, Sr.
Williams could have been a breakthrough guy or an unsung hero from yesterday's post. The fact that he's an MVP as a backup accentuates his value. Williams carried the running game when Guice was hurt and showed surprising versatility as a receiver, blocker and wildcat quarterback. Williams rushed for 776 yards and nine TDs on 136 carries. His 5.7 yards per carry average was better than Guice’s and he was the team’s second-leading receiver with 22 catches for 327 yards, with a gaudy 14.9 yards per catch. Losing Guice will hurt but the 2018 team needs someone to fill in Williams' role almost as much.
QB Danny Etling, 6-3, 215, Sr.
Under-appreciated because of his talent limitations, Etling had the best season for an LSU quarterback since Zach Mettenberger. His TD-to-interception ratio (14:2) was one of the best in the nation while throwing for 2,243 yards and a 60.3 completion percentage. He's not a running quarterback but when called on he showed toughness and didn't shy away from contact. He ran for two TDs and picked up some valuable first downs with his scrambling. What he doesn’t get enough credit for is his pocket presence and ability to remain calm in tight situations. He guided two fourth quarter scoring drives that resulted in field goals to give LSU its biggest victory of the season against Auburn and accomplished a lot behind an offensive line that struggled through the first two months of the season.
WR DJ Chark, 6-4, 198, Jr.
Chark was a breakthrough guy last year and added more to his legacy with a strong senior season as the go-to receiver. He caught 35 passes for 811 yards and three scores with an eye-catching 23.2 yards per catch average. Chark’s speed forced opponents to play a step deep and when he went in motion, the threat of him getting the ball on a speed sweep forced defenses to spread out. He ran 12 times for 68 yards and a TD and was even more dangerous on punt returns with two TDs, including a game-changer against Auburn that went 75 yards. Chark's speed will be highly valued in the NFL but he also rose in the eyes of pro scouts with his improved receiving skills and route-running.
Tune in tomorrow for a look at LSU’s Defensive MVPs and on Tuesday for our annual poll asking you to select the team’s overall regular-season MVP.
Before going any further, I want to congratulate the Georgia Bulldogs for unseating Alabama as SEC champion with a 28-7 victory over Auburn in the SEC Championship Game. The victory, which avenged a 40-17 loss to Auburn three weeks prior, will undoubtedly vault the Bulldogs into the College Football Playoff foursome and is quite an accomplishment for Georgia in its second season under Kirby Smart. What the game’s outcome means for Auburn and coach Gus Malzahn remains to be seen. Arkansas reportedly is determined to make an offer to bring Malzahn back to his home state as coach of the Razorbacks. He was offensive coordinator for one season at Arkansas and was a long-time, successful high school football coach in the state.
Today’s Closing Tidbits:
• As for what yesterday’s college football action means for LSU’s bowl destination, CollegeFootballNews’ final bowl projections, and most of the other projections I’ve seen, still have LSU vs. Michigan State in the Citrus Bowl.
• In coaching carousel news, former Volunteers coach Philip Fulmer, who is now leading Tennessee’s search for a new coach, has reportedly contacted Les Miles about the job.
• In recruiting news, LSU quarterback target James Foster of Montgomery, Alabama, has tweeted that he will not be signing in the early signing period and will be announcing his school of choice on the National Signing Day, which is February 7. Interestingly, LSU’s other big quarterback target, TCU commit Justin Rogers of Parkway, is expected to sign with his school of choice during the early signing period and enroll in January and the Tigers are still very much in play with him after a successful official visit last weekend. By the way, Rogers was just upgraded to five-star status in 247Sports’ composite rankings.
• Congratulations to former Tiger great Glenn Dorsey for being honored before yesterday’s championship game as part of the 2017 SEC Legends class. Dorsey won four national awards as a Tiger – the Lombardi Award, the Outland Trophy, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and the Lott Trophy – making him the most decorated defensive player in LSU history. He also was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year after leading the Tigers to the 2007 National Championship as a senior, despite playing much of the season with knee and tailbone injuries. I can think of no one more suited for the title of SEC Legend and was very pleased to see him recognized as such.
• Last but not least, a good read by The Advocate to go along with your second cup of Sunday morning coffee: “How does SEC, LSU solve its attendance issues? Well, it's complicated…”
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