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6/11/18 4:00 am CDT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Notice what time this update is posted? That’s because my family and I are off for Orlando, headed to Disney World! But don’t worry, your daily dose of Tiger News won’t miss a beat. With the help of a few DandyDon associates, we’ll continue to post these vacation style reports in which we’ll give you any breaking news followed by some prewritten material (like the Detillier piece today and our position reviews beginning tomorrow) as well a few closing tidbits.

Coach Ed Orgeron’s 2019 recruiting class has moved into the Top-10 after picking up a solid commitment yesterday from cornerback Marcus Banks. Hailing from Houston, Banks (6-0, 170) is rated as “just” a three-star by the major recruiting services, but don’t pay any attention to that. Instead, look at the who’s-who list of schools that have offered the young man – programs like Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and several others. If he’s good enough for those guys and for LSU’s proven defensive staff, I have no doubt that he’s a big-time get at what is clearly one of LSU’s biggest positions of need in this class.

With Banks’ pledge, the Tigers’ 2019 class now contains 12 commitments and is ranked No. 10 in the 247Sports composite team rankings. With so many highly-rated targets from Louisiana (or with Louisiana ties) in play – such as running backs John Emery Jr. and Noah Cain, wide receivers Trey Palmer and Devonta Lee, defensive lineman Ishmael Sopsher, linebacker Donté Starks, and cornerbacks Devin Bush and Derek Stingily – LSU is in outstanding shape to finish with an elite top-5 recruiting class. Stingley, by the way, is expected to announce his school of choice next Wednesday and Bush plans to announce his in August.

Now let’s move on with the last of three write-ups from NFL and College Football Analyst Mike Detillier. Yesterday, I shared Mike’s thoughts on several newcomers who could make a big splash this year, and today he shares his thoughts on the one who comes with the greatest expectations of all. 

MONDAY, JUNE 11:

Mike Detillier on LSU quarterback Joe Burrow

That's a huge pickup to land Joe Burrow. No one knows their team better than the coaches at LSU and they felt for 2018 they needed Burrow. If they felt strongly for 2018 on any of the other QBs then why try to land Joe Burrow?

I spoke to Saints WR and former Ohio State WR Michael Thomas about Joe at the Bayou Preps Banquet last week and he really praised Burrow for his smarts, his leadership skills, his toughness as a player. He said he’s a very accurate passer from the pocket and has very good mobility skills. He was glad he selected LSU if he went any other place other than Ohio State. He knows Ed Orgeron from Coach O's USC days and thinks highly of him and feels Burrow will do a great job for LSU.

From the limited snaps and his spring work, you can see Burrow’s touch on the short to intermediate passes, his ability to read and recognize coverages, and his movement skills to make plays outside the pocket. No one is giving him the spot, but I would be surprised, barring an injury, if he is not the starter vs. Miami (Fla.) in the opener. His maturity and calmness in the huddle is a huge key. Coach Steve Ensminger will have to get him mentally ready and on the same page as the receivers. But for 2018, Burrow is the best option or the Tigers wouldn't have signed him.

Last season, it was no secret that then-offensive coordinator Matt Canada wanted Myles Brennan to be the starter vs. Brigham Young. Coach O felt differently and felt Danny Etling gave the team – due to his on-field experience and playing through a back injury in 2016 – the best chance to win.

I still think very highly of Myles and also Lowell Narcisse – who they have to build some packages around due to his running skills – but Joe Burrow gives them the best chance to win and win early in 2018, and that's crucial for this football team playing Miami (Fla.) and Auburn in two of the first three games.

If Coach E can develop Burrow at quarterback, a position Steve played, then the others follow in recruiting, but until you develop the first big-time QB then that question mark will always be there and other teams will use it against you. You are going to have a tough time landing a big time QB unless this staff develops the first one and this has been the sinkhole. The best option to win early at quarterback starts with Joe Burrow. I like the pickup and I think highly of him as a player and a guy that can be productive in the short to intermediate game and be a leader. 

Stay tuned for DandyDon.com’s position-by-position review of the 2018 Tigers. 

Now let's move on with our countdown towards the Miami season opener. Today makes 83 days until we tee it up and it brings to mind another player-type teams can't do without – No. 83 Russell Gage. LSU will miss his heart and his versatility. Gage is the type of player everyone – fans, media, teammates, coaches – roots for. He showed up at LSU as a three-star recruit, an afterthought whom the Tigers landed late in the cycle. He was a man without a position, coming in as a defensive back but switching to wide receiver, always deep in the background. But once Ed Orgeron took over as interim coach in 2016, his playing time shot upward and so did his production. 

Gage played in 11 games as a junior with four starts, all in the latter half, and caught five passes for 62 yards. But it was his play on special teams where he stood out, making tackles, downing punts and leading the Tigers’ effort with great spirit. Last season, he caught 21 passes for 285 yards and three TDs while rushing for 232 yards and another score on 28 carries in the jet sweep. Go here and see his 30-yard TD which sparked the upset at Florida (it's the second play on the highlight video). 

Gage should be a lesson for every high school player who aspires to college and pro football – never give up. He started at the bottom of the depth chart and fought his way up, eventually getting drafted. He wasn't invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, the Senior Bowl, or any all star game, but he rocked the LSU Pro Day. The Atlanta Falcons noticed and picked him in the sixth round, No. 194 overall, in the NFL Draft. If Gage was returning to LSU, he would be giving Foster Moreau a run for his money in the competition to wear No. 18. But even better, he’ll be catching, running and tackling for his own money in the pros.

Closing Tidbits:

• Here’s a good read on LSU’s latest cornerback Marcus Banks, who is following his heart and his late father’s footsteps by playing collegiate football. 

• And here’s a story and video about LSU 2020 quarterback commit JT Finley of Ponchatoula who wants to change the QB culture at LSU.  

Have a great day, Tiger Fans.


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6/10/18 5:50 am CDT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

First, it was great hearing from so many of you about my family’s upcoming trip to Disney World (thanks for all the suggestions!) and about Edition 1 of our vacation style updates. Yesterday we shared with you Mike Detillier’s thoughts on key LSU football position battles and today we’ve got more from Mike, as well as our Countdown to Game Day and a few tidbits. Let’s jump right to it… 

Mike Detillier on newcomers who should make the biggest impact

Obviously, Joe Burrow would be No. 1 and I know we’ll discuss him more later. Number two for me would be Damien Lewis at offensive guard. That big JUCO man can flat out play and he is a mauler up front, especially as a run blocker. He will need some technical upgrades as a pass blocker, but I can’t see anything but injury that would keep him from being in the starting lineup at offensive guard. He is a huge man up front at the offensive guard spot.

I’m very interested in seeing halfback Chris Curry. He is a power-back with good vision, very strong and he constantly pounds those legs on first contact. 

This team is very deep at wide receiver, but I’m anxious to see a healthy Terrace Marshall and certainly Ja'Marr Chase. They have some strong upperclassmen ahead of them.

To be honest, a 2-B for me is the kicker Cole Tracy. Cole has to come through for LSU. You can’t have this rollercoaster ride at kicker. The final game sorta told you the whole story about the kicking game. You can’t blame the loss entirely on the kicker, but you have to have kickers that can kick 30-yard or less field goals in the SEC. You don't have to have like what Auburn had in Daniel Carlson – who was tremendous for them throughout his college career – but a consistent kicker is a must.

I want to see Tyler Shelvin. Ed Alexander is a stud in the middle, but you need a top No. 2 guy and Tyler is very talented and moves so well for a big man. He has to get better control of his weight, though, and upgrade his conditioning. Playing at 350 pounds plus is just too much for him and he would be limited to 15 to 18 snaps at that weight. But he's awfully good.

Travez Moore flashes outstanding pass rush skills off the edge. He is a tall-cut athlete with excellent quickness and closing speed to the QB. He impresses me with his hand-usage to get off a bigger blocker.

Certainly Kelvin Joseph at cornerback. He looks like a natural at free safety, but he will get a long look at cornerback. Kelvin has excellent size, really good recovery speed, and is tough in run support. But this is major college football and how well he adjusts to playing against guys every bit as fast, as quick and as good as he is will be the key. They will test him early and try to break him down mentally. They do it to all freshmen defensive backs. Teams try to break you down mentally and then you make physical mistakes, but Joseph is a very gifted cover man.

Terrence Alexander also. Transferred from Stanford and he looks like an ideal guy for the slot cornerback spot. Super fast, he tracks the ball well in flight and he can read and recognize what is happening quickly in front of him. Like it was with Donté Jackson, Terrence’s calling card is his speed and he is a feisty guy going up against bigger receivers downfield. That slot-cover cornerback spot is crucial for every team.

Stay tuned for Mike’s thoughts on the newcomer who will almost certainly have the biggest impact of all – quarterback Joe Burrow.

Moving on with our countdown to the much-anticipated season opener, we've got 84 days to go. Tight end Foster Moreau has worn that number for three seasons but maybe for not much longer. With his leadership and a positive, outgoing personality, he's a prime candidate to earn the illustrious No. 18 worn by the player who best exemplifies what it means to be a Tiger. It's voted on by teammates, who love Moreau for his tireless effort on the field and his sometimes wacky demeanor off the field. Every team needs a guy like that to keep the locker room loose and make players laugh. He loves to sneak up on teammates being interviewed and pretend be a reporter, once holding a banana as if it was a tape recorder. He'll also try to make teammates laugh or ask a silly question. Moreau backs it all up with his performance. (You can see the effort he puts forth in this video of  first career TD as a sophomore at Auburn.) Moreau caught 24 passes for 278 yards and three TDs last year and made a huge impact with his blocking. Josh Liskiewitz of Pro Football Focus ranks the 6-feet-6, 250-pounder as the No. 3 blocking tight end for 2019. With LSU moving to Steve Ensminger's pass first offense, Moreau is going to get a lot of work as a blocker and a receiver. It's no surprise he was asked to play host when Ohio State transfer quarterback Joe Burrow made a visit. Burrow ultimately accepted LSU's offer and he had to like Moreau's sense of humor, not to mention his size as a potential target. That's one tandem we will all want to see plenty of.

Today’s Closing Tidbits: 

•  For the 21st consecutive season, the LSU men’s track and field team finished the NCAA Championships with a top-10 finish. In yesterday’s finale of the championship meet, the Tigers scored 17 points to finish in a tie for eighth place with a total of 28 points. Head coach Dennis Shaver should be in good shape to finish stronger next year as he returns all but one athlete responsible for those 28 points. By the way, Georgia won the meet with a whopping 52 points.  

• The LSU women’s track and field team ended even better, scoring 41 points on the final day of the NCAA Championships to finish No. 6. Along the way, LSU picked up two national titles. One was by the 4x100 meter relay team of Mikiah Brisco, Kortnei Johnson, Rachel Misher and Aleia Hobbs. Hobbs also earned the title of women’s 100M dash national champion with a time of 11.01 seconds. The win completes her sweep of outdoor and indoor sprint titles. She won the 60M indoors in March with a collegiate record time of 7.07 seconds.

• On the baseball front, here are a couple of good reads from The Advocate to go along with your second cup of Sunday morning coffee. 

- First, here’s Part 2 of the Advocate’s Q&A with Coach Paul Mainieri. In this installment, Mainieri breaks down what should be a talented 2019 LSU baseball roster

- And here’s another by The Advocate: Rabalais: 2019 Tigers will have plenty of muscle to carry LSU baseball's lofty expectations

And as Lagniappe for all of you fellow gardeners who inquired about the sweet corn I mentioned yesterday, here’s a pic of my 99-ear harvest. Just like I’ve done for years and my father did before me, I selected all of of the prettiest ears to freeze whole for “corn-on-the-cobb” and will be making a big ole mess of corn maque choux with the rest today.  Simple pleasures. 



 

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