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6/12/18 6:20 am EDT

Good morning, Tiger fans,

After a long but uneventful drive, Heather, the girls, and I arrived safely in Disney World and had a good first night out. Thanks to DandyDon contributor Jake Martin for holding down the fort while I’m out and helping out with this daily dose of Tiger News. 

Fresh off of the news of 2019 cornerback Marcus Banks committing to the LSU Tigers, we caught up with Mike Detillier for his thoughts on LSU’s most recent pickup. Detillier noted its value because of the need to have quality depth at the position. Considering LSU lost Donté Jackson and Kevin Toliver II to this year’s draft and assuming LSU will lose Greedy Williams and Terrence Alexander (one year of eligibility) after this season, you can see why this is such a critical need for the Tigers. Detillier went on to say Banks (6-0, 170) has good size and length and impresses with his reaction skills, which is something you can’t teach. He needs to get physically stronger, but he’s successful right now at rerouting receivers downfield. LSU needs to sign four cornerbacks and now has two in Banks and Maurice Hampton (Memphis), so props to LSU’s coaching staff for beating out stiff competition from Texas, Texas A&M, Alabama, Auburn and Notre Dame to get Banks. Next up, if LSU lands Derek Stingley (more on him later) when he announces his school of choice next week, the Tigers will be well on their way to meeting a high priority position of need.

Now then, let’s move on with our promised position review of the upcoming season…

Position Review: Offensive Line

One might say “fortify the trenches” has become our favorite phrase this offseason. LSU’s commitment to adding depth on both sides of the line should pay off not only this season but down the road each time the Tigers compete with the likes of Alabama and Georgia in roll-up-your-sleeves, big-boy football. LSU was at a disadvantage in this department last season, though I think we can all look back and admit this unit performed pretty well considering the circumstances. Heading into the season, it felt like we talked about the linemen as if they needed to be covered in bubble wrap. We sweated the thought of any injury on that thin unit. But we should all have a different mindset this season. LSU returns Saahdiq Charles (tackle) and Ed Ingram (guard) who were thrust into the fire as starters as freshmen and did a commendable job. LSU also has Lloyd Cushenberry, who pushed for playing time at center last offseason, as well as veteran guard Garrett Brumfield. Factor in Austin Deculus, who received playing time in 2017, and you’ve got a collection of talent that has quality experience. But here’s where the tide turns. Ed Orgeron did a tremendous job of landing recruits that can help LSU immediately, like graduate transfers Damien Lewis (guard) and Badora Traore (tackle). Both players should push for playing time immediately, but the one who stands out is Lewis. Everything we’ve heard and seen suggests that he’s too good to keep off the field, even if they have to do some shuffling to find a place for him.

Bottom line: Every position on the offensive line has two or more capable players in its place. That’s much more than what we could say a year ago.

Stay tuned for a look at LSU’s “quarterback room” in tomorrow’s daily dose.

Continuing our countdown to the start of LSU’s 2018 football season, which is 82 days away, today we remember a great Tiger win in 1982. On the morning of November 6, 1982, the headline of the New Orleans Times-Picayune read “UNTHINKABLE” after LSU handed Alabama a humiliating 20-10 loss in Birmingham. LSU completely manhandled Alabama in that contest and limited the Crimson Tide to only 80-yards of total offense, which was the lowest offensive production in Alabama history. Here’s how it went: LSU marched into Legion Field and jumped out to an early lead on Dalton Hilliard's 16-yard run, and then added to it on a Malcolm Scott touchdown reception. An Alabama fumble on a kickoff return led to an LSU field goal and allowed LSU to take a 17-0 lead into halftime. Early in the third quarter, Bama kicked a field goal and Dalton Hilliard fumbled on LSU's next possession, which Alabama converted for a quick touchdown pass. Just like that, it was 17-10, but LSU bounced back, drove downfield and added a field goal to make it 20-10, and then preserved the win with remarkable defense. (Take a stroll down memory lane by watching clips of that incredible contest, which you can find at about the 3:20 mark of these 1982 highlights.)

After the game, legendary Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant acknowledged LSU’s total dominance on defense, calling the game "an old-fashioned butt-whipping,” and then saddened Alabama fans by talking about retirement. Bryant did indeed retire after the season, and then tragically died of a heart attack a few weeks later.

Closing tidbits:

• On the baseball front, Daniel Cabrera was honored once again as a Freshman All-American yesterday. Cabrera, who was already named to the Collegiate Baseball magazine Freshman All-America squad, received Freshman All-America recognition from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Monday. Cabrera batted .315 with eight home runs and 54 RBI in 2018. We can say with confidence that this is the first wave of what should be many awards for Cabrera in his LSU career. After a somewhat slow start, Cabrera showed why he was so hyped up before the season, and we can’t wait to see what he does next season.

• In other baseball news to be filed in the “as expected” category, Florida high school right-handed pitcher Levi Kelly signed with the Diamondbacks for $350,000 yesterday. Kelly was an LSU recruit and signed with Arizona for double the slot value of an 8th round pick.

• In football recruiting news, LSU will host a talented 2020 cornerback in Malachi Moore this Friday, SEC Country reports. The 6’0”, 170-pound cornerback is a 4-star out of Hewitt-Trussville (Ala.) High School, and he’s ranked as the No. 15 cornerback in the country, according to 247 Sports. Moore is not committed to play anywhere but has already taken unofficial visits to Auburn and Tennessee this summer.

• Staying on topic with football recruiting, Derek Stingley Jr., who we mentioned above and have talked about quite a bit since he announced his commitment date of June 20th, was unveiled as the No. 1 2019 prospect on Rivals Monday. The Dunham High School cornerback becomes the first at his position to rank No. 1 overall on Rivals.

Have a great day, Tiger Fans.

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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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