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11/06/18 5:30 am CST

Good Morning, Tiger Fans,

TUESDAY TIDBITS: YOUR DAILY DOSE OF TIGER NEWS DELIVERED IN A BAKER’S DOZEN QUICK HITTERS

1. It’s Game Day, folks! That’s right, LSU basketball begins tonight with Coach Will Wade’s men’s team hosting Southeastern State at the PMAC. Tip-off is set for no later than 7:30 pm CT, approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of the LSU Lady Tigers’ season opener against Sam Houston State which begins at 5:30. Both games will be streamed online via SECN+ and the Watch ESPN app. To help prepare you for the season, here’s a “Boot Up” podcast hosted by Cody Worsham in which he sits down with Coach Wade for a 30-minute conversation on the season ahead.

2. LSU’s men enter the season nationally ranked (No. 23) for the first time since the 2015-16 season and expectations haven’t been this high since the Dale Brown years. Of course, the high expectations for the team stem from the transformation fiery head coach Will Wade brought to the team in his first season and the phenomenal recruiting class he brought in this year. I had the pleasure of visiting with Coach Wade for a few minutes Saturday during a tailgate party and asked him which single player might excite fans the most. After a thoughtful pause, he named freshman Emmitt Williams. Asked if there’s anything surprising I can tell Tiger fans about the team, he said that three freshmen will probably start. Stay tuned for a full report on the game in tomorrow’s update, thanks to Jake Martin who will be helping out with our basketball coverage again this season.  

3. Before moving on with football news, please take a moment to share your expectations for LSU men’s basketball by voting in our online poll. LSU is coming off an 18-win season a year ago in which the Tigers advanced to the second round of the NIT. This year’s Tigers are young but talented after the LSU staff brought in the No. 4 ranked recruiting class in the nation. So, today’s poll question is, “How far will this year’s LSU basketball team go?” NIT Tournament? NCAA Tournament? Sweet 16? Elite 8? Final Four?

POLL: DandyDon.com Asks: How far will this LSU basketball team go?

4. For LSU football fans and players still reeling from Saturday’s loss, this week’s road game against Arkansas can’t get here soon enough. That contest is set to kick off at 6:30 p.m. and will be televised by the SEC Network. The early betting line has LSU as a 17-point favorite.

5. The early forecast in Fayetteville calls for temperatures in the lower 30s by the game’s end, and LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is fired up about it. In yesterday’s player interviews, he called that “football weather” and laughed at the idea of quarterbacks wearing sleeves or gloves. “Those guys are probably the from the south,” he joked. 

6. On a more serious note, Burrow said he knows the importance of the next three games with a NY6 Bowl still well within reach. “That’s what we’re playing for,” he said. “It does sit in the back of our mind, but if you focus on that, you can lose track of the day to day, and you can’t do that because you don’t get better. If we don’t get better, we’re going to lose a game.”

7. Before player interviews, Coach Ed Orgeron met with the media and shared his own thoughts on getting better. He said the top three things they need to do are: 1. Coach better; 2. Execute better; and 3. Build more depth in the trenches. That was a welcome contrast to what he said immediately following the game when he emphasized the need for better linemen, something that was perceived by many as throwing his guys under the bus.

8. Asked about personnel for the upcoming game, Orgeron said they will keep the right tackle competition between Austin Deculus and Adrian Magee open in practice this week. As for safety John Battle who left the game after suffering an injury on Alabama’s first possession, Orgeron said he’s questionable for the game.

9. Asked to assess offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger’s performance so far this season, Orgeron replied, “I think he's done an excellent job. For us to beat Georgia by 20 points, I thought it was a great game plan against Georgia, it was excellent. I thought the comeback victory against Auburn was excellent I forgot how many points we put on Miami, 33 points on Miami, I think he’s done a tremendous job there.”

10. With only three games left in the regular season, several players are in line to receive redshirts due to the new NCAA rule that allows a player to participate in up to four games and not lose his redshirt eligibility. With that in mind, Orgeron was asked if he’s given any thought to giving quarterback Myles Brennan some reps. Orgeron’s response confirmed that Brennan was nursing a slight injury earlier in the season at times when he could have seen action (something I alluded to after the Ole Miss game) and that all of the other games were too tight to put him in. He didn’t reveal any specific plans to get Brennan playing time this season, but did say there are several players that can get reps and still get redshirted.

11. While on the topic, here’s a good article by 247Sports that lists eight freshmen who have not played in a game and are set to redshirt, as well as four who have played in no more than four games and still can redshirt.  

12. One game in which several potential redshirts should receive action is the game against Rice in two weeks. It was announced yesterday that the game will kickoff from Tiger Stadium at 6:30 p.m on ESPNU. LSU’s regular-season finale against Texas A&M will also be a night game and will kickoff at 6:30 pm CT in College Station. It will be televised by the SEC Network.

13. That’s it for now. I’m running out of recipes to share with you for the non-sports  “lagniappe” portion of our weekly tidbits, so instead I’ll remind you of this tried and true Crawfish Étouffée recipe I posted a while back and tweeted about last night. And on a more important note, here’s a reminder to go out and exercise your right to vote today. It’s one of our greatest privileges and responsibilities, and should never be taken lightly.

(And don’t forget to vote in our basketball poll, too. Infinitely less important, but hey.)

Have a great day, Tiger Fans.

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11/5/18 5:30 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

It was great hearing from so many of you yesterday in what was easily a record-braking day for emails this season. As promised, I’ve selected a half-dozen of the several hundred message I received to share with you today, along with my responses. But first, a word on the weekly polls. 

After suffering a 29-0 blowout loss to No. 1 Alabama, LSU still remains a top-10 team in the two rankings released last night. LSU (7-2, 4-2 SEC) checked in at No. 9 in the AP Top 25 and No. 10 in the Coaches Poll. After top-ranked Alabama, Clemson came in as No. 2, Notre Dame at No. 3, and Michigan at No. 4. Georgia jumped up to No. 5 in both polls after defeating Kentucky and winning the SEC East, while the Wildcats fell to No. 12. Other SEC teams in the top-25s include Mississippi State (18/15) and Florida (19/ 21). Here are the complete rankings

DANDYDON.COM’S MONDAY MORNING MAIL CALL - POST BAMA EDITION

From Jody: Hey Scott, Longtime time reader. Thanks for your excellent work on this site. Why is it that every opponent that Bama faces can score but LSU?? Looking back at their schedule, even UL-Lafayette scored 14 points. Tiger Nation likes to say coaching, play calling, and physicality are the causes for the loss. However, I feel that our players are more physical and coaches are better than teams like Louisville, Arkansas State, and LALA, yet they manage to score points and pound out yards. Every year, Bama drops one game dating back to 2009 but LSU can only score 10 points in the last three contests combined. What gives? 10-2 is still a great year. Time to move on to Arkansas. 

My Response: Thanks for your longtime readership, Jody. I’ve received this question a ton since the game, so I’ll include it in our Mail Call. I think there are several things to consider here. One is that some (not all) of those points scored by Alabama’s opponents were scored well after the outcome had been determined and with several Bama backups on the field. Another is that this game is the biggest contest of the regular season for Alabama and they recognize how critical it is not only to their quest for a championship but in recruiting. And of course it doesn’t help that Nick Saban has a week off to prepare for LSU. (Remember, they take their bye week right before this game too, just as LSU does.) And don’t discount the huge impact of the prime-time, big-as-it-gets atmosphere that always surrounds this game. The bottom line is this game, in early November, just means more. More in terms of championship implications, and more in terms of recruiting. Ed Orgeron gets that, and Nick Saban does too. That’s why you saw Tua Tagovailoa in the game the entire contest after never having reached the fourth quarter in any other game. 

From Rusty: Scott, I agree with your assessment of the game, we are not in the same league with Bama. My only real disappointment of the night was attempting a field goal down 3 scores with 7 and half minutes left. What was the point of that? Technically, we still had a shot, score there and it's a 2 score game, make the field goal and it's still 3 scores. Embarrassing that we wouldn't try to stay in the game we just seemed concerned about not getting shut out. That's a loser’s attitude, was very surprising to see that from this group. We will regroup and that will be the last blemish of the year. #LSUForever

My Response: Thanks, Rusty. When LSU elected to go for the field goal there I turned to my buddy and said “They’re conceding defeat.” I didn’t like it when it was called. I didn’t like it when Tracy missed it. And I’m still not crazy about it today, though I do get it. From a confidence and morale point, it helps to put points on the board, and perhaps the thought of sparing Steve Ensminger some of the heat that comes from going scoreless against Alabama in two attempts came into play. But aside from that one play – and the time that Burrow dropped back to pass from our own end zone – I didn’t have a big problem with the play calling. The problem was that they were so limited in what they could call due to a lack of protection, and what they did call they didn’t execute all that well due to getting mauled at the line of scrimmage.

From Chris: Scott: I look at Ed O’s statements after the game alluding to getting better up front. Yes, it’s true we have to get better up front but LSU has to change the approach to this game period. Coach Saban has changed the way he plays this game with spreading the field, yet the version we call spreading the game is putrid at best and we will only beat the teams we’re are supposed to beat. We will NEVER beat Bama with our philosophy. I did not see anything that would lead me to believe Coach Ensminger is the answer going forward. LSU has not scored against Bama defense since 2014, let that sink in. There were plenty of opportunities for Burrow to tuck the ball and run left in the RPO and it became evident that LSU had ZERO intentions of letting him carry the ball. It was almost like they were scared to see him take some shots by the defenders due to the lack of depth at the QB position. I just find it hard to believe that our offensive players are that bad. Everyone in the conference can score on Bama except LSU. No my friend, I refuse to accept that the depth of talent is the issue. The real issue is the play calling and this washed up dream on having a similar offense to that of ED O’s days at USC under Pete Carroll.

My Response: Well, my friend, I respect your opinion but will kindly disagree with your conclusion. I do not think the “real issue” is play-calling and offensive scheme. That said, I understand why the jury may be still out on Steve Ensminger at OC. I mean, LSU is 10th in the SEC in scoring and rushing offense, and 12th in the league in  passing and total offense. And you’re right that Ensminger’s offense hasn’t scored on Bama in two years (I mentioned that in our initial recap). Last night, his play-calling was severely limited by the fact that LSU was getting beaten badly at the line of scrimmage, and it’s been hampered all year by the lack of tight ends. And those two factors play a big part in why you are not seeing LSU spreading the field the way you and I – and the staff – would like. To me, this loss is easy to explain in two sentences. Alabama had the better players, especially in the trenches. And Tua is the best quarterback in college football. I still believe in this staff and they have my full support.

From Dan: Scott, you said that the gap between LSU and Alabama has widened, and I agree. But you’ve got to give me some hope, man! Give me any reason to believe that LSU can narrow the gap next season or any year that Coach Saban is there.

My Response: Let me start by reemphasizing that the gap between Alabama and everyone has widened this year. And truth be told, it’s disheartening to think that Saban will have another stellar class of recruits and Tua Tagovailoa to work with again next year. The truth is there is no quick fix. That said, my hope comes from knowing that Ed Orgeron recognizes what it takes to close the gap and knows that it all starts up front in the trenches. Having Dare Rosenthal at left tackle next year should help a lot if he’s as good as we expect he’ll be. Remember, he was a five-star OL before he was a four-star DL. Then there’s 5-star OG Kardell “Mr. Pancake” Thomas and a pair of four star OTs already committed to us for next season. But it can’t stop there. LSU needs to add another elite OT, which might mean flipping a big-time prospect like Florida State commit Charles Cross. They also need a couple of elite running backs and seem to be well on the way with commit Tyrion Davis, target John Emory, and others. And, of course, LSU needs to keep its best talent at home, which makes the LSU-Alabama battle for Amite DT Ishameal Sopher all the more crucial.

From KW: Scott, the reason for the domination of Alabama over LSU the past seven years is the difference in talent between the school’s players. And this difference is a result of recruiting. Nick Saban has out-recruited LSU nationally and especially in Louisiana. Alabama had ten players from Louisiana on their roster (tied for second with Texas) and 7 were starters. This doesn’t include Savion Smith, who began his career at LSU but transferred to junior college then to Bama. Somehow, Coach O has got to figure out how to keep Louisiana’s football talent at home. This task is even more daunting when Saban can practically guarantee recruits multiple national championship rings. Any thoughts on how to accomplish this?

My Response: You’re right that there was a ton of Louisiana talent helping Alabama Saturday night. There are ten guys from Louisiana schools on their roster and I counted six of them who started, including LBs Chris Allen and Dylan Moses of Baton Rouge, DT Isaiah Buggs of Ruston, CB Shyheim Carter of Kentwood, WR Devonta Smith of Amite and TE Irvin Smith of New Orleans. That’s sickening and has to stop. But it’s important to keep things in perspective. Saban has not “out-recruited” Orgeron in Louisiana. Last year, LSU signed eight of the top-10 guys in the state (according to 247Sports’ rankings and our rankings, which are not the same). The only top-ranked player Alabama signed was CB Eddie Smith of Salmen who was ranked as high as No. 11. Of the seven top-10 players in this year’s class who are currently committed to a school, seven are committed to LSU and none are committed to Alabama, per 247Sports. Granted, Alabama and LSU are in a heated battle for two of the three who are not yet committed, DT Ishamael Sopher and S/WR Davonta Lee of Amite. But to answer your question about ways to keep kids at home, I can give you two: 1) The thing that would have more of an effect than anything is beating Bama. Saban knows that too, which is why the LSU game is so important to him. 2) The other thing is to show that the program is trending in the right direction and sending folks to the NFL at a high rate. Number 1 is obviously troublesome, but LSU is hitting it out of the park with Number 2.

From Justin: I’m a long time reader, but this is my first time commenting. First I want to thank you for all that you do with this site. I was in the Marine Corps for 16 years, and no matter where I was I was usually able to get internet access and always looked forward to seeing how our Tigers were doing. It’s always great to get that piece of home from far away. So, thank you for that. As for the Bama game, as much as it hurts we have to keep it in perspective. It was only one game in a season where we were expected to win only 5-7 games. I thought there were some positives that came from it. Patrick Queen played great in the absence of Devin White. The defense as a whole played well enough to win despite the offensive troubles. Point blank, the offensive line has to get better to be able to compete with the upper echelon teams. The other issue I saw on offense were the receivers not getting any separation. 

My Response: First and foremost, Justin, thank you for your service to our country. And thanks for your longtime readership. You’re right that there were some positives in the game, and I’m glad you mentioned that because I didn't touch on them in our initial game recap. As you mentioned, Queen stepped up big time in White’s absence. And so did safety Todd Harris after John Battle went down on Alabama’s first possession of the game. Both of those guys had career nights. Queen logged nine tackles – eight in the first half alone – including two for a loss. Harris tallied 12 tackles and became the first player to intercept Tua Tagovailoa all season. And while dishing out props, I thought nose tackle Ed Alexander had a huge game, Clyde Edwards-Helaire provided the most impressive special teams spark of the season with his 57-yard kick return, and wide receiver Justin Jefferson had a strong night with six receptions for 81 yards. And you’re right about keeping things in perspective. LSU gave the best team in the country a better fight than anyone has and is still a legitimate top-10 team with a chance at a 10-win season plus a quality bowl win. The important thing now is to take care of business and not let that one game beat you twice. I’m proud of these Tigers and proud to be a member of the most passionate fan-base in the country. Yes, it’s still a great time to be a Tiger!

Thanks to all who chimed in. See you tomorrow for Tuesday’s tidbits. 



 

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