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1/7/19 5:35 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
With no breaking news to report today, let’s jump right to our ongoing series on what LSU needs to do to go from a good season in 2018 to a great one in 2019. If you missed Part 1 of the series (Offensive Line), you can find it here.
AREAS WHERE LSU FOOTBALL MUST IMPROVE TO TAKE THE NEXT STEP
Part 2: Red zone
As good as Cole Tracy was at kicking field goals, his presence may have been part of the Tigers' problems in the red zone. LSU may have been a little bit timid when it crossed the opponents’ 20, knowing Tracy was almost automatic. But that's not the only reason LSU floundered to a 52 percent TD scoring rate in the red zone, 12th in the SEC and 119th in the nation.
One factor was the unit we talked about in Part 1 of the series – LSU’s offensive line. LSU has to be more physical in the trenches and keep from allowing penetration on first down. It also needs to be cut down on pre-snap penalties, something that should come as this unit matures and gels. Remember, LSU tried seven different personnel combinations in the first eight games of the season. Settling on a starting five early on and staying healthy should help considerably.
LSU was also hampered by not having a true second blocking tight end available to pair with Foster Moreau. Jamal Pettigrew would have been that guy but missed the season with an injury, and now the coaching staff has to find another to pair with him. They may have the guy they want in Charles Turner, who at 6-foot-5, 260 pounds played OL but has the athleticism to move. Pettigrew and Turner could also be weapons in the passing game from the TE spot, as could a healthy Thaddeus Moss. If LSU can avoid losing two TEs to injury again this offseason, this position group should help in the red zone.
What also would help is a true power runner, something rising sophomore Chris Curry or incoming freshman Tyrion Davis-Price might develop into. It's been a while since LSU hasn't had a “bruiser” in the backfield before this past season. They don't necessarily need another Leonard Fournette, just another Kenny Hilliard. Curry is listed at 219 but could easily carry 225 or 230. Davis-Price is listed at 223 but checked in at 230 in last week’s All-American Bowl. We might also see more runs by Joe Burrow on the goal line from option sets. Those are a nightmare to defend, especially when the QB is as tough and gritty as Burrow.
Also, LSU needs to develop one of these big receivers into someone who can work the fade pattern and win jump balls in the end zone. It seemed like LSU didn't try this near enough in 2018. LSU returns four receivers who are 6-foot-4 or taller: TE Pettigrew (6-7) and WRs Terrace Marshall (6-4), Dee Anderson (6-6), and Stephen Sullivan (6-7).
No doubt about it, red zone woes cost the Tigers a ton of points this year, but the good news is LSU seems to have all the pieces in place to show dramatic improvement there in 2019. Last season, Cole Tracy’s 33 field goal attempts were the third most in the nation. Here’s hoping his successor has far fewer opportunities in 2019.
Stay tuned for the continuation of this series. As always, your feedback is welcome.
A few quick-hitters to close:
• The Lady Tigers basketball team pulled away late in 63-52 win over No. 21 Texas A&M. LSU went on a 12-0 run in the final three minutes to ice the impressive win. Here’s the full recap by LSUSports.net. With the win, LSU improved to 10-4 overall and 1-1 in league play.
• Here’s a reminder that we are working on our list of Top Louisiana Prospects for 2020 and ask for your continued input. (Use our Response Form to nominate a Div 1 Louisiana prospect.) We usually start revealing the top 50 prospects in the third week of January and reveal our entire list on February’s National Signing Day.
• I hope you all enjoy watching this season’s final game of college football tonight at 7 p.m. CT (ESPN). If you’re like me, that’s a tricky proposition when it’s Alabama playing for its 18th national title and its third in four years. My Prediction: Alabama 38 Clemson 31. Prove me wrong, Clemson. I’d love it.
Lastly, remember that Instant Pot (pressure cooker) Venison Stew recipe I promised? I finally got around to adding it to our collection last night. If you give it a try, be sure to let me know your thoughts. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy it as much as we all did.
1/6/19 5:50 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
It was great hearing from a ton of you yesterday about the start of our series on areas where LSU football needs to improve to take the next step. Part 1 was on fortifying the offensive line, and virtually everyone I heard from agreed that LSU’s offensive problems this year began there. A few people noted that I didn’t make mention of Adrian Magee or Donavaughn Campbell when I talked about who was returning. Don’t read anything into that. As far as I know, they will be back and will add to the unit’s depth and competitiveness. If everyone stays healthy and out of trouble, LSU should have plenty of bodies in the offensive trenches.
Another follow up on that Part 1 segment: I mentioned Chasen Hines as one of three returning youngsters who could have a significant impact on the line. He played in eight games this past season and played well, but didn’t play in the final two. Shortly after the bowl game, he tweeted that he played the whole season with a partially torn ACL, never complained, and never questioned God. He also promised that he’ll be coming harder than ever next season. On Friday evening, he took to social media again, this time tweeting a picture of him in the hospital for surgery. Here’s wishing him a full and speedy recovery. Hines was initially recruited as a defensive lineman and has the size, athleticism, and experience to move back there if needed. Whether or not that’s the case could depend on how many DLs LSU adds to this recruiting class and whether Rashard Lawrence returns.
Speaking of D-linemen, a couple of commitment declarations during yesterday’s Army All-Star game seem to bolster LSU’s chances of landing a couple of top targets. What I mean is, Alabama secured commitments from DE Khris Bogle and CB Marcus Banks, who once was committed to LSU back in October. That means Alabama’s space may be getting tight. Alabama signed 23 in the early signing period and has commitments from five others. They can sign up to 28 this year since they signed only 22 last year. LSU and Alabama are both in the hunt for Ishmael Sopsher of Amite, and Alabama commits Bryon Young (DT) and Christian Williams (CB), neither of whom signed in the early period. For Alabama to sign both Sopsher brothers (Ishmael has said a team must also sign his brother, Rodney), Young, and Williams, they would have to use up all of their remaining spots except one, which seems highly unlikely. LSU is expected to receive an official visit from Young later this month.
In other news related to the Army All-Star game, LSU signee Marcel Brooks had a big showing yesterday and led his team with seven tackles and a tackle for loss. It looks like LSU will be getting quite an LB/DB hybrid in Brooks, the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder out of Flower Mound, Texas. Also, LSU 2020 DT commit Jacqueline Roy of University Lab dominated when he was out there. That guy is going to be a beast for LSU if the Tigers can hold on to him.
In basketball news, the LSU men’s team’s next opponent, Alabama, pulled off a big upset yesterday over No. 13 Kentucky yesterday. The Tigers take on the Crimson Tide Tuesday for LSU’s league opener, designated as the Gold Game, and it should be a great contest. The first 2,000 fans in the PMAC will get a free gold T-shirt, and I hope to see a packed PMAC. The act “Quick Change” will put on the half-time show in what should be an entertaining night to be an LSU basketball fan. The game tips off at 8 p.m. and will be streamed online via SEC Network+. The Tigers are 10-3 on the season and have won 15 consecutive games in the Maravich Center dating back to last year, including 8-0 this season.
The LSU women’s basketball team will have its Gold Game when the Lady Tigers (9-4, 0-1 SEC) host No. 24 Texas A&M (11-3 and 0-1) today at 2 p.m. The game will be televised on the SEC Network but fans are encouraged to take in the live action from the PMAC, where you can purchase $2 tickets or a $5 ticket/concessions voucher.
There isn’t any big news to report on the coaching carousel related to LSU, which means we’ll have to wait a little longer to find out what, if anything, it meant that OSU was in Baton Rouge yesterday. But there is this: LSU graduate assistant and outside linebackers coach Michael Caputo is headed to Utah State to be its safeties coach. LSU plays Utah State on Oct. 5.
Okay, since it’s the offseason and I have to pace myself, we’ll close out now with these highlights from LSU’s season-opening gymnastics meet and continue our series on LSU football tomorrow.
Lastly, I have to remind you about our DandyDon Annual Fundraiser: Click here to find out why it’s important and how to give.
Enjoy your Sunday, Tiger Fans.
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