NCAA Baseball Championships:
DandyDon is proud to recognize David Toms as a great ambassador of the Tiger Nation.
You are viewing an archived report. For the most recent report, click here.
1/11/19 5:35 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Without any big news to get to this morning, let’s jump right to our series on areas where LSU football needs to improve to be a contender next year. So far, we’ve covered four areas – Offensive Line, Red Zone, Run Game, and Return Game. Onward we geaux…
AREAS WHERE LSU FOOTBALL MUST IMPROVE TO TAKE THE NEXT STEP
Part 5: Pass Rush
LSU entered the 2018 season expecting to have a pretty formidable pass rush. But after K’Lavon Chaisson went down with a season-ending injury in Game 1, things were never the same on defense. As a result, LSU entered the Fiesta Bowl with just 29 sacks, the program’s fewest in a season since 2014. A big Fiesta Bowl performance from defensive end Rashard Lawrence (two sacks and four tackles for loss) – and the team’s total of five sacks against UCF – elevated LSU’s sack total to match last year’s. Still, comments by Coach Orgeron made it clear that the staff lamented the loss of Chaisson throughout the season and tried a myriad of approaches to mitigate his absence.
Having Chaisson back in 2019 should be a big help, but it doesn't necessarily mean the Tiger pass rush issues will be solved. Chaisson missed the entire season and there's no guarantee he will return to form, plus he had only two sacks as a freshman. But there's also no reason to think he won't be 100 percent and raring to make up for lost time. Still, LSU’s defensive staff will have to coach up guys like Andre Anthony and Ray Thornton, OLBs similar to Chaisson. That would create depth and increase competition. LSU had to rely too much on Grant Delpit as an edge rusher and the defense would be better off if Delpit can roam the secondary more. Another issue could be the departure of Devin White, an excellent pass rusher who created blocking issues that would free up other rushers. As of the time of this writing, we still don’t know if he’ll return for his senior season or enter the NFL draft as a projected first-round pick. One player we know will be back is fellow linebacker Michel Divinity. He’s coming off his best season as a Tiger and could figure heavily into the pass rush.
Of course, getting Rashard Lawrence back for his senior season would bode well for an improved pass rush too, which is just one reason why his upcoming announcement is so highly anticipated. He served notice that he can be a quarterback’s nightmare in the Fiesta Bowl and could be even more of a factor next season. Another thing that would help is having Tyler Shelvin, Dominic Livingston, or Saika Ika secure the nose-tackle position so that Breiden Fehoko doesn’t have to play there and can create a strong depth rotation at end. Glenn Logan made worlds of improvement and might be ready for the next step. LSU also needs to get rising sophomores Travez Moore and Jarrell Cherry involved. Both came in with reputations for outside pressure. Having depth allows the frontline players to go harder and stay fresh into the fourth quarter when a pass rush matters most.
Now that we’ve given you our five areas where LSU needs to improve (and several reasons to expect improvement), we welcome your input. Depending on what kind of feedback we get, we might extend the series or share some responses.
In football recruiting, most of the talk has been about the Tigers’ 2019 class, but LSU has quietly been putting together an outstanding 2020 class. With nine commitments – eight four-stars and one five-star – LSU sits at No. 2 in the 247Sports Composite Team Recruiting Rankings. One player who could elevate this class to the top of the rankings is visiting this weekend, 5-star running back Zachary Evans (6-0, 205) of Houston. He attends Northshore High, the same school K’Lavon Chaisson attended. Evans is currently considered a lean to Texas A&M, but that could change after this weekend.
A few closing briefs:
• The LSU Lady Tigers basketball team followed up its impressive home win over ranked A&M with a big road win over Ole Miss, 55-41. Ayana Mitchell led the team with 16 points and four rebounds, while Shanice Norton and Khayla Pointer each scored in double digits. Here’s LSU’s recap on how the Lady Tigers improved to 2-0 in conference play.
• The fourth-ranked LSU gymnastics team is hitting the road to take on No. 17 Auburn tonight at 7:30 p.m. The meet between teams that each started the season 1-0 a week ago will be televised live on the SEC Network. First vault is set for 7:35 p.m. and John Roethlisberger and Alicia Sacramone Quinn will have the call.
• In coaching carousel news, the only thing worth reporting at this time is that Alabama offensive line coach Brent Key is leaving to join Geoff Collins at Georgia Tech and Bama’s co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach, Josh Gattis, has been hired by Michigan to be its offensive coordinator. As of now, no word on LSU staffing changes or who might fill the position vacated by Jerry Sullivan’s retirement, but we’re keeping an eye out.
• Lastly, just so you know… Thirty-five days and counting until LSU baseball at The Box! Thirty-eight degrees in January and here I am with a bad case of spring fever. Bring it on!
Enjoy these daily doses of Tiger news? If so, please consider pledging your support today. Thanks in advance for your consideration.
1/10/19 5:30 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
In today’s update, we’ll continue last week’s series on areas where LSU football needs to improve in order to take the next step and touch on a few tidbits, but first a bit of coaching and recruiting news to get to.
Late last night, LSU announced that senior offensive assistant and passing game coordinator Jerry Sullivan is retiring. The news, which was not unexpected, was communicated with the following press release:
Jerry Sullivan Announces Retirement
BATON ROUGE – LSU senior offensive assistant and passing game coordinator Jerry Sullivan announced his retirement from football on Wednesday.
Sullivan, who spent seven years on the LSU coaching staff from 1984-90, joined Ed Orgeron’s staff as a consultant in 2017 and was then elevated to senior offensive assistant and passing game coordinator for the 2018 season.
One of the most respected wide receiver coaches in football, Sullivan spent 25 years in the NFL before coming back to LSU in 2017.
“Jerry had a great career, one that saw him develop, groom, mentor and train some of the best to ever play the wide receiver position at any level of football,” Orgeron said. “I can’t thank Jerry enough for the contributions he made to our program over the past two years.”
Here’s wishing Sullivan, a 50 year veteran of the coaching community, all the best in his retirement. As for now, we don’t know who might fill the position or whether LSU will replace that coaching role with another, but we’ll keep you posted as soon as any news breaks.
In recruiting news, yesterday I mentioned two “new” names to monitor as LSU looks to complete its 2019 class, and today there’s another. According to LSU’s list of official visitors published by 247Sports, tight end Garmon Randolph (6-6, 215) of Jefferson, Ga. is set to visit LSU next weekend on Saturday, January 9. Two other prospects – Mississippi State commit DT Nathan Pickering and Florida State commit SDE Quashon Fuller – are also set to visit that weekend, but we’ve already mentioned those two. Back to Randolph, he’s a tight end who impressed with his height and athleticism during LSU’s elite camp last summer, and for a while there was a lot of buzz about LSU being really high on him. After LSU landed commitments from tight ends TK McClendon (now a signee) and Ray Parker, I kind of forgot about Randolph, but evidently, the LSU staff never did. Randolph is “only a three-star” but has a stellar list off offers from programs such as Alabama, Auburn, and Ole Miss, and would be an outstanding get, especially if Parker, who did not sign in the early period, isn’t part of this class.
Now back to that series we started last week. So far, we’ve covered Offensive Line, Red Zone Offense, and Running Game as three areas where LSU needs to improve to be a championship contender. You can find those installments here. Now, onto Part 4.
AREAS WHERE LSU FOOTBALL MUST IMPROVE TO TAKE THE NEXT STEP
Part 4: Return Game
We see fewer and fewer kickoff returns because of the stronger and stronger legs out there, but Clyde Edwards-Helaire showed how vital it can be with a 77-yard return to start the Fiesta Bowl. If Edwards-Helaire is going to begin the 2019 season as the No. 1 running back (as experience suggests he will), LSU would be well-served to find someone else for the role of kickoff returner. With all the speed and talent at wide receiver, they should have plenty of options. Also, running back Tae Provens could be an asset here with a way to get him on the field. Provens might also challenge for the punt return job.
Right now LSU needs to find a punt returner who can be a lot more decisive than any they had this season. Jonathan Giles spent most of the season in that role and didn’t really get it done. Justin Jefferson replaced him and muffed a punt after losing his footing in the Fiesta Bowl, and he let another roll about 20 yards. There’s no reason to think Jefferson can't improve and hold onto the job, except for maybe the fact that LSU signed a “generation talent” this December who could very well excel in that role. Of course, I’m talking about Derek Stingley, Jr. During his prep career at Dunham school, the five-star prospect returned a whopping 15 punts/kicks for touchdowns and was a scoring threat virtually every time he touched the ball.
Whether it’s Stingley, Jefferson, Edwards-Helaire or anyone else, LSU needs to elevate its return game to LSU standards. LSU averaged only 5.82 yards per punt return (100th in the nation and LSU ’s lowest average in over a decade) and this was the first season that LSU failed to record a touchdown in the return game.
Stay tuned for more in this series.
Mentioning Stingley reminds me to pass this along: Here’s a good read on him by 247Sports: Stingley's already impressing Aranda, Burrow. And here’s a tweet by his father, Coach Derek Stingley, Sr., that says a lot to me about the kind of family he comes from: “This guy started his first day of college today! Help us pray for a successful college experience on and off the field, in and out of classroom, and to have an all-around awesome learning experience into manhood. #GeauxTigers #LsuStudentAthlete”
• LSU baseball is just around the corner and here’s some news that only adds to the anticipation. In Perfect Game’s preseason poll released yesterday, LSU came in at No. 1. Last month, Collegiate Baseball Magazine pegged LSU at No. 1 in their preseason poll too. Of course, preseason and in-season rankings don’t necessarily correlate to where a team ends the season (LSU has earned a No. 1 ranking at some point during the season in seven of the past 11 seasons), but having both major publications think so highly of the 2019 Tigers is certainly encouraging. LSU will begin preseason workouts on January 25 and will open the 2019 season at 7 p.m. on Friday, February 15, versus Louisiana-Monroe in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
• It’s rare that we post track and field news here, but this should be of great interest to Tiger Fans. LSU freshman Mondo Duplantis, the brother of LSU baseball’s Antoine Duplantis, was named to The Bowerman 2019 Men’s Preseason Watch List on Tuesday afternoon. The Bowerman consists of the Top 10 athletes in collegiate track and field and is presented every December to the top male and female track and field athletes of the season. Duplantis is the only freshman to be named to the men’s list. Here’s more on the topic.
• Here are a couple of links that should be of interest to a lot of you: NOLA.com: LSU’s offensive production turns into pay day for Steve Ensminger | AFCA executive director proposes amendment to college football's targeting rule
• Lastly, here’s a reminder that we’re working on our list of Top LA Prospects for 2020 and hope to begin revealing our list in a couple of weeks. So far, we have 105 names on the list, but it’s impossible to identify everybody deserving of recognition. If you have someone you’d like to nominate for our list, please let me know. We’d especially like to hear from high school coaches who have D1 prospects.
Folks, in 27 days you won’t see these solicitations anymore for a long, long time, but for now, I need to keep reminding you: If you appreciate these daily doses of Tiger news, please show it and help keep them coming by donating to our annual fundraiser. DandyDon.com is primarily reader-supported and depends on the generosity of folks like you to keep this site free of subscriptions and void of click-bait. Thanks in advance for your continued support.
This web site is not officially affiliated with Louisiana State University. Opinions expressed herein are the property of Donald Long, Scott Long and friends, not Louisiana State University.