NCAA Baseball Championships:
DandyDon is proud to recognize David Toms as a great ambassador of the Tiger Nation.
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2/8/19 5:40 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
First of all, it was great hearing from so many of you yesterday about our grades by position of LSU’s 2019 signing class. As we do each year after Signing Day, today we’ll conduct a poll asking you to predict which incoming LSU football signees will make the biggest impact in 2019. Yesterday I reviewed last year’s poll and was reminded of how hard these things are to predict. The top-five in that poll were WR Terrace Marshall (21.4%), OL Badara Traore (20.4%), K Cole Tracy (11.9%), CB Kelvin Joseph (11.7%), Ja’Marr Chase (11.5%) and RB Chris Curry (7.8%). For today’s poll, you can select as many impact players as you’d like, but you can only cast your ballot once.
Believe it or not, but LSU baseball begins one week from today. That makes this an ideal time to begin sharing a Q&A I conducted with head baseball coach Paul Mainieri on Tuesday of this week. Actually, that statement isn’t true. The ideal time to to share it would have been right after I conducted it, because now, nearly three days later, some of the info is dated. For example, the first thing I asked about was the health of starting pitcher Zach Hess. At that time, Mainieri said Hess would likely not throw until today. The good news is that Mainieri confirmed to me yesterday that Hess has thrown already and that everything went well. He should be good to go for the opener but probably will be limited to three innings max, unless he had really quick innings. His pitch count will probably be limited to about 50 pitches.
So, with the status of Hess already addressed, the first installment of the Q&A begins with a few thoughts on sophomore Eric Walker and a trio of freshmen right-handed starters who will be exciting to watch, on a deep and hard-throwing bullpen, and on a Tiger offense that has some pop in its bat but was a step behind the pitching staff at the time of my interview. Mainieri also dishes on a batting order that looks a good bit different than it did at the start of preseason practice, and much more. Click the link below to read Part 1 and then tune in tomorrow for Mainieri’s thoughts what it means to have Chris Reid back on the team, on Mainieri’s propensity to utilize the “hit-and-run” in situations where many coaches would bunt instead, and more.
Sticking to the topic of baseball, congratulations are in order for LSU senior outfielder Antoine Duplantis and sophomore outfielder Daniel Cabrera who were named Thursday to the 2019 Coaches Preseason All-SEC Team. Both players were second-team All-SEC selections. The coaches selected LSU as the favorite to win the SEC Western Division title, and the Tigers finished second behind Vanderbilt as the coaches’ choice to win the overall league title. Here’s the full press release by LSUSports.net, which includes the entire preseason poll and All-SEC teams.
Talk about letting something sneak up on you… the No. 11/10 LSU softball team began its season last night with a 19-1 run-rule win over Tulsa. I didn’t get a chance to catch the game, but I did follow a bit on Twitter and saw that the Tigers came out swinging and jumped out to a 12-1 lead in the first inning. They kept the onslaught going with six more runs in the second and another in the third, en route to the program’s most runs ever in a season opener. Now that’s how you start a season! For a full recap of the win, see this article on LSUSports.net. The Tigers will play four more games this week as part of the annual Tiger Classic, and all four will be streamed online via SECNetwork+.
Weekend Softball Schedule:
LSU vs. Tulsa, Feb. 7, 6 p.m., SEC Network+
LSU vs. Iowa, Feb. 8, 3:30 p.m., SEC Network+
LSU vs. Tulsa, Feb. 8, 6 p.m., SEC Network+
LSU vs. Iowa, Feb. 9, 3:30 p.m., SEC Network+
LSU vs. Bucknell, Feb. 9, 6 p.m., SEC Network+
LSU vs. Bucknell, Feb. 10, 11 a.m., SEC Network+
Today’s Closing Tidbits:
• In women’s basketball, the LSU Lady Tigers came away with a blowout win over Arkansas last night, 71-34. Here’s The Advocate’s recap of a dominant win which improved LSU to 14-8 and 5-5 in SEC play. The Lady Tigers now find themselves in a three-way tie for sixth in the SEC with Auburn and Arkansas (16-8, 5-5).
• The fifth-ranked LSU gymnastics team (3-2, 1-2 SEC) travels to Lexington to take on No. 17 Kentucky (3-4, 1-2 SEC) tonight at 7:30 p.m. CT. The meet will be televised on the SEC Network.
Lastly, two friendly reminders:
• Don’t forget to vote in our annual poll asking “Which incoming LSU football signee(s) will make the biggest impact in the 2019 season?”
• Be sure to tune in tomorrow for Part 2 of my Q&A with Coach Paul Mainieri.
2/7/19 5:30 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
LSU’s 2019 signing class is in the books after the Tigers signed six players yesterday to complete its 25-man class. The six include WR Devonta Lee, cornerbacks Maurice Hampton and Jay Ward; OT/TE Ray Parker; and DE/OLBs Soni Fonua and Desmond Little. With those on board, LSU’s class finishes at No. 3 in Rivals’ Team Rankings, No. 3 in USAToday’s Composite Team Rankings, No. 4 in 247Sports Team Tankings, No. 5 in 247Sports Composite Team Rankings, and No. 7 in ESPN’s Team Rankings. There are always some folks who focus on the ones who got away, but that’s not how we roll at DandyDon. Instead, in today’s report we’ll give you our annual grades by position for the class as a whole and work in a few thoughts on how Signing Day Part 2 transpired.
Offensive Line: B
LSU signed a total of five offensive linemen highlighted by elite top-100 guard Kardell Thomas, 4-star guard Anthony Bradford, and four-star tackle Ray Parker. Heading into Signing Day, I felt like LSU needed to add another tackle and was happy to see Parker make it into the class. He had been committed to LSU since before the early signing period but there was some concern that he would be too much of an academic risk for LSU to sign. In his Signing Day press conference, Ed Orgeron announced that Parker will in fact be eligible coming out of Ruston High School and credits Parker’s coach for getting him on the right tack. It should be noted that Parker will start his LSU career as a TE but is ranked as the nation’s No. 12 OT prospect and we project him to move there early in his collegiate career.
With Joe Burrow and Myles Brennan returning, LSU didn’t have a great need at quarterback, but it’s important to sign at least one in each class. LSU did that by landing four-star dual-threat Peter Parish out of Phenix City, Alabama. This is a solid get for the Tigers.
Running Back: A+
This is where LSU absolutely hit it out of the park at its biggest position of need. LSU signed the state’s top two running backs in John Emery, Jr. and Tyrion Davis but these guys aren’t elite just at the local level; they’re elite at any level. Emery, a 5-star, is the nation’s second best RB, whereas Davis is ranked No. 8. Getting two top-ten backs in one recruiting class, and getting them both from your own backyard, is virtually unheard of. The fact that this was arguably LSU’s most immediate position of need makes this a truly exceptional haul.
Wide Receiver: A+
Honestly, this wasn’t a huge position of need since LSU has so much returning talent there, but you want to sign at least a couple of receivers in each class, especially when there are elite talents in your state. That’s exactly what LSU did in signing a pair of Tangipahoa Parish standouts, Kentwood’s Trey Palmer and Amite’s Devonta Lee. These two four-stars are the two highest-rated receivers in Louisiana and are great gets.
Defensive Line: C+
When asked about biggest remaining needs after the early signing period, Ed Orgeron said defensive linemen, defensive linemen, and more defensive linemen. That need was made far less urgent when Rashard Lawrence and Breiden Fehoko announced that they would be returning to LSU, but it was a big need, nonetheless. LSU entertained three big-time DLs in the last two weekends who were all high-priority targets for filling that need – Mississippi’s Byron Young and Charles Moore, and Louisiana’s own Ishmael Sopsher – but missed out on each of them. The worst part of it all was seeing Alabama sign Sopsher, only adding to the false perception that the Tide can swoop in and steal any Louisiana prospect it wants. That stung, but what softens the blow just a bit is knowing that LSU landed Saika Ika at the end of the early period to go along with Joseph Evans, and then landed two DE/OLBs yesterday in Soni Fonua and Desmond Little. I sincerely believe those two guys will be disruptive edge rushers under Ed Orgeron and Dave Aranda’s tutelage.
LSU signed a trio of linebackers highlighted by five-star Marcel Brooks, the nation’s No. 2 OLB. The other two, Donte Starks and Kendall McCallum, are a formidable pair of inside linebackers. Solid haul.
After signing only one defensive back in last year’s class, LSU knocked it out of the park this year. The Tigers signed four DBs this time around including a generational talent in CB Derek Stingley, Jr., the No. 1 prospect in the nation and the highest ranked LSU defensive signee since Patrick Peterson. Adding dual-sport standout Maurice Hampton yesterday is big not only for Ed Orgeron and this class but for Coach Paul Mainieri, too. He’s considered to be an elite outfielder and will play both football and baseball for LSU.
There’s really a lot to like about this class. The nation’s No. 1 player; the best running back tandem in the country; the two best wide receivers in the state; the second best OLB in the nation; and as many five-star signees as any team other than Georgia. And that’s without even mentioning the nation’s No. 2 kicker who should be a great replacement for Cole Tracy. Another thing to note is that LSU signed nine of the top 10 players on our list of Top LA Prospects, and eight of the top 10 on 247Sports’ list. Folks, nobody does any better than that in terms of keeping top talent at home. Alabama, by comparison, signed only four of its state’s top 10 prospects and lost the top two to Georgia. Hats off to Ed Orgeron and the entire Tiger Staff for a job well done.
Turning to hoops, the LSU men’s basketball team found itself in a familiar position on the road —down by double digits in the second half and looking to make a dramatic comeback. Thanks to incredible second-half performances from Naz Reid and Tremont Waters, the Tigers did just that in a hard-fought 92-88 victory in Starkville. Here’s how the Tigers improved to 18-4 overall and 8-1 in conference play with a huge road win.
Nothing came cheap early. In fact, both LSU and Mississippi State made the other work for any and every point scored. The Tigers took an early 6-1 lead three minutes in after Waters made a beautiful move to the hoop followed by a steal and dunk on the ensuing possession. Waters remained hot, had four steals in the first six minutes and hit 3-of-4 from the field for LSU to take a 12-5 advantage. But Waters had to come out for most of the first half after picking up his second foul in the first 10 minutes, and LSU’s offense struggled without him. A 17-0 run for the Bulldogs gave Mississippi State a 25-16 lead midway through the first half before LSU began chipping away and eventually tied the game at 29 with three minutes to play in the half. Another strong Bulldog run gave Mississippi State a 42-34 lead at the break.
The Bulldogs built a double-digit lead within the first five minutes of the second half. LSU transitioned into the diamond press to try and cut into Mississippi State’s lead like the Tigers did against Missouri and Arkansas in the previous two ballgames. LSU has owned the offensive boards this season (Top 20 in the country), but Mississippi State recorded 10 offensive boards and matched pace with the Tigers in second-chance points. Waters, who scored 26 points in the win, drained a deep 3-pointer before hitting a jumper in the lane to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to three with eight minutes remaining. Reid stepped up his game in the second half, as well. He converted close-range shots and hit a 3-pointer during a run in which LSU made nine consecutive baskets. A Bigby-Williams put-back made it a 76-75 game in favor of the Bulldogs with five minutes to go. With 2:38 to play, a high-arching shot in the lane by Waters gave LSU its first lead since the 10:45 mark of the first half. Tied at 83 with 20 seconds remaining, Waters created a good look and Reid had another close-range opportunity, but the Tigers could not convert and headed to overtime.
In overtime, the Tigers took an 86-85 lead midway through the extra period with an inside look to Bigby-Williams. Another key play came when Reid converted an “and-one” with a minute remaining to give the Tigers a two-point advantage. He followed that big basket with his biggest of all, a clutch 3-pointer with 13 seconds remaining in the period to all but seal the Tiger victory. Reid led the Tigers with 29 points in the win.
Next up, LSU returns home for a contest at 1 p.m. Saturday against Auburn. That game can be seen on ESPN2.
• Yesterday I mistakenly wrote that I would start running my Q&A with LSU baseball Coach Paul Mainieri today but I meant to say Friday. Sorry for the teaser. I’m finishing up the transcription today and will share Part 1 in our next daily dose.
• Speaking of baseball, registration for LSU Baseball Youth Summer Camp is now available online. If you or someone you know has ambition to play ball as a Tiger, these types of camps are a great way to get exposure. For more information or to register, visit lsubaseballcamps.com
• Yesterday was the last day of our annual fundraiser and my family and I would like to thank you for making it a success. To all of you who answered the call and pledged your support, please accept our most sincere gratitude. With your continued support, I look forward to dishing out a daily dose of Tiger news for years to come. On to the 23rd year!
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