NCAA Baseball Championships:
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2/11/19 5:35 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
LSU football just inked a top-5 signing class; LSU basketball is 9-1 in league play; The top-ranked LSU baseball team opens the season in four days; and LSU softball just opened the season with a historically dominant weekend. Indeed, it’s a great time to be a Tiger!
With two big games in basketball this week and with baseball right around the corner, soon those two sports will be garnering the bulk of our headlines. That makes the next couple of days an opportune time to wrap up our coverage of this year’s top-5 singing class in LSU football, which we’ll do today. Let’s jump right to it with Part 1 of our Q&A with NFL and College Football Analyst Mike Detillier. In this installment of the Q&A, I get Mike’s general impressions on the signing class, his specific thoughts on LSU’s haul along the offensive and defensive lines, in the defensive backfield, and at running back.
Be sure to tune in for Mike’s thoughts on LSU’s newest receivers, quarterback, linebackers, edge rushers, specialists, and new Passing Game Coordinator, Joe Brady.
A couple of days ago we began a series highlighting the top-six vote-getters in our recent poll asking which LSU signees would have the greatest impact in 2019. So far we’ve covered CB Derek Stingley (1st place with 29.6% of votes), RB John Emery (2nd place with 25.7% of votes), and K Cade York (3rd place with12.3% of the votes.) Today, we’ll continue along those lines with a look at a highly heralded offensive lineman with an interesting nickname.
OG, 6'3", 354, Southern Lab University
(Fourth in our poll with 5.9% of the votes)
Kardell Thomas, also known as “Mr. Pancake,” was one of the most sought-after guards in the country. If you’re wondering what the nickname is about, it’s a reference to Thomas’ numerous “pancake blocks” which have left opponents flat on the their backs. If Thomas lives up to his nickname as a Tiger, he could eventually garner All-American status and go on to have a profitable career in the NFL. Heck, he could even return to Baton Rouge and open up his own pancake restaurant. But none of that happens if Thomas can’t be a successful offensive guard at LSU. If you look back at LSU’s draft history, you might be surprised to find only four offensive linemen selected in the first three rounds since 2005. Granted, it would’ve been five had first-round talent La’el Collins not been linked to a double homicide investigation (his name was eventually cleared in the investigation) before the draft, but I digress. The point is, Thomas could very well be the next one.
What Thomas brings to the table is ideal size, incredible strength, and a ton of “swag” that goes way back. He already has his own legend with stories of him bench pressing 250 pounds at 12 years old. That has now transformed into grown-man strength, and in pass protection, he demonstrates it with a powerful punch. Now, while there is undeniable potential for Thomas at offensive guard, fans need to know that the offensive line is one of the hardest positions to play as a freshman. From understanding the blocking schemes to being able to handle the freaks SEC teams put on the defensive line, it can be a rough transition for most. And seeing that LSU returns an awful lot of familiarity up front, it’s going to be tough to crack that starting five. That said, Thomas has the potential to do just that. For more on Thomas and the “swag” brings to LSU, check out this video by NOLA.com
In softball news, LSU (6-0) capped off a historically dominant weekend with a sixth-straight run-rule victory. The 73 runs scored in the Tiger Classic are the most in any six-game stretch in program history. In yesterday’s action, the Tigers defeated Bucknell 8-0 behind the strong pitching of sophomore Shelbi Sunseri who allowed only three hits and no runs and struck out three. She also hit a two-run dinger, her fourth home run of the weekend. Here’s a full recap of the game. Obviously, Coach Beth Torina’s Tigers started the season about as perfectly as anyone could have hoped for and that’s awfully encouraging, but we’ll get a much better feel for just how good this team can be later this week. The Tigers travel to the inaugural St. Pete/Clearwater Invitational where their first game will be Thursday at 9 a.m. against Oklahoma State. That contest will be televised on ESPNU.
• The LSU basketball team will depart for Kentucky this afternoon for what should be an epic matchup tomorrow night against the Wildcats. Look for more on that battle of 9-1 SEC foes in tomorrow’s report.
• In baseball, Coach Mainieri told me last week that Eric Walker looked good in his first brief outing on Monday and it appears that he had another strong outing this weekend. According to a tweet by LSUBaseballData, Walker pitched 3.2 innings in yesterday’s scrimmage and allowed no runs on just one hit. Barring any surprise, Walker will start this Sunday’s game, with Zack Hess and Landon Marceaux starting the first two games. Four days and counting!
• One player who will be counted on to lead the Tigers offensively this season is sophomore outfielder Daniel Cabrera. Here’s a good read on him from my friend Jim Kleinpeter: What's next for LSU slugger Daniel Cabrera? Building off last year, becoming 'one of the greats’
• Lastly, here’s an outstanding video on LSU football signee Joseph Evans, a defensive tackle out of Haynesville who I predict will be a special Tiger. After watching the video, I’ll be pulling for him more than ever, and I bet you will too. Warning, this video really tugs at the heartstrings.
That’s it for now, but don’t forget to read Part 1 of my Q&A with Mike Detillier and return for Part 2.
2/10/19 5:50 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
The LSU men’s basketball team proved once again that it wouldn’t be denied with an 83-78 victory over Auburn. A familiar story played out in the PMAC, though it certainly followed a different script. After trailing by 16 points in the first half, LSU found yet another way to rally and win an impressive SEC matchup. Here’s Jake’s recap of how the Tigers improved to 19-4 overall and 9-1 in SEC play.
That “second-half lull” we’ve written about several times this season came early for LSU Saturday afternoon. LSU missed its first six shots to start this game, and Auburn wasn’t much better. The teams combined to start 1-for-11 from the field. As bad as LSU was offensively (22 percent in the first three minutes), the Tigers were much better on the offensive glass with four boards. That allowed LSU to take a short-lived 7-6 lead early on. After that, Auburn took a 26-10 lead on a 20-1 run. LSU struggled to convert from the outside (missed first five 3-pointers), and more specifically, Skylar Mays and Tremont Waters could not make Auburn pay with open looks from the outside. LSU missed eight straight field goals (0-for-6 from 3-point range), as Auburn built its lead. But then LSU went to work inside. Darius Days came off the bench and hit a couple of shots to provide a spark. A Mays steal on one end that resulted in a layup on the other finally cut the deficit to single digits. A triple by Mays on the ensuing possession cut Auburn’s lead to five, and Waters followed with a steal on the other end. The PMAC could sense it. It was the patented LSU comeback, only earlier than usual. Auburn led 29-26 after Emmitt Williams slammed an easy dunk out of an inbound from the baseline, which forced Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl to erupt and call for a substitution. But Auburn couldn’t stop hitting from outside. The visiting Tigers made 11 3-pointers in the first half (58 percent). Meanwhile, LSU hit only one 3-pointer in the half. The Tigers clawed their way back into it by remaining active on the offensive boards and securing seven steals. Waters drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer for LSU to enter the locker room down 41-38.
Waters had an early heat check in the second half, and the Tigers rode it to their first lead of the game. Waters gave LSU its first lead of the game with a trey from the corner that put the Tigers up, 45-43. And then he came right back down and hit a deep, off-balanced triple to bring the PMAC to its feet. A circus shot from Mays at the basket gave LSU a 53-46 lead six minutes into the half, and at that point, it just felt like LSU was in the driver’s seat, though the Auburn Tigers never went away. Timely 3-pointers kept them in the contest, even though LSU was much better defending the threes in the second half. Still, Auburn cut the deficit to six with less than a minute and a half to play. Auburn got a stop, but Kavell Bigby-Williams secured LSU’s 22nd offensive rebound to put Waters at the free-throw line with less than a minute remaining. And you’d better believe he was money. While Auburn made things interesting late (cutting it to one with 30 seconds left, getting a steal, and getting a last-second 3-point attempt off, etc.), LSU hit the free throws down the stretch to secure a wild victory. Mays led the Tigers with 20 points, while Waters had a double-double with 19 points and ten assists.
Stats never tell the whole story but here are few that say a lot about how the game was won: LSU out-rebounded Auburn 22-7 on the offensive boards, which amounted to a 29-1 advantage on second-chance points. LSU also took advantage of 19 Auburn turnovers and posted a 31-12 advantage in points off turnovers. Those numbers, folks, are a formula for success.
At 9-1 in SEC play, these Tigers have turned a lot of heads on the national level, and they’ll have a chance to continue garnering well-earned praise with a very challenging week ahead. The Tigers travel to nationally-ranked Kentucky on Tuesday for a primetime (6 p.m. CT) showdown on ESPN and then travel to Georgia next Saturday. LSU is back at home on Feb. 20 against Florida.
Now switching gears to football, it’s time to continue our series on the top six vote-getters from our poll asking, “Which incoming LSU football signee(s) will make the biggest impact in the 2019 season?” Yesterday we profiled the top two vote-getters, LSU’s highest ranked defensive signee since Patrick Peterson (Derek Stingley, Jr.) and one of two prized running backs in this year’s class (John Emery). Today’s we’ll take a look at our third place winner, a kicker with some awfully big shoes to fill.
K, 6'1", 190 Prosper High (Texas)
(Third in our poll with 12.3% of the votes)
It was almost a given Cade York would garner a lot of votes in this year’s impact freshman series. And how could he not? Coming off of a season where Cole Tracy generated an authentic argument for MVP of the team, Tiger fans were quickly reminded just how important the position is with Tracy’s clutch field goal kicking (29-of-33). Tracy’s 88-percent field goal conversion rate was 11th best in the country, and his game-winning kick against Auburn made him a Tiger legend. Will York follow a similar path? First of all, putting Cole Tracy expectations on York is admittedly not fair, as Tracy was as close to automatic as you can get within range. But York has undeniable talent. In the Under Armour All-American Game in January, York nailed a 59-yard field goal. It was so impressive that even NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes tweeted about York after the feat. With the 59-yard field goal, York seems to have a stronger leg than Tracy, and we can only hope he can be in Tracy’s ballpark when it comes to accuracy. As a senior at Class 6A Prosper High School in Texas, York made 9-of-11 field goals with a long of 47 yards.
Stay tuned for our write-up on our fourth highest vote-getter, a highly heralded offensive lineman with an interesting nickname.
In softball news, LSU’s offense continued to shine on day three of the Tiger Classic, as LSU defeated Iowa 16-1 in five innings and then turned around and beat Bucknell 10-1 in five innings. Get this: The LSU softball team is now 5-0 on the season, all five games have been won in five innings (mercy rule), and the combined score of the five wins is 65-2. That, my friend, is total domination. But back to yesterday’s games… In the first one, freshman Jordyn Perkins hit a three-run dinger and junior Maribeth Gorsuch secured the game in the circle, allowing only one hit on the day. In the second game, freshman Ali Kilponen earned her first career victory in the circle, finishing with six strikeouts. Here’s LSU’s recap of both games.
• It was great hearing from many of you yesterday who are even more fired up about LSU baseball after reading my two-part Q&A with Coach Paul Mainieri. Here’s something else that will get you fired up: In yesterday’s scrimmage, freshman right-hander Landon Marceaux allowed only two hits in 5.1 innings and recorded nine strikeouts. Baseball at the Box: Five days and counting!
• In closing, I want you to know that I’m working on a Q&A with NFL and College Football Analyst Mike Detillier on LSU’s recent signing class. If all goes well, we’ll begin running that tomorrow.
Enjoy your Sunday, Tiger Fans.
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