NCAA Baseball Championships:
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2/12/19 5:30 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans, it’s Game Day!
In the words of Will Wade, the more you have big weeks, the bigger the weeks are ahead. That certainly rings true for this LSU basketball team coming off of two impressive victories against Mississippi State and Auburn and now challenged with facing No. 5 Kentucky in Lexington. We won’t repeat the “Tigers must avoid digging themselves in a hole” storyline because, quite frankly, this LSU team is one of the best we’ve seen at digging itself out of ‘em. But Kentucky is a different animal than any team the Tigers have faced so far. With a 20-3 record (9-1 in SEC), the Wildcats welcome a 19-4 (9-1) LSU team with second place in the conference up for grabs. As you can imagine, Kentucky has talent all across the floor and can beat you in many ways. Few guards are playing as well as Keldon Johnson is currently (with LSU’s Tremont Waters being one of the few exceptions), and Wade singled out Ashton Hagans as a “pest” who attacks the paint. He’s second to only Waters in the conference in steals per game. After struggling from behind the arc in the last five games, the Tigers’ outside shooting came alive against Auburn in Saturday’s win. The Tigers hit 6-of-13 in the second half, so let’s hope that trend continues on the road against Kentucky. LSU’s toughest test will begin at 6 p.m. tonight live on ESPN and we’ll have a full recap in tomorrow’s report.
Turning to football, it was great hearing from many of you yesterday about Part 1 of my Q&A with Mike Detillier on LSU’s signing class. In today’s second installment, I get Mike’s thoughts on LSU’s receiver signees, on quarterback Peter Parish, on linebackers, edge rushers, and specialists. (We really jumped around a bit.) In tomorrow’s final installment, Mike shares his thoughts on new passing game coordinator Joe Brady, on what getting Ed Ingram back would mean to the team and some final thoughts on an outstanding recruiting class.
In other football news, LSU redshirt freshman defensive lineman Davin Cotton has entered his name in the NCAA transfer portal. What this means is he’s making himself available to transfer away from LSU, though it doesn’t necessarily mean he will. I’ve heard from some folks who’ve asked if this has anything to do with LSU trying to get scholarship numbers down to 85, but I don’t think so. My understanding is the staff had high hopes for Cotton, a former standout defensive end at Evangel High, and that his LSU future looked very bright. But I really don’t know what’s at the heart of this. If it’s about the depth chart and playing time, I think Cotton would be making a short-sighted decision to leave on his own volition. LSU will be deep and talented along the D-line this year, but that’s an area that will look a lot different in 2020. Whatever the case may be, I sure hope to see Cotton stick around, especially considering LSU missed out on a couple of DL targets in this year’s signing class.
On a somewhat related note, it’s time to resume our series profiling the six top vote-getters in our recent poll asking which signees will make the biggest impact in 2019. So far we’ve covered CB Derek Stingley, RB John Emery, K Cade York, and OL Kardell Thomas. Today, we reach our fifth-place vote-getter, and it just so happens that his signing seems even more significant today in light of Cotton’s potential transfer.
DT, 6'3", 361 East High (Utah)
(Fifth in our poll with 4.82% of the votes)
While LSU whiffed on Amite defensive tackle Ishmael Sophsher (the 39th player in the ESPN 300), that blow was softened considerably by garnering the signature of this defensive tackle in the early signing period. In Siaki Ika, the Tigers secured a 4-star defensive tackle that’s 185th on the ESPN 300. Like most kids coming out of high school, Ika needs to improve his pad level, but unlike most coming out of high school, Ika has a thick build that’s going to serve him well against SEC competition. As big and powerful as Ika is, he’s equally, deceptively quick, especially in his first-step and his redirect in pursuit. Because the Tigers were fortunate enough to get both Rashard Lawrence and Breiden Fehoko back, the Tigers return solid depth on the defensive line in 2019, although 2020 could be a different story.
Ed Orgeron hasn’t shied away from talking about LSU’s need to beef up the line of scrimmage. In fact, he’s been saying it since LSU got trounced at Mississippi State in 2017. Players like Ika will help this problem moving forward. If Ika jumps the learning curve and can contribute often at nose tackle, Dave Aranda could mix and match players on the defensive line and use Fehoko’s versatility at defensive end. That would indeed make Ika one of the most impactful signees in this class.
Two tidbits in closing:
LSU announced yesterday that the annual spring football game will be televised by the SEC Network on Saturday, April 6. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. CT in Tiger Stadium and admission is free. The National L Club Spring Game presented by Tony Chachere’s will be one of several events taking place on the LSU campus that day. Others include: track and field hosting the Battle on the Bayou starting at 9 a.m.; beach volleyball hosting the LSU Beach Invitational beginning at 11 a.m.; men’s tennis hosting Kentucky at noon and Nicholls at 5 p.m.; baseball hosting Texas A&M at 7 p.m., and gymnastics hosting the NCAA Regional Finals at 7 p.m.
And here’s another noteworthy announcement: “The Yard” opens Friday at Alex Box Stadium. Here’s a press release by LSU to tell you what’s it all about:
All LSU baseball fans over the age of 21 will have access to two new areas at Alex Box Stadium featuring beer and wine sales. Named “The Yard,” the new tented areas will be located at the left and right outfield corners.
The Yard at Alex Box Stadium will operate in much the same way as The Chute at Tiger Stadium. Fans ages 21 and over can purchase a wristband at either location or near the grandstand entrance gates. The wristband is $20 and includes two beverages.
Additional beverages can be purchased inside the premium area starting at $6. Fans who purchase a wristband will have access to both locations of The Yard, which will have television monitors to watch the action.
Due to Southeastern Conference regulations, all sales must be consumed in the tented area.
The left and right field locations will open two hours before first pitch. Beer and wine sales will end at the close of the 7th inning.
That’s it for now, but don’t forget to read Part 2 of my Q&A with Mike Detillier. Good stuff from Mike, as always.
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.
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