Sunday, December 27, 2009

Urban Meyer Leaving or Staying? John Chavis Leaving?



The big news in college football over the weekend was that Florida head coach Urban Meyer announced that he was resigning due to health reasons.  I had previously heard that Meyer was struggling with some potentially major health problems and figured that Meyer wouldn't be at Florida forever as a result.   But like everyone else, I was shocked to see the news that he was ;eaving.   But then on Sunday, Meyer holds a press conference stating that he is NOT going to resign but simply take an indefinite leave of absence from the Gator program.  So as of now, Meyer will still be the Gators' head coach in 2010. 

Needless to say, it's a very bizarre situation.  Many theories have been thrown out there to explain the unusual turn of events.  Some say it was a publicity stunt.   I don't buy that because the whole episode won't give many a sense of security regarding Meyer's long term future as the Gators' head coach.  That will obviously damage their recruiting efforts.   It's also a distraction for Florida's team as they prepare for the Sugar Bowl. 

I think one of two things is happening here. 

First is that Meyer is still planning on stepping down as head coach at some point.  The press conference on Sunday was to prevent any kind of bleeding in the current recruiting class and to prevent any underclassmen from leaving early to the NFL.  Perhaps Meyer and Florida developed a better "exit strategy" for him, though it's tough to imagine what it could be. 

The other scenario is that Meyer legitimately changed his mind after the news went public.  It's certainly possible, and it's not always necessary that a conspiracy of some sort exists. 

If Meyer does end up departing, look for Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen and Utah's Kyle Whittingham to be the top candidates.  Both guys were assistants under Meyer at one point. 

A ton of rumors are out there right now about LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis being a serious candidate to become the defensive coordinator at Georgia.  There's a lot of smoke on this one, so we'll ahve to see if anything develops.  Hopefully, these are just rumors because LSU's program needs some stability right now. 


There's also a bit of smoke that new LSU assistants Frank Wilson and Billy Gonzales are recruiting Thibodaux wide receiver Trovon Reed very hard and that Reed may be re-considering his commitment to Auburn.  

Monday, December 21, 2009

Worst 10 Plays Of The Decade


To follow-up on last week's post regarding the best plays of the decade, here are my views on the Ten worst plays of this decade of LSU Football. 

10.  "Carter Folds In Georgia"  - In 2004, LSU went to Athens, Georgia and found themselves in an ambush.  After losing to LSU twice the year before, Georgia had this game circled on the calendar.  They showed up in a big way and played a near flawless game.  LSU could do nothing right.  One play really summed up this misreable afternoon.  Freshman receiver Xavier Carter received a kickoff and started to come out of the end zone.  He then decided he wanted to kneel in the end zone.  That would have been fine if Carter was still in the end zone but he wasn't.  Instead, he kneeled down on the 1 yard line.  Ugh. 

9.  "Missed XP?  Try It Again" - In 2004, undefeated LSU traveled to Auburn in a battle of Top-10 teams.  LSU was looking to defend their national championship while Auburn had national title hopes of their own.  LSU quickly took a 9-3 after their first two drives, missing an extra point on a touchdown and kicking a field goal.   The the score remained 9-3 for the majority of the game.  With one last drive, Auburn started marching down the field.  They converted a 4th and 12 and then scored a touchdown a few plays later with only 1:12 remaining on the clock ot tie the game.  Auburn's kicker, John Vaughn unbelievably missed the extra point.  Even more unbelievable was that a penalty was called on LSU's Ronnie Prude for jumping and landing on an Auburn player.  Huh?   Have you EVER seen that penalty called any other time?  Of course not.  Even Nick Saban called it a "cheap penalty."  Auburn got to re-try the extra point and of course Vaughn made the second try.  Auburn won the game 10-9 and went on to go undefeated in 2004. 

8.  "Booty Audibles To INT" - Inexplicably locked into a defensive struggle with UAB, LSU managed to tie the game 10-10 in the fourth quarter.   UAB was driving late to try and win the game but LSU's defense held tough and forced a punt.  They received the ball on their own 29 yard line with :33 left.   On the first play of the drive, Josh Booty threw a pass right to a UAB defender who returned the ball to LSU's 17 yard line.  Two players later, UAB kicks the winning field goal as time expires to stun the Tiger Stadium crowd and kill any momentum that new coach Nick Saban had built.  We later learned that Josh Booty audibled at the line of scrimmage to a play that didn't exist. 

7.  "Miracle On Markham II" - In 2008, LSU went to Arkansas to try and salvage their reputation as a good football team after suffering losses in two of their previous three losses.  Instead, the opposite happened.  LSU led Arkansas 30-14 early in the third quarter and then gradually let them back into the game.  Assisted with stupid penalties, Arkansas found themselves trailing 30-24 with 2:14 remaining.  They steadily drove down the field and were soon into LSU territory.  Facing 4th and 1 from LSU's 24 yard line, Casey Dick threw a fade pass into the end zone that was caught by London Crawford for a touchdown.  The Hogs made the extra point and beat LSU 31-30. 


6.  "4th and 10 in OT" - Ranked #1 in the nation and needing two more wins to clinch a spot in the national championship game, LSU found themselves in a dog fight with a talented Arkansas team.  After scrapping their way to overtime, LSU got the ball first and scored a TD to take a 35-27 lead.  LSU's defense then stepped up and forced Arkansas into a 4th and 10 situation.  With the nation's third ranked defense and among the national leaders in sack and quarterback hurries, LSU instead decided to rush only three players while dropping eight into coverage.  Predictably, Arkansas quarterback Casey Dick had plenty of time to throw and he eventually found an open receiver to convert the first down.  They scored soon after and ultimately won the game in triple overtime.  The lack of aggressiveness on that play is still tough to figure out. 

5.  "Robbed In Tuscaloosa" - In a battle for the 2009 SEC West crown, LSU traveled to Tuscaloosa to face the #2 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.  Playing one of their better games of the year, LSU led Alabama in the fourth quarter.  Later, they found themselves trailing by six with Bama driving into LSU's territory.  LSU needed something to change momentum.  A big defensive stop.  A turnover.  Something.  And then, LSU got it.  Patrick Peterson seemingly intercepted a pass along the sideline, but the pass was called incomplete on the field.  The replay booth took a long look at that play and inexplicably confirmed the incomplete call from the field even though television replays clearly showed that Patrick Peterson was in bounds with control of the ball.  LSU was robbed a chance to go win the game.  Alabama went on to win 24-15. 

4.  "Meltdown In Mississippi" - LSU went to Oxford in 2009 hoping to win out and end the season on a long winning streak.  Ole Miss outplayed LSU for much of the day but LSU drove for a late touchdown to bring them within two points.  After a failed two point conversion, LSU recovered an onsides kick and found themselves in field goal range.  They then played their way out of field goal range.  Forced into a 4th and 26 situation with only :09 left, LSU heaved a pass towards the end zone and it was caught with :01 left near the 10 yard line.  And then, all hell broke loose.  A sideline full of confusion had no plan for what to do.  Kick a field goal?  Run a play?  LSU did neither and instead tried to spike the ball, which obviously does nothing but lose the game.  It was one of the bigger "WTF" moments in LSU history. 

3.  "Pass Interference Waved Off" - In 2006, we saw an incredible game between LSU and Auburn dominated by defense.   Auburn led LSU 7-3 late in the fourth quarter when LSU was driving.  Facing a 4th and 8 with just under three minutes to play, LSU quarterback Jamarcus Russell threw a pass to Early Doucet.  Doucet was clearly interfered with by an Auburn defender as the ball was tipped away by another defender.  A flag was thrown and pass interference was called on the play.  The flag would have given LSU a 1st down at Auburn's 16 yard line.  The referee then waved off the penalty claiming that because the ball was tipped, the ball was uncatchable and therefore, pass interference did not take place.  It was clear as day that the interference took place prior to the ball being tipped.  Auburn won the game 7-3. 

2.  "Capital One Catastrophe" - Facing Iowa in the 2005 Capital One Bowl, LSU engineered a comeback to take a late 26-24 lead.  With under a minute to go, Iowa wasn't going very far in efforts to get into field goal range.  With the clock ticking down to :09, Iowa was forced to heave a prayer of a pass down the field.  An Iowa receiver was left uncovered, and he caught the ball for the winning touchdown as time expired. 

1.  "Miracle On Markham" - In 2002, LSU faced Arkansas in Little Rock in a game that would decide the SEC West Championship.  LSU controlled this game from start to finish and kicked a late field goal to go up by six points with :40 left.  Arkansas found a wide open receiver on a 50 yard gain, down to LSU's 30 yard line.  Two players, Arkansas threw up another prayer which was caught in the end zone for a touchdown.  Arkansas won the game and the SEC West championship in a completely improbable come from behind victory. 

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Recruiting: Class of 2011 Update


In my last update, I mentioned that LSU was expecting to receive a commitment for the Class of 2011 on Friday from North Carolina receiver Nigel King.  Well, King decided to postpone his announcement so that he could get to know LSU's new receivers coach Billy Gonzales before making a decision.  That announcement could come soon though, maybe before the end of the year. 

However, LSU went ahead and got three commitments on Friday anyway, bringing their total for the Class of 2011 to five. 

The morning started with the huge news that O. Perry Walker defensive tackle Anthony "Freak" Johnson has switched his commitment from Tennessee to LSU.  Johnson is a candidate to be a 5-star prospect, and as far as I'm concerned, he's the top prospect in the state of Louisiana.  He may be the nation's top rated defensive tackle prospect next year.  Johnson is 6'3" 295 pounds and absolutely unblockable.   He had 80 tackles and 12 sacks during his junior season. 

Capitol High School offensive lineman Corey White met with Les Miles on Friday and committed shortly afterwards.  White is 6'5" 308 pounds and projects as an offensive guard in college.  White will likely be one of the state's Top 10 prospects next year. 

Later Friday evening, Patterson running back Kenny Hilliard also committed to LSU.  Hilliard will be the top running prospect in the state, and is also a candidate to be a 5-star prospect and a National Top-100 type of player.   Hilliard ran for 2,512 yards and 32 touchdowns as a junior and was named the Gatorade Player Of The Year for the state of Louisiana in 2009.  He averaged 8.5 yards per carry.  He also caught 17 passes for 332 yards and four touchdowns.   As a sophomore, Hilliard rushed for 2,337 yards and 34 touchdowns.   Hilliard is a big back at 6'0" 215 pounds.  He doesn't have blazing speed, but he has very good burst and acceleration.  Hilliard had early offers from Alabama, Miami, Notre Dame, Tennessee, and many others.  Here are some highlights of Hilliard:

LSU also offered Thibodaux offensive lineman Greg Robinson a scholarship recently and he seems to be on the verge of committing to LSU also.  Robinson is a VERY impressive prospect.  He's 6'5" 285 pounds and moves exceptionally well for a guy his size, and he can play either guard or tackle.  Hopefully, we see something happen with Robinson soon. 

It's important to note the significance of all the activity we saw on Friday with the Class of 2011.  For whatever reason, the top player in the state of Louisiana typically waits quite a while before announcing a decision.   Joe McKnight waited until national signing day.  Ryan Perriloux entertained a circus of a recruitment until the very end.  Even Early Doucet waited until January before commiting to LSU.   But with Anthony Johnson and La'El Collins already on board, LSU has arguably the state's top two players committed very early.  Prospects are often drawn to big recruiting classes and now that it's apparent LSU has a start to a very special class, others may want to jump on board. 

Since I've referenced my rankings of the state's top players for the Class of 2011, some have asked what it is.  It only exists of a Top 5 right now, but here is my take on the state's best juniors based on looking at film, reading updates, etc:

1.  Anthony "Freak" Johnson  DT  O.Perry Walker HS  (LSU Commitment)
2.  La'El Collins OT   Redemptorist HS  (LSU Commitment)
3.  Jarvis Landry  WR   Lutcher  HS 
4.  Jermauria Rasco DE  Evangel HS
5.  Kenny Hilliard  RB  Patterson HS  (LSU Commitment)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Top 10 Plays Of The Decade; Recruiting Note


Note:  Just a heads up that if you're reading this update via the e-mail blast, you may want to check it out on the site.  I've got a whole lot of video in this update, and you won't be able to watch it unless you're on the site.  You can click the Saturday Night Slant logo at the top of your e-mail and it will take you to the site. 


Several sites are reporting that 2011 wide receiver Nigel King will announce his college decision tomorrow morning.  King may be the top prospect in the state of North Carolina next year, and most seem to think that he's going to choose LSU tomorrow.  King is 6'3" 190 pounds and has good speed.  Judging from his film, he has very good hands too.  Here are some highlights of King:


Continuing to look back at LSU Football over the recently completed decade, here is my take on the Top 10 Plays of the Decade:

10.  "The Jumbotron Play" - In 2000, Tiger Stadiums’ first year with new “jumbotrons”, they enabled the refs to use instant replay in the Alabama game…unofficially. In a close game in the fourth quarter, Alabama punted the ball away to LSU. An Alabama defender was blocked into the LSU punt returner causing a fumble on the play. LSU clearly recovered the fumble. After much discussion on whether the play was a penalty or not, (Was the Bama player pushed into the LSU returner or did he interfere with the catch?), the refs decided that it was no penalty. But they inexplicably awarded the ball to Alabama…at least initially. LSU players were pleading with the refs to look at the replay screen, which was showing the play over and over. A restless crowd was becoming downright enraged. After peeking at the big screens, the refs then correctly awarded LSU the football.  The Tigers ended up winning the game 30-28, defeating Alabama in Tiger Stadium for the first time since 1969.  We saw more important plays this decade, but this play was so bizarre that it stands out to everyone who witnessed it. 

9.  "4th and 10 in The Desert" -  LSU’s 2005 season was pushed back due to Hurricane Katrina, and the opener against Arizona State was moved from Baton Rouge to Tempe, AZ. While much of the state was doing what they could to recover, everyone looked forward to watching this game…not only as the start to a promising season, but as a brief respite from the stress involved with starting their lives over. LSU trailed 31 to 28 with only 1:23 on the clock and they faced a 4th and 10 at Arizona State’s 39 yard line. Jamarcus Russell rolled to his right but then stopped and was flushed back to his left. He hurled a perfect pass to Early Doucet in the front corner of the end zone, and Doucet was able to come down with the catch for a touchdown. The play proved to be the winning score as LSU’s defense was able to hold Arizona State on their last drive.  See the 7:15 mark in the video below:

8.  "The Teaux Truck" - One week after losing at home to UAB, it didn’t appear that Nick Saban’s inaugural season at LSU was going to be terribly successful. The 11th ranked Tennessee Vols came to Baton Rouge, and LSU was a big underdog. LSU got off to a hot start, which ignited a crowd that was starving for a big win. Leading 10-3 in the second quarter, Toefield took a handoff from his own 26 yard line. He shot through a hole in the right side of the line, dashed into the secondary towards the sideline, stiff-armed a Tennessee defender for about 20 yards before leaving him behind and running into the end zone. That play not only gave LSU a two touchdown lead, but it set loose the crowd which would be one of the rowdiest in Tiger Stadium history. LSU ended up defeating the Vols in overtime, and that win marked the turning point in the program and set the stage for the best decade of football in LSU’s history.

7.  "Jamarcus to Bowe" - In 2005, LSU squared off with Alabama in a battle of Top 5 teams in Tuscaloosa. LSU rallied from a 10-0 half time deficit to tie the game and send it into overtime. LSU held Alabama to a field goal in overtime's first possession and was then faced with a 3rd and 6. Jamarcus Russell, an Alabama native, rolled away from pressure and fired a strike to Dwayne Bowe in the end zone, who caught the ball for the win. In an instant, a stadium full of optimistic Bama fans went silent. Their “return to glory” season had hopes of going undefeated and playing for a national title. They ultimately settled for third place in the SEC West.  LSU went on to win the SEC West and finish the season 11-2, ranked #5 in the nation.

6.  "Lionel Turner Sack" - With LSU leading 21-14 late in the fourth quarter of the BCS Championship Game, Oklahoma had one last drive to try and tie the game. Facing a 4th and 10, the Sooners’ Heisman trophy winning quarterback, Jason White, dropped back to pass. Lionel Turner paused briefly before blitzing the quarterback and coming through untouched for a sack. LSU took over on downs and was able to run the clock and secure their first national championship since 1958. Not only did the play clinch the win for LSU, but it symbolized the dominance of LSU’s defense throughout that game and throughout their championship season.  See the :59 mark in the video below.

5.  "Matt Mauck Game Winner" - LSU was a big underdog in the 2001 SEC Championship Game, and things looked even less favorable after starting quarterback Rohan Davey left the game with an injury. Into the game came little known backup Matt Mauck, who began gaining chunks of yards against the Vols with his feet. The Vols seemed hell bent on knocking Davey out of the game, yet they didn’t have a plan to deal with his replacement.  Early in the 4th quarter, Mauck drove the team deep into Tennessee territory, and he then took a quarterback draw 13 yards into the end zone. That touchdown put LSU ahead 24-17 and it proved to be the game winner. The play was also indicative of Mauck’s gutty performance that night, giving LSU their first SEC Championship since 1986 and legitimizing their program as one to contend with. 

4.  "4th and 4 In Tuscaloosa" - With 2:49 remaining in the game and trailing by a score of 34-27, LSU faced a 4th and 4 at Alabama’s 32 yard line. LSU Quarterback Matt Flynn threw a dart to star receiver Early Doucet over the middle. Doucet made the catch and shook several Bama defenders on his way to the end zone. LSU would later recover an Alabama fumble on the 2-yard line and score the go-ahead touchdown to win the game 41-34.  This was LSU’s first game against their former coach and it came during the middle of the national championship race.  Needless to say, this was a must win for the Tigers. The 4th down play to Doucet was the biggest of this game.

3.  "Flynn to Byrd" - LSU trailed Auburn 24-23 very late in the fourth quarter in 2007. LSU received the ball and quickly drove down the field. At the 23 yard line and needing only a FG to win, Matt Flynn instead drops back to throw with :08 left on the clock and throws a fade pass to Demetrius Byrd who makes the catch for a touchdown. The clock read :01 after Byrd’s catch. The play call, still hotly debated, surprised everyone in attendance and gave the Tigers a much needed win. The call was both brilliant and reckless, and it was par for the course in a wacky national championship season for the Tigers.

2.  "The Bluegrass Miracle" - Maybe the most improbable play in college football history, LSU trailed Kentucky by three when they received the kickoff with just 11 seconds on the clock. The Tigers ran one play to their own 25 yard line. Then, quarterback Marcus Randall heaved a long pass that was tipped several times before landing in the hands of a streaking Devery Henderson who split two defenders at the 15 and ran into the end zone.  Pandemonium ensured as Kentucky students stormed the field and tore down a goal post, thinking they had won the game.  Meanwhile, LSU’s sideline erupted in celebration and ran onto the field as well. This play will always be a part of college football history and should be considered one of the greatest plays of all time.

1.  "Green downs Georgia" - In a battle of Top 10 teams in 2003, LSU led the defending SEC Champion Georgia Bulldogs 10-3 for most of the game. With under five minutes to go, Georgia completed a screen pass that was inexplicably taken 93 yards for a score. LSU answered with a nice kickoff return by Devery Henderson to midfield. Then on third down from the 34 yard line with 1:29 to go, Tiger quarterback Matt Mauck found Skyler Green breaking free on a busted route. Green made the catch over his shoulder in the end zone, clinching the win. This was a game that LSU had historically lost. However this time, the Tigers answered the call and in n doing so, they announced to the college football world that LSU had arrived as an elite program.  See 4:34 mark in video below. 

Monday, December 14, 2009

All-LSU Team Of The Decade: Defense



Over the weekend, Dallas wide receiver Mike Davis, an LSU Commitment since February, took an official visit to Texas.  He received an offer from the Longhorns and decided to accept it.   Texas generally offers all of their in-state prospects very early, so when Davis did not receive one, he moved on and decided on LSU.  After an outstanding senior season, the Longhorns evaluated him again and decided they wanted him after all.  LSU's dismal season on offense did not help matters.  Davis is a hell of a prospect and this loss stings quite a bit.  We'll have to see who LSU ends up with at receiver before determining just how much the Tigers will miss him. 

LSU Football In The 2000s

In continuing with the "...of the decade" features I'm working on, below is Part 2 of the All-LSU Team of the Decade. 

First Team
Marcus Spears - 152 tackles 34.5 TFL  19 Sacks - Spears was an easy choice.  A 3-year starter and 2-time All-SEC performer, Spears was a team leader and the ultimate LSU Tiger.  He returned an interception for a touchdown which proved to be the winning score in the BCS Title Game in 2003. He then decided to stay for his senior season where he had 17 tackles for loss with 9 sacks.  Spears ranks sixth all time at LSU in sacks and seventh in tackles for loss. 

Tyson Jackson - 119 tackles  26 TFL  18.5 Sacks - Jackson was a high level performer for three years.  Outstanding against the run, Jackson could also rush the passer quite well.  He was on the All-SEC Second team in 2006 and 2008. 

Second Team
Marquise Hill - 108 tackles 17 TFL 10 Sacks - Hill was a dominant force playing opposite Spears for two seasons.  He left early for his senior year or else he may be on the first team.  Hill was downright dominant in the 2003 BCS Title Game. 

Melvin Oliver -  164 tackles  25.5 TFL  20 Sacks - Oliver only started for two years but was still incredibly productive.  He ranks fourth all time at LSU in sacks.  With the opportunity to finally start, Oliver notched 11 tackles for loss and nine sacks.  A bit of a liabiilty against the run, Oliver really made up for it by getting after the quarterback. 

Also Considered
Jarvis Green - 80 tackles  10 TFL  5 sacks

First Team
Chad Lavalais - 202 tackles  32.5 TFL  12 sacks - Lavalais was a very solid player for two years before blowing up in 2003 and becoming the heart and soul of LSU's dominating defense.  With 16 tackles for loss  and seven sacks, Lavalais was nominated for several national awards. 

Glenn Dorsey - 179 tackles  27 TFL  13 sacks - Dorsey is probably the most decorated football player in LSU history and certainly this decade in winning the Bronco Nagurski Award, the Lombardi Award, the Outland Trophy, and the Lott TrophyEven while drawing the attention of every offense, Dorsey was still dominant in 2007. 

Second Team
Claude Wroten - 93 tackles  22.5 TFL  12 sacks - Wroten only played at LSU for two years but still matched the sack and TFL numbers of the other 4-year players on this team. 

Kyle Williams - 161 tackles  26 TFL  15.5 sacks - Williams was a three year starter and the unquestioned leader of the 2005 team.  He may have been LSU's toughest player this entire decade and perhaps the most consistent too. 

First Team
Bradie James - 376 tackles  25 TFL  11 sacks - James is LSU's best linebacker in the past 20 years and would challenge for the MVP of this All-Decade Team.  James is second on LSU's all time list in tackles, and his 154 tackles in 2002 is the single season school record.  Bradie was a two-time First Team All-SEC performer. 

Trev Faulk - 232 tackles  14 TFL  4 sacks - Faulk was the running mate with James and was also a tackling machine.  Faulk left early for the NFL, but still had a very productive career and rarely missed a tackle.  Faulk and James made each other better to form one of LSU's best linebacking duos in school history.  Faulk was First Team All-SEC in 2001. 

Ali Highsmith - 159 tackles  17 TFL  8 sacks - Highsmith was a three-year starter and big time play maker from 2005 thru 2007, earning First Team All-SEC in 2007. 

Second Team
Lionel Turner - 238 tackles  19.5 TFL  8 sacks - Turner was a rock as LSU's middle linebacker for two years.  He was very consistent and made a lot of plays behind the line.  His game clinching sack of Jason White in the BCS Title Game will be remembered by many for a very long time. 

Cameron Vaughn - 239 tackles  14.5 TFL  6 sacks - Vaughn was a three year starter at LSU and was very solid.  His size and athletic ability stood out on the field. 

Darry Beckwith - 189 tackles  11.5 TFL  4.5 sacks - Beckwith may have been better as an outside linebacker, but he moved to the middle midway through his career.   He was still very solid, though not quite the play maker he was on the outside.  Beckwith was Second Team All-SEC in 2007 and 2008. 

Also Considered
Jeremy Lawrence - 131 tackles  12.5 TFL  5 sacks
Perry Riley - 180 tackles  13 TFL  2 sacks

First Team
Corey Webster - 115 tackles  16 INT  51 Pass Break-Ups - You won't find many cornerbacks better that Webster this decade in the entire conference, much less at LSU.  Webster shares the school record for interceptions in a single game with three.  He is tied for second for the school record in interceptions in a season with seven.  He did that twice.  And he's second in school history in interceptions for a career.  Opposing offense had to plan an entire game plan around Webster's ability to shut down an opposing receiver.  A converted wide receiver, Webster was First Team All-SEC in 2003, 2004, and 2005. 

Patrick Peterson - 88 tackles  3 INT  16 Pass Break-Ups - Peterson has only started one full season at LSU, and he wasn't even terribly productive in terms of interceptions.  But the league has already taken note of his ability and like Webster, opponents game plan away from him.  His impact on the game is not seen in the number of interceptions or pass break-ups but rather his ability to take away an opposing receiver.  It may be a stretch to put him here ahead of the other guys, but the fact is that I'd want him on the field ahead of the guys I've got on the Second Team. 

Second Team
Travis Daniels - 110 tackles  2 INT  37 Pass Break-Ups - Daniels got tested often in 2003 and 2004 as teams threw away from Webster, but he routinely answered the call.  Starting a few games at free safety, Daniels was a very solid tackler and was strong in run support. 

Chevis Jackson - 142 tackles  8 INT  36 Pass Break-Ups - Jackson started for three seasons at LSU and was First Team All-SEC in 2007.

Also Considered
Jonathon Zenon - 89 tackles  9 INT  25 Pass Break-Ups

First Team
Laron Landry - 315 tackles  16 TFL  12 INT - Landry was a rare four year starter at LSU.  Even more rare was that Landry was All-SEC for all four years, twice on the second team and twice on the first team.  Landry ranks seventh all time at LSU in tackles and is tied for third in career interceptions. 

Craig Steltz - 184 tackles  7 TFL  11 INT - Steltz was only a full-time starter for one season, but that season resulted in a spot on the First Team All-American Team.  He made a number of big plays in LSU's 2007 national championship season, including three interceptions against Mississippi State. 

Second Team
Jesse Daniels - 183 tackles  11 TFL  4 INT - Daniels started for three years alongside Laron Landry and was a sure tackler.  He played a big role in some of LSU's best defenses in history. 

Ryan Clark - 186 tackles  8 TFL  5 INT - Clark was a good tackler and big hitter, though he was often victimized in the passing game.  His sure tackling was much needed on LSU's 2001 SEC Championship Team. 

Also Considered
Chad Jones - 156 tackles  6.5 TFL  5 INT

First Team
Donnie Jones - 42.05 career average - Jones was a four year starter as LSU's punter and was awfully productive. 

Second Team
Patrick Fisher - 44.52 career average - Fisher only started for one season, but it was a darn good one.  He hit some real boomers and was a weapon for the 2007 national championship team. 

First Team
Skyler Green - 13.82 punt return average 4 TDs  20.84 kickoff return average - Green was electric as a punt returner, taking four punts back for touchdown over his career.  His punt return for a touchdown against Auburn in 2005 proved to be critical in that game. 

Second Team
Domanick Davis - 12.93 punt return average  2 TDs  22.14 kickoff return average - Davis was one of LSU's best all-purpose players of all time, and he was incredibly consistent returning punts.  Having to follow Kevin Faulk as LSU's punt returner was no easy task, but he did a great job. 

Also Considered
Trindon Holliday

Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Offensive Coordinator? All-LSU Team of the Decade - Offense


Coaching Rumors

While it seemed like a done deal that Tyke Tolbert would be LSU's next wide receivers coach, reports surfaced Thursday night that Florida wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales would be joining LSU's staff.   It's still a little unclear whether Gonzales will be coming as an offensive coordinator or as a wide receivers coach.  For now, it appears that he'll be the receivers coach and that Tyke Tolbert may not be a part of the staff after all.   I was excited about Tolbert, but not about the fact that we had to wait three weeks before he could start.  I like that Gonzales can potentially get on the road recruiting immediately. 

Gonzales has been Florida's wide receivers coach since 2005, and he's also the Gators' recruiting coordinator.  I'm excited since Gonzales found creative ways to get Percy Harvin involved in the Gators' offense, and I hope that translates into more production from Russell Shepard. 

Here is a link to Gonzales's bio.

LSU Football In The 2000s

Since it's the end of the decade, I decided to take a look back at LSU football during the 2000s.  I'm putting together several lists that I think you'll all like, and they could be the topic of some debate.  The first thing I put together was my All-LSU team of the decade.  I start with the offense today, and I'll follow up with the defense on Monday.  Here goes:


First Team

Rohan Davey - 255 of 426 (59.8%) 3,924 yards 25 TDs 11 INTs - Picking the QB for these teams most difficult. Russell's stats stand out and Mauck and Flynn both have national championship rings, but I went with Davey due to his incredible presence and leadership ability. He led the comeback win in the 2000 Peach Bowl. His performance in the program changing win against Tennessee in 2000 stands out as well as his record setting performance against Alabama in 2001. He owns the single game and single season record for passing yards. When it came down to it, he would be the guy I'd want leading my team.

Second Team
Jamarcus Russell - 493 of 797 (61.8%) 6,625 yards 52 TDs 21 INTs - It's hard to ignore Russell's numbers. Russell's 2006 season may have been the best single season by a QB in LSU history. He tied the school record for TDs in a season with 28 and is second all time in TD passes. Russell often did things that made fans slap their foreheads, but he also had a number of comeback wins and huge plays. He was first team All-SEC in 2006. His teams won 11 games and finished in the Top 5 both years as a starter.

Also Considered
Matt Mauck - 310 of 529 (58.6%) 3,831 yards 37 TDs 18 INTs
Matt Flynn - 245 of 437 (56%) 3,096 yards 31 TDs 13 INTs

First Team
Jacob Hester - 1,780 yards 20 TDs 4.89 YPC - Hester was a multi-purpose fullback for three years before winning the tailback job and becoming the heart and soul of the 2007 national championship team. His consistency in short yardage situations and around the goal line made him a fan favorite.

Charles Scott - 2,317 yards 32 TDs 5.46 YPC - Scott's 2008 season was the single best season by a Tiger running back this decade. He ends his career with a 5.46 YPC average, which is the best in LSU history by any back with at least 400 carries. That's remarkable. His 32 career touchdowns rank fourth all time in LSU history. He was also a great team leader.

Second Team
Joseph Addai - 2,549 yards 18 TDs 5.29 YPC - Addai was only the premier back for one season, his senior year in 2005. However, he was a big part of LSU's running game in 2003 and 2004. He was LSU's most versatile back this decade, able to both juke and run over the opposition and he was a great receiver out of the backfield. His 2,549 rushing yards are the most by any LSU back this decade, and that ranks fifth all time at LSU. His 5.29 YPC is third all time.

Lebrandon Toefield - 2,149 yards 26 TDs 4.15 YPC - Toefield was the main runner for three straight seasons at LSU although an injury shortened his 2002 season. In 2001, the Teaux Truck tied an SEC record with 19 rushing touchdowns, which is still an LSU record. His 2,149 yards ranks eighth all time at LSU.

Also Considered
Justin Vincent - 2,021 yards 17 TDs 4.95 YPC
Keiland Williams - 1,699 yards 17 TDs 5.68 YPC
Domanick Davis - 1,782 yards 17 TDs 4.55 YPC

First Team
Josh Reed - 159 catches 2,867 yards 17 TDs - Reed's career stats are actually a little better but this represents what he did this decade. He was a two-time All-SEC performer and he won the Biletnikoff Award in 2001 as the nation's best receiver. Reed is a no brainer for a spot on the first team.

Michael Clayton - 182 catches 2,582 yards 21 TDs - Clayton ranks second all time in receptions, fourth in yards, and third in touchdowns in LSU history. He was the team's leading receiver and team leader on LSU's national championship team. Clayton was the ultimate team player at LSU, willing to hold for kicks, play special teams, and even play some safety. Clayton was All-SEC in 2002 and 2003 and was a Freshman All-American in 2001.

Dwayne Bowe - 154 catches 2,409 yards 26 TDs - Reed and Clayton were no brainers, but the decision to put Bowe on the first team was a little more difficult. Brandon Lafell's stats measure up, but I went with Bowe because he was the unquestioned go-to guy while he was on campus. He made a ton of big plays. His 26 TDs are the most in LSU history. He's also sixth in LSU history in receptions and receiving yards.

Second Team
Brandon Lafell - 170 catches 2,430 yards 24 TDs - Lafell's numbers match those on the first team, and he still has a bowl game left to play. Lafell was perhaps LSU's most complete receiver this decade with the exception of Clayton. He ran great routes and could get open with ease. He could go over the middle. He was also a great deep threat. He was plagued by drops at times during his career, which is his only negative. His 170 receptions currently rank second all time at LSU. He ranks fifth in yards and second in touchdowns.

Early Doucet - 160 catches 1,943 yards 20 TDs - Doucet had to learn the wide receiver position during his first two seasons at LSU while he played behind Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis. Once he got the hang of it, he was awfully good. Without an injury during his senior season, he may be LSU's al time receptions leader. He ranks fifth in LSU history in receptions and fourth in touchdowns.

Devery Henderson - 81 receptions 1,335 yards 19 TDs - Henderson's stats don't match up with that of Craig Davis, but I can't get past the numerous big plays Henderson made during his career. The Bluegrass Miracle. The Game winner at Ole Miss in 2003. He's made several. Remember that Devery was a running back in 2000 and 2001 before moving to wide receiver. Some may disagree with this choice, but I put Dev here instead of Buster.

Also Considered
Craig Davis - 141 catches 2,117 yards 7 TDs
Terrance Toliver - 79 catches 1,160 yards 7 TDs

First Team
Richard Dickson - 89 catches 945 yards 10 TDs - Dickson was an easy choice. A three year starter and All-SEC performer, Dickson has been consistent and has played well in big games. Strictly a receiver when he arrived to LSU, Dickson developed into a good blocker and a complete tight end. He'll be sorely missed when he's gone.

Second Team
Robert Royal - 40 catches 564 yards 6 TDs - Royal was one of the best receiving tight-ends in the SEC during his time at LSU. He was a key weapon in one of the best offenses in LSU history in 2001. And who can forget his big catch on the first play of overtime against Tennessee in 2000?

Also Considered
Eric Edwards - 29 catches 349 yards 6 TDs

First Team
OT - Andrew Whitworth - Whitworth was a four year start at left tackle, he won a national championship, and he was an All-SEC performer for two years. He's one of the best offensive linemen in LSU history.

OT - Ciron Black - Like Whitworth, Black started at left tackle for four years, he won a national championship, and he was an All-SEC performer for three years.

OG - Stephen Peterman - Peterman showed up to LSU as a tight end. Then, he played some defensive end. He finally settled in at offensive guard and was 1st Team All-SEC in 2002 and 2003. He was possibly the toughest lineman LSU has had this decade.

OG - Herman Johnson - Johnson was a three year starter for LSU and was All-SEC in 2007 and 2008. While a tad too slow to play offensive tackle, he moved to guard and became dominant. He helped pave the way for the two best seasons by LSU running backs this decade (Hester in 07, Scott in 08).

C - Ben Wilkerson - Wilkerson took over the starting center job midway through his true freshman season. As a senior, Wilkerson won the Rimington trophy as the nation's best center.

Second Team
OT - Rodney Reed - Reed was a rock at right tackle for several years and was a team captain for the 2003 national championship team.

OT - Nate Livings - Livings played several positions on the line, starting at right guard on the 2003 national championship team. He then moved out to right tackle in 2004 and 2005.

OG - Rudy Niswanger - Niswanger was a jack of all trades for LSU. At one point in his career, he played center, guard, and tackle...and he was solid at each. He finished his career at center, but he flourished as an offensive guard.

OG - Will Arnold - Arnold may have been LSU's best interior lineman this decade but injuries hampered and cut short his promising career. He made 2nd team All-SEC in 2005 and 2006.

C - Bret Helms - Helms was probably the most overlooked offensive lineman this decade. A three-year starter, Helms never made any All-SEC teams but the word around practice was that LSU's coaches thought he was the Tigers' best lineman.

First Team
Colt David - David is LSU's all time leading scorer and he was 1st Team All-SEC in 2007 and 2008. And who can forget his touchdown on the sweet fake field goal against South Carolina in 2007?

Second Team
John Corbello - A bit shaky early in his career, Corbello developed into a very dependable kicker who had good range. He had three kicks of over 45 yards in the 2001 SEC Championship Game.

Also Considered
Chris Jackson

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Commitment #26 errr #25


Miami running back Jahkori Gore committed to LSU on Tuesday night, and is LSU's 26th commitment for the Class of 2010.  I just discussed Gore in my last update, which includes some highlights.  I really, really like Gore as a prospect and am very excited about him becoming an LSU Tiger. 

On Wednesday afternoon, news broke that Junior College offensive lineman Jamarcus Hardrick changed his commitment from LSU to Nebraska.  Two of Hardrick's JUCO teammates are Nebraska commitments, and the opportunity to continue to play with his teammates enticed Hardrick to make the switch.  This is a pretty big loss for LSU.  Hardrick was going to graduate early and be on campus for spring practice.  His early arrival would have provided him a great opportunity to earn significant playing time in 2010 and even compete for the starting left tackle position, vacated by Ciron Black.  We'll see if LSU scrambles to try and find another offensive lineman to replace Hardrick, or if they try to change Hardrick's mind. 


Though nothing is official, it's looking more and more like Tyke Tolbert will be LSU's next wide receivers coach.   I doubt Tolbert would be able to start until the NFL season is complete.  It would benefit LSU to make an announcement that Tolbert will be hired so that recruits will know who will be in place.   Apparently, DJ McCarthy is gone (or will be soon), so I can only conclude that Frank Wilson will temporarily take McCarthy's place on the staff.  Larry Porter will apparently be on LSU's sideline for the Capital One Bowl. 

I still have not heard much regarding the future of offensive coordinator Gary Crowton and offensive line coach Greg Studrawa.  More and more smoke exists that both will remain on staff for 2010, which is disappointing to me.  I've made my feelings clear that I think LSU needs to go in a different direction on offense. 

Monday, December 7, 2009

Commitment #25; Recruiting Recap; Coaching Rumors


Before I get started, a quick note...If you're reading this through the e-mail blast that is sent out, you may want to click the link and read this one at the site.  I've got quite a bit of video embedded in this update, and you won't be able to see it in your e-mail. 

LSU secured their 25th commitment for the Class of 2010 on Monday when Parkiew Baptist punter Brad Wing decided to become a Tiger.  Derek Helton will be a senior in 2010.  So Wing can come in, redshirt, and then be the punter for four years.   Wing is a left-footed punter that averaged 41.8 yards per punt this season with an incredible hang time that is between 4.6 and 4.8 seconds.  Judging from his highlight film (posted below), he can really boom some punts and flip field position. 

With Wing on board, LSU is running out of room in this class even though they still have several guys on the board.  If history repeats itself, LSU will lose a couple of guys that are currently committed.  So the staff is doing the right thing by continuing to recruit lots of players.  Here's a position by position review of who is left on LSU's board:

Alfred Blue's commitment gives LSU their second running back for this class (third if you consider fullback Brandon Worle).  However, it appears that LSU would still like to sign one more running back. 

The big prize in this class has been Lache Seastrunk.  Larry Porter's departure most likely killed any chance LSU had of signing Seastrunk.  New running backs coach Frank Wilson will certainly try to get Lache on board, but it's a bleak picture right now.  So who is next in line after Lache?

Miami's Jahkori Gore seems to be the most likely to end up an LSU Tiger.  LSU coaches are scheduled to meet with Gore sometime this week, and I woudn't be surprised if Gore committed to the staff at that point.  Here are some highlights of Gore: 

LSU is also now looking at Capitol High's Frankie Jackson.  Jackson has enjoyed a ridiculously successful senior season which has captured the attention of LSU's staff.  Jackson is built similar to Gore in that he's 5'9" 185 pounds.  His only offer from a big school is from Arizona State.  I prefer Gore to Jackson personally and think Jackson is a fall back option in case something happens with Gore. 

The wide receiver position is very much in the air at this point.  Rumors consistently swirl regarding both guys currently committed to LSU.  Virginia Beach prospect Justin Hunter recently took a visit to Tennessee, but he still seems solid to the Tigers at this point.  Dallas prospect Mike Davis had a phenomenal senior season  He had 48 receptions for 1,157 yards and 19 touchdowns.  He averaged an insanely good 24 yards per catch.  There is a LOT of smoke that the Texas Longhorns are now after Davis and if that proves to be true, it will be very difficult for LSU to hold onto him.  Davis is rumored to be visiting Texas this weekend.  We'll see what happens. 

It will be interesting to see if the hiring of Frank Wilson and potential hiring of Tyke Tolbert will have any impact on Thibodaux wide receiver Trovon Reed.  I suspect that it might. 

LSU continues to pursue Belle Chase prospect James Wright as well as Shreveport athlete Jarrett Fobbs.  Some of LSU's coaches recently met with Fobbs, who is currently a Texas A&M commitment.  I really, really like Wright and think he'll be great in college. 

LSU recently paid a visit to Georgia prospect Nai-ler Jones who is a Notre Dame commitment.  With the coaching change at Notre Dame, LSU was checking to see if Jones may be reconsidering his commitment.  It doesn't appear that he is, but it's something to keep an eye on. 

Ideally, LSU will keep the two guys they currently have and two more out of Reed, Wright, and Fobbs.

Here is some film of Wright:

And here is some of Fobbs:

Mississippi offensive tackle Damien Robinson is the only guy left on LSU's board right now.  James Stone recently eliminated LSU from consideration. 

LSU is clearly after another defensive end for this class.  5-star Virginia prospect JR Ferguson continues to be a very real possibility for LSU.  He visited LSU a few weeks ago and still has other visits planned.  We'll have to see how his other visits stack up to his experience a LSU.  He's going to visit Cal and Notre Dame, while considering North Carolina and Miami.  LSU has a very real chance here.

This past weekend, LSU hosted big-time Florida prospect Corey Lemonier, who had a great trip and rated the trip a "10".  The 6'5" 225 pound pass rusher is also strongly considering Auburn, Illinois, and Tennessee.  After watching his film, I'm very impressed.  I think he's a better true defensive end prospect than Ferguson, who I think may ultimately end up at defensive tackle.  Lemonier is on most national Top 100 lists.   Here is some film on Lemonier:

LSU is still after Kansas prospect Geneo Grissom, who is a commitment to Kansas.  LSU offered Grissom last month, but he seemed fairly firm to the Jayhawks.  With Kansas coach Mark Mangino resigning last week, Grissom may be more open to taking a visit to LSU. 

LSU also offered Texas defensive end Nathan Hughes who has seen his stock rise considerably recently after being relatively unknown a few months ago.  The 6'5" 245 pound prospect has had a great senior season and now holds offers from Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State in addition to LSU. 

I think LSU is likely done at defensive tackle for this class.  However, it should be noted that Lake Charles prospect Rissean Broussard, a Tennessee commitment, has close ties to new LSU assistant Frank Wilson.  Wilson was the main reason Broussard was committed to Tennessee.  Something may develop on LSU's end now that Wilson is in purple and gold.  Regardless, Broussard reportedly still has several academic hurdles to overcome before he can play college football. 

LSU still seems to be after a few linebackers.  They continue to recruit Ladarious Owens even though Owens is a firm commitment to Auburn.  Owens has a good relationship with John Chavis, and he may visit LSU.  If he visits, you never know what could happen. 

South Carolina's Justin Parker continues to mention LSU as one of his favorites, along with Clemson and South Carolina.  The odds are that Parker will stay in-state to play college football, but if he decides to go elsewhere, LSU seems to have a leg up on everyone else.  Parker looks REAL good on film, and I'm excited about the possibility of LSU landing him.  Parker is 6'3" 230 pounds and looks like a natural. 

Brother Martin linebacker Pat Swilling Jr. (yes THAT Pat Swilling) is getting a bit of attention from LSU recently after having a very quiet recruitment thus far.  We ha  ven't heard much about Swilling since he was considering playing basketball in college instead of football, but he's apparently now looking at football.  Swilling is 6'2" 215 pounds and has been playing cornerback and safety in high school.  He has offers from Georgia Tech and Ole Miss. 

John Curtis cornerback Jonathon McKnight continues to mention LSU as a possibility.  I think LSU has legitimate interest in McKnight, but that he's way down the list of priorities.  I'm not crazy about what happened with McKnight's older brother, but he does look like a solid cornerback prospect. 

It's also interesting to note that Louisiana speedster Curtis Carter de-committed from Nebraska.  Carter has concerns about how he would be used in their offense, and it sounds like he's very interested in Missouri.  Carter is #9 on my rankings of Louisiana's players this year. 


The most interesting rumor of the day involves Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt being a serious candidate for the Kansas job.  The Kansas City Star reports that Nutt has already spoken with Kansas.  This could be an interesting development, and it's one that I'll keep a close eye on.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tigers Headed To Capital One Bowl; Coaching Rumors; New Commitment


As expected, LSU is officially headed to the Capital One Bowl in Orlando to face Penn State.  This was the best possible scenario for LSU, and it gives them a marquee match-up in what is probably the most exciting non BCS bowl game out there.  Penn State is ranked #9 while LSU is ranked #13. 

The other SEC bowl game match ups are as follows:

BCS Championship Game - Alabama vs. Texas
Sugar Bowl - Florida vs. Cincinnati
Cotton Bowl - Ole Miss vs. Oklahoma State
Outback Bowl - Auburn vs. Northwestern
Chick-Fil-A Bowl - Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech
Music City Bowl - Kentucky vs. Clemson
Liberty Bowl - Arkansas vs. East Carolina
Independence Bowl - Georgia vs. Texas A&M Bowl - South Carolina vs. UCONN

As the game approaches, I'll have more on Penn State. 


LSU picked up their second running back for the Class of 2010 in Hahnville product Alfred Blue.  We've talked about Blue quite a bit over the last several months, and he finally chose the Tigers over Ole Miss.  Blue visited LSU this weekend and was able to meet new running backs coach Frank Wilson which apparently sped up his decision.  He also had offers from Arkansas, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Colorado and some smaller schools.   Blue is 6'2" 205 pounds and has decent speed which is listed at 4.5.   Many speculate that Blue could grow into a linebacker, or that he could even play some wide receiver.  He finished his senior season with 1,695 yards and 29 touchdowns.  He also caught 13 passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns.  He averaged 6.65 yards per carry.   Blue reminds me a lot of former Tiger Rondell Mealey, and I'm excited to have him on board.  Both Scout and Rivals rate Blue as a three star running back. 

I hope to do a full recruiting recap later this week. 


Over the weekend, Frank Wilson accepted LSU's offer to become the Tigers' next running backs coach.  I discussed Wilson in Friday's update, and I think this is a home-run hire for Les Miles.   Wilson is a great recruiter, he has Louisiana ties, and he looks to be a pretty good coach too. 

The writing is on the wall that LSU wide receivers coach DJ McCarthy will not be retained.  His involvement in potential NCAA violations have him on the way out.  The rumor mill has started to get going regarding potential replacements for McCarthy. reported that Buffalo Bills wide receivers coach and former LSU player, Tyke Tolbert, is talking to LSU about taking the job.  I first mentioned Tolbert as a possibility way back in mid November.  Tolbert coached tight-ends and was recruiting coordinator for Ron Zook at Florida before going to the NFL.  He spent one season coaching the receivers for the Arizona Cardinals before going to the Bills.  Tolbert would be another fantastic hire if Les Miles can get it done, and I'm hearing that it's pretty close to happening.

It's still a little unclear when Frank Wilson will start, but he's reportedly already on the job.   Larry Porter will supposedly coach LSU in their bowl game.  Since Wilson can't start unless an opening exists, I can only conclude that DJ McCarthy is already gone and that both Wilson and Porter will be on staff for the Capital One bowl. 

The status of offensive line coach Greg Studrawa and offensive coordinator Gary Crowton is still unknown.  Remember that the defensive coordinators were not let go until after the bowl game in 2008.  Just because nothing has happened yet doesn't mean that it won't.  I'm still hopeful that LSU will change offensive coordinators, but nobody seems to know what LSU will do right now. 

Looking around the SEC and the nation, some other rumors are interesting to note. 

It seems that Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong is the heavy favorite to get the head coaching job at Louisville.  Could that have affected Florida's play on Saturday in Atlanta?

Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart is on the short list to be the defensive coordinator at both Georgia and Florida State.  Smart went to school at Georgia, and he coached with Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher as assistants at LSU.  With Alabama in the BCS championship game, it will be interesting if that turns into a distraction.  

Tennessee running backs coach Eddie Gran is considering taking a position with Florida State.  Gran is one of the Vols' top assistant coaches and one of their chief recruiters.  Some rumors exist that Vols' defensive line coach Ed Orgeron is considering a few other possibilities as well, including a return to USC. 

It looks like Virginia will hire Richmond head coach Mike London.  Charlie Strong was also a candidate for that job. 

Kansas is targeting Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin to replace Mark Mangino.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Update on Various Topics


I haven't been able to post at all this week, and we've had a lot going on.  I'm going to try and play catch up and provide some decent Friday morning reading material in doing so. 

LSU's win over Arkansas seems to have quieted the intense criticism of Les Miles and the coaching staff, at least a little bit.  It was a big win for this team, especially considering the way they lost the Ole Miss game the week prior.  LSU can now take a month to get healthy, and they have the chance to secure a ten-win season and a possible top ten finish.  Les Miles has performed exceptionally well in bowl games during his tenure at LSU.  

In terms of that bowl game, it's all but official that LSU will play in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, FL.  The Tigers' opponent is still a topic of debate however.  It all depends on the Fiesta Bowl, who gets the first pick of BCS at-large teams after the Sugar Bowl selects the SEC Championship Game loser.  Assuming Texas wins the Big-12 Championship game, the Fiesta bowl will select either Iowa or Penn State who have identical 10-2 records.  Penn State is probably the more attractive choice, but Iowa won the head to head match up and is ranked a couple spots ahead in the BCS rankings.  The word on the street is that the Fiesta is leaning towards Iowa.   LSU will play whoever the Fiesta Bowl does not pick, and that's looking like Penn State right now. 

While nothing is official, here's my latest guess at how the SEC bowl picture is shaping up:

BCS Championship Game - SEC Championship Game winner
Sugar Bowl - SEC Championship Game loser
Capital One Bowl - LSU vs. Penn State
Cotton Bowl - Ole Miss vs. Oklahoma State
Outback Bowl - Auburn vs. Wisconsin
Chick-Fil-A Bowl - Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech
Liberty Bowl - Arkansas vs. Houston
Music City Bowl - South Carolina vs. North Carolina
Independence Bowl - Georgia vs. Texas A&M Bowl - Kentucky vs. South Florida

All of the bowl games should be officially announced on Sunday. 

In case you missed it, LSU running backs coach and ace recruiter Larry Porter was named as the next head coach at Memphis.  That means that LSU has a void on their coaching staff....and in their recruiting efforts.  LSU has targeted Tennessee wide receivers coach Frank Wilson to fill that void.  Wilson used to be the head coach at O.Perry Walker high school in New Orleans.  He was then running backs coach at Ole Miss under Ed Orgeron.  He spent last season as running backs coach at Southern Miss before being hired by Tennessee.  Wilson has proven himself as a top notch recruiter, and he has incredible pull in the New Orleans area.  Known as a recruiter first, he's also had good results as a position coach too.  It was reported by several sites on Thursday night that Wilson was offered the position by LSU.  I think he'd be a great hire for LSU, and I hope he accepts the offer. 

An interesting side note is that the top high school junior in the state of Louisiana, in my opinion, is defensive tackle Anthony Johnson who just happens to play at O. Perry Walker high school.  He is number one on my very early Top five list for the Class of 2011.  Johnson is currently an early verbal commitment to Tennessee, and the primary reason for that is Frank Wilson.  If Wilson ends up at LSU, then Johnson will surely consider switching to the Tigers. 

Among much speculation, the fate of the rest of LSU's offensive coaching staff remains unknown.  At the conclusion of the 2008 recular season, LSU waited until after the bowl game before shipping out the defensive staff.  We may have to wait until after the bowl game this year to know whether Gary Crowton, Greg Studrawa, or DJ McCarthy will return.  With the performance of the offense this season, I'm guessing that they'll all be replaced when the time is right.  If it were up to me, all of those guys would be looking for jobs next year.  With DJ McCarthy being at the center of potential NCAA violations,  I think it's safe to say he won't be back.  In my next update, I'll try to give a rundown of possible replacements for McCarthy at WR coach. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Quick Coaching Update


It looks like Washington Redskins assistant Jerry Gray is going to be the new head coach at Memphis.  As reported earlier, LSU running backs coach Larry Porter was a finalist for that job.  However, LSU is not out of the woods yet.  It seems that Larry Porter is still a candidate to become the offensive coordinator at Memphis.   Porter is LSU's ace recruiter and his departure would greatly affect LSU's recruiting class. 

Monday, November 23, 2009

"The Meltdown In Mississippi"


The fallout from Saturday's devastating loss to Ole Miss has been tremendous, and rightfully so.  Today, the national media took their turn using Les Miles as a punching bag, calling him everything from a "liar" to a "nincompoop."  I'd say they were being rather kind.  The coaching blunders, confusion, lack of control, and complete idiocy that took place in the final 1:17 of the game are inexcusable for a football team at any level, much less a supposed elite college football program like LSU. 

The coaching staff screwed up a number of things, but their worst decision may have been the one that's talked about the least.  I'm referring to the absolutely horrific call for a fade pass for the potential game-tying two point conversion.  And that was from the one yard line, since Ole Miss was penalized on LSU's first conversion attempt, also a fade pass.  Terrible, terrible call.  Gary Crowton needs to update his resume as soon as possible.  I'll always be thankful for the offense we saw in 2007, but that creativity and imagination is long gone from Crowton's brain...for whatever reason.  LSU's offense is stale.  It doesn't maximize talent.  It doesn't always play the best players.  And it has failed to create a way to utilize the most electric freshman in the country.  It's time for a new offense. 

Once LSU managed to cover the onsides kick, they moved the ball to the Ole Miss 32 yard line with two timeouts and plenty of time.   LSU was looking at a 49 yard field goal at that point.  Josh Jasper had already kicked a 50 yarder earlier in the game.  But a 49 yard field goal is no gimme, and LSU needed to try to get closer.  But you absolutely can NOT run a risky play and risk losing yardage.  You just can't do it when you're right on the edge of your kicker's range.  On first down, LSU threw a quick pass that got batted down at the line of scrimmage.  Fine.   But on second down, they inexplicably called for Jefferson to take a seven step drop with Ole Miss showing a blitz.  Jefferson was sacked.  They followed up that gem with a screen pass that was caught eight yards behind the line of scrimmage.  Those two moronic play calls lost LSU the football game.  The events that followed have earned the focus of critics across the nation and while they may have showcased the ineptitude of LSU's coaching staff a bit more clearly, the play calls on 2nd and 3rd down lost the game for the Tigers. 

The confusion and disbelief of the final play is only matched by the confusion and disbelief after the game.  Les Miles "didn't know" who told Jefferson to spike the ball.  The head coach doesn't know who sends the play calls to his quarterback?  Wonderful.  I could go on and on, but I'll stop.  We all know what happened, and I haven't talked to anyone yet who is real pleased with the coaching staff. 

Thus far, I've only discussed the circus on LSU's sideline during the final 1:17 of the football game.  What's maybe most disturbing is how poorly the Tigers were prepared for this game.  Ole Miss dominated the football game and frankly, LSU was very fortunate to be within striking distance at the game's end.  For the second straight year, I was forced to watch a less talented Ole Miss team shove a football up LSU's @$$ on national television.  I'm not real happy about it either. 

Why stop with the Ole Miss game?  LSU is one of the three most talented teams in the SEC, but the coaching staff has squandered that talent for the last two years.  LSU has compiled a 7-9 SEC record over their last 16 league games.  Of those seven wins, only two are against teams that finished, or will finish, with a winning record (South Carolina finished 7-6 last year, Auburn is 7-4 right now).  If Georgia wins their last game this year, they can increase that number to three.  LSU has also lost eight straight games against the likes of Florida, Alabama, Ole Miss, and Arkansas.   Les Miles is the fifth highest paid coach in the nation.  Do you feel like those results are indicative of having such a highly paid coaching staff?   Me neither. 

Many are talking about replacing Les Miles as head coach.  I've been a Les Miles supporter for a long time, but I can't support the stupidity I saw on the sidelines against Ole Miss nor can I support the declining results of a recently elite program.  For his sake, Les Miles needs to win the Arkansas game.  With a win against Arkansas, LSU will play in either the Capital One or the Cotton Bowl with a chance to end the season 10-3 and ranked in the Top 12 nationally.  LSU is not firing a coach who just completed a 9-3 regular season and is heading to a New Year's Day bowl game.  Not happening.  A loss to Arkansas will throw gasoline on this growing inferno, and then talks of a firing might have some validity.  If that happens, then we'll discuss the job security of Miles at that time.  As long as LSU has a chance to finish with a 10-win season, I prefer to focus on that as much as possible. 


Here are some pictures of the new Nike uniforms that LSU will wear against Arkansas on Saturday.  These uniforms were first reported here on this blog. 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ole Miss Preview


This is the third of three articles posted today.  Don't miss the other two, which are just below this one on the main page. 

LSU fans are ate up with the negativity this week after a very poor performance last Saturday against Louisiana Tech.  The offense ran the ball well and passed the ball poorly; however, the coaches kept calling pass plays.  It was maddening to watch.  The defense looked indifferent in the first half but they really tightened up in the second and played well.  But I do think some perspective is in order. 

LSU was playing with a severe "hangover" after putting everything they had into the Alabama game and coming up short.  That game is all anyone talked about all week, and that spilled over to the team.  Maybe it shouldn't have, but it did and it wasn't all that surprising.  Players even admitted to just going through the motions against Louisiana Tech.  LSU was also playing with their backup quarterback, backup running back, backup center, and backup tight-end.  Yea, it was just LA Tech, but it's understandable that the offense struggled. 

LSU's offense has not impressed this year.  However,  I felt they turned a corner after their bye week.  OK...maybe they slowly rounded a curve.  But the offense played very well against Auburn and then again against Tulane.   Neither Auburn or Tulane have a terribly good defense, but it was the style of offense that LSU used that was encouraging.  They were more aggressive in the passing game and they did a better job of getting the ball to their playmakers.  The offense played surprisingly well against Alabama until Jordan Jefferson got hurt.  And then....LA Tech.  I see the LA Tech game as the exception to the recent play of the offense.  Jefferson is supposedly back this week.  The hangover is over.  And I have a feeling that LSU's offense will play well against Ole Miss. 


When LSU Has The Ball:

The big question leading up to this game is "How healthy will Jordan Jefferson's ankle be?"  He has been practicing all week, and it appears that he'll be able to go.  Much of Jefferson's value is his mobility and ability to run with the football.  So even if he's ready to play, will he be able to do everything we're used to him doing?  LSU will need Jefferson at very close to 100% in order to win on Saturday.  The first downs that Jefferson picks up with his feet are invaluable. 

LSU will have to find some balance on offense against the Rebels' tough defense, but their best bet on moving the football will be through the air.  However, the Tigers have run the ball well for three straight games.  Filling in for the injured Charles Scott, Keiland Williams had one of the best games of his career.  I, for one, was not surprised in the least.  Throughout his entire career, Williams has always performed in a big way when given significant carries (eight or more) in any one game.  LSU will need him to come through in a big way on Saturday.  He'll be plenty motivated to finally receive an opportunity after playing behind Jacob Hester and Charles Scott over the past few yers.  Stevan Ridley will be able to spell Williams while Trindon Holliday and Russell Shepard will look for the big home run. 

Ole Miss has a good defense, but not a great one.  They have played well at times.  But they've also shown the ability to get lit up, as they did when they played Auburn.  Only two teams have managed to score more than twenty points against the Rebels.  Auburn scored 33 while Alabama scored 22.  I feel that LSU will have to score more than 20 in order to win.  I think they will. 

When Ole Miss Has The Ball:

Ole Miss has a number of weapons on offense, and they're tough to defend as a result.  Everyone is talking about scat back Dexter McCluster, who broke an Ole Miss rushing record last week against Tennessee.  They use McCluster as a traditional running back, as a slot receiver, and also as the primary option in various Wildcat formations.  Last year, McCluster wasn't a big factor against LSU.  Hopefully, that will be the case again.  Harry Coleman gives LSU a weapon to help counter McCluster's unique skill set.  Running back Brandon Bolden is also a threat to run the ball. 

The Rebels' passing game has been erratic.  Quarterback Jevan Snead is very streaky.  He can look great when in a rhythm but can also look awful when the offense is out of sync or when he's pressured.  He is completing just 53% of his passes this year and has thrown a league high 14 interceptions.  He has a tendency to throw some balls up for grabs, and that's good news for LSU's defense who has nabbed twelve interceptions this year.  Since LSU's bye week, LSU has 12 sacks in four games, including five last week.  Getting pressure on Snead will be key to this game.  It will be interesting to see how often LSU blitzes this week.  They like to bring Harry Coleman on blitzes off the edge, but I imagine he'll be tasked with watching Dexter McCluster quite a bit. 

Senior receiver Shay Hodge (pictured) is quietly having an All-SEC caliber season.  He has 50 receptions, which leads the SEC, as well as six touchdowns.  McCluster is second on the team with 31 receptions.  No other wide receiver has more than 11 grabs.

I anticipate Ole Miss having some success against LSU from their Wildcat formation, but they'll struggle in more traditional sets.  I really like the match up of LSU's offense this week, and I have a strong feeling they're going to play very well. 

LSU 24
Ole Miss 20


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