Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spring Recap; Baseball Sweeps Vols; Recruiting Update


LSU concluded their spring practice on Saturday with their annual spring game.  It's always tough to discern much from spring games because the team is playing against themselves.  If the running game is wildly successful, is that a testament to the running game?  Or is it a damnation of the defensive line?  It's tough to tell, and having the starters divided among the two teams makes it even more difficult.  But one can look at who stands out individually and assume that those players can make a difference next fall. 

The story of the game was the success of LSU's running backs.  Junior Stevan Ridley looked very impressive in rushing for 104 yards on 13 carries, and that included 70 yards on the opening touchdown drive.  Ridley ran very decisively and broke a number of tackles.  On the other team, fans got to see why the coaches have been singing the praises of redshirt freshman Michael Ford.  In addition to running tough, Ford showed an ability to make defenders miss, and he also showed good speed and the ability to get to the edge.  He finished with 139 yards on 19 carries. 

Multipurpose threat Russell Shepard also stood out.  Shepard lined up at receiver, running back, and quarterback on Saturday.  The final result was 115 total yards...64 rushing and 51 receiving.  While Shepard was underutilized a year ago, it looks like LSU's staff has bigger plans for him in 2010.  He did drop a couple of balls as he continues to learn how to play the receiver position. 

A pair of redshirt freshmen defensive ends really made an impact.  Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo consistently put pressure on the quarterback, and both guys finished with a pair of sacks.  Both players, especially Mingo, still need to gain some weight before they can be every down defensive ends but it looks like they will provide LSU some much needed pass rush in the fall.  Montgomery ended the spring as one of LSU's starters. 

Another pair of redshirt freshmen defenders made a name for themselves on Saturday.  Linebacker Kevin Minter led both teams with 14 tackles.  With starting middle linebacker Kelvin Shephard sitting out, Minter received extended playing time.  Safety Craig Loston also stood out.  Loston is battling with senior Jai Eugene for a starting position, and he showed off his athleticism and play making ability.  Loston made six tackles and returned an interception for a touchdown. 

Place kicker Josh Jasper also showed off his stuff, hitting field goals from 47 and 57 yards. 

Unfortunately for Tiger fans, not everyone shined.  Starting quarerback Jordan Jefferson looked grossly uncomfortable en route to an 8 of 23 passing day.  Heading into his second year as a starter, most expect Jefferson to significantly improve on the promise he showed a year ago.  However, his performance in the spring game raises more questions than answers. 

Heading into spring practice, LSU was hoping to improve in several areas:

The offensive line needs to play more physical.  Check. 
Russell Shepard needs to be more involved in the offense.  Check. 
The defense needs to generate more pressure on the quarterback.  Check. 
Jordan Jefferson needs to take the next step and show considerable improvement.   Ehhhh

All in all, LSU appears to have all the pieces in place to contend for the SEC West with the exception of one glaring question mark at quarterback. 

I thought it would be an interesting exercise to look back over my spring previews, pick out certain statements, and then analyze the result. 

The most important thing to watch this spring is the improvement of Jordan Jefferson. Number two on the list is the development of Chris Garrett. 

Note:  We heard that Jefferson was making strides this spring but when we saw him with our own eyes in the spring game, he disappointed.  He is the biggest question mark on LSU's team heading into the fall.  Chris Garrett apparently didn't make a move this spring, as he's clearly the third quarterback right now. 

Ford is one of the key guys to watch this spring. He has an opportunity to really break out and make a name for himself.

Note:  Mike Ford did indeed make a name for himself this spring, and he followed it up with a very strong spring game.  It looks like he'll be a factor in the fall. 

He (Terrance Toliver) is now the primary receiver, and the biggest thing he can do this spring is to set a good example for the other receivers and to develop as a team leader.

Note:  Toliver failed in this regard.  He started strong but was arrested after getting involved in a fight and had to participate in the remainder of spring with a cast on his hand. 

The question is whether (Deangelo) Peterson can become an effective blocker so that he can stay on the field for every down. His development as an every down player is the key thing to watch this spring at the tight-end position. 

Note:  Peterson had a strong spring and drew very positive reviews from the coaching staff.  However, it remains to be seen whether Peterson can be an every down player. 

Loston came to LSU as the top rated safety in the nation out of high school, but a hand injury shortened his freshman season. He should be ready to go, and we'll have to see if he's ready to play a big role.

Note:  Loston apparently struggled with giving a consistent effort at practice, but his talent is evident.  If he can put things together at fall camp, he could very well earn a job as a starter. 


LSU took care of business in Knoxville this weekend, earning the sweep against the Vols.  We saw a few encouraging things from the weekend, other than the obvious fact that the Tigers won all three games. 

Austin Ross pitched Friday and gave the Tigers a very good performance, one of his best of the season.  Ross pitched six innings and allowed just six hits and two earned runs. 

Tyler Hanover (pictured) has really stepped up lately, and he had a huge weekend.  Hanover was 6 of 11 with 6 RBIs against Tennessee.  Over Hanover's last six games, he is 10 for 18 (.555).  He was second in the batting order this weekend, and he'll certainly stay there for the foreessable future.

Austin Nola looked a bit more comfortable batting at the bottom of the order.  He was 5 for 10 with four RBIs this weekend. 

Lastly Matt Gaudet continues to be "feast or famine" at the plate.  In 10 at bats this weekend, Gaudet his two home runs, but he also struck out four times. 

In Game 2 of the series, Anthony Ranaudo made his first start since the season opener.  He pitched two perfect innings and looked sharp.  He also did not feel any discomfort after pitching.  He should start again next weekend against Georgia and gradually work his way back into the full rotation. 

Chris Matulis pitched OK in relief of Ranaudo, and he was good enough to earn the win. 

In Game 3, Joey Bourgeois got knocked around a bit, but he held it together enough to get the win. 

LSU continues to struggle at third base.  Beau Didier was given an opportunity this weekend, starting all three games.  However, he went just 1 for 10.  LSU will need to find some production from the hot corner at some point this year.  I'm wonder whether backup Grant Dozar or true freshman Mason Katz may get a look before too long. 


LSU hosted over 100 prospects at their second Junior Day of the spring.  A number of big names were in attendance. 

Thibodaux offensive lineman Greg Robinson was able to attend, and he had another great visit.  It sounds like it won't be too long before Robinson is an LSU Commitment.  He's a very strong lean to the Tigers right now. 

Klein, Texas tight-end Max Stevenson visited campus, and he received an offer from Les Miles.  Stevenson is 6'5" 225 pounds and has offers from Notre Dame, Arizona, Texas Tech and others. 

Stevenson is teammates with defensive end Nathan Hughes and LSU signee Luke Muncie and all guys were in attendance.  Hughes had a good visit and re-affirmed LSU's position in his Top two along with Oklahoma. 

Benton safety T.K. Fleming made it in and had a good time.  He did not recieve an offer, but LSU wants to evaluate him further this spring and at camp over the summer.  Fleming seems to be very high on LSU and if he is ultimatey offered, I'd expect him to commit to the Tigers.

Georgia safety Avery Walls also had a good visit. 


Rusty Shackleford said...

Jefferson played as bad as I have ever seen him play. The fact that he has (seemingly) not progressed after two years in the system is extremely disappointing. I think the coaching staff should cut their losses and work on coaching up Lee. I couldn't believe he threw another pick six either, but the fact that he came back and lead (handed off to Ford) a touchdown drive afterward is encouraging. I would have been in the fetal position crying on the sidelines. I have had my fill of the "dual-threat" quarterback and am ready for the coaching staff to bring in and coach up a top notch "pro-style" guy. "Dual-threat" = "Guy who isn't really a quarterback but was the best athlete on his high-school team which didn't have a guy who could play quarterback."

Ben Guevara said...

JJ played horribly. I watch a a lot of college football and am getting tired of seeing teams bringing in their 2nd or 3rd string QB and they look more poised than JJ. This is either horrible coaching or JJ just cannot be an effective QB in the SEC. Unfortunately, Lee looked much better than JJ, yet still throws pick 6's. I am tired of hearing how well JL is practicing because I am deathly afraid that when he enters a game, he becomes completely unglued and reverts back to his old form. If Les and Gary cannot get the QB situation fixed quickly, they will both be looking for new jobs at the end of the year because this season could get away from them early in the year with games against UNC,MSU and WVU.

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