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7/10/19 1:14 am CT (from Basel)
Good morning, Tiger fans,
Now that our position series has wrapped up, we’ll move on to our next annual summer series: Toughest Game of the 2019 Season. Dandy Don contributor Jim Kleinpeter writes about a potential trap game to kick off the series, but first, LSU baseball’s hiring of Eddie Smith has been made official…
LSU announced yesterday that Smith has officially joined the LSU baseball team as a volunteer/hitting coach. Smith makes the switch from Tulane to LSU after the Green Wave set American Athletic Conference records for home runs (89), batting average (.302), runs per game (7.69), runs scored (446), total bases (1,055), slugging percentage (.518), extra-base hits (241) and walks per game (4.88). LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said the Tigers are fortunate to have Smith join the staff. “Eddie is a very experienced coach with a proven track record of success,” Mainieri said. “He combines his intelligence and coaching ability with a tremendous work ethic, and he is going to be a very impactful asset to our program.” To read more about what Mainieri had to say about the hire, you can check out LSU’s full press release here.
LSU FOOTBALL’S SIX TOUGHEST GAMES OF THE 2019 SEASON
6. LSU at Mississippi State, Oct. 19, Starkville, Miss.
If there is a trap game on the schedule, this is it. The Tigers make a road trip to Starkville in between home games against Florida and Auburn as the meat of the SEC schedule gets underway. Dan Mullen no longer roams the sidelines for the Bulldogs but he's left the program in good shape talent-wise and Starkville often proves a difficult place to play for LSU. Second-year coach Joe Moorhead will finally have his offense fully installed after relying heavily on the run last year, when LSU struggled past the Bulldogs, 19-3, in Baton Rouge. The State run game looks solid again with returning back Kylin Hill and Nick Gibson and an experienced, run-blocking offensive line.
The wild card is transfer quarterback Tommy Stevens, who played under Moorhead at Penn State and transferred in for his senior season. In 23 games, the senior passed for 304 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 506 yards and eight scores, He arrives acclimated to Moorhead's offense and may have won the job by the time the LSU game rolls around. Holdover junior Keytaon Thompson is his chief competition but more of a runner. His completion percentage last season was 47.7 so Moorhead will be looking for an upgrade. Defensively, the Bulldogs lost some major NFL talent in Jeff Simmons and Montez Sweat and could be susceptible against the run. But State looks to be strong at linebacker led by Erroll Thompson.
Stay tuned as we count down five tougher games on LSU’s schedule.
Now, let’s continue our countdown to game day, which is at 52 days, by looking at a great former Tiger who wore No. 52 - Ron Sancho. Sancho played linebacker at LSU and made All-SEC as a senior. He wasn’t the biggest, fastest or strongest linebacker, but what he may have lacked physically he more than made up for with heart. While researching Sancho for a previous year's countdown, I discovered an interesting story that I shared with you. I got so much positive feedback about it that I've decided to post it again. Back in 1987, Sancho was driving to a wedding reception in New Orleans when he came across a backroad wreck involving a jackknifed truck spewing hydrochloric acid and a demolished car. Sancho’s brave heroics saved the life of the car’s pinned driver. Rather than recounting the entire story here, I'll direct you to this great article about it by the Orlando Sentinel. After his playing days at LSU, Sancho went on to play in the NFL for Kansas City.
An internet search revealed that Sancho is now the owner of Cardio Health Solutions, LLC in Baton Rouge. His website’s profile says, “After 20 years in cardiovascular sales, Ron realized that physicians needed better technology to detect and image microvascular disease, especially in women, so that physicians could diagnose and treat their patients earlier and with greater success. Based on this revelation, Ron founded Cardio Health Solutions, LLC in 2013.”
• The good baseball news didn’t stop with Smith’s hire. Yesterday, Tiger Rag reported that infielders Zach Arnold and Zack Mathis signed with the Tigers to help bolster LSU’s infield in 2020. Paul Mainieri told Tiger Rag that LSU needed to sign a couple of infielders after Christian Cairo and Rece Hinds signed professionally. Arnold was selected in the 34th round by the Baltimore Orioles, while Mathis comes over as a JUCO prospect after playing at San Joaquin Delta College in California. To read more about these two new Tigers, you can read James Moran’s article here.
• During this dead period for college football, articles have been circulating about some of the comments Joe Burrow has made over the summer, regarding LSU’s offense. Of course, one of the comments that stuck out was potentially scoring 40-plus points per game next season. Here’s an excellent article by The Advocate on Burrow and the confidence he has in the Tigers offense next year.
• And if you haven’t gotten your Burrow fill for the day, here’s a film study on Burrow’s 2018 season from Matt Wyatt.
7/9/19 12:22 am CT (de Noves, France)
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
This is Scott checking in one last time from the south of France before moving on to the last leg of our vacation, which will consist of two days in Basel, Switzerland. This has been an amazing vacation that my family will remember forever, and the hospitality we’ve been shown has been nothing short of amazing. I hate to be leaving this beautiful place, but also appreciate that my craving for rice and gravy will soon be satisfied. (The food has been outstanding here, but you know what I mean.) Anyway, thanks to Jake Martin for continuing to dish out your daily dose of Tiger news, which we’ll get to now.
In today’s report, we’ll wrap up our position series by looking at the special teams unit, but before we do, here’s a little bit more updated information regarding the LSU baseball news that broke Sunday night…
It looks all but official at this point that Eddie Smith will, in fact, be the Tigers’ new hitting coach. News broke Sunday night that Sean Ochinko would no longer serve as the Tigers volunteer coach and hitting coach, and D1Baseball.com’s Kendall Rogers broke the news that Smith would join the Tigers’ staff. Since then, The Advocate and Tiger Rag have confirmed through sources the Tulane assistant will join the Tigers staff. Smith served as the Green Wave’s hitting coach, third base coach and recruiting coordinator the past three years. LSU has yet to confirm the news, as the school awaits the results of a background check, which should be cleared later this week.
Now to conclude our football position series…
There are aspects to LSU’s special teams in 2018 that reached legendary status. I think you know good and well what we’re referencing, as visions of Cole Tracy’s walk-off field goal against Auburn flood your collective minds. But there were other aspects that left a void for Tiger fans. In fact, if you wanted to see an electric punt return you had to pull up YouTube on your phone and search for Odell Beckham, TréDavious White or D.J. Chark, to name a few recent Tiger returners. Hopefully, instead of pulling up that app, you can just tune in on Saturdays when another new Tiger gives it a go. Derek Stingley might not start out as the Tigers’ punt returner for the season opener, but comments from the coaching staff indicate that his time is coming. The coaches raved about his natural ability at the position, so expect more highlight reel returns to Tigers Stadium sooner rather than later. And that would be a nice change following a season where LSU averaged 5.8 yards per return (11th in theSEC). Kary Vincent, Ja’Marr Chase and Jontré Kirklin could also return some kicks in 2019. Vincent and Clyde Edwards-Helaire are expected to return kickoffs. Edwards-Helaire returned 17 kicks for an average return of 24.5 yards in 2018. He had a 70-yard return against UCF in the Fiesta Bowl. Zach Von Rosenberg returns as the team’s starting punter after averaging 45.7 yards per punt in 2018. And Cade York has his hands full as he tries to replace the instant legend Tracy became. As we’ve stated several times on this site, York enters with a ton of hype after nailing an Under Armour Game record 59-yard field goal last January. We’ll see if he can provide the same consistency Tracy did on Saturdays this fall.
Now, as we hit the 53-day mark on our countdown to Game Day, let’s revisit one of the all-time classic meetings between LSU and Ole Miss, and no, it might not be some of classics you’re thinking of. In 2003, before LSU earned the right to play Oklahoma as a one-loss team in the 2004 BCS National Championship Game, the Tigers had to get through a Top 15 Ole Miss squad on the road for a heavily anticipated bout. And while many remember this as the game Eli Manning tripped over his offensive lineman’s foot on the last fourth down attempt of the game, Tiger fans should also remember the play that would give LSU enough cushion to pull out the hard-fought road victory. After struggling for the better part of three quarters, Matt Mauck opened the fourth quarter by rolling to his left on 3rd-and-7 before throwing a perfect corner route to Devery Henderson, who caught it around the 20-yard line and sprinted into the end zone. The 53-yard score put the Tigers up 17-7, and the Tigers would go on to survive, 17-14, en route to winning their first national championship since the 1958 season. Henderson has made a lot of big catches in the state of Louisiana during his football career, both as a Tiger and as a Saint, but this one ranks right up there with most. (Of course, nothing will ever compare to the Bluegrass Miracle.) We should also give kudos to Mauck for making the throw. The Tigers dug themselves in an early hole on the road as Mauck threw a pick-six on the first possession of the game. He went on to throw a total of three interceptions in the game, but showed the resiliency of a Tiger when he hung tough and made big throws when it mattered. To relive this game in highlight form, click here. LSU’s defense was unbelievable against Manning, sacking him three times in the victory.
• If you’re looking for something to watch tonight, how about catching a couple of former Tigers in the MLB All-Star Game? DJ LeMahieu and Alex Bregman will start in tonight’s game for the American League at Progressive Field in Cleveland. LeMahieu leads the league with a .336 batting average, while Bregman leads the Astros with 23 homers on the year.
• LSU junior golfer Kendall Griffin won the Florida Women’s Amateur stroke play title at the Black Diamond Ranch GC Sunday. Griffin finished the three-round tourney with a 1-over 217.
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