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Twitter Mailbag: Tight ends, freshmen (not) playing and missing pieces

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Will Brandon Harris throw for more than 225 yards? You asked that question. (Travis Spradling)

Twitter Mailbag is a blog series running each Tuesday answering readers’ questions about the LSU football team. Readers submit their questions through Twitter each Tuesday, and the best are posted here with answers. Follow us on Twitter at @DellengerAdv to submit a question.

I can’t speak to Richard Dickson’s run at LSU or any tight ends between then (2009) and now. But I can speak on the current tight end situation, and it doesn’t appear to be too positive.

First off, tight ends at LSU and under coach Les Miles are blockers. Even a few of them admit that. Colin Jeter, the junior college transfer, told us that not too long ago. Tight ends don’t come to LSU expecting to catch 40 passes and 10 touchdowns a season. They do, however, expect to block and block a lot.

That said, LSU’s tight ends were given chances in the season-opening win over Wisconsin. And what happened? Complete disaster. Travis Dickson, the brother of Richard, fumbled a ball following a catch. DeSean Smith, a consensus four-star prospect out of Lake Charles, dropped a pass in that game.

Ever since that game, we haven’t seen much involvement from the tight ends in LSU’s passing game.

He received a ton of playing time last week against New Mexico State. He appears to be slowly moving up the depth chart. He’s listed as the No. 3 defensive end behind starter Danielle Hunter and No. 2 Deondre Clark, another true freshman.

Clark began the season by receiving plenty of rotating reps at defensive end with Hunter, but, lately, Teuhema has been just as big, if not bigger, in the rotation. I’d imagine his playing time will only grow this season. He’s a true freshman so you’ve got to give him time.

We wrote a lot about this in our notebook that ran Tuesday. Neighbors, according to coach Les Miles, was expected to practice Monday. We can’t know that for sure, but, according to some sources, Neighbors “got his bell rung” against New Mexico State. TV broadcasters referred to it as a concussion. I’d expect Neighbors to play Saturday.

Quentin Thomas, according to at least one person, practiced some last week, but he’s dealing with a few issues. He’s playing with a torn biceps in his right arm and he injured his left arm against Mississippi State and missed last week.

Miles said Monday that Frank Herron was “more likely” to return to practice this week than Thomas. Thomas’ status is pretty uncertain for the game. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if he were to see some time. We’ll find out more about this at Wednesday’s post-practice press conference with Miles.

John Battle plays in the secondary, and that’s a loaded group for LSU. Battle, as of fall camp, was being trained at cornerback and at safety. Thing is, who’s he gonna play in front of?

Take your pick: Rashard Robinson, Tre White, Jalen Mills, Ronald Martin, Jamal Adams, Rickey Jefferson. Battle would have to be an awfully talented player to surpass one of these older, talented guys.

Ah, linebacker Clifton Garrett. He’s only seen limited time on special teams. Miles pointed to his trouble adjusting to the south Louisiana heat as a reason for his low playing time. Garrett missed a handful of practices during fall camp because of what Miles suggested was heat exhaustion. Garrett is from Illinois.

Auburn’s secondary isn’t the best in the land. And Harris is talented, but he hasn’t thrown against an elite secondary yet this season. This will be the best he’s faced, but I still believe that he surpasses that total.

However, don’t make any bets on that. A lot of it might hinge on LSU’s game plan. Will Miles/Cameron come out in the I-formation with a tight end or two and pound the ball? Or will they align Harris in shotgun with three receivers (which worked so well last week)?

Look, Harris is a gunslinger. That word might be overused, but the kid has a powerful, accurate and tight pass. If he’s allowed to do it, he’ll rack up 225-plus.

Great question. I think the two most missed players are Jarvis Landry and Trai Turner.

Turner was solid at right guard, and LSU is missing that this season. The offensive line has struggled, and, apparently, coaches believe right guard is an issue. They’ve removed Hoko Fanaika from his starting spot, replacing him with Ethan Pocic.

LSU has home run hitting receivers in Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural, but they’re missing that go-to receive on intermediate and short passes. John Diarse appears to be that guy, but we haven’t seen what he can do because Anthony Jennings had struggled so much.

I’ll add this: Because of the lack of depth at defensive tackle, Ego Ferguson is certainly missed.

It did. And it may be because of the design. Running back Terrence Magee said LSU has a different “package” when Harris enters the game. The Tigers go into a more hurry-up mode.

Bottom line, though: The kid has a great arm, wonderful pocket presence, good accuracy and makes solid decisions. When you’ve got a talented guy at quarterback making plays, it sparks an offense.

I’ll tell you what: I have not paid enough attention to this, but I will next time and will get back to you. Just remind. I haven’t noticed many trap blocks, but that may be because I wasn’t watching.

LSU in the NFL: Week 4

The Dallas Cowboys’ 38-17 romp over the visiting New Orleans Saints on Sunday night wasn’t all positive for the home team.

Former LSU All-American cornerback Morris Claiborne suffered a torn patellar tendon early in the game and will be lost for the remainder of the season.

Some other former Tigers had big games this week, including:

  • WR Dwayne Bowe, who had five catches for 81 yards in the Kansas City Chiefs’ rout of the New England Patriots.
  • The Patriots’ Brandon LaFell had six catches for 119 yards and a touchdown in a losing effort.
  • Washington Redskins safety Ryan Clark piled up 14 tackles though his team was crushed 45-14 by the New York Giants.
  • Perry Riley had six tackles from the linebacker spot for the Redskins.
  • Meanwhile, Rueben Randle had eight catches for 89 yards for the Giants.
  • Donnie Jones had six punts for a 48.5-yard average for the Philadelphia Eagles against the San Francisco 49ers.
  • Zach Mettenberger saw his first professional action for the Tennessee Titans against the Indianapolis Colts. He was 2 of 5 passing for 17 yards and threw an interception. The Colts routed the Titans 41-17.

Here’s the complete list:

Name, Years at LSU, Team, Position, Week 4 status/stats, Season

Joe Barksdale, 2007-10, St. Louis Rams, OT, Week 4: Started, Season: started all games

Lamin Barrow, 2009-13, Denver Broncos, LB, W4: bye, Season: 4 tackles

Odell Beckham Jr., 2011-13, New York Giants, WR, Season: Inactive

Alfred Blue, 2010-13, Houston Texans, RB, W4: 9 rush, 9 yds., 2 rec., 16 yds., Season: 33 rush, 117 yds., 3 rec., 26 yds., blocked punt (TD)

Dwayne Bowe, 2003-06, Kansas City Chiefs, WR, W4: 5 rec., 81 yds., Season: 11 rec., 154 yds.

Michael Brockers, 2009-11, St. Louis Rams, DT, W4: bye, Season: 4 tackles, 1 QBH

Ron Brooks, 2007-11, Buffalo Bills, CB, W4: 2 tackles, Season: 5 tackles

Morris Claiborne, 2009-11, Dallas Cowboys, CB W4: no stats, Season: 7 tackles, 1 INT, 1 QBH, 2 PBU (out for season, torn patellar tendon)

Ryan Clark, 1997-2001, Washington Redskins, FS, W4: 14 tackles, Season: 26 tackles, 0.5 Sack, 1 PBU

Glenn Dorsey, 2004-07, San Francisco 49ers, DT, Injured Reserve/Designated to Return list

Lavar Edwards, 2008-12, Dallas Cowboys, DE, W4: inactive, Season: No stats

Ego Ferguson, 2010-13, Chicago Bears, DT, W4: 2 tackles, 1 sack, Season: 5 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 TFL, 1 QBH

Matt Flynn, 2003-07, Green Bay Packers, QB, Season: has not played

Jeremy Hill, 2012-13, Cincinnati Bengals, RB, W4: bye, Season: 26 rush, 132 yds., 2 TD, 2 rec., 2 yds.

Trindon Holliday, 2006-09, New York Giants, WR/RS, Injured Reserve/Designated to Return list

Tyson Jackson, 2004-08, Atlanta Falcons, DE, W4: 5 tackles, 1 PBU, Season: 6 tackle, 1 PBU

Ricky Jean-Francois, 2005-08, Indianapolis Colts, DT, W4: 1 tackle, 1 PBU, 1 FR, Season: 5 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 PBU, 1 FR

Anthony Johnson, 2011-13, Miami Dolphins, DT, W4: 1 tackle, 1 QBH, Season: 1 tackle, 1 QBH, 1 FR

Donnie Jones, 2000-03, Philadelphia Eagles, P, W4: 6 punts, 48.5 avg., Season: 14 punts, 44.2 avg.

Brandon LaFell, 2005-09, New England Patriots, WR, W4: 6 rec., 119 yds., 1 TD, Season: 10 rec., 165 yds., 1 TD

Jarvis Landry, 2011-13, Miami Dolphins, WR, W4: 4 rec., 38 yds., 1 PR, 9.0 avg., 5 KR, Season: 12 rec., 111 yds., 1 tackle, 10 KR, 287 yds., 9 PR, 51 yds.

LaRon Landry, 2003-06, Indianapolis Colts, S, W4: 3 tackles, Season: 23 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 Sack, 1 QBH

Bennie Logan, 2009-12, Philadelphia Eagles, DT, W4: 3 tackles, Season: 19 tackles, 2 TFL

Tyrann Mathieu, 2010-11, Arizona Cardinals, DB, W4: bye, Season: 7 Tackle, 1 TFL

Danny McCray, 2006-09, Chicago Bears, S, W4: No stats, Season: 13 tackles, 1 FR

Zach Mettenberger, 2011-13, Tennessee Titans, QB, W4: 2-5, 17 yds., 1 INT, Season: 2-5, 17 yds., 1 INT

Barkevious Mingo, 2010-12, Cleveland Browns, LB, W4: bye, Season: 8 tackles

Kevin Minter, 2009-12, Arizona Cardinals, LB, W4: bye, Season: 10 tackles

Sam Montgomery, 2009-12, Cincinnati Bengals, LB, Season: practice squad

Patrick Peterson, 2008-10, Arizona Cardinals, CB/RS, W4: bye, Season: 7 tackles, 1 PBU

Rueben Randle, 2009-11, New York Giants, WR, W4: 8 rec., 89 yds., Season: 19 rec., 156 yd., 1 TD

Eric Reid, 2010-12, San Francisco 49ers, S, W4: 1 tackles, Season: 9 tackles, 1 PBU, 1 INT

Stevan Ridley, 2007-10, New England Patriots, RB, W4: 5 rush, 28 yds., Season: 52 rush, 176 yds., 1 TD; 3 rec., 14 yds.

Perry Riley Jr., 2006-09, Washington Redskins, LB, W4: 6 tackles, Season: 20 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 TFL

Russell Shepard, 2009-12, TampaBay Buccaneers, WR, W4: 2 rec., 30 yds., Season: 2 rec., 30 yds.; 3 tackles

Kelvin Sheppard, 2006-10, Miami Dolphins, LB, W4: 2 tackles, Season: 4 tackles

Tharold Simon, 2010-12, Seattle Seahawks, CB, W4: bye, Season: inactive

Trai Turner, 2011-13, Carolina Panthers, OG, W4: played, Season: started 2 games

Andrew Whitworth, 2002-05, Cincinnati Bengals, OG, W4: started, Season: started all 4 games

Kyle Williams, 2002-05, Buffalo Bills, DT, W4: 2 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 PBU, Season: 10 tackles, 1 sack, 3 TFL, 1 INT, 2 PBU, 2 QBH

Brad Wing, 2010-12, Pittsburgh Steelers, P, W4: 4 punts, 37.0 avg., Season: 17 punts, 43.0 avg.

Al Woods, 2006-09, Tennessee Titans, DT, W4: 1 tackle, Season: 5 tackles

James Wright, 2010-13, Cincinnati Bengals, WR, W4: bye, Season: 1 tackle

On NFL roster in 2014, but not currently

Kendrick Adams, 2010-11, LB, P3: Waived by Tennessee Titans

Kadron Boone, 2010-13, WR, P4: Waived by Philadelphia Eagles

J.C. Copeland, 2010-13, FB, P4: Released by Dallas Cowboys

Chris Faulk, 2010-12, OL, Waived by Cleveland Browns on July 29

Michael Ford, 2009-12, RB P4: Waived by Chicago Bears

Craig Loston, 2009-13, S, W3: Waived by Jacksonville Jaguars, Season: no stats

Drake Nevis, 2007-10, DT, Waived by Carolina Panthers on Aug. 30

Craig Steltz, 2004-07, S, P3: Released by Chicago Bears

Curtis Taylor, 2004-08, S, Waived by Arizona Cardinals on Aug. 30

Spencer Ware, 2010-12, RB, Waived by Seattle Seahawks on Aug. 30

Keiland Williams, 2006-09, RB, free agent

Oct. 11 LSU-Florida game placed on six-day hold

LSU announced Monday that the kickoff time and television network assignment for the Tigers’ Oct. 11 game at Florida has been placed on a six-day hold by CBS.

The game could kick off at either 11 a.m., 2:30 p.m. 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m. or 8 p.m. CDT.  An announcement is expected Sunday.

LSU’s game Saturday at Auburn will be at 6 p.m. on ESPN. All of LSU’s games so far have been night kickoffs.

These are the five SEC games being considered for Oct. 11 TV slots:

  • LSU at Florida
  • Auburn at Mississippi State
  • Alabama at Arkansas
  • Ole Miss at Texas A&M
  • Missouri at Georgia

 

Live updates during the Monday lunch press conference of LSU coach Les Miles

Live Blog Live updates from the Monday lunch press conference of LSU coach Les Miles

Film Room: LSU 63, New Mexico State 7

Welcome to Film Room, our weekly analysis of LSU’s last football game. Have a seat. No talking. No tweeting. No texting. Pay attention.

(click photos to enlarge)

How They Happened (big-play analysis)

Beckwith’s pick six: Backup linebacker Kendell Beckwith took a tipped pass 29 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.BeckwithTD

  • Defensive coordinator John Chavis brought a six-man blitz out of his trademark Mustang formation. Beckwith, Dwayne Thomas and Kwon Alexander (circled) rushed the passer on a second-and-36. The half-dozen men LSU brought was one more than New Mexico State had in to block. On an offensive lineman’s missed assignment, Alexander came in completely unblocked to create the pressure.
  • The play was a screen pass to the running back to the left side, but QB Tyler Rogers was rushed by Alexander, and he threw a poor pass that bounced off of one of his offensive lineman’s helmets and into the air for a surging Beckwith to pick off.
  • Beckwith was in position to make this play because he’s the sixth man in Chavis’ blitz, coming off the edge completely unblocked. What many might not have seen is that Beckwith nearly collided with DT Christian LaCouture once in the backfield. He steps around LaCouture, kept his eyes on the ball as it ricocheted off the helmet and grabbed it.

Fournette’s cutback for a score: On first-and-10 from the New Mexico State 17-yard line, running back Leonard Fournette scores on a cutback to the right to give LSU a 21-0 lead in the second quarter.

  • This play shows how far Fournette has come since the season IMG_1896opener against Wisconsin. He shows patience here and finds the massive cutback hole. That’s something he struggled with, especially early on.
  • LSU’s right side of the O-line (circled) creates a whopper of a cutback lane for Fournette. The group includes Ethan Pocic, Hoko Fanaika and Jerald Hawkins and tight end Dillon Gordon. They move their men 3-plus yards down the field. Wonder why LSU is running to the right more this season? This is one reason.
  • The play was designed to go left, but a New Mexico State defensive tackle (arrow) slips between Vadal Alexander and La’el Collins and disrupts the design. It’s OK — these plays have a designated bailout area with the cutback, and Fournette sees it. The running back told reporters after Saturday’s win that the game has begun to slow down and he’s being more patient. This play illustrates that precisely.

A successful screen: Brandon Harris finds Malachi Dupre on a receiver screen for a 22-yard gain in the second quarter.

  • The screen! LSU has struggled this season with what’s supposed to be a high-percentage pass — a surprise. After all, the Tigers have a veteran O-line, some versatile running backs and talented receivers. The issue has been two-old: Anthony Jennings’ passes and the O-line blocking. The pass is more important than you might think on the screen. An already slow-developing play can be made much slower by a poor pass.IMG_1897
  • Harris throws a dart to Dupre (circled) on this one. The pass has perfect rotation and is put directly in Dupre’s mitts. The receiver has to make no adjustment for the ball, so that’s a good start to the play.
  • In the open field, La’el Collins (the nearest lineman) gets the key block. While Vadal Alexander doesn’t necessarily block anyone, his big body doubles as a wall to keep defenders at bay. Dupre uses his speed to split the linemen.

The diamond: This isn’t a big play, but it’s a new formation. Diamond

  • LSU aligns Leonard Fournette at RB, Melvin Jones and Connor Neighbors at the two spots one either side of Jennings. This is a new formation that LSU installed last week, the game announcers said (announcers meet with coaches the day before games).
  • This particular play out of the diamond works well. It’s a read option for Jennings, while Jones and Neighbors block toward the left (red lines). Jennings (blue line) fakes the dive to Fournette (black line) and heads over the left end for good gain – before fumbling.

Sole TD: New Mexico State’s only touchdown came on a 79-yard Long Runrun on a keeper from QB Andrew Allen.

  • The linebackers are at fault here. Deion Jones (top circle) is eyeing the flats, expecting a throw there. Meanwhile, MLB D.J. Welter is fooled on the handoff to the RB. That leaves a whopping hole at the second level (and something we saw often last week against Mississippi State).

Big Ugly Blips and Booms (O-line analysis)

  • It was a good day for the offensive line, as it should against a team like New Mexico State. Through the first three quarters (when the starters were in), we charted just four blips (missed blocks that cause an unsuccessful play). All of them came on rushing plays and no player had two.
  • LT La’el Collins continues to anchor the line. He had the most “booms” (run-springing blocks) at six. Jerald Hawkins had five. Again, LSU’s tackles seem to be the strength of the O-line. TE Dillon Gordon had four booms.
  • Back to Collins. After Anthony Jennings’ first interception, Collins goes over to the QB and appears to have a chat with him – maybe he barked at him; maybe he didn’t. Either way, Harris, sitting beside Jennings, is the one who responds. Check out the Vine below.

Monday Morning Quarterback (QB analysis)

  • Jennings struggled. There’s no denying that. We charted him for three misfires (of five attempts), and there seems to be miscommunication between Jennings and his receivers. Jennings overthrew Dural on his first interception (though he was pressured). His second pick came on an underthrown ball to Dural. SEC Network crews reported that Dural was at fault and that he should have come back quicker for the ball. Dural does seem visibly angry at himself on the sidelines, slamming down his helmet as WR coach Adam Henry approaches (and then you’ll see coach Les Miles chat with Jennings).

  • Another miscommunication takes place later in the game between Jennings and WR Malachi Dupre. Jennings throws too soon on a pass. He walks to the sideline and is instantly met with No. 3 QB Brad Kragthorpe, who appears to be taking the role of assistant QB coach during the game. Kragthorpe gestures at a frustrated Jennings as if he messed things up.

  • Now to Brandon Harris, the hotshot true freshman. We charted Harris for two misfires in 14 attempts. He, once again, displayed a rocket for an arm. Even under the most cruddy of situations, he delivers. For instance, you’ll see Harris mishandle the snap below but still step into a defender and deliver a completion to Dural. The pass was on a rope. A tight one.

  • The color analyst in the game, Matt Stinchcomb, seems very much in Harris’ corner. Take a read of these two comments from him during the game:

“Such a stark contrast that there’s really not much of a comparison,” he says when referring to the QBs.

Harris “more than has earned a starting opportunity next week,” he says.

  • Meanwhile, play-by-play man Tom Hart, at one point early in the broadcast, mentions that Harris “hasn’t looked that way at practice,” when referring to his impressive play in the final minutes of the loss to Mississippi State. It should be noted again that these announcers meet with Miles and coordinators the day before each game.IMG_1911
  • Aside from his impressive passing, Harris continued to run the read-option well. Check out the example to the right. The end crashes down and Harris keeps it for a big gain.
  • A lot was made last week about formations. Here’s out the two quarterbacks took snaps in Saturday’s game:

Harris:

  • 49% – Gun-3WR-1RB-1TE
  • 37% - I-2WR-1TE

Jennings:

  • 37% – I-2WR-1TE
  • 37% – Gun-1RB-3WR-1TE
  • Not too much of a difference, but keep in mind that the game was competitive for all of Jennings’ time, and LSU ran more plays from the Gun-3WR with Harris.
  • Also, this is important: When game was somewhat competitive  in second quarter with Harris, LSU ran six straight plays in hurry-up mode in the Gun-3WR.
  • And this too: Even in blowout with Harris at QB, LSU ran out of 2 tight ends 4 times in his 41 snaps. Ran two tight ends with Jennings in competitive games three times in his 19 snaps.

Backing It Up (RB/FB analysis)

  • It is oh-so-clear that Leonard Fournette is beginning to see the field a lot better. He’s seeing holes and cutting back into them. The freshman has come a long way from his season opener against Wisconsin.
  • Miles appears to have punished Kenny Hilliard for his early fumble. He didn’t play in the third quarter and most of the second.
  • According to the SEC Network broadcast, fullback Conner Neighbors suffered a concussion in the first half. He did not return.

Five-yard Out (WR analysis)

  • D.J. Chark was the only receiver to drop a pass – and it was in the end zone. Harris gave him a dart that ended up on the playing surface.
  • If you’re counting at home: Harris had three incomplete passes (two misfires and that drop). That means everyone else made a catch. Harris’ ball is easier to catch than Jennings’ passes, receivers have said. It’s pretty obvious from the results.
  • The wideouts had a good blocking day, especially Dural. He had two booms on rushing plays. Dupre had one boom on a great block for Fournette.

Front Seven (D-line/LB analysis)

  • As expected, LSU dominated NMSU’s offensive line. Jermauria IMG_1906Rasco had three pressures, and Kwon Alexander was the star of the entire defensive unit. Alexander had eight – EIGHT – attacks (an aggressive play made that resulted in a limited gain for the offense). Alexander was everywhere. Check out the play above. He’s not in position to really make the tackle, but he does because he’s fast and has good instincts.
  • We kept a new category this week. It’s called “blocked.” We charted players who were blocked out of plays near the ball during successful runs. Alexander was blocked out once. D.J. Welter led the team in “blocked” with three.

Break It Up (DB analysis)

  • Nothing really to see here. The New Mexico State QBs really struggled. That said, there was just one “busted” (poor coverage) and it fell on Jalen Mills. Tre White had an attack but a missed tackle. Jamal Adams and Ronald Martin led the DBs in attacks with two.ThomasInjury
  • Nickelback Dwayne Thomas injured his right knee in the first half while blitzing and making a cut. Check out the photo to the right. Thomas’ knee seems to have taken a lot of his weight. Just his toes are on the ground. The SEC Network reported it as a sprain.

All photos courtesy of ESPN/SEC Network.

How I Voted: Week 5

The Sooners and receiver Sterling Shepard are our new No. 1 team. (AP)

The Sooners and receiver Sterling Shepard are our new No. 1 team. (AP)

How I Voted will be a weekly blog in which Ross Dellenger reveals his AP Top 25 voting with a blurb on each explaining that team’s ranking.

1. Oklahoma (UP 1)

2. Florida State (DOWN 1)

3. Oregon

4. Alabama

5. Auburn

6. Baylor

7. Notre Dame

8. UCLA

9. Texas A&M

10. Ole Miss

11. Georgia

12. Nebraska

13. Mississippi State (UP 1)

14. Michigan State (UP 2)

15. Southern Cal (UP 2)

16. Stanford (UP 2)

17. Ohio State (UP 2)

18. LSU (UP 2)

19. Missouri (UP 5)

20. Kansas State (UP 3)

21. Wisconsin

22. Brigham Young (UP 3)

23. Georgia Tech (NR)

24. Oklahoma State (NR) 

25. Arizona State (DOWN 12)

  • Others considered: Louisville, Marshall, Rutgers, Maryland, South Carolina.
  • Biggest jump: Missouri jumped five spots to No. 19 after winning at South Carolina.
  • Biggest fall: South Carolina fell from No. 15 to out of the poll, and Arizona State plummeted from No. 13 to No. 25, a 12-spot fall.
  • Questionable move: Oklahoma is my new No. 1. I dropped Florida State to No. 2 after the Noles struggled (at least in the first three quarters) on the road at NC State. This has been a long time coming. Oklahoma has proven, more than FSU, to be the best in the land.
  • Newbies: Oklahoma State (24), Georgia Tech (23)
  • Dropped out: South Carolina (15), Washington (22)

Postgame: LSU 63, New Mexico State 7

Brandon Harris made a big push for the starting QB job Saturday. (AP)

Brandon Harris made a big push for the starting QB job Saturday. (AP)

The Game Story

Brandon Harris traded in a headset for a helmet.

LSU traded a game-managing sophomore for a gun-slinging freshman.

Inserted for a struggling Anthony Jennings, Harris completed his first five passes, threw for 178 yards and sparked the 17th-ranked Tigers to a 63-7 win over New Mexico State on Saturday night in what may have been a rousing opening act for a new era at quarterback for LSU.

Finish reading.

For full post-game coverage of the win over New Mexico State, click here.

The Turning Point

When Brandon Harris hit Malachi Dupre for a 27-yard touchdown, that about did it. The TD pass gave LSU a 28-0 lead with 4:06 left in the first half. It was Harris’ second series of the game and showed that the Tigers QB was on his way to a spectacular performance.

The Stars

  • QB Brandon Harris: The freshman only came in and led LSU to touchdowns on his seven drives. He completed 11 of his 14 passes for 178 yards and three touchdowns. He ran for another score. He sparked the Tigers and might have won the starting QB gig, though coach Les Miles is reserving the decision until next week.
  • RB Leonard Fournette: The former No. 1-ranked recruit in the nation rolled up 122 yards on 18 carries, an average of 6.8 yards a carry. Fournette made some spectacular cutbacks, and he said after the game that things are “slowing down” for him. He’s being more patient, and you can tell.

    Kendell Beckwith had a pick 6 Saturday. (Bill Feig)

    Kendell Beckwith had a pick 6 Saturday. (Bill Feig)

  • LB Kendell Beckwith: The backup middle linebacker seems to be moving into a starting role. He played possibly more significant series in the game than starter D.J. Welter, and Miles pointed that out afterward. Oh, and he returned a tipped pass for an interception in the first quarter.

The Surprises

  • Jennings’ troubles: Anthony Jennings had turned the ball over once in the first four games of the season. In the first 11 minutes Saturday, he threw two interceptions and lost fumble. He finished 2 of 5 for 11 yards in a stunningly poor showing that might have lost him the starting job.

The Key Matchup

  • LSU’s receivers vs. NMSU secondary: The Tigers and QB Brandon Harris had their way with the Aggies secondary. Receivers were wide open for much of the game.

The Numbers

  • 363: Rushing yards for LSU
  • 256.1: Harris’ passer rating in just seven drives on the field
  • 65,000: The estimated crowd at kickoff

The Quote

“When that guy comes into the game, he just makes plays for us.” WR Travin Dural about Brandon Harris

Game Day: LSU vs. New Mexico State

It's a big day for Brandon Harris. (Bill Feig)

It’s a big day for Brandon Harris. (Bill Feig)

This post will have pregame updates starting about three hours before kickoff.

UPDATES

  • 6:20: DT  Davon Godchaux and CB Rashard Robinson were announced as starters.
  • 6:13: Davon Godchaux ran with the starting group in place of Quentin Thomas, who’s out with an injury. Greg Gilmore served as the backup at defensive tackle along with Lewis Neal.
  • 6:05: Kendell Beckwith was running with the No. 2s at middle linebacker, and Rashard Robinson ran with the starting group at cornerback.
  • 6:03: Frank Herron will not dress out, an LSU spokesman confirmed. Herron was injured in an off-the-field incident. His status for the rest of the season is uncertain.
  • 6: LSU redshirt freshman Frank Herron is not warming up with other defensive tackles. He appears to be the tackle who Miles said earlier this week was hurt.
  • 5:40: Anthony Jennings was taking snaps from starting center Elliott Porter during warmups, and Brandon Harris took snaps with Ethan Pocic.
  • 4:50: LSU quarterbacks have taken the field for warmups. Anthony Jennings is with them. Jennings injured his left shoulder against Mississippi State. Coach Les Miles said Jennings has been practicing and is expected to start.
  • 4: LSU’s depth chart shows no real changes.

  • 3:40 p.m.: Shot of Tiger Stadium.

The Info

  • Match: No. 17 LSU (3-1) vs. New Mexico State (2-2)
  • TDP: 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Tiger Stadium
  • TV: SEC Network (Tim Hart, Matt Stinchcomb, Heather Mitts)
  • Series Record: LSU leads 1-0

Players To Watch (LSU)

  • QB Brandon Harris: All eyes on the freshman, right? After leading LSU to a near improbable comeback last week against Mississippi State, Harris might have a chance to enter a competitive game for the first time since he got three second-quarter snaps against Wisconsin. His performance is key to future playing time this season.
  • LB Kendell Beckwith: Coach Les Miles said earlier this week that  Beckwith will see more game action than he’s had in the past going forward. Sounds as if the backup middle linebacker impressed coaches with his play against Mississippi State. The defense overall – including starter D.J. Welter – struggled against the Bulldogs.
  • C Elliott Porter: The Tigers’ center has been at the center of criticism on LSU’s offensive line. Porter has struggled in his return. He missed the first two games with a suspension and hasn’t seemed to find his groove over the last two games. Miles said Porter is getting better.

Players To Watch (New Mexico State)

  • WR Teldrick Morgan: The Aggies’ 6-foot, 185-pound receiver has 31 receptions for 464 yards and four touchdowns this season. He’s New Mexico State’s go-to wideout.  He has 10 receptions for 157 yards and two touchdowns on third down.
  • RB Larry Rose III: A true freshman, Rose is averaging nearly 100 yards rushing a game. The real thing to watch – LSU’s defensive tackles. They need some big stops after being gashed by Mississippi State last week.
Malachi Dupre has burst onto the scene for LSU. (Bill Feig)

Malachi Dupre has burst onto the scene for LSU. (Bill Feig)

Key Matchups

  • LSU passing vs. NMSU secondary: This is where the little guys normally struggle. We don’t expect that to change in this game. LSU’s receivers, specifically Travin Dural and Malachi Dupre, have a steep talent edge against the Aggies secondary.

How They Win

  • LSU: The Tigers need to take advantage of what should be several mismatches in the secondary. Look for some long bombs and some long runs from a frustrated and angry LSU team.
  • New Mexico State: Turnovers. The little guy only has a chance if LSU commits a host of turnovers.

The Opponent

  • Sagarin rating: 184
  • Best win: No. 138 Cal Poly 28-10
  • Worst loss: No. 143 New Mexico  38-35
  • Sagarin strength of schedule: 182
  • Record vs. Sagarin Top 30: 0-0

The Series

Last 10

  • 1996: LSU 63-7

The Spread

LSU -43