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Projecting LSU’s depth chart

(AP)

(AP)

LSU is expected to release a depth chart Monday for the first time since … late December of last season. Hours before we get the good, we’ll give you our projected two and, sometimes three, deep depth chart for every position.


OFFENSE

QB

  • Brandon Harris
  • Anthony Jennings

RB

  • Leonard Fournette
  • Darrel Williams
  • Nick Brossette
  • Derrius Guice

FB

  • JD Moore
  • David Ducre
  • Tony Upchurch

TE

  • Dillon Gordon
  • Colin Jeter
  • DeSean Smith

LT

  • Jerald Hawkins
  • Vadal Alexander

LG

  • Will Clapp
  • Maea Teuhema

C

  • Ethan Pocic
  • Will Clapp
  • Andy Dodd

RG

  • Josh Boutte
  • Garrett Brumfield

RT

  • Vadal Alexander
  • Jevonte Domond

X WR

  • Travin Dural
  • D.J. Chark

Z WR

  • Malachi Dupre
  • Tyron Johnson

F WR

  • John Diarse
  • Trey Quinn

DEFENSE

DE

  • Tashawn Bower
  • Arden Key
  • Isaiah Washington

DT

  • Christian LaCouture
  • Greg Gilmore
  • Mickey Johnson

DT

  • Davon Godchaux
  • Frank Herron
  • Quentin Thomas

DE

  • Lewis Neal
  • Sione Teuhema
  • Deondre Clark

WLB

  • Deion Jones
  • Donnie Alexander

MLB

  • Kendell Beckwith
  • Ronnie Feist

SLB

  • Lamar Louis
  • Duke Riley

CB

  • Dwayne Thomas
  • Kevin Toliver
  • Ed Paris

S

  • Rickey Jefferson
  • John Battle

S

  • Jamal Adams
  • Corey Thompson

CB

  • Tre’Davious White
  • Ed Paris
  • Donte Jackson

NB

  • Dwayne Thomas
  • Xavier Lewis

DB

  • Jamal Adams
  • Corey Thompson

SPECIAL TEAMS

P

  • Jamie Keehn
  • Trent Domingue
  • Josh Growden

KO

  • Trent Domingue
  • Cameron Gamble

FG

  • Colby Delhoussaye
  • Trent Domingue

KR

  • Leonard Fournette
  • Derrius Guice
  • Donte Jackson
  • Nick Brossette

PR

  • Tre’Davious White
  • Trey Quinn
  • Tyron Johnson
  • Donte Jackson

The Over/Under Game: SEC win total

Les Miles during LSU's annual media day. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

Les Miles during LSU’s annual media day. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

This is the sixth part of a seven-part blog series leading up to Aug. 31, the start of the first official game week. 

Topic: Total number of SEC wins

Over/Under: 4.5

Why You Should Pick Over: There are eight regular season Southeastern Conference games in the season. All LSU has to do is win five of the eight – a 63 percent clip.

The Tigers have won at least five SEC regular season games in five of the last six seasons, and they have four of the eight at home. Florida, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Ole Miss will likely be marked as wins on many fans’ schedules.

The Gators, the Gamecocks and the Aggies had a cumulative record of 22-16 last season. And LSU beat two of those three (the Tigers didn’t play South Carolina) and have A&M and UF at home. Mississippi State lost a ton of defensive players and its defensive coordinator, and Ole Miss is searching for a quarterback.

Only two of the five above come at home. The Tigers also host Auburn and Arkansas. They also travel to Alabama.

Why You Should Pick Under: The Tigers couldn’t muster five or more SEC wins last season, and some would call last year’s conference schedule easier than this season’s slate.

LSU has three of four road league games against teams that combined for a 31-9 record in 2014 (Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Alabama). And their home games? Well, they host an Auburn team picked to win the SEC title and an Arkansas squad that emerged as a contender last year (not to mention a team that beat LSU 17-0).

A couple of the presumed penciled-in wins come against the unknown. Florida, a home game, has a new head coach, staff and quarterback. South Carolina restructured its defensive staff and will have a new QB as well.

Are you gonna go Over or Under? Give feedback to Ross Dellenger on Twitter by tweeting at him: @DellengerAdv.

Over/Under Game

Cameron has ‘clean bill of health’ after diagnosis of prostate cancer

LSU coach Les Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron met with the media Friday afternoon to discuss Cameron’s recent diagnosis of prostate cancer. Cameron has received treatment and plans to continue coaching.

Here’s what the two coaches had to say:

CAM CAMERON

  • “I’m fine. My health is good. I’ve been given a clean bill of health. I’ve been involved throughout the entirety of training camp, and I’m looking forward to this season and all the goals. Nothing has changed in that regard. Over the last few weeks, the support from this program and our players and coach Miles and our staff, I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. It’s been awesome for me and my family. That’s been a big part of how this thing has progressed in such a positive way.”
  • “It’s football. We’re locked and loaded, and we’ve got a game coming up. Coach Miles has got up dialed in. I’ve been right there side-by-side [with him] through this whole process, and at the same time given the opportunity to make my health a priority.”
  • “We approached it from a family perspective. Coach Miles is always with our team on issues, and it’s something we didn’t overdue. It was an early positive prognosis, and it turned out to be that. We didn’t overreact to it. We handled it in a very professional manner.”
  • “[Limitations] have been minor recovery stuff. Any time you’re recovering from something, you have to be a little careful. But now I can say I’ve been at practice, I’ve been at all of the scrimmages. I’m in the press box on gameday anyway. That view is important for me. There are very few limitations. I should be completely 100 percent by Monday.”
  • “It’s serious, and I’m not belittling anything. But there will probably be a time and place, maybe after the season, when we can talk further about it. Right now, I do appreciate your concern. But we’re good. We’re ready to roll. All our goals are intact. Win the SEC, we’re heading toward a national championship, all those things we know LSU is about.”

LES MILES

  • “We really respected the rights of coach Cameron in every way,” Miles said. “We were not descriptive about things we did know or didn’t know. I asked the team that they should be quiet and not in any way reveal any of this information. It was a very short conversation and a very quit one if you consider the challenge of social media and the need to be on the cutting edge of information. This football team did a great job. It’s a compliment to Cam and has family and the respect this team has for them.”
  • “We did not necessarily share fully with the team. We just said, simply put, what we know. We need to make sure that rather than have his friends and family fielding questions 24/7, we need to just keep it between ourselves. That’s what they did, and I’m proud of them.”
  • “This is a guy that’s fully involved in what we’re doing day-to-day. He’ll be in the press box for McNeese.”

The Over/Under Game: Team interception total

The DBs. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

The DBs. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

This is the fifth part of a seven-part blog series leading up to Aug. 31, the start of the first official game week. 

Topic: Team interception total

Over/Under: 14.5

Why You Should Pick Over: Even with Jalen Mills’ injury situation, the secondary is likely LSU’s deepest and most talented position group.

Safety Jamal Adams and Tre’Davious White are preseason All-SEC guys, and Dwayne Thomas, likely the other starting CB, is an experienced third-year player. Rickey Jefferson, who played a ton last season, will replace Mills. Freshman Kevin Toliver appears to be in the lead to replace Thomas at CB when he shifts to the nickelback.

Either way, this is a crew that most expect big things from, including interceptions. The Tigers had 10 picks last season and 11 in 2013, but LSU intercepted 18, 18 and 19 passes. The 14.5 numbers puts the total in the midst of those two extremes – a low number for these talented DBs, some may think.

Jalen Mills. (AP)

Jalen Mills. (AP)

Why You Should Pick Under: Let’s talk about Mills first here. He’s expected to miss the next four to five weeks at least.

His absence is a hit – maybe not a blow, but a hit. He was the leader of, not just the secondary, but the defense. He started all 39 games of his career, switching from cornerback to safety late in 2013. He also played LSU’s nickelback in the five-defensive back set.

The injury has left the secondary shuffling. Also, we mentioned above that the Tigers had just 10 interceptions last year. Excluding Mills’ one pick, returning players had six of the 10. LSU lost Jalen Collins (1 interception) and safety Ronald Marin (2).

Are you gonna go Over or Under? Give feedback to Ross Dellenger on Twitter by tweeting at him: @DellengerAdv.

Over/Under Game

The Over/Under Game: How many LSU receivers will catch a pass

D.J. Chark looks to have a bigger role this season. (Travis Spradling)

D.J. Chark looks to have a bigger role this season. (Travis Spradling)

This is the fourth part of a seven-part blog series leading up to Aug. 31, the start of the first official game week. 

Topic: How many LSU receivers – not running backs or tight ends or fullbacks – will catch a pass this season

Over/Under: 5.5

Why You Should Pick Over: The Tigers feel like they’re deep and talented here. Six to seven receivers appear to be in the mix to play regularly: Malachi Dupre, Travin Dural, Trey Quinn, John Diarse, Tyron Johnson, D.J. Chark and, possibly, Jazz Ferguson.

If each catch just one pass, there’s your Over. If, even, six of the seven catch a pass, there’s your Over.

The Tigers had just four receivers catch passes last season – the lowest total in the SEC and one of the lowest in the nation. But the passing game and offense appears to be trending in a different direction this season.

First off, there could be a new starting quarterback. Brandon Harris is leading the competition against Anthony Jennings, Les Miles finally admitted Tuesday night. Harris is the more talented of the two and has shown better accuracy. That’ll help spread the ball around to more receivers, spacing the passing game out with short, intermediate and long throws.

Tyron Johnson appears to be in the mix at receiver. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

Tyron Johnson appears to be in the mix at receiver. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

Jennings’ best pass was a 40-plus yard throw to Dural running a go route. Dural’s 37 catches were 20 more than the next receiver. Jennings honed in on his deep ball target because of his struggles with accuracy on many other throws.

Another thing: LSU’s receivers group is deeper than the 2014 crew. The Tigers returned all four wideouts who caught a pass last season and add a couple of highly rated freshmen. Just two of those new guys need one catch to hit the Over.

Because of Harris’ progression and maturity and because of LSU’s deep WR group, signs point to LSU running more spread. Miles has indicated this and so has OC Cam Cameron. That certainly helps the Over. More receivers on the field won’t hurt it, that’s for sure.

Why You Should Pick Under: LSU quarterbacks completed just 10 passes a game last season and threw for a cumulative completion rate of exactly 50 percent.

Those aren’t pretty numbers when you’re trying to get at least six different receivers to catch a pass over the season. What else isn’t pretty: the inexperience with a handful of the guys in that top seven group.

Johnson and Ferguson are true freshmen, and Chark is a sophomore who doesn’t have a college reception. The Tigers, excluding any other veterans, would need two of those three to snag a catch over the year to hit the Over.

The pass-catching weapons LSU has at the non-receiver position are plentiful. And that could certainly hurt the Over. Leonard Fournette is poised for 20-plus carries a game, and freshmen like Derrius Guice and Donte Jackson might see several passes thrown their way.

Are you gonna go Over or Under? Give feedback to Ross Dellenger on Twitter by tweeting at him: @DellengerAdv.

Over/Under Game

Wednesdays With Les: ‘Won’t be surprised’ to see Brandon Harris take first snap; LBs have better personnel; Returners depth chart

Les Miles last week after LSU turned its team meeting room into a club with a DJ and all.

Les Miles last week after LSU turned its team meeting room into a club with a DJ and all.

LSU coach Les Miles, on Wednesdays during game weeks, speaks publicly three different times. Follow his comments here throughout the day. [Note: on this Wednesday before the first game week, Miles only spoke once – during his radio show]

LSU coach Les Miles, for a second straight day, indicated that Brandon Harris will start in LSU’s season opener against McNeese State.

Brandon Harris. (AP)

Brandon Harris. (AP)

During his weekly radio show, Miles said he “won’t be surprised” if Harris takes the first snap of the season against the Cowboys next Saturday, but the coach will withhold judgement on what quarterback – Harris or Anthony Jennings – will finish the year as the Tigers’ starting QB.

The coach suggested that he could play both quarterbacks early in the season to distinguish a starter for later in the year.

“Going to be interesting to see if one guy separates himself so significantly that there’s no question he’s the guy,” Miles said.

On Tuesday night, Miles said that Harris has “the lead” in the battle with Jennings – something that’s been obvious for the first three weeks of preseason practice.

In speaking about the quarterbacks, Miles suggested that Harris is still learning the offense, and that Jennings is ahead of him in that area. Harris’ arm, though, is better than that of Jennings, the coach said.

“Brandon Harris has had a very nice summer,” Miles said. “He’s still accomplishing the overview at QB. Still a guy who throws the ball well as anybody we’ve seen. … (Jennings) is a little bit farther ahead there (with the offense) and maybe not as natural a throw.”

Other nuggets from Miles

  • Miles continues to make clear that freshman speedster Donte Jackson will be involved in LSU’s game plan – even on offense. “He’s become more aggressive and more physical and he’s a guy we put on the field right away.” He mentioned WR Tyron Johnson and then said that about Jackson when asked about freshmen. It’s clear both players could see early playing time.
  • Freshman OL Maea Teuhema continues to battle to claim a spot on LSU’s five-man starting offensive line, Miles said. Teuhema is “five or six” in the Tigers’ O-line pecking order. Teuhema has been working at left guard with the starters.  LSU’s O-line pecking order appears to look something like this.
  • Miles was asked about changes from last year’s team to this season’s squad and again hinted that the Tigers will throw the ball more and better. “I think our WR corps is much better than it’s been. We’re poised and in a position to throw and catch.”
  • Asked about improvements from the 2014 team, Miles first touched on the linebacker position, calling the group “we’re really better there in personnel. We’re older, more veteran. Great speed.” He also said LSU will rush the passer better and will be improved at QB and receiver.
  • LSU’s kick and punt returners are coming more and more into focus. Miles basically provided a depth chart for the two return spots during the radio show:
  1. Punt return: Tre White, Donte Jackson
  2. Kick return: Leonard Fournette, Derrius Guice
  • Miles, somewhat randomly, said that safeties Corey Thompson and John Battle “are vying for playing time.” Thompson is playing LSU’s dimeback role, splitting reps there with Jamal Adams. If Thompson doesn’t play dimeback, he’ll likely play safety in the Dime package and Adams will play dimeback.
  • Miles was asked how much he allows his coordinators to have freedom to make calls on game days: “I encourage both of those coaches to bring their best skill and abilities to bear on Saturday evening. My input takes place during the week and it’s kind of scripted. We’re looking for those quarterbacks that can make 10 players better and make plays.”
  • Miles was asked about Jim Harbaugh’s hire at Michigan:  “I think Jim Harbaugh is a great pick for Michigan. Great enthusiasm. Think he’ll make a difference. …  “I’m for Jim (Harbaugh). I’m for Michigan. I promise you.”

This post will be updated.

The Over/Under Game: Team sack total

Christian LaCouture and Frank Herron talk on the sidelines. (Bill Feig)

Christian LaCouture and Frank Herron talk on the sidelines. (Bill Feig)

This is the third part of a seven-part blog series leading up to Aug. 31, the start of the first official game week. 

Topic: Team sack total

Over/Under: 30

Why You Should Pick Over: LSU had 19 sacks last season – the fewest for the program since 2000. While 30 sacks is an 11-sack increase and a 36 percent bump, it’s in line with LSU’s defense under coach Les Miles.

From 2005-2013, the Tigers averaged 33 sacks a year, and they eclipsed the 30-sack mark in six of those nine seasons.

The Tigers hired Ed Orgeron for his recruiting prowess, sure, but the man they call “Coach O” also has led some of the best pass-rushing units in the nation. He’s poised to make the Tigers better at reaching the quarterback through film sessions and some schematic adjustments. We detailed those in this story.

In his latest stint at Southern Cal, Orgeron turned the Trojans into the nation’s 49th-ranked team in sacks (27 sacks) to the fifth (43 sacks).

Also, the Tigers defensive tackles are a year more experienced, and LSU is poised to play freshman defensive end Arden Key a good deal. He’s a four star guy rated as high as No. 3 at his position in the 2015 class.

Don’t forget about the linebackers, either. They’re a fast group, and MLB Kendell Beckwith is more experienced as he heads into his first full season as a starter. With 30 sacks, LSU would have ranked No. 44 in the FBS last season.

Deion Jones. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

Deion Jones. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

Why You Should Pick Under: Increasing a team’s sack total by more than one-third is not easy, first off.

The Tigers, meanwhile, lost their two starting defensive ends from a season ago in Jermauria Rasco and Danielle Hunter. The replacements for those two are low on experience. Lewis Neal, a projected starter, played much of last season at defensive tackles. Tashawn Bower, another penciled-in starter at end, has only played in a reserve role.

At defensive tackle, the Tigers are lacking depth for a solid rotation. LSU has six tackles, and three of them have played sparingly. Another one of those tackles, Quentin Thomas, is recovering from off-season biceps surgery.

The linebackers are fast, yes, but they are pretty low on experience. Duke Riley and Deion Jones have a combined two starts. Both are expected to be in LSU’s top four, rotating group, and Jones is a projected to starter.

Are you gonna go Over or Under? Give feedback to Ross Dellenger on Twitter by tweeting at him: @DellengerAdv.

Over/Under Game

Scrimmage Leftovers: LSU prepares for opponents in Tuesday night scrimmage

 

LSU coach Les Miles said the Tigers worked “opponents’ schematics” into their third scrimmage of fall camp Tuesday night, which consisted of 80-110 plays. The team is only 11 days away from its season opener against McNeese State on September 5.

Here are some more newsy nuggets from Miles’ press conference:

  • QB update: Miles said sophomore Brandon Harris “certainly has the lead” against junior Anthony Jennings,  and their stat lines Tuesday night showed a bit of separation. Harris threw for three touchdowns, whereas Jennings threw for only one. The QBs combined to complete 65 percent of their passes.
  • Mills undergoes surgery: Miles confirmed senior safety Jalen Mills underwent surgery after he injured his ankle during fall practice last Wednesday. The coach did not disclose anything more about Mills’ status.
  • Guice turning heads: A few videos of freshman running back Derrius Guice’s explosive plays during scrimmages have made their way around the internet in the last few days. On one such play, Guice caught a swing pass and bullied through two defenders before dragging a third for an 18-yard gain. “He’s elusive and physical, and he’s a very hard runner,” Miles said of Guice. “…I look forward to calling his number.”
  • Finding a returner: LSU worked on special teams during the scrimmage, and Miles may be narrowing down his choice for kick returners. Though he said the Tigers “have a number” of payers who can return kicks, he specifically mentioned cornerback
    Tre’Davious White as a punt returner,  running backs Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice and freshman speedster Donte Jackson at kick return.
  • More stats: Miles said the offense rushed for 337 yards and threw for another 250 Tuesday night. The Tigers practiced their red-zone offense during the scrimmage, and Miles said they busted “a couple of big runs.”

LSU lands eight players on the three coaches preseason All-SEC teams

LSU placed eight players on the coaches preseason All-SEC teams released Tuesday – including injured defensive back Jalen Mills.

(HILARY SCHEINUK)

(HILARY SCHEINUK)

Mills, out at least through the first two games with an ankle injury, right tackle Vadal Alexander and running back Leonard Fournette all made the first team. Cornerback Tre’Davious White, linebacker Kendell Beckwith and punter Jamie Keehn made second team. Receiver Travin Dural and defensive tackle Davon Godchaux landed on the third team.

Fournette also made the second team in two positions – all-purpose player and return specialist.  The 10 Tigers occupying a preseason All-SEC slot tie Alabama for the most of any school.

Here’s the three complete preseason All-SEC teams.

The Over/Under Game: Leonard Fournette’s rushing yard average per game

Leonard Fournette at LSU's media day last week. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

Leonard Fournette at LSU’s media day last week. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

This is the second part of a seven-part blog series leading up to Aug. 31, the start of the first official game week. 

Topic: RB Leonard Fournette’s average rushing yards per game following the season

Over/Under: 112  yards

Why You Should Pick Over: Leonard Fournette is leaner and expected to be faster. He’s been in the program a year longer now, and he should have a better understanding of things.

All of that said, here’s the primary reason to pick Over: He’ll get lots of carries. Most expect coaches to ride Fournette for upwards of 20-plus carries a game, specifically in those eight SEC games.

Fournette’s evolution last season from underwhelming rookie to dominant rusher happened, partly, because coaches gave him more carries. Fournette averaged 11 carries a game through the first six games. He averaged 17 carries over the final seven games. His average per carry remained the same (5.5) for both halves of the season, but his average per game soared from 60 in the first six to 95 in the last seven.

Leonard Fournette during LSU's preseason camp. (AP)

Leonard Fournette during LSU’s preseason camp. (AP)

So, if coaches give him 17-plus carries a game, the thought is, in Year 2, he can well surpass that 95-yard average. The 112-yard mark would have put Fournette as the 25th-best in the FBS last season. That’s probably much worse than some people expect from a guy who’s in the top five among Heisman Trophy odds entering 2015.

Also, LSU’s non-conference schedule is much weaker than it was last season. The Tigers’ major conference foe this year is Syracuse while last season it was Wisconsin. Fournette averaged 79 yards a game over the course of the entire season last year and had 10 or fewer carries in five games, something not likely to happen this season.

LSU’s passing game improving – that’s still up for debate – could help the running back rack up more yards, too.

Why You Should Pick Under: First off, 112 yards is a ton for an SEC running back to average a game in a season. For instance, only two SEC running backs bettered that number in 2014: Auburn’s Cameron Artis-Payne (123) and Georgia’s Nick Chubb (119).

In 2013, again only two SEC running backs averaged more than 112 yards a game: Auburn’s Tre Mason (129) and LSU’s Jeremy Hill (116). It just doesn’t happen often.

It’s a tough thing to do again SEC defenses. Last year, three SEC defenses (Alabama, Arkansas and Florida) held opponents to less than 120 yards rushing a game as a TEAM. The Tigers, oh by the way, play all three of those teams each year.

LSU’s passing game might be better this season, but it’s tough for many to see it being good enough that opponents are caught off guard by a Fournette run. They’ll he honing in on the sophomore. After all, everyone now knows his name and knows what he’s capable of doing. Any kind of surprise factor is gone.

Derrius Guice is making waves during preseason camp. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

Derrius Guice is making waves during preseason camp. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

And one other thing: Derrius Guice. Guice seems to be making a pretty hard run at a significant role this season. Guice has flashed his athletic ability in scrimmages and at practice.

Coach Les Miles caught himself mid-sentence last week when asked about Guice. It sure sounded like Miles wanted to say that Guice was pushing Fournette hard – real hard. How many carries does Guice take for Fournette? It sounds like he’ll get his fair share.

Are you gonna go Over or Under? Give feedback to Ross Dellenger on Twitter by tweeting at him: @DellengerAdv.

Over/Under Game

  • Monday: QB completion percentage
  • Tuesday: Fournette’s per-game average
  • Wednesday: ?
  • Thursday: ?
  • Friday: ?
  • Saturday: ?
  • Sunday: ?