Tag Archives: #Les Miles

Film Room: LSU 31, Louisiana-Monroe 0

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)

MustangThird-down woes: Louisiana-Monroe was 4 of 14 on third-down and failed on its first four tries. LSU’s Mustang package confused the Warhawks, especially early.

  • In the shot above, you see that LSU has crowded the line with six defenders. Linebacker Deion Jones and safety Jalen Mills (both in blue) and Dwayne Thomas (red) are the non-linemen who have crept to the line. All of them are acting as if they’ll blitz. That, of course, won’t happen.Mustang2
  • What does happen: Jones and Mills drop into coverage (as you see in the photo to the right) and Thomas comes in completely free on a blitz from the edge. Thomas smacks ULM QB Pete Thomas after coming off the edge untouched. LSU rushed four guys (Thomas and three defensive linemen) against ULM’s five O-linemen but still got pressure. The Mustang doing its best.

Freshman’s big score: On third-and-one, Darrel Williams, running from the fullback position, rumbled 22 yards for a touchdown to make it 10-0.

  • LSU runs to the left side of the field, where tight ends Dillon Gordon and Colin Jeter are. Both Gordon and Jeter make great blocks on the play. ULM linebacker Hunter Kissinger (arrow) picks the correct hole, but he over-pursues. WilliamsTD
  • Louisiana-Monroe has what appears to be four guys free (No. 34 and three red circles) to tackle Williams (in blue). There was one problem: Williams is a big guy. The 230-pound Williams bounces off No. 34, LB Michael Johnson, Gordon blocks one of the three circled players and the other two crash into the pileup that Gordon and Williams create.
  • Gordon takes out safety Mitch Lane and Williams hits Johnson, creating a jumbled mess that Junior Williams and Bryce Ray find. Ray was fooled just enough on the play by the decoy: RB Leonard Fournette.

Fournette’s TD rumble: RB Leonard Fournette scores from 24 yards out to put LSU up 24-0, a game-sealing victory late in the third quarter.

  • This play is blocked to absolute perfection. Everyone involved gets his block. That includes Vadal Alexander on the linebacker, La’el Collins on the defensive tackle and TE Dillon Gordon on the defensive end (all in red circles). FournetteTD
  • Fournette does something we haven’t seen in the first two games: He stays patient and waits for the blocks and the hole to materialize. Fournette follows his lead blockers, which include pulling RG Evan Washington (blue circle) and FB Connor Neighbors, who gets a great block on CB Trey Caldwell.
  • Fournette does the rest, out-running two Louisiana-Monroe defensive backs down the sidelines. He shows some serious speed.

Big ugly blips and booms (O-line analysis)

  • It wasn’t the greatest night for the line. In fact, LSU’s offensive line has probably not lived up to its preseason hype through three games. The unit has really struggled in spots, specifically in blocking at the second level (the linebackers). They haven’t created a ton of gaping holes. It doesn’t help that defenses are loading the box.
  • In the first half alone, LG Vadal Alexander had five missed blocks, and Elliott Porter had three. Porter, in his first game action of this season, finished with four missed blocks and a hold and he stepped on Anthony Jennings’ foot at one point. Alexander had a unit-leading six misses. The Tigers had five missed pass blocks, including one on tight end Colin Jeter.
  • All of this is probably a bit disturbing if you’re an LSU fan – this is against Louisiana-Monroe and it’s the third game of the season.
  • There was some good. La’el Collins had at least three “booms” (great blocks that sprung a run). Jeter had two booms. He’s being used a ton and has shown a great ability to run-block. TE Dillon Gordon had two booms as well.

Monday Morning Quarterback (QB analysis)QuinnOpen

  • Here’s the bad: Jennings had two misfires and he scrambled on a third down when WR Trey Quinn appeared to be wide open (check out that photo above). He completely misses Quinn, gets flustered in the pocket and scrambles for nine yards when LSU needed 10 for a first down. Quinn ran a great deep out route for 15-plus yards. Jennings also had that interception, throwing into triple coverage.
  • The good: He broke two tackles on a 22-yard scramble for a firstJenningsDiarse down.  It was, really, a great run. He threw his best pass of the night to John Diarse while scrambling from the pocket. Jennings seems to be best when on the move. He found Diarse hovering in a zone defense. Jennings had to throw the pass into a tight window over a defender’s head. He threw it perfect.
  • There wasn’t much to grade Harris on. He had an overthrow, but he also took a busted play and turned it into a first down with a nice scamper. However, the best thing he did was show some nifty feet in the pocket while stepping up to hit Dural with a nice pass. Check it out:

Backing it up (FB/RB analysis)FournetteHole

  • There were issues here. Leonard Fournette ran to the wrong hole twice. We have one of those shots to the right. Fournette chooses to go inside instead of following lead blocker Connor Neighbors over left tackle. That’s where the hole is. That play came on a third-and-2. Fournette gained one yard.FournettePass
  • LSU coaches are determined to get Fournette involved as much as they can. For instance, check out this formation. Fournette aligns behind Jennings while in the shotgun. He flares out to the flats, catches a pass and uses his speed along the sideline to pick up 20 yards.
  • FB Connor Neighbors had the best game of his season so far. We charted Neighbors with a whopping seven booms. Check out the photo on the right. He pushes his man 10 yards into out-of-bounds territory on Hilliard’s run to the 1.

Five-yard out (WR analysis)

  • There were three drops, all coming on the second drive of the game: Connor Neighbors, Trey Quinn and John Diarse had the dropped passes. Diarse bounced back to make a great catch (the one from above on the Jennings’ scramble), and Dural had a nice snag, too.
  • Malachi Dupre had an ugly missed block on the outside. He was supposed to block the cornerback on a receiver screen play for Diarse. Outside of that drop, Quinn played fine. He caught a pass, turned a screen into a big gain and had a catch over the middle on a slant.Dural
  • Meanwhile, Travin Dural played with 13 stitches above his left eye. The shot above is from ESPN’s cameras during pregame.

Front Seven (Defensive linemen and linebacker analysis)

  • Complete domination. LSU’s defensive line and linebackers combined for 11 “pressures” (pressures are heat on the QB that forced a poor play). Jermauria Rasco led the charge with five pressures. He’s having an impressive season so far.
  • The defensive tackles had a banner day. Christian LaCouture had one pressure and two “attacks” (a disruptive play). Freshman Davon Godchaux had a pair of attacks, too, and backup MLB Kendell Beckwith had a pair.
  • We charted only two missed tackles while the starting units were in (first three and a half quarters). Both whiffs were on LB Deion Jones.

Break It Up (secondary analysis)

  • Another swarming day. This unit benefited from a defensive line that won the line of scrimmage. Ronald Martin might have had his best game, and Jalen Mills had at least one attack. Freshman Jamal Adams had an attack on a great run-stuffing tackle.
  • Whenever Pete Thomas did find time to throw, the DBs were closely on their men. No separation at all.

Frosh DT Trey Lealaimatafao begins practice

LSU three-star defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao has began practicing with the Tigers, Les Miles confirmed Wednesday. Lealaimatafao tweeted this photo late Tuesday night.

Lealaimatafao, a Texas native and the No. 32nd ranked DT in the class of 2014, punched through a glass window during an argument with a teammate over the summer. He suffered deep lacerations to his left biceps and was hospitalized.

At least one scar can be seen on his left biceps in the photo he posted on Twitter. Also, Lealaimatafao is wearing a brace on his left wrist, which was likely injured during the incident. Reporters saw Lealaimatafao walking out of the LSU football facility Tuesday.

Lealaimatafao is expected to be redshirted along with fellow freshman defensive tackle Travonte Valentine, who has not been ruled eligible for games by the Southeastern Conference. LSU coach Les Miles said in July that Lealaimatafao will “probably not” play this season.

In the above photo, assumed to be taken during Tuesday’s practice, linebacker Kwon Alexander is not practicing. Alexander suffered a stinger against Wisconsin and re-injured the injury against Sam Houston State. He’s expected to be healthy by Saturday’s game against Louisiana-Monroe.

It appears, also, that linebacker Lamar Louis (far left of the screen) did not practice. His injury, if any, is unclear.

Miles commented on the status of Louis and Alexander during the SEC teleconference. Read about that here.

Twitter Mailbag: Jennings’ passing, in-state games, Dupre’s role

Malachi Dupre (left) and Anthony Jennings are both part of questions in this week's Twitter Mailbag.

Malachi Dupre (left) and Anthony Jennings are both part of questions in this week’s Twitter Mailbag.

Twitter Mailbag is a new 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.

QB Anthony Jennings hasn’t proven that he can do that – have a solid passing percentage when throwing 30-plus times a game. Is it possible? Well, sure. Will coaches ever let him do that? Maybe.

Look at Jennings’ completions and attempts during his three career starts: 7-of-19, 9-of-21, 7-of-13. That’s an average of 18 attempts per game. We might never know if Jennings can be consistent when forced to throw the ball a ton. Coaches – at least through three games – didn’t trust him or need him to do so.

LSU coach Les Miles last addressed Travonte Valentine’s situation last week. Valentine, a four-star defensive tackle from Florida, is practicing with the team but is ineligible to participate in games.

The Southeastern Conference continues to examine Valentine’s transcripts from high school. He transferred high schools before his senior year, a red flag, some might say. Valentine suggested in August that another SEC school sparked the investigation. Look for Valentine to redshirt this season.

Great question. And we’ll have a story about that coming out in Wednesday’s Advocate. The answer is yes, but not many.

The only freshmen who have not played so far are LB Clifton Garrett, tight end Jacory Washington, receiver Tony Upchurch, offensive linemen Will Clapp and Garrett Brumfield and defensive linemen Trey Lealaimatafao (injured) and Travonte Valentine (ineligible).

Miles said Garrett will play at some point this season. The rest may be redshirted. Tight end is a deep position, so it’d be tough for Washington to work in. Tony Upchurch is a guy who might see the playing field. After all, Miles said a while back that all of his freshmen receivers would play. The other four are linemen, a position that lends itself to redshirting. Expect Lealaimatafao and Valentine to both redshirt because of their situations.

No, at least I don’t believe so. I can’t speak specifically on in-state schools, but LSU assistant AD Very Ausberry has said multiple times that LSU’s scheduling method will not change with the new playoff.

What’s LSU’s scheduling method? Each year, the Tigers play one FCS team, two lower-level FBS teams and a major conference squad. There’s a good chance each season that one of those lower-level FBS squads will be a team from in-state. In fact, our own columnist, Scott Rabalais, will be opining on this very subject in a column set to run Saturday.

No. I highly doubt LSU would ever play a neutral site game outside of a major city. The Tigers play neutral site games (A) for the money and (B) for a recruiting boost. I don’t believe the city of Shreveport can give LSU $3-plus million, and the Tigers already have roots there from a recruiting stand point since it’s in-state.

LSU’s preferred neutral site locations include Atlanta, Houston and Dallas. New Orleans and Orlando are two possible sites as well.

Well, a win over Mississippi State at home is a game LSU is expected to win. But a win at Auburn? That should move the Tigers up in the polls, especially if other teams in front of them lost that weekend. That’s the big thing with the polls: win all you want, but it’s tough to move up if teams in front of you also win.

Either way, if LSU wins its next four games (UL-Monroe, Mississippi State, New Mexico State and at Auburn), the Tigers could be as high as No. 5 nationally.

The Warhawks, according to LSU players, are a spread team. That doesn’t necessarily narrow it down since most squads now run some version of the spread. However, ULM seems most like an Ole Miss or a Missouri.

Be on the look out for their quarterback. Pete Thomas is a major college talent. He started his career at Colorado State before transferring to NC State and then leaving there for the Warhawks.

Man, that’s a tough question to answer. It’s a pretty common fact that two quarterbacks can’t lead a team for an extended time period. After all, the Catholic Church doesn’t have two popes and the US doesn’t have two presidents.

Someone will separate himself from the competition, but who? It’s too early to tell. Let’s see both of them play against SEC teams before making a decision. We’ll say this: Miles has several times over the summer said that Brandon Harris had more natural talent.

I do think Dupre will likely be one of LSU’s top pass catchers. Not sure about “starting.” LSU runs the ball more than it passes, and Trey Quinn is a solid run-blocker. Meanwhile, Travin Dural is a good deep threat. Those two are likely LSU’s starters, but when the Tigers move to a three and four receiver set, I’d expect Dupre and John Diarse to be the next two guys.

Dupre certainly has plenty of skill. Did you see his touchdown catch Saturday? It wasn’t an easy catch as Harris put just a tad too much air on it. Dupre’s outstretched arms and hands hauled it in for his first career TD reception.

Film Room: LSU 56, Sam Houston 0

Sam Houston couldn't catch Travin Dural on Saturday.

Sam Houston couldn’t catch Travin Dural on Saturday.

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)

Record length pass: QB Anthony Jennings hit WR Travin Dural for a 96-yard touchdown pass on LSU’s first offensive play from scrimmage.

  • Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron fooled everyone here. LSU opened in its run-heavy package: two tight ends, two backs and Jennings under center. The only receiver was Dural, split wide right as what appeared to be a decoy.DuralTD
  • The key here was the play fake to running back Kenny Hilliard. The fake handoff from Jennings to Hilliard (right arrow) didn’t just freeze the safety to Dural’s side of the field — the guy ran 5 yards upfield (middle arrow) before stopping and turning back. It was far too late by that time. Dural (circled) was left one-on-one with a cornerback from an FCS school.
  • Tight ends Logan Stokes and Dillon Gordon went out for passes, too, but the throw was always heading Dural’s way, especially after the safety bit so hard. LSU had a whopping seven guys to protect Jennings from five rushers.

Fournette’s big rumble: On second-and-10, Leonard Fournette carried for a 40-yard gain to set up his 4-yard touchdown run moments later.FournetteRunn

  • This play is clearly designed to go left. Check out the lead blocker in the play, fullback Connor Neighbors (arrow). You can see that Fournette begins heading to the left side behind LG Vadal Alexander and LT La’el Collins.
  • A run to the left, though, is ruined by Collins’ pancake block. He and the defensive lineman collapse and somewhat block the area. Meanwhile, Fournette shows good vision. He sees a gaping hole in the middle of the field.
  • That hole is created by RG Hoko Fanaika and RT Jerald Hawkins (middle circle) and tight end Dillon Gordon. Fournette cuts back just before running into the back side of C Ethan Pocic, and he hits the 10-foot-wide hole.
  • Fournette does the rest: He jukes one man, breaks a tackle near the 15-yard line and drags another defender inside the 5.

Read-option: QB Brandon Harris orchestrates a perfect read-option play, faking to RB Terrence Magee before running for a 46-yard touchdown in the second quarter.HarrisTD

  • Cameron spreads the D out with a three-WR set and Harris in the shotgun with Magee. This particular play may be referred to as a sweep read-option. Harris can give to Magee for an outside sweep or keep and run up the gut. It all depends on how linebackers and defensive ends react as Harris puts the ball in Magee’s belly.
  • Harris chooses wisely. While TE Colin Jeter and Collins remove the DE from the play, two linebackers are focused on Magee. They take the bait, and Harris pulls the ball back and heads upfield.
  • Downfield, RT Jerald Hawkins misses his block on a linebacker, but he makes up for it by, at one point during the run, shoving Harris toward the end zone to spring him for the big run.

Goal line fumble: D.J. Welter stripped Sam Houston QB Jared Johnson at the goal line, forcing a fumble that led to a Tigers touchdown.Fumble

  • Welter gets credits for the strip, which he should, and Deion Jones gets credit for the recovery, which he should, but defensive end Danielle Hunter makes this play happen.
  • Hunter simply beats his man (red circle), as he did for much of the night. He got pressure on Johnson, flushing him from the pocket and right into an awaiting Welter.

Big ugly blips and booms (O-line analysis)

  • Let’s first clear something up (and this goes for all positions): We mostly analyzed/watched the first three quarters of the game. By the fourth, LSU had moved to all second-string guys.
  • As would be expected, there were few blips from an LSU offensive line going against a Sam Houston State front. In fact, RG Hoko Fanaika was the only lineman to record more than one blip (a “blip” is a missed block that resulted in a poor carry).
  • There were lots of booms (an above-average block that resulted in a substantial carry). Who had the most? The same guy who had those blips. Fanaika had four booms. He looked good. LSU’s running attack is targeting the right side of the line (Fanaika/RT Jerald Hawkins) more than you’d think.
  • Hawkins and TE Dillon Gordon each had two booms. Gordon had a really fine game blocking. He’s clearly LSU’s best blocking tight end, but junior college transfer Colin Jeter also had a solid game.
  • Evan Washington played at two spots in the game. With the first-string line, he played two series at each right guard and left guard. He was playing left guard while with the second group.
  • Random note here: TE Travis Dickson seems to be in the doghouse after his fumble in the win over Wisconsin. He played just one or two plays in the first three quarters. Dickson didn’t help his cause – he was flagged for a false start during one of those plays.PocicAnkle
  • Injury update: center Ethan Pocic’s right ankle rolled underneath Washington’s leg during a second-quarter play. That’s how Pocic sprained his ankle. A photo of it is to your left. Doubt he returns real soon.

Monday Morning Quarterback (QB analysis)

  • Both quarterbacks played well. Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris each had only one misfire (a “misfire” is a poor pass). Jennings had about a half-dozen of those against Wisconsin.
  • Jennings continued to show a knack for the long ball, but he seems to be having an issue with spreading around the ball. The QB is honed in on WR Travin Dural, something that could hurt LSU against more capable opponents. For instance, a whopping eight of Jennings’ 13 attempts were intended for Dural.
  • Jennings didn’t just show his long-ball ability. He hit Trey Quinn on a beautifully thrown out route toss, and he had two good runs and a nice scramble.
  • Brandon Harris showed just why recruiting sites ranked him as the No. 3 dual threat QB. Harris had a tackle-breaking 46-yard touchdown run and slung some lasers. SEC Network analyst Jesse Palmer called one of Harris’ throw “a hose” and continuously cited the QB’s natural ease in passing.Bw-B_2qIUAAf0Co
  • Also, give credit to Jerald Hawkins for shoving Harris during his long TD run (red square).

Backing it up (FB/RB analysis)

  • Leonard Fournette continued to bounce plays outside and find little success. Many of the plays were designed outside, and just didn’t have much success. It seems as if LSU coaches are determined to get him outside of the hashes, but he can’t seem to find much running room. He had his most success up the middle, specifically his great vision on the 40-yard run. FournetteYell
  • As for that Heisman Trophy pose after the touchdown, coach Les Miles had something to say about that. And he spent about 20-30 seconds chewing into Fournette’s ear.
  • Magee had little running room, but he fulfilled his role as a blocker. He had two booms, one during a run and another while in pass protection. FournetteOption
  • Check out the photo to the right. Kenny Hilliard, at fullback, and Fournette, during one play, are in the backfield together. LSU runs, basically, a triple option. QB Anthony Jennings has the option to hand off to Hilliard for a dive play (which he does) or keep it and run the option with Fournette.
  • Injury news: FB Connor Neighbors suffered his bone bruise when Magee stepped on his foot during a running play. Neighbors immediately grimaced and held his left foot. He never returned.

Five-yard Out (receiver analysis)DupreCatch

  • Receivers had a banner day, specifically Travin Dural. Each Dural and Malachi Dupre had what we classified as “great grabs.” They were catches that took extra skill. Both came for touchdowns. See Dupre’s above. He fully extended on a Brandon Harris pass that was slightly overthrown. Here’s Dural’s catch.

Front Seven (Defensive linemen and linebacker analysis)

  • Again, we only analyzed the first three quarters of this blowout, but it’s clear who stood out more than anyone on LSU’s defense: Danielle Hunter. The rangy defensive end had five “kill points,” a combination of “pressures” and “attacks.” A pressure is given for a pressure on a quarterback that results in a poor offensive play. An attack is an above-average hustle play that results in a poor play.
  • Linebacker Kwon Alexander played just the first three series of the game. LSU’s radio crew reported that Alexander suffered a stinger against Wisconsin. In just three drives, Alexander had a pressure and an attack.
  • Here’s a note about the Mustang: Deion Jones replaced Alexander and played about two full quarters. During the Mustang, he often got into a three-point stance on the line.

Break It Up (secondary analysis)

  • We only counted about three real missed tackles for the entire first three quarters. Two of them came from safety Ronald Martin, both on the same play (the other was LB Deion Jones). Outside of that, the secondary had a solid game. No busted coverages, and several nice plays.
  • Dwayne Thomas, LSU’s nickel back, registered two attacks, and Tre’Davious White had a nice pass breakup.

LSU Camp Review: Week 1

Les Miles and LSU head into Week 2 of fall camp Monday.

Les Miles and LSU head into Week 2 of fall camp Monday.

CAMP REVIEW

Where They Stand

LSU completed its first week of fall practice on Saturday with the team’s first two-a-days (both practices were completely closed to reporters). The Tigers are one-quarter of the way through preseason practices and will have their first scrimmage (closed) Saturday.

Three Questions Answered

Jamal Adams got the best of Malachi Dupre during the Big Cat drill.

Jamal Adams got the best of Malachi Dupre during the Big Cat drill.

  • Who has the edge at right guard? It appears that senior Hoko Fanaika has, at least, a slight edge in the battle with Evan Washington for the starting right guard spot. Still, there’s a way to go with this competition.
  • How much will freshman WR Malachi Dupre be involved in the offense? A lot. We’ve seen Dupre working with the veterans/starters during the first four days of split-squad scrimmages. He’s impressed teammates and coaches.
  • Who among the young defensive tackles will step up? Frank Herron. Coach Les Miles called Herron a “beast” earlier this week, and players have raved about Herron’s non-stop motor. He appears to be the favorite to take over for injured Quentin Thomas.
Leonard Fournette was the No. 1-ranked recruit in the nation.

Leonard Fournette was the No. 1-ranked recruit in the nation.

Three Questions Unanswered

  • Who will replace Odell Beckham Jr. as the return man? Miles would not reveal any names when asked this week, and reporters aren’t privy to those portions of practice. Travin Dural and Terrence Magee are listed on the depth chart, but that’s not in stone.
  • Is Leonard Fournette living up to the hype? The No. 1 question fans want answered. Stop asking. We might not know until Aug. 30. Reporters have only seen him for a brief time in full pads. One thing’s clear – he’s a big guy, especially in pads.

Best Of Week 1

  • Mills returns: Jalen Mills, booked on a felony, was charged for misdemeanor simple battery. That was enough for Miles. He allowed Mills to return to a D that needs him. He knows every position, is expected to start at safety and be the secondary’s signal-caller.

Worst Of Week 1

Quentin Thomas, the day before his season-ending injury. (BILL FEIG)

Quentin Thomas, the day before his season-ending injury. (BILL FEIG)

  • Thomas out: Projected starting defensive tackle Quentin Thomas tore his biceps and is out for the season. A redshirt junior, Thomas leaves the tackle position low on experience. The Tigers have just one other tackle who’s played meaningful game snaps.

Trending Down

  • Defensive line: Thomas’ injury is a hit to the depth and experience at tackle.
  • Offense: Miles said earlier this week that the D is head of the O. Time to get it in gear.

Trending Up

  • Leonard Fournette: His pure size is enough to have fans drooling about the prospects.
  • Linebackers: This deep, strong unit is full of experience and talent.

Summer Scouting: New Mexico State

Valerian Ume-Ezeoke is a stud center for New Mexico State.

Valerian Ume-Ezeoke is a stud center for New Mexico State.

Summer Scouting is a daily weekday post analyzing LSU football’s 12 opponents for the 2014 season. From Wisconsin (June 19) to Texas A&M (July 4), we’ll give you an early scouting report on the one dozen teams on LSU’s schedule.

Game reset

  • When: Sept. 27 (time TBA)
  • Where: Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge
  • Early spread: N/A
  • Who’s before and after: vs. MississippiState and at Auburn

Team glance

  • Coach (year): Doug Martin (2nd year)
  • 2013 record: 2-10 (independent)
  • 2013 postseason: None
  • Returning starters: 11
  • Preseason projection (Sporting News): 9th in Sun Belt

SPRING STORYLINE

Passing game: Tyler Rogers, a dual-threat QB who transferred from Arizona Western, has been a central figure in the off season in Las Cruces. He passed for 1,832 yards and 14 touchdowns (seven interceptions) last season as a freshman in junior college. He also ran for 364 yards and a team-best 10 scores. New MexicoState lost its top receiver, Austin Franklin, early to the NFL. Franklin’s 670 yards receiving last year was 366 more than the next guy.

BIGGEST THREAT

Offensive line: The Aggies lose their top receiver and running back, but they return a whopping four starters on the offensive line, including three upperclassmen. Senior center Valerian Ume-Ezeoke is a 6-2, 295-pounder from Texas who has drawn the eyes of NFL scouts. He was one of 64 centers on the 2014 Remington Trophy watch list released last month.

WEAK SPOT

The defense: This unit lost a whopping seven starters, but that might not be a negative. Last year’s defense finished 124th out of 124 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in total defense. The Aggies allowed 549 yards a game. That was the worst by nearly 20 yards. Nine opponents in 2013 scored 40 or more points against New MexicoState and one put up 66. That unit lost four starters among the front seven and three defensive backs.

Summer Scouting: Louisiana-Monroe

Pete Thomas is on his third school after transferring to Louisiana-Monroe this spring. (AP)

Pete Thomas is on his third school after transferring to Louisiana-Monroe this spring. (AP)

Summer Scouting is a daily weekday post analyzing LSU football’s 12 opponents for the 2014 season. From Wisconsin (June 19) to Texas A&M (July 4), we’ll give you an early scouting report on the one dozen teams on LSU’s schedule.

Game reset

  • When: 6 p.m., Sept. 13
  • Where: Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge
  • Early spread: N/A
  • Who’s before and after: vs. Sam Houston State and vs. Mississippi State

Louisiana-Monroe at a glance

  • Coach (year): Todd Berry (5th)
  • 2013 record: 6-6 (4-3, t3rd Sun Belt)
  • 2013 postseason: None
  • Returning starters: 13
  • Preseason projection (Sporting News): 3rd in Sun Belt

SPRING STORYLINE

Third time charm: Quarterback Pete Thomas transferred from Colorado State to North Carolina State and, now, to Louisiana-Monroe in May. He missed spring practice with the Warhawks, but the California native is expected to be the favorite to claim the starting job. Thomas was a former four-star rated recruit by Rivals.com. Because of coaching changes at Colorado State and NC State, he’s in Louisiana. Thomas will have to win the job in fall camp over junior Brayle Brown. In 30 career games with both Colorado State and NC State, Thomas has thrown for 5,936 yards, 22 touchdowns and 30 interceptions.

BIGGEST THREAT

WR Rashon Ceasar: The speedster from Clinton caught 65 passes for 964 yards a year ago. He led the Warhawks receiving corps in yards by nearly 600 and had 23 more catches than the next guy. An All-Sun Belt second team member last season, Ceasar also doubles as a punt returner. He took one 88 yards for a score last season.

WEAK SPOT

Offensive line: The Warhawks have to replace two starters on a front that really struggled a year ago. UL-Monroe was toward the bottom in the Sun Belt in sacks allowed and rushing yards a game, stats that point to a weak O-line. The team has shifted a few of its returning starters to different spots on the front. The Warhawks hope that – and the fact that the line will include five seniors – will improve the unit.

Previous posts

Summer Scouting: Wisconsin

Melvin Gordon is a preseason Heisman favorite. (espn.com)

Melvin Gordon is a preseason Heisman favorite. (espn.com)

Summer Scouting is a daily weekday post analyzing LSU football’s 12 opponents for the 2014 season. From Wisconsin (June 19) to Texas A&M (July 4), we’ll give you an early scouting report on the one dozen teams on LSU’s schedule.

Game reset

  • When: 8 p.m. Aug. 30
  • Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
  • Early spread: LSU -7
  • Who’s before and after: Season opener and vs. Sam Houston State

Wisconsin at a glance

  • Coach (year): Gary Anderson (2nd)
  • 2013 record: 9-4 (6-2, 2nd Big Ten Leaders)
  • 2013 postseason: Lost 34-24 to South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl
  • Returning starters: 11
  • Preseason projection (Sporting News): 2nd in Big Ten West; 19th nationally
Joel Stave was Wisconsin's starting quarterback in 2013, but he might have to fight for the spot in fall camp. (badgerherald.com)

Joel Stave was Wisconsin’s starting quarterback in 2013, but he might have to fight for the spot in fall camp. (badgerherald.com)

SPRING STORYLINE

Pro-style vs. dual-threat: A quarterback battled revved up for Wisconsin during spring practice, and it shows no signs of dying until deep into fall camp. The 2013 starter, pocket-passing Joel Stave, missed most of spring drills with a lingering shoulder injury suffered in the bowl game. That cracked the door for safety-turned-QB Tanner McEvoy. He pushed it open. McEvoy gives the Badgers a running threat behind center, something coach Gary Anderson hasn’t been shy about wanting. Stave appears to have returned to full strength. He joined the team this month as summer workouts began.

BIGGEST THREAT

RB Melvin Gordon: The 207-pound Gordon, in a No. 2 role, ran for 1,609 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. The junior running back averaged 7.8 yards a pop and looks to be even more threatening now with 2013 senior starter James White gone. Many outlets have Gordon as one of the preseason favorites for the Heisman Trophy. Sporting News has him at No. 9 among its top 10 Hesiman candidates, and he’s 16 to 1 to win the big award according to Bovada.

WEAK SPOT

Front seven: Wisconsin doesn’t return a player on its front seven who started at least six games last season, and the Badgers could be relying upon a redshirt freshman to start at defensive end. In all, the seven projected starters in Wisconsin’s 3-4 front started a combined 10 games last year. The Badgers will replenish a unit that served as a strength a year ago. Wisconsin’s 2013 defense finished seventh nationally, allowing just 305 yards a game.

Alleva: Still crickets from Texas on the Les Miles front

From left to right, LSU athletic director Joe Alleva, Kathy Miles, LSU coach Les Miles and Outback Bowl President/CEO Jim McVay before the Outback team welcome dinner Thursday.

TAMPA, Fla. – LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said Monday he not received any contact from officials at Texas asking for permission to speak to coach Les Miles about their vacant head coaching position, and that he expects Miles to be with the Tigers for the foreseeable future.

“He has five years left on his contract and I expect him to be our coach for a long time to come,” said Alleva, here with the LSU traveling party as the Tigers prepare to take on Iowa in Wednesday’s Outback Bowl (noon CST, ESPN).

Texas coach Mack Brown is stepping down following Monday night’s Alamo Bowl against Oregon (5:45 p.m. CST, ESPN).

It must be said schools are not required to notify another school if they wish to speak to their coach about a job vacancy, but it is considered a professional courtesy.

Miles, who publicly has twice been considered for the job at Michigan (his alma mater) and once at Arkansas during his nine-year tenure at LSU, has been mentioned in some national media reports as a potential candidate for Texas, but there has been little about Miles and the Longhorns that seems more serious than that.

Miles himself brushed off any such talk at a pre-bowl media session in Baton Rouge.

“Oh, please, let’s not kick my name around,” he said.

Miles, 60, is 94-24 at LSU, with a BCS national championship and two Southeastern Conference titles. He has led the Tigers to a bowl all nine seasons in Baton Rouge and will likely have them in the final polls for the eighth time following this bowl game.

Bowl Chatter: Miles talks dodging Michigan, QBs, old bowl memories and more

Over the last few days, Les Miles says he began to see LSU’s bowl destination clearing up. That means he knew the chances of his current team playing that team were somewhat high.

Remember Les Miles’ impromptu press conference before the 2007 SEC championship game? It was about Michigan. (Travis Spradling | The Advocate)

Several projections had LSU in the Gator Bowl against … that team: Michigan, Miles’ beloved alma mater and a team he refuses to schedule because of his deep passion for the Wolverines.

Crisis averted as the Outback picked LSU and Iowa.

“I think it would have been probably harder on me to play Michigan than it would have been our team. I think our team would have enjoyed the competition,” Miles said Sunday night after bowls were announced. “I have a very strong spot, favorite spot, in my heart for that team. It’d be hard for me to kind of gear up, but I certainly think that as we got closer to the game the need for competition (would take) over.”

Here are a few more nuggets from Miles’ Sunday night post-bowl announcement chat with reporters, first starting with the QB situation:

  • Zach Mettenberger, as you read in our story (linked above), will “be around” the program during his rehab from knee surgery and may travel with the team to Tampa. Players can help Mettenberger, Miles said, by rallying behind his backup, Anthony Jennings, who will start the bowl game. “I think our guys will kind of enjoy supporting Mettenberger by supporting the new quarterback,” the coach said. “Let’s surround the new QB with … making sure you’re in the right spots for the routes and that his preparation will go in a very comfortable directive way.”
  • Miles touched more on Mettenberger’s injury but wouldn’t reveal specifics (he’s set to have surgery over the next two weeks): “He, beyond rehabilitation, will be 100 percent. There’s no really long-term significant damage to the knee. It appears to be a simple repair. I think that it’s a little bit hard to predict before the surgery. I think it’s the kind of injury that certainly in a short amount of time in the grand scheme of things, he’ll be ready to play.”

    Anthony Jennings will get his first career start in the Outback Bowl. (Bill Feig | The Advocate)

  • Miles was clear about one thing: LSU’s not changing the offense with Jennings under center: “We’re not in a position where we have to change a lot. We’ll run our offense just the way it is. That’ll benefit him,” Miles said. “His skill set is one that really he’s a very accurate thrower and I think he fits the offense that Zach was running so I don’t know that we’re adding” different plays.
  • Jennings will get double the amount of reps in practice than he’s had this season, Miles said, and Stephen Rivers will be LSU’s backup QB. “I think we’ll just turn and elevate the guys that were behind Zach,” Miles said.

Enough about QBs, right? After all, they’re not that important. Let’s hop on Memory Lane with Les:

  • As you probably read some in our story, Miles watched some of LSU’s last-second loss to Iowa in the 2005 Capital One Bowl. News broke hours after that game that Miles, then-Oklahoma State’s head coach, would replace Nick Saban. “I think (I was) at a bowl site myself to be honest with you,” Miles said. “I was kind of following it because there was some preliminary conversation had been made (with LSU about the job). I wanted to know how that (game) had finished. I recall a corner(back) came off a coverage late in the game and led to an Iowa victory.”
  • Miles has coached in the Outback Bowl previously. He was in the first year of his second stint as an assistant at Michigan in 1988 when the Wolverines came back to beat Alabama 28-24. He remembers the exact defense Alabama ran against Michigan (the Wolverines scored on a TD pass on a fourth-and-3 in the final seconds): “They played a double eagle cover zero.”
  • The late Joe Paterno hugs Les Miles after Penn State’s Capital One Bowl win in 2010 on a sloppy surface. (Travis Spradling | The Advocate)

    While we’re talking about old games in Florida … LSU last played in a bowl game in that state in the 2010 Capital One Bowl, a 19-17 loss to Penn State in rainy, sloppy conditions. On a muddy field, players’ jerseys were soaked and stained and solid footing was tough to come by. Miles knows things can’t be worse on Trip No. 2 to Florida. “I know that the surface will be a lot better,” he said. “I know that we’ll look forward to having a fast track as opposed to a place where a dogsled could have easily gotten us where we needed to go.”

Odds and ins:

  • Miles will follow his normal bowl practice plans. The starters will face each other early on during bowl practice before the specific game plan on Iowa is installed. “We’ve always done a good versus good to get the speed of the game up,” Miles said. “And not necessarily going to practice against the specifics of Iowa. Getting our legs back underneath us. That’s always been the fastest way for us to get back. Then kind of the … institute the piece of theIowagame plan.”
  • Miles will begin talking to juniors about their decisions in declaring for the NFL Draft after next week (finals week), he said. It’s a time of year that’s annually “set up in the calendar,” Miles said.
  • Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. suffered what Miles said was a “significant bruise” to his hip and will be healthy and available for the bowl game. Miles said Beckham could have played if LSU had a game Sunday. Meanwhile, safety Corey Thompson suffered a season-ending knee injury against Texas A&M and will be out for the bowl game, as we reported last week.
  • University High meets John Curtis on Thursday in the LHSAA Division II state title game. Les’ son, Manny, quarterbacks U-High. So, yeah, that was a topic of discussion at the media session. Miles will not be in a suite to watch the game but among the common folk at the dome, he said. This will be a rarity for Miles. He normally does not watch the LHSAA state championship games – many of them full of prospects – because it would burn an “in-home” visit with a recruit. But Thursday, he’s there as a dad. Well, maybe. “This year because of my status being the father, I’m allowed to sit and watch at least one of those games. Get in there early enough to get my seat,” a smiling Miles said, as if he might happen to watch parts of other games.