Tag Archives: #LSU

Twitter Mailbag: You asked about DT depth, the O-line and the QB battle

Vadal Alexander is settling in at right tackle. (AP)

Vadal Alexander is settling in at right tackle. (AP)

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.

We spoke to defensive line coach Ed Orgeron about this Tuesday at the LHSAA coaches clinic. Check out the second note in this notebook for what Orgeron said.

Basically, he doesn’t seem too concerned, but there’s no denying the fact that LSU is low on DTs. The team has five scholarship defensive tackles: starters Christian LaCouture and Davon Godchaux and reserves Quentin Thomas, Frank Herron and Greg Gilmore.

LSU is an injury away from having a starter and backup at each DT spot and nothing more. And two of the five scholarship DTs are Herron and Gilmore, who played sparingly as redshirt freshmen last year. However, there are other possibilities. For instance, Maquedius Bain, moved from DT to DE during the spring, could move back and play some DT.

Depending on your definition of weak, the DT spot could be seen as the weakest behind QB – if you’re talking about depth. LSU has just three scholarship QBs. As for its starters, the DT position could be seen as a place of strength with LaCouture and Godchaux.

Things are set at the tackle positions. Jerald Hawkins is at left tackle and Vadal Alexander is at right tackle. Ethan Pocic will start somewhere – either at center or left guard. That depends on a group of three others: Will Clapp, Andy Dodd and Josh Boutte. Those three, it seems, are in the mix for two jobs, with Dodd seemingly as a center-only option.

How will it shake out? Who the heck knows? OL coach Jeff Grimes on Tuesday didn’t offer much insight except to say that Pocic’s position depends on other players.

Remember, offensive linemen are prone to injury. The Tigers need to have seven to eight guys ready to play. Throw redshirt freshman Garrett Brumfield into the mix of those above, too. He seems to be just outside of that group.

I’ve had so many press box meals I really can’t say a favorite. LSU offered a few pregame football meals last season that were great. I like the good Cajun stuff – gumbo, crawfish etouffee, shrimp pasta.

Among my recent trips: Athens, Georgia. It’s a great town, one of my favorites. I got to spend about four days there this spring covering LSU baseball and had a grand time. Bars, restaurants and shops cover a large swath of what is a chill but lively downtown. The beautiful Georgia campus runs along the downtown entertainment scene to make for a great setting.

Tampa – for the Outback Bowl a year and a half ago – finishes a close second. After all, who doesn’t love palm trees, 80 degrees and beaches in December?

Plenty of people think true freshman Kevin Toliver, top 3 nationally at CB in the 2015 class, will start at cornerback eventually this season. He’ll have to beat out sophomore Ed Paris to do it, though.

Tre’Davious White has one cornerback spot locked down, and Paris is manning the other. There’s a pretty intense battle going on between Paris and Toliver, an early enrollee who participate in spring practice. That will ramp up when highly touted signees Donte Jackson and Xavier Lewis will start practice this fall.

Paris told us in the spring that this is “my time” with regards to the starting CB job.

Common sense would say yes. Jennings has now missed about five to six weeks of summer workouts for a suspension that stems from his arrest last month for unauthorized entry into a dwelling.

Coach Les Miles said Monday that Jennings’ arrest will end in a “positive” way and that he expects the QB to return to the team and the QB competition soon enough. But, still, Harris has run the voluntary 7-on-7 workouts with the team during the last several weeks, and players say he’s doing well.

You have to give the edge to Harris as fall camp looms, but it’s not a huge edge. It’s a tight starting battle with no real end in sight.

On The Record: Frank Wilson

Frank Wilson has coached LSU running backs, including Terrence Magee. (April Buffington)

Frank Wilson has coached LSU running backs, including Terrence Magee. (April Buffington)

Frank Wilson enters his sixth season as LSU’s running backs coach and recruiting coordinator. He’s pulled in top 10 signing classes in five of those six years and has tutored running backs like Jeremy Hill, Stevan Ridley and, now, Leonard Fournette.

He spoke to The Advocate on Tuesday during the LHSAA coaches clinic for a quick Q&A. Read the story version of the interview here.

Q: You have 17 commits and can sign 26 players this year. How do you plan on filling the nine open spots from now until National Signing Day?

Wilson: I think we’ve got some spots still at the defensive line position, more than anything at the defensive end position, we need to fill. A couple of linebackers we got to get in the boat and then, offensively, we’ve got a need at the tailback position and a couple of receivers.

I like where we’re at. I like the pace that we’re on right now, but probably more than anything just need to hold steady. As we all know, it’s just the beginning.

To be able to continue to cultivate that relationship to allow it to withstand the test of time is more important than anything.

Q: Other teams’ coaches trying to woo your commits away?

Wilson: Well, I think it’s on-going. I think it happened some time in spring when they had the one call they can make. As they try to encourage them to come on their campus for an unofficial visit for the summer time. They’ll do it again for their season as well as official visits.

It’s active all of the time. For us, it’s to be able to maintain and continue to recruit the ones that already committed to us and continue to recruit the ones that are not.

Q: You recruit years down the line don’t you?

Wilson: We have a guy (committed) at 2019. We have about eight guys in the class of 2020 from our youth camp that over time they continue to get bigger and faster and stronger and we get in our youth camp and kids come in and run a sub-5, it just catches your eye.

You’re 12 years old and you’re running 4.9, 4.8. That’s crazy. There’s no recruitment with those kids. All that happens at that point is we store their name in our database and we track them. It’s not truly recruiting, more identifying when you talk about the younger guys just entering high school or middle school.

Frank Wilson says he wants to be a head coach one day. (Kyle Encar)

Frank Wilson says he wants to be a head coach one day. (Kyle Encar)

Q: Wait. You’re tracking eight kids for the class of 2020?! They’re entering their eighth grade year.

Wilson: What happens is you watch it happen and as these kids mature they’ll say stuff to you like, ‘I came to your camp when I was in the seventh grade.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh really? Yeah …’ [laugh]

At one point, we never used to keep that data. It was youth camp. Instructional football. Now, when there’s a superlative, we take notice, we document it and we store it. There’s nothing more you can do.

They’re still growing into their bodies, understanding body control. It’s so early, you really don’t know. Some kids peak earlier than others. One of them may be doing something extremely well at this age and max out. The others may look gangly and awkward and develop later. It’s just a start for us.

Q: You came close to a head coaching position this off-season. How much is that a goal for you?

Wilson: It’s not a priority. In due time, when the right opportunity comes, when it’s there for me, it’ll happen. I love my job, love where I’m at. I’m not out soliciting. I’m not willing to take any job that’s out there. Jon Gruden probably said it best: when he came back to football, he’d like to be the running backs coach at LSU.

I’m very fortunate with the plethora of talent that we have in our backfield, assembled around a great offensive line and great defense. I like the job that I do. It’s a goal of mine, but nothing pressing that has to happen any time soon.

Les Miles says LSU was interested in OSU QB Braxton Miller and that QB Anthony Jennings will have ‘positive’ end to arrest

Les Miles brought daughter Smacker to his tour around ESPN. (Jake Terry | LSU)

Les Miles brought daughter Smacker to his tour around ESPN. (Jake Terry | LSU)

LSU was interested in Ohio State QB Braxton Miller if he would have decided to transfer, and suspended quarterback Anthony Jennings is on his way to returning to the team, Les Miles said.

The LSU coach, during his trek around ESPN’s studios Monday, said the Tigers “would’ve loved” to have Miller. He also said that Jennings will return to the team after what’s expected to be a “positive” end to his arrest.

Miles, in speaking with a group of ESPN.com reporters, admitted that LSU was interested in Miller transferring in. The Ohio State quarterback decided to remain with the Buckeyes and compete for the starting job with a host of others. He missed last season with a shoulder injury.

Miles said LSU did not speak with Notre Dame QB Everett Golson about his potential of transferring.

Jennings and sophomore Brandon Harris are in a hot competition for the starting QB job for a second straight off-season. Jennings is expected to return from suspension soon, according to Miles’ comments last week at SEC media days. He and three others were arrested last month on unauthorized entry into a dwelling.

Miles said Monday on ESPN’s “College Football Live” that Jennings’ arrest will have a “positive” end.

“We anticipate there will be a very positive outcome there with Anthony Jennings, and we expect there to be competition (at QB),” he said.

East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore hasn’t announced whether he’ll charge Jennings or the other players arrested. He said Monday through text message that there was no news on the case and that he’s “not sure” when news will come.

LSU ranked as one of the worst passing teams in the nation last year with, for much of the time, Jennings running the offense. Harris struggled, as well, in his one start in 2014 as the Tigers finished 8-5.

Miles didn’t argue with ESPN TV personality Stephen A. Smith when Smith asked if he was wrong to say that LSU’s QB spot was “relatively problematic.”

Said Miles: “No not at all.”

The coach, in a meeting with local reporters at media days Thursday, agreed that his QB position may be the difference in the Tigers competing for a championship this season.

Miles on Monday also touched on his relationship with Alabama coach Nick Saban in his appearance on ESPN’s “First Take.” He was asked if he considers him and Saban “friends.”

“I would not say friends but I would not say enemies,” he said.

Miles said he gets along with Saban “very well” and called him a “very quality coach.”

Fournette, Alexander, Mills land on first team preseason All-SEC

Leonard Fournette at SEC media days on Thursday. (AP)

Leonard Fournette at SEC media days on Thursday. (AP)

LSU running back Leonard Fournette, offensive tackle Vadal Alexander and safety Jalen Mills led eight Tigers on the preseason All-SEC teams released Friday.

Fournette and Alexander landed on the first team offense while Mills was one of the first-team safeties. No other player from LSU is on any of the other two preseason offensive teams.

Linebacker Kendell Beckwith and cornerback Tre’Davious White made second team defense, and defensive tackle Davon Godchaux and safety Jamal Adams, both sophomores, were on the third team defense.

Jamie Keehn was the third team punter, and Fournette made second team all-purpose and third team return specialist – more honors for the Tigers’ sophomore star.

Fournette was also named to the Walter Camp Award watch list Friday – the fourth watch list he landed on this year. The Walter Camp goes to the player of the year.

Georgia RB Nick Chubb, who out rushed Fournette during their freshman seasons last year, joined the LSU tailback on the first team.

Media voted on the preseason All-SEC teams while at SEC media days this week.

Sources: LSU RB Derrius Guice transported to hospital, is ‘okay’

Derrius Guice. (AP)

Derrius Guice. (AP)

Former Catholic High star and current LSU freshman running back Derrius Guice on Wednesday was transported to a hospital from the LSU football practice facility after losing consciousness, two sources told The Advocate.

Guice tweeted late Wednesday, a sign that he’s in good condition.

LSU spokesman Michael Bonnette confirmed that a player was taken to a hospital Wednesday. He declined to reveal the identity of the player or his injury or illness, citing privacy laws. EMS spokesman Mike Chustz confirmed the same as Bonnette.

Guice was not working out at the time of the incident. He had experienced sickness earlier in the day before arriving at the football facility on Skip Bertman Drive, two sources said.

Guice weighed in on Twitter at 11:18 p.m. Wednesday, confirming that he was not working out when he passed out.

WBRZ first reported that an unnamed player was transported to the hospital and had a photo of the player being unloaded or loaded into an ambulance.

Guice was a five star rated prospect by Rivals.com and was ranked as high as the No. 2 running back in the 2015 class. LSU is currently conducting summer workouts under supervision of the strength and conditioning staff.

Guice rushed for 1,341 yards and 21 touchdowns, along with 617 receiving yards and eight touchdowns as a senior at Catholic last season. Guice rushed for 1,101 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior.

Guice was named the MVP of the US Army All-American Game in January after catching a pair of touchdowns – one for 92 yards and another for 61.

“If you recall, Guice went to the Army All‑American game and then selfishly moved to wide receiver and then dominated the game from the wide receiver spot,” coach Les Miles said during National Signing Day in February.

Miles is set to meet with reporters Thursday at SEC media days in Hoover, Ala.

 

LSU WR Travin Dural on Biletnikoff Award watch list

Receiver Travin Dural added his name to the growing list of LSU players who have landed on preseason award watch lists.

WR Travin Dural returns as LSU's top receiver. (Travis Spradling)

WR Travin Dural returns as LSU’s top receiver. (Travis Spradling)

Dural, a junior from Breaux Bridge, is on the Biletnikoff Award watch list released Wednesday.

Dural led all LSU receivers with 37 receptions for 758 yards and seven touchdowns last year. Dural had three 100-yard receiving games in 2014, highlighted by a career-best 151 yards in the season opener against Wisconsin.

LSU WATCH LIST TRACKER

  • Biletnikoff Award (best receiver): WR Travin Dural
  • Paul Hornung Award (best all-around athlete): RB Leonard Fournette
  • Maxwell Award (player of the year): RB Leonard Fournette
  • Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year): LB Kendell Beckwith; S Jalen Mills
  • Rimington Trophy (best center): OL Ethan Pocic
  • Ray Guy Award (best punter): P Jamie Keehn
  • Outland Trophy (best interior lineman): OL Vadal Alexander
  • Lombardi Award (best interior lineman): OL Vadal Alexander; Toby Weathersby, OL
  • Butkus Award (best linebacker): LB Kendell Beckwith
  • Bronko Nagurski Trophy (defensive player of the year): LB Kendell Beckwith; S Jalen Mills

LSU DT Travonte Valentine transferring

HOOVER, Ala. – LSU four star defensive tackle Travonte Valentine will leave Baton Rouge having never played a down.

Valentine, the Tigers’ 350-pound former highly rated recruit, has left the program, LSU spokesman Michael Bonnette confirmed to The Advocate on Wednesday.

Valentine will transfer to Arizona Western Community College, where two other LSU players have transferred recently. Airzona Western confirmed the transfer.

Travonte Valentine (75) during his high school state championship game as a senior.

Travonte Valentine (75) during his high school state championship game as a senior.

Valentine, a Miami native, was never ruled eligible by the SEC for a game last season, and he did not participate in spring practice while serving what seemed to be an academic suspension.

LSU coach Les Miles said after the spring game in April that Valentine had to “do some things academically that he failed to do. We’re doing everything we can to assist him.”

Valentine did not immediately return a message for comment Wednesday. Miles will make his appearance here at Southeastern Conference media days Thursday afternoon.

Valentine, a former high school All-American, was expected to contribute immediately last season as a freshman on LSU’s 2014 No. 2-ranked signing class, but he was never cleared to play in a game. He practiced with the team in the fall before being suspended in the spring.

It’s another happening in an eventful off-season for the Tigers.

Valentine is the third player from LSU’s ’14 signing class to leave the school in some way this off-season. He joins defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao, dismissed recently after a second arrest in a year, and linebacker Clifton Garrett, who transferred to Arizona Western. Lealaimatafao also landed at Arizona Western.

Another player from that signing class, offensive lineman Jevonte Domond, remains suspended after his arrest in May on a felony domestic abuse battery. Receiver Avery Peterson also announced during the off-season of his intent to transfer.

Three more LSU players are suspended after being arrested for unauthorized entry into a dwelling in June, including quarterback Anthony Jennings, defensive lineman Maquedius Bain and defensive back Dwayne Thomas. The players allegedly walked into a fellow student’s apartment to retrieve items they claim were stolen from Jennings earlier.

Thomas was also booked on a simple burglary charge. East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore has not formally charged any of the four suspended players.

Lealaimatafao and Valentine’s departures leave LSU with five scholarship defensive tackles: starters Davon Godchaux and Christian LaCouture and reserves Frank Herron, Quentin Thomas and Greg Gilmore. LSU did not sign a defensive tackle in this past class.

John Chavis’ suit against LSU could be dismissed in newly scheduled August hearing

John Chavis and LSU's messy divorce lingers in court. (Travis Spradling)

John Chavis and LSU’s messy divorce lingers in court. (Travis Spradling)

HOOVER, Ala. – A week before the college football season begins, LSU and former defensive coordinator John Chavis will battle in the courtroom again.

This time, it’ll come in Texas.

A hearing has been set for Aug. 21 in Chavis’ Texas-based lawsuit against his former employer-turned-rival, court records show. LSU is arguing for judge Travis Bryan III to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds of jurisdiction – something that could happen at the hearing.

The hearing will be the first court meeting between the two parties in Chavis’ suit against the school, which is playing out in the 272nd District Court in Brazos County, Texas – the home of Texas A&M, where Chavis currently serves as defensive coordinator.

The August hearing is the latest in a litigation saga that began with LSU and Chavis filing dueling suits against one another – Chavis’ in Texas and LSU’s in Louisiana – on Feb. 27 regarding the coach’s buyout. The school says he owes $400,000 for breaking his contract early, while Chavis and Texas A&M claim he does not.

Attorneys in both cases are squabbling over the venue for the suit — Texas or Louisiana — and want the other’s suit dismissed or stopped.

Chavis, who left the Tigers for the same position at one of LSU’s chief rivals, was a hot topic Tuesday at the second day of SEC media days in this Birmingham suburb. A&M coach Kevin Sumlin was peppered with questions about hiring away Chavis and the coach’s messy divorce with LSU.

Sumlin said the dueling lawsuits have “not been a distraction at all.”

The parties are meeting in August in what has been a more than four-month-long battle that saw its first court hearing two weeks ago in LSU’s suit against Chavis in the 19th Judicial Court in East Baton Rouge Parish.

Judge Timothy Kelley, during that hearing, denied Chavis’ request to temporarily stop the suit in Louisiana until his case against LSU in Texas is resolved.

“The case belongs here,” Barton said after the hearing.

The suit has provided some juicy moments since February, including the current judges in each case. Bryan, the judge ruling on the case in Texas, received his bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M. The judge overseeing the Louisiana case, Kelley, is an LSU graduate and football season-ticket holder.

Why did Kevin Sumlin hire former LSU DC John Chavis? Because Chavis beat him.

(cbssports.com)

(cbssports.com)

HOOVER, Ala. – For the last three seasons, John Chavis’ defenses at LSU shut down Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M’s high-flying offense.

Is that why he hired Chavis away?

“That’s exactly what I did,” Sumlin said Tuesday at Southeastern Conference media days.

Sumlin’s time on the dais in the main ballroom at media days centered on his new defensive coordinator, Chavis, who left the Tigers for the Aggies after last season in a stunning and drama-filled move that’s sparked a litigation saga.

The Chavis-led LSU defense held the Aggies to fewer than 20 points in each of the last three meetings – all Tigers’ wins. Sumlin took notice and, even, admitted that he studied Chavis’ scheme after those losses, almost baffled at the defense.

“His style … we’ve studied that so much over the last three years. I told him, ‘I know this like the back of my hand,'” Sumlin said. “He was ready for a new challenge, and we were in the market.”

The dueling lawsuits between LSU and Chavis haven’t been a distraction “to me at all,” Sumlin said, and the coach denied that he called Chavis a few minutes before LSU’s game against Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl – something he said he did during a radio on interview in January.

“That’s not true,” Sumlin said when asked.

Sumlin said Chavis and his family’s transition to College Station, Texas, has been “great,” and the coach has already infused confidence into a Texas A&M defense that finished 104th nationally last year.

“John coming to us has really helped our intensity level as a defense and confidence level as a defense,” Sumlin said. “Playing faster and harder.”

Has the rivalry between Texas A&M and LSU grown with Chavis’ hire? Sumlin said he’s not sure it can get any “spicier” than it already is.

“When I walk in the stadium, they don’t seem pretty happy about me,” the coach said. “We’re recruiting Louisiana. They’re recruiting Texas.”

LSU OL Vadal Alexander on Lombardi Award watch list; Kendell Beckwith on Butkus Award watch list

Vadal Alexander is on two watch lists. (Angela Major)

Vadal Alexander is on two watch lists. (Angela Major)

LSU offensive lineman Vadal Alexander made the Lombardi Award watch list, and linebacker Kendell Beckwith landed on the Butkus Award watch lists, both released Tuesday.

The Lombardi Award is given to the nation’s best interior offensive lineman between the ends, and the Butkus Award is given to the nation’s best linebacker.

Alexander, a 6-foot-6, 320-pound senior from Georgia, is expected to play either right tackle of left guard this season. Alexander has started 34 games in his LSU career, playing left guard for the last two seasons and right tackle in 2012. He also made the watch list for the Outland Trophy, an award given annually to the nation’s best interior lineman on offense or defense.

Beckwith, a junior, surged into a starting job last season and finished the season as LSU’s most lethal defensive player. He was second on the team with 77 tackles and had 7.5 for loss. The Clinton native had an interception and recovered two fumbles.

Incoming LSU signee Toby Weathersby, a four star prospect from Houston, is also on the Lombardi Award watch list. Weathersby is not necessarily expected to play immediately at LSU. Weathersby was the winner of the Houston Rotary Lombardi Award last season as a senior in high school.

LSU WATCH LIST TRACKER

  • Paul Hornung Award (best all-around athlete): RB Leonard Fournette
  • Maxwell Award (player of the year): RB Leonard Fournette
  • Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year): LB Kendell Beckwith; S Jalen Mills
  • Rimington Trophy (best center): OL Ethan Pocic
  • Ray Guy Award (best punter): P Jamie Keehn
  • Outland Trophy (best interior lineman): OL Vadal Alexander
  • Lombardi Award (best interior lineman): OL Vadal Alexander; Toby Weathersby, OL
  • Butkus Award (best linebacker): LB Kendell Beckwith
  • Bronko Nagurski Trophy (defensive player of the year): LB Kendell Beckwith; S Jalen Mills