LSU Football: National college football columnist takes a big shot at Tigers

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Death Valley Voice 20 July, 2021 - 03:41pm 6 views

When is SEC Media Days?

SEC Media Days start Monday, July 19, and run through Thursday, July 22. The event will be live streamed on fuboTV. The event certainly will have its fair share of talk about the College Football Playoff expansion as well as name, image and likeness. There will also be a number of first-time SEC coaches at the podium. al.comSEC Media Days 2021 live stream: How to watch online for free, TV, time, full schedule

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LSU football is an interesting position this season as a program.

The Tigers are less than two years removed from hoisting the national championship trophy in New Orleans after a convincing win against Clemson in the College Football Playoff championship game.

LSU’s 2019 squad was arguably one of the best college football teams of all time.

The 2020 squad, however, left a lot to be desired. The Tigers went 5-5 last season, rallying to win the final two games of the season to avoid the program’s first losing record since 1999.

As a result of a disappointing 2020 season, there have been plenty of folks that have suggested the 2019 LSU team was a “one-hit wonder”.

Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel, a national college football columnist, is one of those folks. And he took some thinly veiled shots at Ed Orgeron and the Tigers this week.

On Monday, at SEC Media Days, Ed Orgeron reiterated that he brought Jake Peetz and DJ Mangas to Baton Rouge to run the “Joe Brady offense” in 2021.

(Peetz and Mangas, who will serve as LSU’s offensive coordinator and passing game coordinator, respectively, have both previously worked under Brady.)

Thamel essentially mocked Orgeron for calling the 2019 LSU offense one “the most prolific offenses in the history of football”.

From Yahoo Sports:

LSU hired Jake Peetz as offensive coordinator and DJ Mangas as pass game coordinator, which Orgeron explicitly said was to “run Joe Brady’s offense of 2019.” He pointed out that it was one of “the most prolific offenses in the history of football” while failing to point out that it was run by a No. 1 draft pick throwing to two first-round picks and a second-round pick.

He failed to point out that Peetz and Mangas, who were vital parts of Brady’s operation, are taking giant leaps. Peetz is in his first year as a coordinator at any level and Mangas has experience as William & Mary’s offensive coordinator.

I have no idea why Thamel felt compelled to write those sentences.

Does he think LSU won’t have any talent in 2021? Does he think Burrow is the only quarterback capable of running a prolific offense in Baton Rouge?

I think Thamel is forgetting that LSU has a plethora of talent on the roster. Quarterbacks Myles Brennan and Max Johnson could each be future first-round draft picks.

Kayshon Boutte, a former five-star recruit who was rated as the No. 2 wide receiver in the country in the 2020 signing class, caught 45 passes for 731 yards and five touchdowns as a true freshman last season.

That’s a better true freshman season than Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson each had at LSU.

The Tigers have wide receivers Koy Moore, Jaray Jenkins, Jontre Kirklin, Deion Smith, Brian Thomas, and Chris Hilton to lean on as well.

I’d say that’s plenty of talent.

Thamel just wanted to slam LSU and Orgeron for reasons that are beyond me.

He’ll have to eat his words this fall. And I hope fans don’t let him forget how he questioned Orgeron’s decision to return to what worked in 2019.

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LSU, USC at SEC Media Day (7-19-21)

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Rabalais: Harkening back to 2018, familiar questions await LSU football in 2021

The Advocate 21 July, 2021 - 11:00am

LSU coach Ed Orgeron on the field before the Tigers' National L-Club Spring Game, Saturday, April 17, 2021, at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge.

LSU coach Ed Orgeron on the field before the Tigers' National L-Club Spring Game, Saturday, April 17, 2021, at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge.

If you are longing for college football to return to the look and feel of its pre-pandemic days, the LSU Tigers are the team for you. Name, image and likeness fees will be tacked on as the surcharge for such a nostalgia trip, of course.

The calendar says it’s 2021, but the run up to this season will definitely remind you of 2018.

There are two new coordinators to break in this time. Just like in 2018, though, one of them is being tasked with coming in as a Mr. Fix-It for the multitude of shortcomings on one particular side of the ball from the previous campaign.

In 2017, the disconnect was a mostly philosophical one between coach Ed Orgeron and his offensive coordinator, Matt Canada, who somehow landed on his career feet and is now offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Orgeron quickly found that Canada’s shell game of a motion offense wasn’t to his liking, and as a result Canada was a one-year experiment. He was sent packing after the 2018 Citrus Bowl, with Steve Ensminger pressed into returning to the role of play caller.

This time, it’s the defense that needs the extreme makeover. This time, it’s the players and defensive coordinator Bo Pelini who couldn’t communicate. New DC Daronte Jones was brought in from the Minnesota Vikings to get everyone on the same page defensively as compared to 2020, when often it looked like Pelini and LSU’s players were on different floors of the library.

As with 2018’s offense built around an exciting but unproven transfer quarterback named Joe Burrow, there is plenty of hope for LSU. The defensive store shelves are hardly bare. In fact, the Tigers may possess the nation’s top cornerback duo in junior Derek Stingley (who will be at SEC Media Days on Monday along with Orgeron and senior right tackle Austin Deculus) and sophomore Eli Ricks. The defensive front returns intact and has depth, but the linebacker corps — in what is likely to be a 4-2-5 scheme from the jump — must prove its worth.

While there are questions, they can be answered in reasonable fashion by Jones’ new style and scheme. The bar is so low after the debacle of last season — LSU was last in the entire ever lovin’ FBS in stopping the pass — a defense imported from a 1980s Atari video game could probably make a better show of it.

The Tigers have a new offensive coordinator, too, in Jake Peetz. His task is not to return the Tigers to 2018 but to 2019, the year of LSU’s best-ever offensive firepower under Ensminger (now an LSU offensive analyst) and Peetz’s former boss with the Carolina Panthers, former LSU assistant coach Joe Brady.

One of the questions Orgeron is sure to face Monday in Hoover, Alabama — and one the betting line says he will not have an answer for — is whether fifth-year senior Myles Brennan or second-year sophomore Max Johnson will take LSU’s first offensive snap Sept. 4 at UCLA. It’s not necessarily a question with a wrong answer, just one with lots of room for debate that has stretched on since the end of the 2020 season based on Brennan’s now healed abdominal injury and Johnson’s sprightly turn as the starter against Florida and Ole Miss.

There are other pressing offensive issues to address as well. LSU needs receivers besides Kayshon Boutte to step into significantly more productive roles. Cameron Wire has to be a permanent and not merely a stopgap replacement for the now-Kentucky Wildcat Dare Rosenthal at left tackle. And very much like 2018, when Nick Brossette emerged as a surprising 1,000-yard rusher, picking a dominant running back out of the crowd wouldn’t hurt the Tigers’ cause, either.

No one is expecting a Burrow-like barrage of 60 passing touchdowns, but something resembling the offense the Tigers evolved into at the end of the 2018 season should be an attainable goal. In its last three games that season, including LSU’s Fiesta Bowl victory over UCF and excluding the seven overtime periods against Texas A&M, the Tigers averaged 37.6 points per game in regulation.

If Peetz can get LSU to do that, while Jones shepherds a defense that gives up, say, a mere 21 points per game, the Tigers should comfortably find themselves with nine or 10 wins and in the hunt for a New Year’s Six bowl invitation. Really answer all the questions with winning cards, and LSU could be where it was going into 2019, needing to split the Texas and Alabama games while running the rest of the table to get into the hunt for a College Football Playoff berth. This time, hold serve at home and only lose one on the road to Bama or Ole Miss and LSU could definitely be in the mix.

Chastened by last year’s 5-5 record, I doubt if anyone is anticipating miracles out of the Tigers this time around. Still, sneaky good amounts of hope and cold, sobering questions await LSU in 2021. In equal measure.

Email Scott Rabalais at srabalais@theadvocate.com

SEC Media Days kicks off Monday with a schedule packed full of LSU speakers.

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SEC notebook: Former LSU TE Arik Gilbert back home in Georgia, makes switch to WR

The Advocate 21 July, 2021 - 11:00am

Georgia quarterback JT Daniels speaks to reporters during SEC Football Media Days on Tuesday, July 20, 2021, in Hoover, Ala.

Georgia quarterback JT Daniels speaks to reporters during SEC Football Media Days on Tuesday, July 20, 2021, in Hoover, Ala.

HOOVER, Ala. — Arik Gilbert is back at home in Georgia after a short, strange stay at LSU.

Naturally the Bulldogs, who were no doubt dismayed to see the 2019 Gatorade national player of the year slip out of his home state to Baton Rouge, are delighted to have finally landed him.

“You're always looking to be dynamic,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said Tuesday at SEC Football Media Days. “You look at teams that have won the national championship recently and they're most dynamic on offense and at the skill positions.”

Gilbert is switching skill positions. The 6-foot-5, 248-pound native of Marietta, Georgia, caught 35 passes for 368 yards and two touchdowns in eight games as a tight end at LSU. At Georgia, Gilbert is listed as a wide receiver.

“I've been asked more about Arik more than anything else today and I keep saying the same thing,” said Georgia quarterback JT Daniels, himself a transfer from Southern California. “There are players who have great talent and like football, and then there's guys like Arik who have great talent and love football.

“He spends time with coaches, like hours with coaches, to learn a brand-new system, learn the signals, learn how specifically we run routes and how specifically, as receivers and tight ends, they read defenses. He does a lot of the things that really impress you regardless of his talent level. He’s a special player.”

Gilbert left LSU after Game 8 last season against Alabama, briefly committed to Florida and met with the LSU team during spring football before transferring to Georgia in May.

LSU cornerbacks Derek Stingley Jr. and Elias Ricks were both named to the Bednarik Award watch list on Monday, and wide receiver Kayshon Boutte was named to the Maxwell Award watch list.

The 6-foot, 185-pound Boutte was named to the Freshman All-SEC team last season, when he set the league record for yards receiving in a game against Ole Miss with 14 catches for 308 yards and three touchdowns.

Boutte is expected to be LSU's top target at receiver this season, and he'd join former quarterback Joe Burrow as the second player in LSU history to win the Maxwell Award, given annually to college football's player of the year.

The Bednarik Award, given to college football's defensive player of the year, was last won by former LSU defensive backs Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu in back-to-back years in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

Stingley and Ricks were also both named to the Walter Camp Preseason All-America Team.

Stingley, a Dunham School graduate, has been a first-team All-America selection after both his freshman and sophomore seasons in Baton Rouge, and, if he is selected again after the 2021 season, he'll join former defensive back Tommy Casanova as LSU's only three-time first-team All-Americans in school history.

Stingley enters his junior season with the expectation that he will emerge as one of the top prospects for the upcoming NFL draft.

As a freshman, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Stingley led the Southeastern Conference and ranked No. 5 nationally with six interceptions. He missed three games in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season due to sickness and injury, and he's expected to regain productiveness under new defensive coordinator Daronte Jones.

Ricks was named third-team All-America during his freshman season. He ranked second in the SEC with four interceptions in 2020 and returned two for touchdowns.

Dare Rosenthal was penciled in as LSU’s starting left tackle before he left the program this summer. Now that he has transferred to Kentucky, he isn’t being promised a starting spot, but his coach and fellow offensive linemen are glad he’s there competing for one.

“Adding Dare greatly helps our football team,” UK coach Mark Stoops said. “He has SEC experience. He played at one of the premier programs in our league, very talented, and I’m excited to have him. We’ve had good offensive linemen. We’re going to continue to build on that, and he’s been a great addition.”

Offensive tackle Darian Kinnard said he hasn’t met Rosenthal yet but knows there someone coming “for your spot every year.”

“I feel like you’ve got to get used to it now or later,” Kinnard said. “But at the end of the day, it’s good competition. He’s a teammate. It’s healthy.”

There are few significant college football rules changes for 2021. As has frequently been the case in recent years, the emphasis will continue to be on the length of games and the impact of instant replay on them.

John McDaid, the SEC coordinator of football officials, said there were an average of 2.5 replay stoppages in 2020 in the FBS, up from 2.2 per game in 2019. The SEC average last season was 2.9 per game.

Of those, 26% were replays to consider catch/no catch rulings.

“There’s schools of thought that are thinking maybe we go to more of a hybrid where we put that (call) in the coach’s hands and let them decide if it’s impactful and we need to stop the game,” McDaid said.

Despite a concern about stoppages, McDaid said new replay technology will allow the use of up to 12 camera angles on a play instead of four.

• Extending the coaching boxes to the 20-yard lines. It was temporarily the 15 to 15 in 2020, 25 to 25 in 2019 and previously.

• Overtime scoring rules are now one- or two-point conversions in the first extra period, a two-point try after touchdown in the second, and two-point tries from the 3-yard line only after that.

• No undergarments such as T-shirts may extend below the waistline at the torso.

• The game clock will be adjusted on replay reversals with under two minutes left in the first half and five minutes left in the game.

Email Brooks Kubena at bkubena@theadvocate.com.

HOOVER, Ala. — The coronavirus pandemic delayed Lane Kiffin's first appearance at Southeastern Conference Media Days as Ole Miss' head coach, …

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Vaccination rates, NIL big bucks and transfers: Three and out from Day 2 of SEC Media Days

The Advocate 21 July, 2021 - 11:00am

Kentucky's Josh Paschal speaks to reporters during SEC Football Media Days, Tuesday, July 20, 2021, in Hoover, Ala.

Kentucky's Josh Paschal speaks to reporters during SEC Football Media Days, Tuesday, July 20, 2021, in Hoover, Ala.

The Tigers had their day at Media Days on Monday, but LSU continued to make news as everyone tries to figure out which six SEC teams are more than 80% vaccinated. Sources say LSU is one of those, with a rate in the 90s. That’s huge for the Tigers’ hopes to get through the season without having any games impacted.

The NIL income for some college athletes is already mind-boggling. That certainly was the case for Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin when he was told Nick Saban said Alabama quarterback Bryce Young has already signed nearly $1 million in deals — before starting a game. “He doesn’t need to play next year against us,” Kiffin said. “I mean, that’s mind blowing.” Sure is.

LSU fans got a sharp reminder of the new wide-open transfer portal Tuesday with talk about former LSU TE Arik Gilbert at Georgia and former LSU LT Dare Rosenthal at Kentucky. It may appear as though the Tigers are always losing key players, but Georgia safety Major Burns is transferring to LSU along with Clemson linebacker Mike Jones.

Email Scott Rabalais at srabalais@theadvocate.com

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