"We'll probably build a freshman campus next," said football coach Benny Saia, who already is lamenting a land-locked campus where the band soon might have to share practice space with the football team if additional buildings spring up. "What will probably happen is they'll build a new school out in (nearby) Galvez."
Dutchtown High is indeed the classic example of American suburban growth. Just one freeway exit on Interstate 10 from Baton Rouge, it sits in a hot growth area of unincorporated bedroom towns filled with new neighborhood developments mixed with homesteads that maintain their rural feel from before the western part of Ascension Parish blew up in the 1990s. A campus built to accommodate 1,500 students is bordering on 2,000 and growing.
"Everybody wants their kids in Dutchtown now," said Saia, a long-time Baton Rouge-area coach.
Including, it would appear, football players.
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It's hard to get an LSU ticket, home or away. Not only does Tiger Nation support the Tigers at home, Tigers fans gobble up their allotments for most road games.
Given that, what will be the toughest and most popular tickets for LSU fans in 2013 and why? Let's take a look.
1. Alabama (Nov. 9 at Tuscaloosa): LSU-Alabama is the new Ohio State-Michigan or Notre Dame-USC.
We know the game will have championship implications most years. In 2011, it was a preview of the national championship game. In 2012, Alabama's late rally in Tiger Stadium was the difference between the Tide going to the SEC championship game and national title game, instead of LSU.
While the Tigers are likely to be out of the preseason top 10 this year, LSU-Bama games have taken on too much meaning for this year's game to see a dramatic drop in interest.
2. Texas A&M (Nov. 23 at Tiger Stadium): This will be the Aggies' first trip to LSU for an SEC game and it will be LSU fans' chance to see a reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel, in action in their stadium.
This will be the third time this has happened at LSU since 2009. Tim Tebow, two years removed from his Heisman, came to Baton Rouge in 2009 (Florida won 13-3) and Mark Ingram came in 2010 the year after he won his Heisman (LSU won, 24-21).
3. TCU (Aug. 31 at Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas): It's not only a season opener for an LSU with a lot of question marks, it's also an opener against a big-name opponent on a national stage.
Will John Chavis be able to rebuild the defense? Is Cam Cameron's influence on the offense something that's profound?
TCU is a good enough opening opponent that we'll get those questions addressed rather quickly, adding intrigue to the opening wekend.
4. Florida (Oct. 12 at Tiger Stadium): Last year's SEC Sugar Bowl representative is one of the two teams, along with Alabama, that defeated LSU last year.
This game might have special meaning for the offense. In the 14-6 loss at the Swamp in 2012, the offense was at its most anemic, managing just eight first downs (three via penalty) while going 1-for-13 on third down. It was this kind of performance that led to the hiring of Cameron in the offseason.
The rematch will tell us a lot about whether the hiring has made a difference.
5. Georgia (Sept. 28 at Athens, Ga.): TCU will take LSU away from Tiger Stadium to start the season and while it's a neutral site game, Cowboy Stadium might favor the team from nearby Fort Worth.
That said, the first real road game for the Tigers will be Between the Hedges in Athens, where the Bulldogs (and not Florida) will be defending their SEC East title.
The interesting story angle of that day? It will be the return of former Georgia quarterback Zach Mettenberger, now an LSU Tiger star, to Athens.
RIVER RIDGE, La. -- Triple victories at state track and field meets are unusual, but to ESPN 150 wide receiver Malachi Dupre, his sweep of three jumping events -- long jump, triple jump and high jump -- at last week's Louisiana state Class 2A track meet was no shock.
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The Louisiana state high school track and field meet at LSU's Bernie Moore Stadium wasn't kind to many of the state's top football players, who struggled with either injuries or "off" weekends.
The big exception was Malachi Dupre, who swept the Class 2A jump events -- the long jump, triple jump and high jump -- and was named outstanding field performer. He was joined by several players off the Patriots football team who dominated the 2A meet.
For others, it was a painful weekend. The nation's top Class of 2014 football prospect, Leonard Fournette, had to withdraw from several events after pulling up injured in the Class 4A 4x200 relay. Jeryl Brazil won the 3A 100, but pulled up injured in the 200.
Here are the Louisiana football prospects who placed in the Louisiana state meet:
Long jump: Donald Gage (Houston signee), Zachary, 24-1 3/4 (5A champion); Speedy Noil, Karr, 23-6 (third in 4A); Malachi Dupre, River Ridge John Curtis, 23-5 3/4 (2A champion); D'Vante Dotson, Baton Rouge University, 22-6 1/4 (Second in 2A); Jazz Ferguson, Bains West Feliciana, 21-81/2 (fifth in 3A)
Triple jump: Dupre, 44-2 1/4 (2A champion)
High jump: Dupre, 6-6 (2A champion)
Shot put: Anthony Taylor (Tulane signee), River Ridge John Curtis, 60-4 (2A champion); David Elias (UL-Monroe signee), Geismar Dutchtown, 56-10 1/4 (5A champion); Eric Thomas (Tulane signee), River Ridge John Curtis, 56-0 (third in 2A); Hakim Gray, 54-6 (Louisiana Tech signee), North DeSoto, 54-6 (3A champion); Darian Claiborne (Texas A&M signee), Port Allen, 52-11 1/4 (third in 3A); RaeJuan Marbley, Destrehan, 50-8 1/4 (fifth in 5A)
Discus: Anthony Taylor (Tulane signee), River Ridge John Curtis, 16-1 (2A champion); Duke Riley (LSU signee), River Ridge John Curtis, 150-8 (Second in 2A)
Javelin: Darian Claiborne (Texas A&M signee), Port Allen, 180-0 (second in 3A)
100: Sherman Badie (Tulane signee), River Ridge John Curtis, 10.59 (second in 2A); Richard Allen (Tulane signee), River Ridge John Curtis, 10.63 (third in 2A); Jeryl Brazil (LSU signee), Loranger, 10.64 (3A champion); Rashid Bonnette, Loreauville, 10.92 (fourth in 2A)
200: Richard Allen (Tulane signee), River Ridge John Curtis, 21.76 (second in 2A); Terrence Alexander, River Ridge John Curtis, 21.92 (third in 2A); D'Vante Dotson, Baton Rouge University, 22.56 (fifth in 2A); Eugene Brazley (Ole Miss signee), New Orleans Carver, 22.64 (sixth in 2A)
110 high hurdles: Duke Riley (LSU signee), River Ridge John Curtis, 14.70 (second in 2A)
2012 record: 10-3
2012 conference record: 6-2
Returning starters: Offense: 9; defense: 3; special teams: 1
Top returners: QB Zach Mettenberger, RB Jeremy Hill, RB Alfred Blue, OL La'el Collins, WR Jarvis Landry, WR Odell Beckham, LB Lamin Barrow, SS Craig Loston, CB Jalen Mills
Key losses: DE Barkevious Mingo, DE Sam Montgomery, DT Bennie Logan, LB Kevin Minter, FS Eric Reid, CB Tharold Simon, OT Josh Dworaczyk, C P.J. Lonergan, K Drew Alleman, P Brad Wing
2012 statistical leaders (*returners)
Rushing: Jeremy Hill* (755 yards, 12 touchdowns)
Passing: Zach Mettenberger* (2,609 yards, 12 touchdowns)
Receiving: Odell Beckham* (43 receptions, 713 yards), Jarvis Landry* (56 receptions, 573 yards)
Tackles: Kevin Minter (130)
Sacks: Sam Montgomery (8)
Interceptions: Tharold Simon (4)
1. A new offense: The arrival of new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron saw the Tigers throwing the football around all spring. It's clear LSU's sometimes anemic passing offense will be asked to carry a larger load this fall, with Mettenberger returning along with his favorite deep threat (Beckham) and his go-to possession receiver (Landry).
2. Barrow's a leader: After losing Minter to the NFL draft, LSU will look to its other 100-tackle linebacker for leadership. Barrow was productive all spring while staying at the weak-side linebacker spot where he excelled in a 104-tackle junior season. He could possibly move to middle linebacker in the fall.
3. More power: Even in a more open offense, LSU should be able to run the ball. With La'el Collins moving from left guard to left tackle and Josh Williford replacing him at left guard (sliding over from right guard), the Tigers will be able to start four offensive linemen who have started at least the majority of a season somewhere on the line. With fullback J.C. Copeland and four proven running backs returning, don't look for Cam Cameron's offense to abandon the run.
1. The Hill situation: LSU's leading rusher was suspended from the team indefinitely after he was arrested for his part in a bar fight that happened while he was on probation for a previous charge. If Hill serves a long suspension or is not on the team, the Tigers will be down to three scholarship running backs. Would that force the Tigers to change their offensive identity?
2. A new front four: The Tigers lost all four starters on the defensive line, including three (plus a backup) who were picked in the NFL draft. LSU has recruited well, but a lot of unproven talent will have to perform up to expectations for the defense to be as good as it was in 2012. Defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, who played starter-like snaps as the third tackle last season, will take on a leadership role.
3. Special teams dominance?: Under Les Miles, LSU has usually outplayed opponents on special teams. But with Wing giving pro football a try and kicker Alleman finished, there are serious questions about whether LSU can be as consistently good as years past. Walk-ons will be asked to replace Alleman's consistency.
Hill's attorney, Marci Blaize, said the heckling began before a cell phone caught Hill on video during the altercation.
"There's no denying he's on the video, but the video is 15 seconds long and certainly doesn't tell you everything that happened that evening," Blaize said Thursday. "In my experience and the cases I've had, there's usually a reason why a person will strike another individual, and I can tell you that's the case here."
According to police, Hill punched the alleged victim in the side of the head before a second, unidentified suspect knocked the alleged victim unconscious. The cell phone video shows Hill exchanging "high fives" with the second suspect and others after the alleged victim was on the ground, Baton Rouge police Lt. Don Kelly said.
Hill, who led the Tigers with 755 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns in 2012, was arrested early Saturday morning and booked with misdemeanor simple battery. Coach Les Miles suspended Hill indefinitely on Monday. Hill was already on probation after he was arrested in early 2011 for an alleged sexual assault on a 14-year-old girl. Hill pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was allowed to enroll at LSU last year.
But this situation could cost Hill more than just missed games or the 2013 season, considering he was already on thin ice when he arrived in Baton Rouge.
Complicating matters for Hill is the fact that he told police that he wasn't in the fight, despite the video -- which is considered evidence -- showing Hill involved in it. Police said Hill told officers before and after he was shown the cell phone video that he was near the fight, but wasn't involved. He also said he didn't know the second suspect.
Blaize hasn't disputed that Hill is in the video, but added that she wasn't sure why Hill's comments were taken the way they were.
Regardless, this has to be an extremely frustrating situation for Miles. He isn't commenting on Hill's situation until the legal process plays out, but if Hill is found guilty of simple battery -- after being on probation -- Miles will have to seriously considering parting ways with Hill.
Until Miles has to make any sort of decision, he'll wait for all of the facts to come out, which could make for a longer spring/summer than intended for LSU's coach.
From Joseph (Pacific Northwest): It seems that the (LSU) strategy to employ a no huddle offense is designed to keep dangerous defensive personnel groups off the field, or mitigate the pass rush through exhaustion, on passing downs. As a northwesterner now, I have had to live through the incessant touting by Oregon fans of the invincibility of their vaunted high-speed offense. Needless to say, a defense with equal speed and superior size has been Oregon's undoing (OSU, Auburn, LSU, Stanford); there are several defenses like these in the SEC, and on LSU's 2013 schedule. Is trouble brewing?
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Alabama lost nine draft picks, including three first-rounders, but Nick Saban has a host of talent returning on both sides of the ball, and the Tide's schedule isn't too daunting after the first two games.
But there are teams that will test the Tide's road to a national championship trifecta in 2013. Colleague Travis Haney picked five teams from around the country that could challenge Alabama's title hopes this fall. Ohio State topped his list, while Texas A&M made it from the SEC.
No surprise there with the Aggies. Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel returns with a bundle of riches to accompany him in the Aggies' backfield.
Johnny Football might not have Luke Joeckel protecting him, but Jake Matthews provides quite the safety net with his move to left tackle, and there is still talent and experience up front. Mike Evans leads a young but talented group of pass-catchers.
The defense is a concern, with five members of last season's front seven gone, but the Aggies will still be equipped to win most shootouts.
A&M benefits from getting Alabama at home early in the season, but has to play Arkansas, Ole Miss, LSU and Missouri on the road. Even beating Alabama early doesn't guarantee the Aggies will make it to Atlanta over the Tide.
Here are four other SEC teams that could wreck Alabama's title train this fall:
The Gators will yet again be elite on defense. First-round draft picks Sharrif Floyd and Matt Elam might be gone, but Dominique Easley moves back to his more natural position at defensive tackle and could one of the best at his position this fall. Marcus Roberson and Loucheiz Purifoy could be the top cornerback duo in the SEC, while inside linebacker Antonio Morrison has the makings of being a budding star.
The offense is still a concern, especially with the lack of proven receiving talent, but quarterback Jeff Driskel has found a lot more confidence in his second year under offensive coordinator Brent Pease, and he'll have a much tougher offensive line and another loaded backfield to work with.
Sure, the defense is younger and less experienced, but people in Athens are excited about the younger guys taking over. They were very receptive to coaching and showed continued improvement this spring. Linebacker Jordan Jenkins has playmaker written all over him, while freshman Tray Matthews could be the next big thing at safety. Having Damian Swann back at cornerback is huge.
Offensively, Georgia will be able to score on just about everyone. Aaron Murray is looking to be the first SEC quarterback to throw for 3,000 yards in four seasons, and should leave with a handful of SEC/Georgia records. He has five offensive linemen returning, the best one-two running back punch (Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall) and plenty of receivers to throw to, including Malcolm Mitchell, who has moved back to offense full-time.
Yes, the Tigers lost a ton of talent on the defensive side of the ball, but Les Miles seemed pretty happy with where his defense was -- especially his defensive line -- at the end of spring. Jermauria Rasco could be a big-time player at defensive end for LSU, while linebacker Lamin Barrow has the talent to be an All-SEC performer. The return of cornerbacks Jalen Collins and Jalen Mills should continue the Tigers' trend of having an elite secondary.
The offense should be better, too. Zach Mettenberger is way more comfortable in the offense and has developed better chemistry with his receiving targets, which all return from last season. He'll have a solid offensive line in front of him and a loaded backfield. Although, it will be important to see what happens to the suspended Jeremy Hill, who could be the Tigers' top offensive weapon.
Jadeveon Clowney hasn't left, and the Gamecocks should once again be stacked along their defensive line. South Carolina does have to replace its two-deep at linebacker and has a couple of holes in its secondary, but we all know that a good defensive line can mask weaknesses behind it.
And the offense should be pretty balanced this fall. South Carolina possesses two solid quarterbacks and a talented running back stable led by rising sophomore Mike Davis. Bruce Ellington is back at receiver, and it sounds like the very talented Shaq Roland is finally starting to come around and should be a valuable receiving target this fall. This team has the personnel to make it back to Atlanta.
The Tigers are always good for offseason news and, as recent events tell us with the off-field arrests of Jeremy Hill and Tharold Simon (on his way to the NFL), the news isn't always good.
Things never get boring on the bayou. Here are five storylines to look out for prior to LSU starting August camp.
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesJeremy Hill's arrest and suspension puts LSU's offensive fortunes in flux.
The questions are many. Does Hill face a serious legal problem given his probation? If he does, will he still be available at the start of the fall semester?
If he doesn't face a serious legal issue, might he face a discipline issue from Les Miles and, if so, what might that be?
The Tigers have just four scholarship running backs, including Hill. Losing him before the first August practice could hurt LSU's power running identity.
2. The Leslie situation: What might cushion the blow of either losing Hill or seeing him serve a lengthy suspension would be improvement to the Tigers' sometimes anemic passing game.
That's where junior college transfer Quantavius Leslie comes in.
The Hinds Community College sophomore needs to finish coursework at his junior college to be eligible to join the Tigers this summer. If he makes it, the hope is he gives LSU the big, downfield threat it's looking for. LSU has plenty of experience back at receiver, but all of the top receivers are around 6-foot tall. Leslie would add something the Tigers currently lack.
The hope was that Leslie would graduate at the end of the fall of 2012 and join the team in the spring semester. That did not happen and he had to return to junior college to finish his degree requirements. Reports from his juco have been good, but Leslie still has to finish.
3. Scheduling: LSU seems to be in the minority in being unhappy with the SEC schedule format.
The Tigers are stuck having to play an annual game with Florida as its "permanent" cross-division rival while the other SEC West kingpin, Alabama, gets to play Tennessee, which has struggled in recent years.
LSU's preference would be to eliminate the permanent cross-division rivalry or, possibly, add a ninth SEC game. Neither idea seems to have much traction as the conference members, for the most part, are content with their league schedules. But LSU will try again in both fronts at the SEC spring meetings later this month.
4. Youth is ready?: We usually think of a new recruiting class beginning to compete for playing time in August.
In reality, it starts much sooner than that. Eight members of LSU's recruiting class enrolled in spring and several made pushes to be on the two-deep. The rest of the class will be on campus in June, ready to go through the offseason workout program.
By the start of August camp, we might already have an idea who is ready to push for time based on what we're hearing about their offseason work.
5. Pursuing the 2014 class: Given an unusually strong year for talent in Louisiana, LSU has a legitimate chance at a No. 1 recruiting class nationally.
The Tigers entered May with nine commitments and are on the short list for several uncommitted players in the ESPN 150. Starting with LSU's late-May "Bayou Picnic" for top prospects and continuing with a pair of summer camps in early June and mid-July, the Tigers will have a series of recruiting events that traditionally have yielded the Tigers dividends in its recruiting classes.
This year, LSU will hope to use the camp to land some big names from the state and the region in a year where Louisiana has the nation's top prospect (running back Leonard Fournette) and its top offensive lineman (tackle Cameron Robinson), among several other top recruits.
The 2014 quarterback from Bossier City, La.'s Parkway High has had coaches coming by his school all week to either watch him throw individually or to watch his team practice.
The week has worked out well for him so far. After a good workout in front of a group of teams led by Ohio State on Monday, Harris said he's been seen by Texas A&M, Tennessee, Baylor, South Florida and Louisiana Tech. Those workouts have yielded a new development in his recruiting process.
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