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GTN Roundtable (May 30)

5/31/2012

GeauxTigerNation writers David Helman and Gary Laney discuss hot topics involving LSU athletics:

1) With three commitments in the last two weeks, what else should LSU be looking at for 2013?

Gary Laney: If the last couple of weeks showed us anything, it's that you can address missed needs later. By getting commitments from a junior college wide receiver and a juco tight end, LSU was able to fill a void from past recruiting classes. LSU's also shown it can recruit nationally, bringing in a quarterback from California and a tackle from Illinois.

With that in mind, I don't look at where LSU stands in terms of position needs, so much as perception needs. After a year where it lost some top in-state players like Landon Collins last year, it's vital to me that LSU plug that leak on the fence surrounding the state by landing a Tim Williams and/or a Kendell Beckwith. That would re-establish that this is a program built on Louisiana talent.

David Helman: I said last week that LSU has been addressing a lot of offensive concerns in the early part of 2012, and that continues to hold true. If what Northeast Mississippi coach Ricky Smither told me holds true, it's exciting to think that LSU might have landed a legitimate offensive playmaker at tight end in Landon Stokes. That is obviously a bit premature -- Stokes has four catches to his name. But a prolific tight end by LSU standards averages about 300 yards per season. It's exciting to think the Tigers could have a real-deal option at tight end to take the pressure off the receivers and backs.

Meanwhile, the defensive side of things is still lacking. The plethora of linebackers signed in 2012 might give the Tigers a reprieve in that department, but the likes of Beckwith and Lake Charles prospect Melvin Jones are still out there, and this class is still lacking in defensive players in general. Defensive line is an obvious concern, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to add some defensive backs to the mix.

To go back to the offensive side of the ball, I'm curious to see how Stokes' commitment affects the Tigers' efforts to bring in DeSean Smith. We ran a feature on Smith last week. As the state's top tight end, will the Barbe High School product be concerned that the coaching staff is bringing in a challenger at his position? ESPN 150 member Standish Dobard has already committed to Miami -- could the addition of Stokes hurt LSU's chances of landing Smith?

2) How well does LSU's baseball team match up with its regional opponents?

GL: Oregon State is a real concern for LSU.

The Beavers are no stranger to post-season success, having won back-to-back national titles in 2006 and 2007. And they won't be intimidated by the name on the opponent's chest. OSU won series against Oregon, Stanford and UCLA, three teams that are hosting regionals this weekend.

The Beavers are coming off a sweep of arch-rival Oregon, so they will come to Baton Rouge feeling pretty good about themselves.

Other than that, I like LSU's draw. Neither Belmont nor UL-Monroe, the No. 3 and No. 4 seed this weekend, look like they are among the stronger teams holding their respective seeds. And Miami, the host of the other regional the winner of the Baton Rouge regional will match up with in a super regional, was the most surprising of the 16 regional hosts.

Many thought Kentucky should have been the 16th regional host instead of Miami, which went a mere 16-14 in the ACC. So LSU caught a break for its potential super regional.

With Ty Ross playing and healthy and Raph Rhymes shaking off a brief slump, LSU has a pretty good shot, but Oregon State is a daunting regional opponent.

DH: Not that history is a reliable barometer for what's going to happen this weekend, but past success has to give LSU a sense of confidence heading into Friday's regional opener against Louisiana-Monroe. During Paul Mainieri's tenure in Baton Rouge, LSU is a whopping 58-13 against in-state competition. Be it McNeese State, Tulane, UNO or Louisiana-Lafayette, the Tigers have an enormous track record of success against Louisiana schools -- and that includes a 10-2 crushing of Southern in the 2009 regional at Alex Box Stadium.

The last time LSU faced ULM was in 2010, and the Tigers racked up an absurd run total in an 18-7 win against the Warhawks.

Of course, none of that guarantees success -- LSU has fallen to local competition on its home field before, most recently a 11-5 loss to ULL in 2011. But LSU is undefeated against local schools this year, going 10-0 in the regular season.

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