LSU Tigers: LSU Tigers

CB Tony Brown suffers shoulder injury

December, 31, 2013
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Cornerback Tony Brown, No. 11 in the ESPN 300 and the No. 2 prospect in Texas, suffered an injury to his left shoulder on Tuesday and likely will not play in the Under Armour All-America Game.

Brown, of Beaumont Ozen High School, was hurt while reaching to defend a pass in a non-contact coverage drill. He received medical attention at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and was transported from the practice facility by cart, his head buried in his hands and his arm in a sling.

The 6-foot, 196-pound Brown, rated as the No. 4 cornerback nationally, is scheduled to announce his college decision during the 4 p.m. telecast of the Under Armour Game Thursday on ESPN.

Brown made official recruiting visits to Ohio State, Alabama, Texas, USC and LSU.

He graduated from high school early in order to enroll in January at his college of choice. Brown is an elite sprinter and plans to compete in football and track and field in college.
1. On the ESPNU College Football podcast on Tuesday, I asked Tom Luginbill, our Senior National Recruiting Analyst, to name the head coaches who are the best in the living room, the guys who do the best job of convincing mama to give them her baby. Luginbill went with Dabo Swinney of Clemson, Les Miles of LSU and, in somewhat of a surprise, Jim Mora of UCLA. I say surprise because Swinney and Miles have many years in college football. Mora, an NFL longtimer, has not quite two years.

2. Duke coach David Cutcliffe knows something about teaching quarterbacks. And the essence of teaching is to break down the information into easily understood portions. In discussing his current quarterbacks, Anthony Boone and Brandon Connette, at his press conference this week, Cutcliffe said, “Every play we run at quarterback, the most important thing about the play is that we have possession of the ball when the play ends. Period. You can’t give that lip service.” Everyone understands that.

3. As Saturday night games go, seeing undefeated No. 15 Northern Illinois and its outstanding quarterback, Jordan Lynch, play once-beaten Ball State would be a treat. As a Wednesday night game, it doesn’t get any better. The winner will be the first 10-game winner in the FBS. A victory also will boost the Huskies in their attempt to overtake No. 14 Fresno State in the race for a BCS bid. The Cardinals have gotten to 9-1 by outscoring people. It’s hard to imagine they can do that on the road against an offense led by Lynch.

3-point stance: Fresno State lurking

November, 4, 2013
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1. It’s not smart to delve deeply into BCS what-ifs. The season has five remaining weeks -- a full third of the schedule. Besides, the top of the BCS standings will sort itself out. It has every year since the FBS went to a 12-game schedule. But the race at the other end of the BCS is worth keeping an eye on. Fresno State has reached No. 16, the minimum threshold a BCS buster needs to secure a bid as long as it’s ahead of an AQ champion. Louisville and UCF of the American are No. 20 and No. 21, respectively.

2. No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Oregon turn their heads toward their biggest conference nemeses. Nick Saban is only 4-3 against No. 13 LSU while since taking over as coach of Alabama. He’s 72-10 against everyone else. No. 5 Stanford is the only team to beat Chip Kelly’s Ducks twice in his four seasons. Last season’s 17-14 overtime loss cost Oregon a berth in the BCS Championship Game. Suffice to say it left a mark. Expect coach Mark Helfrich to have something in his game plan this week. The Ducks kept it pretty vanilla last year, and it cost them.

3. When Michigan State defeated Michigan four consecutive times from 2008-11, it didn’t quite feel as if the Spartans owned the rivalry. This wasn’t the real Michigan -- coach Rich Rodriguez didn’t fit the Wolverine mold. Michigan State took advantage of Michigan, but so did a lot of teams. That’s not the case any longer. Michigan has its own (Brady Hoke) running the program. He is in Year Three. Yet Michigan State just beat Michigan 29-6, the Spartans’ biggest margin in their 5-1 run against the Wolverines. The rivalry belongs to Sparty as securely as it did in the mid-1960s run of Duffy Daugherty.

ESPN Junior 300 DT Mack names top 4 

October, 6, 2013
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ESPN Junior 300 defensive tackle Daylon Mack (Gladewater, Texas/Gladewater) has a new top four.

LSU savors open to SEC season

September, 18, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. – Odell Beckham Jr. leapt high in the end zone during the first quarter Saturday at Tiger Stadium. He looked set to snag a touchdown reception from Zach Mettenberger, before Kent State defender Darius Polk interfered on the play, drawing a flag as he popped a Beckham finger loose from its socket.

It required two attempts for a trainer on the LSU sideline to set the finger back in place.

The scenario, Beckham said, turned his stomach a bit.

[+] EnlargeLes Miles
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesLes Miles and LSU are out for a third-straight win over Auburn.
But on the next LSU possession, there he was, lined up wide. He caught a 12-yard pass on the second play.

“I’m not going to leave the field,” he said.

With such enthusiasm over a game against Kent State, imagine Beckham’s energy level this week as the sixth-ranked Tigers prepare to open SEC play against Auburn on Saturday (7:45 p.m. ET, ESPN).

“That’s why I came here, to play in the SEC,” said Beckham, who leads the nation through three games in all-purpose yardage. “Honestly, I can’t wait. I feel like a kid in a candy shop -- just excited about Auburn and the teams we’re going to face. I’m looking forward to the competition.”

Beckham’s feelings appear representative of the Tigers after comfortable wins over TCU, UAB and the Golden Flashes. LSU hasn’t trailed in 180 minutes despite a defense forced to replace eight starters from a year ago and youth across the board.

The Tigers have played 14 true freshman, third-most nationally behind Texas A&M and UCLA.

Still, LSU looks ready for the SEC.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence right now,” junior receiver Jarvis Landry, second nationally with five touchdowns on his 17 receptions. “We believe in the system. We’re going to continue to buy into the system.”

Beckham and Landry have teamed with Mettenberger to form a lethal passing combination that ranks as the Tigers’ most notable improvement over last year.

The senior Mettenberger ranks eighth in Total QBR. He’s thrown nine touchdowns, an LSU record through three games, without an interception and reached the end zone on 13 percent of passes, second nationally behind Florida State phenom Jameis Winston.

All this after Mettenberger ranked 96th a year ago in Total QBR, averaging 7.4 yards per pass attempt. This year, it’s 11.6 under new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.

“I think we’re in a good spot right now,” Mettenberger said. “We’ve done so many good things, but we’ve yet to play our best football.”

With the re-emergence of running back Jeremy Hill, the Tigers are stacked in the backfield, too. Each of their top running backs -- Kill, Alfred Blue, Kenny Hilliard and Terrence Magee -- have led the Tigers in rushing in at least one career game.

“We have a really good problem,” Mettenberger said. “Who to get the ball to?”

Hill rushed for 117 yards and two scores last week in his second game back from suspension. He’s far from a finished product, coach Les Miles said.

Defensively, the Tigers were supposed to struggle. After all, this team lost 10 underclassmen to the NFL after last season, including five defensive starters with new starters needed at every position on the line.

But as LSU enters SEC play, that front four might rank as the strength of the defense.

“I like it, how we’re playing,” defensive tackle Ego Ferguson said. “But I feel like we can still improve every play.”

They’ve allowed 267 yards per game, No. 10 nationally. It’s 62 yards – and nearly a yard per play – down from a year ago through three games. Impressive, though.

“I can’t wait for SEC play,” Ferguson said.

After the win over Kent State, a reporter asked Miles what he likes about waiting until this fourth week to jump into league play as many SEC teams have already opened their conference schedules.

“Did I say I like that?” Miles said.

The coach said he likes his team but that he needs a measuring stick to accurately gauge its progress.

He’s about to get it. The SEC is here.

What we learned: Week 3

September, 15, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU won its FBS-record 44th consecutive regular-season, nonconference game, 45-13 over Kent State on Saturday. Here's what we learned:

The Tigers come out ready to play: For any of the five Southeastern Conference opponents lined to play LSU before it takes a break from league play at the end of October, a word of warning -- don’t start slowly. The Tigers are fast from the gates. They led 21-0 on Saturday after 15 minutes for the second consecutive week. The Tigers have outscored three opponents 48-3 in the first quarter this season. On Saturday, running back Jeremy Hill took the fourth play from scrimmage for a 58-yard scoring burst through the heart of the Kent State defense. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger connected with Jarvis Landry for a 21-yard score on third and 20 to cap LSU’s second drive. Its third possession covered just 37 yards in four plays after Ego Ferguson’s sack of Kent State QB Colin Reardon to the 1-yard line created fantastic field position. Yes, the Tigers did it with defense, too, allowing 34 yards in the opening quarter. In the first half, LSU accumulated 359 yards to remove all suspense.

The backfield features options aplenty: Even with the sophomore Hill back for another game from his suspension to open the season, the Tigers look determined to play a committee of running backs. Hill started fast and rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns, but junior Terrence Magee played early and gained 108 yards on nine carries. Alfred Blue got 10 carries, and the Tigers saved four attempts for Kenny Hilliard. According to coach Les Miles, Hill hasn’t reached the top of his game. “Snaps are a great teacher,” Miles said. “He just hasn’t had many.” If the four-headed monster works, why not stick with it? LSU produced 307 rushing yards against the Golden Flashes without so much as tiring one of its backs. Sounds like a great recipe for success in the SEC. Realistically, the Tigers figure to pare it down some. Hill, with some sharpening over the next few weeks, should emerge as the featured guy, but Magee, Hillard and the more compact Blue form a nice complementary trio.

That defense is maturing quickly: Hard to question those who doubted the ability of LSU’s defense to dominate this season after five of its starters -- in addition to cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, who did not play a year ago -- landed in the top three rounds of the NFL draft in April. That’s a record number, by the way, for one defensive unit. And while they’re not dominant yet, the signs are there, especially up front, where ends Jermauria Rasco and Jordan Allen were supposed to anchor the line. They’re good, but tackles Ferguson and Anthony Johnson might be better. Ferguson and Johnson controlled the trenches on Saturday. Then there’s the second level, where linebacker Kwon Alexander continues to blossom and show rare athleticism. In the secondary, freshman cornerback Tre'Davious White stood out early in his first career start. Another first-time starter, safety Micah Eugene, and cornerback Jalen Collins were active with 11 tackles between them.


ARLINGTON, Texas -- As he walked off the postgame podium, Les Miles spotted Missy Cameron at the back of the room.

“Way to go Mrs. Cameron,” Miles hollered across the room to the wife of his offensive coordinator before flashing the thumbs up.

Forgive Miles his excitement. The LSU coach has won many different ways during his tenure in Baton Rouge. Crazy trick plays. Unconventional clock management. Powerful running games. And, above all, tough defense.

But Miles is not accustomed to winning the way his Tigers did in its opener at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas -- through the air on the arm of a cool, collected quarterback, which is precisely how LSU defeated TCU 37-27 Saturday night.

[+] EnlargeZach Mettenberger
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesLSU had plenty to celebrate in beating TCU.
Miles was pumped afterward, but hardly surprised. After all, this is what he envisioned when he brought in his longtime buddy Cam Cameron to call plays and tutor Zach Mettenberger, who unleashed perhaps his finest performance as the Tigers’ quarterback.

“Exactly right,” Miles said.

“And I think that Zach will have nights like that pretty routinely from this point forward.”

If so, LSU could be one compelling team to watch this season. And, just maybe, a dark horse contender in the SEC and beyond.

“Tonight we wanted to come out and send a message that LSU is still here,” said Alfred Blue, who along with Terrence Magee showed that the Tigers have running backs other than suspended teammate Jeremy Hill. “And that we’re a dominant football team.”

Dominating Big 12 defenses has hardly been any way for an offense to send a message to anyone. But TCU coach Gary Patterson has been fielding top-notch defenses for more than a decade, and the Frogs appeared formidable again on that side of the ball, with or without All-American defensive end Devonte Fields, who like Hill sat out the game with a suspension.

Patterson had his defense selling out to stop LSU’s run, which in the past would force Miles to turn the game into a slugfest in the trenches.

Miles didn’t have to resort to that Saturday.

With Cameron pulling the strings and Mettenberger putting pass after pass into the chests of receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., TCU couldn’t get its defense off the field.

“TCU does a great job stopping the run because they commit so many people to the run,” Miles said. “They’ll walk safeties down and place people indiscriminately and back out and again -- it’s a very good concept.

“So the plan was to see if they can cover the pass, and certainly we did move the ball through the air very well.”

Mettenberger looked at ease in Cameron’s scheme, completing 16 of 32 passes for 251 yards. With TCU crowding the box, the Tigers took shots downfield early and often, contributing to the low completion percentage. Mettenberger completed seven passes of 14 yards or longer, including a 44-yard strike to Beckham that set up the Tigers’ first touchdown.

“Cam opening up this system,” Beckham said. “I’m just excited to see it.”

When LSU needed a completion, Mettenberger stood in the pocket and delivered there, too. As a result, the Tigers converted 13-of-19 third-down attempts to effectively wear out the Horned Frogs’ defense in the second half.

“Those were the major differences,” Miles said. “We’re throwing the ball for bigger plays. We’re being able to convert on third downs. I think that’s one of the real successes of the offense at this point.”

The biggest success of Cameron’s offense seemed to manifest itself in Mettenberger’s game. In 2012, Mettenberger had the second-worst quarterback rating in the red zone in the country, according to ESPN Stats & Info. The Tigers continued to struggle in the red zone early Saturday, settling for three short field goals when they could have jumped to a big lead. But when the game was on the line, Mettenberger had the chops and the precision to put it away. Facing third-and-5 with just over six minutes left, Mettenberger tossed a first-down strike to Jarvis Landry, who shed his defender and dashed 20 yards for the game-clinching touchdown.

“Coach Cameron has done a great job with the offense,” Mettenberger said, “and he has a game plan to make sure that we get our playmakers the ball.”

Mettenberger got the ball to Beckham and Landry, and he avoiding committing turnovers. He also took only two sacks, and calmly threw the ball away when he needed to.

“I feel like it’s a weight off his shoulders,” Beckham said. “He’s more like himself right now and he’s comfortable. He knows he’s going to make some amazing plays.”

In Johnny Manziel, AJ McCarron and Aaron Murray, the SEC is chock-full of quarterbacks who can make such plays. But in Cameron’s system, the Tigers found they just might have one, too.

“Zach’s come a long way,” Blue said. “He’s developing into a great quarterback, a great leader on this offense.

“It’s why I think we’re going to have a great year.”
LSU coach Les Miles doesn't have a problem playing eight SEC opponents every season.

Miles also realizes the Tigers could play nine SEC games in the very near future.

Miles just doesn't think it's fair that LSU has to play Florida every season, while other teams in the SEC West don't.

[+] EnlargeLes Miles
Derick E. Hingle/US PresswireUnder the current SEC scheduling format, Les Miles and LSU play Florida every season.
As SEC presidents, athletics directors and coaches convene this week for the league's annual spring meetings in Destin, Fla., long-term scheduling has become the hot-button issue.

The league is expected to vote whether to change its current 6-1-1 format, in which teams play each opponent from their respective division, along with one rotating foe and one permanent opponent from the opposite division. SEC officials could vote this week to add a ninth conference game or at least eliminate permanent crossover opponents.

The SEC adopted its current scheduling format to ensure that longstanding rivalries like Alabama-Tennessee and Georgia-Auburn would survive expansion.

By drawing the Gators as a permanent crossover opponent, Miles believes the Tigers drew the short end of the stick.

Miles won't complain about the scheduling format publicly, but he knows LSU is at a disadvantage.

And Miles is probably right.

"When they give us our schedule, I'm looking forward to having a great competition," Miles said.

Since 2000, LSU has played Florida and Georgia -- two of the SEC East's best programs -- a total of 17 times. Auburn is the only SEC West team which has faced those teams more often, playing them 19 times. Arkansas, Mississippi State and Ole Miss have faced them a total of 10 times each, while Alabama has played them only eight times.

While it's not fair that LSU has faced the Bulldogs and Gators nearly twice as often as Alabama has played them since 2000, Miles' argument might fall on deaf ears. Auburn and Georgia aren't going to surrender the longtime series -- the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry has been played 116 times since 1892. Likewise, Alabama and Tennessee have played 95 times since 1901, a game so revered it's named for its traditional place on the calendar, the Third Saturday in October.

And Ole Miss would probably rather play Vanderbilt every season instead of Florida, Georgia or South Carolina, and Mississippi State isn't going pass up a chance to play Kentucky every year.

"There's never going to be a fair way," said Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, whose Aggies drew Missouri as a permanent crossover opponent. "If you look back seven or eight years ago, you would have said the SEC East was the strongest division. You can't say what's fair, because things change in this league. You can't look at tradition. Ten years ago, you might have wanted to play South Carolina. Now you don't want anything to do with them. You don't know what Tennessee is going to do with a new coach. I know Butch Jones is going to do a great job."

Florida-LSU has become one of the league's most anticipated games every season. They've been two of the league's most dominant teams over the past decade. They've combined to appear in seven SEC championship games since 2003, and they've combined to play in nine BCS bowl games, including five BCS national championship games. In their past 10 meetings, LSU and Florida were both ranked in the top 25 of the coaches' poll nine times. Conversely, Alabama and Tennessee were both ranked only once in their past 10 meetings.

The loser of the Florida-LSU regular-season game has paid dearly over the past 10 seasons. LSU's 23-10 loss at Florida in 2006 knocked the Tigers out of the SEC championship game (the Gators defeated Arkansas 38-28 and then blasted Ohio State 41-14 to win the BCS title). Last year, LSU's 14-6 loss at Florida probably cost it a spot in the AT&T Cotton Bowl, if not another trip to a BCS bowl game.

Florida's losses to LSU in 2002, '05 and '07 kept them out of the SEC championship game and potentially BCS bowl games.
Get ESPN 150 safety Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) in any competitive environment and you’ll begin to understand very quickly why he’s so coveted.

Take for example the Dallas Nike Football Training Camp in Allen, Texas, on April 7 when he set the tone in 1-on-1 drills by shoving a wide receiver three yards behind the line of scrimmage at the snap of the ball.

Adams, the No. 23 player overall and No. 3 safety, isn’t naming any favorites. But we caught up with him to get a sense for where he stands with a few of the programs generally thought to be in the mix.


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Gary Laney chat wrap

April, 2, 2013
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GeauxTigerNation's Gary Laney stopped by to discuss all things LSU, from spring practice to recruiting.

If you missed it, click here for a full transcript.

DBs from SEC blanket combine

February, 22, 2013
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Several of RecruitingNation's SEC sites took a look this week at the players headed to the NFL combine, which begins today in Indianapolis, and other predraft camps. Click here to read the entire predraft series. Today: Defensive backs and special teams.

LSU Tigers


The obvious acronym for Louisiana State University is "LSU." But to many, the Baton Rouge school gets the title "DBU" for its mass production of NFL defensive backs, from cornerbacks like Patrick Peterson and Morris Claiborne to safeties like LaRon Landry. This draft will do nothing to harm that reputation. Three LSU defensive backs -- including the booted-from-the-team Tyrann Mathieu -- were invited to the NFL combine this week, a year after three (Claiborne, Ron Brooks and Brandon Taylor) were taken in the draft.

(Read full post)

No. 1 sophomore Stone talks offer list 

January, 11, 2013
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MILWAUKEE -- Sophomore center Diamond Stone (Milwaukee/Dominican), the No. 1-ranked prospect in the ESPN 25, and his father, Bob, sat down Thursday evening to discuss how Stone's game is progressing and where they are in the recruiting process.

Not surprisingly for the top player nationally in his class, Stone has an elite offer list a mile long but has a plan and is executing it to perfection.

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2014 WR Tony Upchurch a playmaker 

December, 5, 2012
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HOUSTON -- Pearland (Texas) Dawson receiver Tony Upchurch enjoyed a productive 2012 season. And he has some top programs, such as LSU, Texas A&M and Texas keeping a close eye on him.

[+] EnlargeTony Upchurch
Sam Khan Jr./ESPN.comTony Upchurch hasn't played much football, but some top schools like him.
Playing myriad roles for Dawson, the No. 1 Class 4A team in the state that saw its season cut short early with a 22-19 loss to Nederland (Texas) High School in the third round of the Texas state playoffs, Upchurch was a true weapon as a junior for the Eagles.

In addition to the receiver spot, where he recorded 1,006 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns on 46 receptions, Upchurch lined up in the backfield as a running back and returned kickoffs for Dawson.

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Ricky Seals-Jones sets Texas A&M official 

December, 3, 2012
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ESPN 150 athlete Ricky Seals-Jones took the months of October and November to take unofficial visits to LSU and Texas A&M, but last week, the schools came to him as the in-home visit period began.

First was LSU special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey on Nov. 26, then Texas A&M recruiting coordinator and running backs coach Clarence McKinney followed three days later in making the trip to Sealy, Texas.

[+] EnlargeRicky Seals-Jones
Max Olson/ESPN.comTop athlete Ricky Seals-Jones will take official visits to Texas A&M and LSU before deciding.
Both visits went well, according to Seals-Jones, and were similar.

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TAMU, LSU visit ESPN 150 Seals-Jones 

November, 29, 2012
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The two-way battle between LSU and Texas A&M for ESPN 150 athlete Ricky Seals-Jones continues.

The Sealy (Texas) High School prospect, who is ranked No. 1 in the nation among athletes, hosted LSU special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey for an in-home visit on Monday, Seals-Jones' father Chester Jones confirmed.

McGaughey has been recruiting Seals-Jones for the Tigers. His visit came just two days after Seals-Jones took an unofficial visit to College Station, Texas, to see Missouri take on Texas A&M at Kyle Field.

According to Jones, Texas A&M recruiting coordinator and running backs coach Clarence McKinney is in Sealy today to meet with Seals-Jones, as well. McKinney will have an in-home visit with Seals-Jones tonight. McKinney has been recruiting Seals-Jones for the Aggies.

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