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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Is McKnight just another Mc-Tailback?

A year ago at this time, LSU and USC were all over a tailback from Lafayette named Keiland Williams. Signing day came and went and Williams, who went to Northside High in Lafayette and then to the Hargrave Military Academy football factory in Virginia, was still unsigned.

With each passing day after signing day, Williams seemed to gain more yards because fans craved his signature at their school more and more. Finally, he picked LSU, and one announcer on a Baton Rouge radio station actually proclaimed that Williams may be the best signee in LSU history.

Williams did not qualify academically until the week of LSU's season opener and found himself behind other players who had been practicing. He did not start getting into the mix at tailback until late in the season. He had double-digit carries for the first time in game nine at Tennessee, gaining 53 yards on 17 carries. The best signee in LSU history finished the regular season with 329 yards on 62 carries.

Williams should go into the 2007 season as the starter, but LSU is trying to sign John Curtis star tailback Joe McKnight, who could be the next greatest player ever to sign at LSU. He was just named the national co-player of the year by the prestigious Parade magazine, which has been picking All-American prep teams for 44 years.

McKnight (5-foot-11, 195) pounds has been called the most talented tailback out of Louisiana since Carencro's Kevin Faulk signed with LSU in 1995.

Some say LSU coaches are promising McKnight 20-25 touches a game. McKnight was at LSU over the weekend. He was at USC the weekend before. Some say the coaches there said he was the next Reggie Bush.

Alabama coach Nick Saban has known McKnight since McKnight was in the eighth grade in 2002 and happened to run for a touchdown right in front of Saban, who was recruiting older players for LSU at the time. Saban has known Curtis coach J.T. Curtis since Saban was an assistant at Michigan State in the 1980s and recruited New Orleans. Saban is trying to get McKnight to visit Alabama over this last week of recruiting.

Signing day is Wednesday, Feb. 7.

Should McKnight sign with LSU, it would make an already top-five national recruiting class top two or three. Should McKnight sign with USC, many LSU fans will be upset, but not as upset as they will be should McKnight sign with Saban. If this happens, many LSU fans will die of spontaneous head combustion like in that movie "Scanners." This is something I'd love to see just for fun.

I'd also love to see McKnight go to USC, which would give the Trojans way out there in L.A. two guys in the same backfield from Louisiana as quarterback John David Booty is from Shreveport.

I'd also love to see McKnight sign with LSU because I'd enjoy covering the next Reggie Bush every Saturday night, then watch the real one on Sundays in the Superdome.

I really don't care where he signs. I just hope he ends up doing what he wants to do.

It would also be fun to see McKnight come to LSU and become just another back like Williams and Alley Broussard and Justin Vincent, further proving my thesis that people who follow recruiting suffer from extreme short term memory.

Not long after signing day, it seems everyone forgets about who just signed. By the next season, they're already looking at the next batch of recruits. People have gradually forgotten about Ryan Perrilloux, whose signature at LSU in 2005 was so important that LSU's very future hung in the balance.

Perrilloux has completed one pass in two years at LSU and is currently involved in a counterfeiting investigation by federal authorities in his hometown of La Place. Perrilloux was told he'd have a shot at the quarterback job when he was in high school. He still hasn't had that shot. He could win the job before McKnight gets 25 touches a game.

Oh, almost forgot, LSU signed two other backs last year. One was Richard Murphy, whom USC recruited. The other was Charles Scott, who showed some promise early last season.

That's three backs, including Williams, that could be ahead of McKnight in August.

McKnight may be better than them all, though. He may be the first real game breaker LSU gets since Faulk. So, LSU better get him just in case he is. But remember, Broussard was supposed to be all that out of Acadiana High in Lafayette in 2003. He has had one good year. Vincent was supposed to be all that, too. He was going to be the next Reggie Bush before Reggie Bush was the next Reggie Bush. He had one good year.

And if McKnight doesn't sign with LSU, I'm sure there'll be another McKnight at this time next year.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Recruiting update

Defensive end Jason Peters of Catholic High in Baton Rouge has announced an oral commitment to sign with Georgia Tech.

This isn't a real shocker. There was talk LSU was more interested in Peters coming to school as a grayshirt instead of coming to campus in the fall as a true freshman ready to play. Given that situation, Peters' decision is certainly understandable.

However, with the defection of Luther Davis to Alabama and Peters' decision to sign with Georgia Tech, it's been a tough couple of days for LSU in regards to landing defensive linemen.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

What's going on?

Boy, trying to figure out who is telling the truth in college football recruiting is getting really hard.

Wide receiver Rashad Mason dropped his visit to LSU, apparently because of what he felt was high-pressure tactics from the Tigers coaching staff.

"LSU came in for an inhome visit the next before last, and they wanted me to commit on the spot. That is just not for me,'' Mason told scout.com.


Now, listen to the father of defensive end Sidell Corley Jr.

"If the Florida coach was like Les Miles we probably wouldn't have decommitted,'' Sidell Corley Sr. told our Glenn Guilbeau. "His integrity is unbelievable. After Sidell committed to Florida several weeks ago, Les left him alone. He stayed in contact, but he left us alone. I love that. That's huge.''

So there' are two kids. Two completely different views of LSU and the football coaching staff.

I have no idea what to make of this. I just know that very few people - coaches or athletes -- tell the truth in recruiting.

This, though, is just hard to figure.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Bowe knows

After watching the Senior Bowl practices on NFL Network on Thursday (those are more interesting than you might think), it's becoming apparent that LSU is going to have a banner year in the draft.

You've got to figure JaMarcus Russell will be a first-round pick. On Thursday, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said LaRon Landry is a top-10 pick.

And after watching Dwayne Bowe in those practices, you've got to figure him for a first day of the draft guy as well. Mayock listed Bowe among those players whose stock is rising. Mayock said Bowe had a great week of practice except for an occasional drop.

Then, there's Chase Pittman. He has had a good week of Senior Bowl practice and could be a first day guy himself.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Senior moments

The Senior Bowl is this week and LSU's contingent is cut in half.

LaRon Landry isn't playing. Craig Davis is hobbled by a groin injury. That leaves Dwayne Bowe and Chase Pittman as LSU's representatives.

Landry is an all-but-assured first-round pick so his not playing kind of makes sense. It doesn't help the NFL teams but it doesn't hurt Landry too much.

Davis, on the other hand, probably needed to play in Mobile. There are always a ton of wide receivers out there and players should take advantage of opportunities to separate from the pack.

The big winners could be Bowe and Pittman just because they're working with NFL coaches and in front of NFL personnel.

The draft is still three months away, but it will be interesting to see how much, if any, impact has on the draft status of these four LSU players.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Here we go again?

When Bill Parcells announced his "retirement'' (via e-mail, by the way), I figured this would be one coaching search without LSU implications.

I was wrong.

Maybe it's only because of his ties to the Dallas Cowboys as an assistant coach, but Les Miles' name has been mentioned in connection with the job. And not just by goofballs throwing names out.

The Cowboys' own web site lists him among the college possibilities to replace Parcells. NFL Network's Adam Schefter on Monday night mentioned Miles along with Arkansas' Houston Nutt and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops as possibilities.

Now, in fairness, Schefter also said everyone he had talked to suggested that Jerry Jones wouldn't hire a college coach.

If Miles is smart, then he can use this talk to his benefit - both financially with LSU and also with recruits by showing that he is a man in demand.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Far from the Final Four

LSU barely resembles the team that went to the Final Four last season. In the Tigers' last three road games, it was evident early on they were not going to win ... or even stay close.

LSU looked like just another average SEC team in losses at Washington (88-72), at Alabama (71-61) and, most recently, at Arkansas (72-52).

The loss of power forward Tyrus Thomas is just too great for this team to get past the Sweet 16 at best. Magnum Rolle and Darnell Lazare are barely SEC players, much less replacements for Thomas.

The loss of Thomas has greatly hurt the game of Glen Davis, who has no wing man. I'm also beginning to wonder if the fat Baby was better than the slim Baby. Washington and Arkansas, in particular, destroyed LSU inside. Throughout the loss to Arkansas as center Steven Hill made 8-of-10 close range shots - mostly dunks - one question begged to be answered. Who's man is that? Hill scored a career-high 16 points and barely worked up a sweat.

This was an embarrassing loss, because Arkansas is not even that good. It had lost three straight coming in.

A trip to the Final Four is great, but its merit is often overrated when it comes to recruiting.

LSU did not cash in on the trip as it has one incoming freshman on this team - walk-on Greg Terrebonne of South Lafourche High in Galiano. He doesn't play. One would think LSU would have been able to find a decent power forward to play next to Davis.

LSU is better at guard this season with transfer guard Terry Martin, who is quite a 3-point shooter most of the time, and steady Garrett Temple, who is better at point guard than he was at shooting guard. Dameon Mason is also an athletic guard, but he can't shoot very well.

Coach John Brady needs to bite the bullet and move Tasmin Mitchell to power forward immediately and permanently and put Mason at the small forward. Mitchell's the closest thing LSU has to Tyrus Thomas.

If something does not improve fast, LSU can quit thinking about how far it may or may not go in the NCAA Tournament and start worrying if it is an SEC West contender.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Four not on the floor

Well, that was a waxing LSU took from Arkansas today.

A year ago at this time, the LSU men's basketball team looked like it had the makings of something special.

This year, it looks like the makings of some of John Brady's one-and-done NCAA Tournament teams of the past.

While the woeful perimeter shooting would be my biggest concern if I were Brady, there may be an even bigger concern for the LSU coach.

I was talking to Tim Brando, who called the game for CBS, tonight. Brando's take is a bit alike but also a bit different from mine.

The alike part? Brando says if Terry Martin is not hitting from the outside then the Tigers struggle from the perimeter. Agree.

The different? Brando thinks the Tigers aren't getting enough out of the four position with Darnell Lazare and Magnum Rolle.

Now that he mentions it, I would have to agree. Brady expected Rolle to be on a similar path to Tyrus Thomas, minus some of the freakish athletic ability. It hasn't happened yet.

LSU could still have a fine season. But right now, they look like an upper-middle class SEC team.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Recruiting update

LSU's recruiting weekend looks to be filled with a lot of guys who are already committed to the Tigers. Among those scheduled to visit are Ron Brooks, Josh Dworaczyk, Jarvis Jones, Stevan Ridley, Mitch Joseph and Alex Russian -- all have committed to the Tigers.

Among the players not committed that are scheduled to visit are linebacker Brandon Hicks of Jacksonville, Fla., and Miami commitment Damien Berry, a cornerback.

Things will likely get interesting over the next couple of weeks.

New Alabama coach Nick Saban is trying to do what any college coach does and that's lock up his own state. So look for Saban and Les Miles to have a tug-of-war for the signature of Mobile defensive back Phelon Jones.

I know a lot of LSU fans are upset that Saban is recruiting a player committed to LSU. But that street goes two ways. LSU kept recruiting Jai Eugene last year after he had committed to Michigan. And the Tigers didn't stop recruiting Ryan Perrilloux after he had committed to Texas.

Saban's doing what any good college coach would do with his own recruiting territory.

Yes, LSU may have trouble getting kids out of Mobile in the future. But LSU's name is growing more nationally and the Tigers do have their own fertile ground to offset any losses.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Straight talk

LSU fans got their first chance to see their new offensive coordinator, Gary Crowton, today at a news conference in Baton Rouge.

Crowton didn't reveal much. But here's a transcript from the news conference.

On what the offensive scheme will be at LSU now:
“I think what will happen is the offensive staff will get together with coach Miles, and we’ll sit down and we’ll look at the things (former LSU offensive coordinator) Jimbo (Fisher) did. He did some outstanding things here. We’ll look at things he did. We’ll look at things that I’ve done in the past, (things) that coach Miles has done and all the offensive staff. We’ll kind of melt together what we think will be the best opportunity for us to score points and win football games with the talent that we do have here. That’s kind of how we’re going to do it. We’re not going to just come in and just take one offense that we’ve all seen, whether it be Jimbo’s, whether it be Oregon’s or BYU’s or Oklahoma State for that matter. What we’re going to do is meld them all together based on our personnel here and what we need to do in this conference to win.”

On the talented returning players on the offensive side of the ball:
“I’m very excited about the talent here at LSU. I’m excited about the possibility of great talent coming in this recruiting class too. Locally there are some outstanding players. I’ve coached some great players from Louisiana when I was at Louisiana Tech, and I’m excited about the few guys in particular that hopefully we’re working on here. Obviously we can’t say what the names are, but I’m excited about those guys. As far as the veterans that are coming back, I know that we’re losing some very good players, a couple of receivers (Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis) that are probably first day guys (in the NFL draft), a quarterback obviously that everybody knows about throughout the country who is an outstanding person and leader in (JaMarcus) Russell, and I think it gives the opportunity for new guys to step up.
“And we can see them on the roster, but right now after talking to coach Miles and the staff we want to make sure we think team first. And we want this team to develop the way it did in the past as a team that’s not selfish and a team that can win tough games and then we want to push for our goals. As far as individuals, I’m excited about all those guys, but I’m not really going to talk about any specific individual at this time because we want to think team first. But to be honest with you, I am very excited about them and especially about the new class that’s coming in the same time I am.”

On his offensive philosophy:
“The thing that you want to do from an offensive standpoint is you want to score points. It’s not always about the numbers. The numbers are a way to judge things, but scoring points is the key for an offensive coach. That’s my responsibility. The other coaches will worry about the defense and special teams, but that’s the number one thing is scoring points. Taking care of the football is important and using the talent that’s at hand. Sometimes there’s so much talent that you can’t get the ball to everybody.
“But what we want to do is figure out who the right guys are, get the ball to them based on the defenses that we face, and we can do it in a lot of different ways. Play action pass. We can run it. At Oregon we were the Pac-10 leaders in the rushing game. I’ve been at the top of the passing game many times through my career, just whatever it takes to win, and that’s what we’re thinking about. Winning is the number one objective. Scoring points to win is my number one objective.”

On leaving Oregon to be the offensive coordinator at LSU:
“I was very happy at the University of Oregon. As I mentioned coach Bellotti was good to me. It was a very good program, and they’ve got a very good team coming back. But this (LSU) is one of the few jobs in the country that I would have left there to come and work at and also coach Miles is one of the few coaches that I would do the same thing for. And I have great respect for him. I know he is a hardworking, outstanding coach, good family man and great person, so that right there is something that really intrigued me along with LSU, with my familiarity with this state and being out here and having success when I was here is what brought me back.”

Here's what I think: If LSU is scoring points and moving the ball, Crowton will have a fine time in Baton Rouge. He's certainly not going to be boring. But if LSU is moving the ball between the 20s and not scoring, then there's a problem.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Crowton thoughts

I know Gary Crowton from his days as the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs head football coach. Crowton is a personable guy. He is a guy you enjoying talking to and a great offensive mind as well.

But I am a little curious as to see how he will do at LSU as offensive coordinator.

At Tech, Crowton was great at taking lesser talented teams and rolling up big yardage against more talented teams.

The question now is he'll have more talent than his opponents on a lot of occasions. How will he do in that situation?

He's a good quarterbacks coach and all you have to do is look at Tim Rattay to see that. So I think he can bring along Matt Flynn, Ryan Perrilloux or Jarrett Lee depending on whom the quarterback is.

Still, the LSU offensive coordinator is under the microscope - just ask Jimbo Fisher. So it will be interesting to see how Crowton handles that aspect as well.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Official confirmation not always needed

Look at the following headline closely: "Secret Service mum on Perrilloux."

Well ... YEAH.

It's the Secret Service. That organization tends to be mum on a lot of things. Hence, the name of itself.

But The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge, which has been getting beat regularly on the counterfeiting investigation in La Place that has included an interview of LSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux, is clinging to the fact that the Secret Service would "neither confirm nor deny" that Perrilloux's name has surfaced in "a possible counterfeit money investigation."

A Secret Service spokesperson, whom I guess has to keep secrets, told The Advocate to refer its penetrating questions to the U.S. Attorney's office in New Orleans. That office also neither could confirm nor deny the investigation. That office also rarely confirms nor denies any investigation until it's over or nearly over.

Stuffy sounding, large, official organizations, however, are not the only avenues for confirmation, however.

The person being investigated can confirm. Or that person's coach can confirm. Perrilloux's coach at East St. John - Larry Dauterive - said to several media outlets including Gannett, but I guess not to the Advocate, that suspicion first arose around Perrilloux in November when he presented a fake looking $20 bill at a store in La Place. Then he said Perrilloux was interviewed for two hours by federal officials last week. That's confirmation.

Oh and there's this. A public information officer at the St. John Parish Sheriff's office also told Gannett that a counterfeiting ring in the La Place area was being investigated by his office and the Secret Service, and this investigation included Perrilloux.

I spoke to U.S. Attorney Jim Letten last week and he told me he could not confirm or deny any investigation of Perrilloux. He also told me that his office is not the only entity that can confirm an investigation. He said attorneys for people he is investigation often confirm or others.

So, here's an official comment for The Advocate. You got beat!

As for Perrilloux, he could be innocent. By nature, counterfeiting spreads money around to unsuspecting parties. Maybe Perrilloux didn't know he had counterfeit money. Maybe you have a counterfeit bill now. How would you know? Perrilloux is also not the only one who has been interviewed in this investigation in the La Place area. There have been at least a dozen others. Perrilloux's name has been across headlines all over the state, because he is a well known name.

Perrilloux is innocent until proven guilty, and I don't have to get official confirmation on that from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Early football outlook

I'm amazed at some of the early outlooks for LSU in 2007.

This is a team that is losing its starting quarterback, two solid receivers, an All-American safety, maybe an All-American defensive tackle and another starting safety, as well as some other seniors.

And yet there is seemingly no ceiling for this team.

In The Sporting News' look ahead to 2007, the Tigers are ranked third in the nation behind USC and Florida. TSN has three SEC schools in its top 11 with Arkansas at No. 9 rounding out that group.

In Sports Illustrated, the Tigers are No. 2 in the nation behind USC. Says SI, "The Tigers will be loaded on both lines. Losing QB JaMarcus Russell to the NFL would hurt, but Matt Flynn is a more than capable replacement.''

While the season is still eight months away, such early outlooks figure to only heighten the expectation among LSU fans.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Recruiting update

LSU's commitment from athlete Ron Brooks of Irving, Texas, on Thursday figures to be good news for the Tigers.

Although Brooks was a run-pass quarterback at MacArthur High School, he likely will be playing wide receiver at LSU. It is a position of need with the loss of Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis to graduation.

It's not a real big visit weekend at LSU. Among those scheduled to visit are two players who are already committed to the Tigers, center T-Bob Hebert and quarterback Jarrett Lee. West Monroe defensive lineman Will Blackwell is also supposed to visit along with Cameron Heyward.

LSU's recent push of commitments - Joseph Barksdale, Luther Davis and Ron Brooks - has the Tigers ranked in the top five at both rivals.com and Scout.com. Rivals has LSU ranked No. 4 nationally behind Texas, Tennessee and Florida. Scout.com has LSU ranked No. 5 behind Florida, Texas, Tennessee and USC.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Bad timing

JaMarcus Russell's announcement on Wednesday that he was turning pro was rather symbolic of his time at LSU.

It was always about someone else.

On Wednesday, Russell would have been the lead story in college football - if not for USC wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett announcing he was going pro.

Russell would have had the stage to himself in Baton Rougeon Wednesay - if not for news reports concerning a federal investigation involving backup Ryan Perrilloux.

It was always that way for Russell in Baton Rouge. In his first season playing, it was about splitting time with Marcus Randall.

The last two years were spent fending off Matt Flynn and those Flynn supporters who insisted that Flynn, not Perrilloux, was LSU's best option. Those people have been rather quiet lately.

So Russell will leave LSU with a Western Division championship, a Sugar Bowl championship, a No. 3 rating in the country and not much appreciation.

It will probably only be after he is gone that JaMarcus Rusell will truly be appreciated by LSU fans.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Kudos from Urban Meyer

Florida coach Urban Meyer had some interesting comments after Monday's national title game.

Meyer was asked when he knew this was going to be a special season.

Here is Meyer's reponse, courtesy of the transcript:

"When we played very well at home against LSU. In my opinion, obviously you saw what they did in the Bowl game. LSU is a talented team. They have been the last two years. After that game, I remember thinking to myself -- I think it was 23-10. And going into that game, we knew exactly what we were getting into. And we had some injuries issues, we had other issues we were dealing with. To see a team reorganize and come out and play as hard as they did this with, I thought this could be a good outfit if we don't screw it up as coaches.''

Pretty high compliment from Urban.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Recruiting update

We've caught up with a couple of prospects over the weekend. So here is the latest from the recruiting road.

Safety Chad Jones of Southern Lab says he'll visit LSU on the 26th of this month. He is also set to visit FSU this weekend and has made a trip to USC. Auburn, Clemson, Florida and Miami are also recruiting him.

Jones is probably the second best prospect in the state behind Joe McKnight. But Jones (6-3, 232) also is a baseball player -- one good enough to attract the attention of major league scouts.

"It's one of the toughest decisions I have to make,'' Jones says of choosing between football and baseball.

Jones had 180 tackles, 12 interceptions and 6 interceptions returned for touchdowns.

McKnight is scheduled to visit Ole Miss this weekend, USC on the 19th, LSU on the 26th and Arkansas on Feb. 2. The real players in this one figure to be LSU and USC.

LSU commitment Josh Dworaczyk (6-6, 280, OL-DL) is set to visit LSU on the 19th. He had 99 tackles as a senior at Catholic of New Iberia. But he could be in for a position change at LSU.

"I'll likely play offense in college so I'm learning,'' Dworaczyk says.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Excuse me sir

Can you imagine being the guy who drove the car that wrecked with Glen Davis' car?

Imagine the site of that guy getting out of the car after you wrecked his ride. And then, think what you would think after you see that you hit the car of one of the most recognizable faces in all of college basketball.

The good news for all involved is Davis wasn't seriously hurt.

But I'm sure it made for a scary moment for one Baton Rouge driver.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

LSU gets a pair of commitments

The Tigers' recruiting class got a boost over the weekend with the announcement of commitments by Detroit's Joseph Barksdale and West Monroe's Luther Davis.

Both are highly regarded defensive linemen. Barksdale's commitment is unsual in that LSU hasn't historically recruited Michigan. And it's not every day LSU goes head up against Ohio State in recruiting but that is exactly what happened with Barksdale.

Davis' commitment is a good sign for LSU fans because the Tigers need to keep the fence around the state. Losing a player like Davis to a Florida State or Louisville would be a bad sign.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Hoops test

It will be interesting to see how LSU plays against Connecticut on Saturday.

The Tigers played well at home against Texas A&M, but not so good against Washington on the road.

UConn hasn't really been tested all that much so it will be interesting to see how the Huskies respond.

I don't think this game makes or breaks either team's season. Last year, LSU's narrow defeat gave the Tigers a sense of confidence that boosted the team into SEC play.

I don't know that a home win would give them anywhere near the same level of confidence since this isn't the same UConn team.

Still, it's on a national stage and should be a great game.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Liar's club

Boy, it looks like lying runs in the Saban family.

Check out this snippet from the AP's coverage of Nick Saban's introductory news conference at Alabama on Thursday.

And the warm reception on Wednesday afternoon didn’t hurt, either. Saban said when he arrived at LSU from Michigan State as a less well-known coach, it was just him, an equipment manager and his agent.
Not this time.
"When the plane landed, we were overwhelmed that there was this huge crowd of people just cheering, like your mother’s saying, ’Come on home,’" Terry Saban said.

First of all, I was at Saban's introductory news conference at LSU. The room was packed. If no one was at the airport to greet him maybe it was because PEOPLE HAVE LIVES.

And now Terry Saban is saying, it's "like your mother's saying, 'Come on home.'''


When they leave Alabama in four or five years they'll be saying the same thing at their new place of employment.

These people have lost all credibility over the last few days.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Russell shows his strength

Glenn Guilbeau must be smiling tonight. Oh wait, he's two seats down and pounding out the words in a panic thanks to the lack of internet connectivity here in the press box.
He will smile though, as his boy JaMarcus Russell is having an outstanding evening.
He threw a ball 55 yards off his back foot to Brandon LaFell, who turned the pass into a 58-yard touchdown.
The Tigers are in complete control at 34-14.
Russell may have gotten a little too confident however, twice throwing the ball up for grabs. The second throw into triple coverage was intercepted, but Notre Dame did nothing with the ball.
Russell is 21 of 34 for 332 yards and two TDs.
As I said, at halftime, Darius Walker would become a nonfactor due to the Irish's inability to stop the Tigers.
3 carries for 2 yards in the second half for Walker after 125 yards in the first half.

3 more for David, LSU

Colt David adds a 37-yard field goal and the Tigers take a 13-point lead. LSU has done a wonderful job of controlling the ball all night and that spells trouble for Notre Dame, even though the lead is two scores.

David adds 3

Well the fake field goal didn't amount to a touchdown, but LSU does tack on 3 more to take a 24-14 lead with 9:34 remaining in the third quarter.

LSU's trickery works to a T

Just when it appeared LSU would a field goal on its first drive of the second half, the Tigers pulled off a fake field goal to perfection. Matt Flynn took the snap and ran the option with kicker Chris Jackson. Jackson took a pitch and gained 7 yards -- the first down with plenty to spare. Unlike Notre Dame's attempt at trickery, this call came at a better time and a better place.

LSU makes second half’s first mistake, scratch that

LSU got the second-half kickoff, but Early Doucet was stripped of the ball by Ambrose Wooden and Wooden recovered the ball at LSU’s 32.
The play went under review, and I thought the replay showed Notre Dame had possession of the ball before it was jarred loose again.
The replay dude gets this one wrong again. Guess they are even now. That is a huge break for LSU.

Notre Dame defense has to solidify in second half

Darius Walker (125 yards) is running through the LSU defense at will. The problem for Notre Dame is the Irish defense can’t stop LSU, therefore Walker cant not be used heavily just yet. It appears the Irish are going to have to outscore LSU and that doesn’t play into the hands of the running game.
That being said, if the Irish defense can somehow make some adjustments to stymie JaMarcus Russell, this game could get interesting.

Where in the world is Ron Powlus?

Where in the world in Ron Powlus?

The four Heisman Trophy man. Remember him?

The man Beano Cook said would win the most coveted college football award in each of his seasons at Notre Dame (he didn’t win one) is still around.

I was shocked to see Powlus as I thumbed through the Notre Dame Bowl Guide.

He is in his second season as the director of personnel development for the football program.

The four-year starter for the Irish set 20 records at Notre Dame, but could only garner free agent status with the Tennessee Oilers in 1998.

Powlus made the Detroit Lions’ preseason roster in 1999 and the Philadelphia Eagles’ in 2000. After a trip to NFL Europe, Powlus called it quits.

The 32-year old is now married with two kids and again finds himself in South Bend. This time, the spotlight isn’t so bright.

Bad blunder by ND defense

The Irish watch Early Doucet sprint past the secondary late in the first half and JaMarcus Russell finds the speedy receiver for a 58-yard gain as Irish safety Chinedum Ndukwe and corner Terrail Lambert were burned.

Two plays later, Russell rumbled in from 5 yards out to quickly put LSU back on top.
The Tigers’ drive took just 1:10 off the clock.

It’s 21-14 LSU with 1:15 left.

Remarkably, that’s Russell’s first rushing touchdown of the season.

Tied up

Samardzija finally gets on the board. We’re all tied!

Brady Quinn was going to get the ball to him, that we knew.

Samardzija finally found himself clear and hauled in a 10-yard touchdown catch with 2:25 remaining in the second quarter.

Folks we have a ballgame.

We’re tied at 14.

“Cheer, Cheer for Old Notre Dame” is reverberating throughout the Superdome and Tigers fans are rather quiet.

Notre Dame running back Darius Walker is the star of the game thus far.

The kid has rushed for 117 yards on 16 carries in less than one half of play.

Anything you can do, so can I

Colt David missed a chip shot field goal for LSU and the Tigers still hold the 14-7 lead. Brady Quinn tried twice to give LSU a chance to extend its lead, but it appears the Tigers didn’t want to.

4:38 left in the second quarter.

Quinn doesn't get away with this one

Two plays later, Quinn made another horrific decision under pressure and threw it right into Zenon’s arms again.

This one will not be reversed. LSU takes over at its 42.

Gotta believe that was Karma.

Great catch, inexcusable reversal

Notre Dame’s Rhema McKnight kept a drive alive on third down with a catch that can only be described as amazing.

McKnight ran a 6-yard out and initially bobbled Brady Quinn’s throw. As LSU’s Jonathan Zenon dragged McKnight to the turf, the ball popped into the air and fell into McKnight’s arms as he hit the Superdome turf.

The Irish gained 8 on the play.

Brady Quinn responded by throwing a deep ball into double coverage on the next play.

Zenon was in prefect position in front of Jeff Samardzija and made what appeared to make an easy INT at LSU’s 2. The play was called an interception on the field, but was mysteriously reversed by replay, although the replay clearly showed the ball never hit the turf and Zenon had possession.

That reversal is flat out mind-boggling.

ND misses huge opportunity

The Fighting Irish wasted a chance to quiet the purple and gold. Moments after Brady Quinn’s touchdown pass, the Irish recovered a JaMarcus Russell fumble and took possession at the LSU 21.

However, the Irish sputtered and Carl Gioia missed a 35-yard field goal.

It’s early, but not capitalizing on that chance could be a bad sign. It’s not so much the 3 or 7 points, but the chance to make the Superdome a friendlier environment.

Pulling out all the stops already

Here’s my feeling when a team pulls out a trick play early in the game. It’s not confident in what it brings to the table.

Notre Dame failed on the first possession of the game and decided it was already time to break out a fake punt – well inside its own territory.

The direct snap to the upman did not come close to working and LSU responded immediately with a touchdown.

Notre Dame fell in an early 14-0 hole, but just halved the gap with a Brady Quinn touchdown.

However, I’m not sure what Charlie Weis was thinking early on.

It screams a lack of confidence to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the trick play here and there, but the risk/reward on the opening possession, in a building packed with purple and gold, wasn’t in the favor of the Irish.

Memories of dad

I've been in the Superdome for 90 minutes now and didn't think too much of it, but when the Notre Dame band struck up "Wake Up the Echoes" it took me by surprise.
My father, who passed away two years ago, played in the band at Notre Dame. "60 minutes of every game, plus the half time show" as he used to say. This is actually my first Notre Dame game since his death.
As most people know, football is a way of life for the Golden Domers. My father was no exception. He went to Notre Dame in the 1940s. They lost TWO, that's right TWO games during his tenure. I believe they won three national championships while he was there (may have been two).
His roommate was Johnny Lujack, the legendary quarterback. One of the funniest stories my father used to tell about Lujack was when he won the Heisman Trophy.
It wasn't as big a deal back then, obviously. He told the story of Lujack learning he had won the award and then asking, "Well, do they send it to you?"
Things operate a little differently now, don't they.
Anyone who has lost someone very close can understand what just happened to me. Even more than two years later, the death of my father strikes me very hard at the weirdest moments.
The last two things I talked to my father about was Notre Dame football and golf -- his two passions. I know he's got the best seat in the house for this one.
I know he'd say two simple words for me if I could talk to him right now.
Miss ya Pops.

Purple and gold devour blue and gold

Notre Dame doesn't get our-homered very much, even on road trips. Wednesday is certainly an exception. The purple and gold and out in the Big Easy en masse. Don't get me wrong, the Notre Dame contingent is pretty strong, but the Tigers will have an incredible advantage tonight. The LSU fans have a noticeable chip on their shoulders, too. This Nick Saban thing is not very amusing to the folks here. For a guy that was loved, so loved in these parts until two weeks ago, it's unlikely he'd get out of the Superdome alive today if he were to attend.

'A snake in the grass'

"Go to hell Nick Saban ... Go to hell."

That was the battlecry from a throng of angry LSU fans at Serio's Po-Boys and Deli in New Orleans Wednesday afternoon. On Wednesday morning, former LSU coach Nick Saban left the Miami Dolphins to become head coach at LSU rival Alabama.

"He's a snake in the grass," long time LSU fan Warren Doussan of Pass Christian, Miss., said in a phone interview. "And I'll say that to his face."

LSU plays at Alabama on Nov. 10.

"Now, LSU-Auburn is nothing," a caller to a Baton Rouge call-in show said. "It's all about LSU-Alabama and beating Saban."

Before that, LSU plays Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl tonight.

LSU's worst nightmare

Funny thing, I was just talking to LSU sports information director Michael Bonnette over the weekend and he said watch Nick Saban announce he's going to Alabama on Wednesday, which would take attention away from us at the Sugar Bowl.

It happened. LSU's worst nightmare happened. Saban is back, but a little to the east. But he'll be back in Lousiaiana recruiting like no one else has.

Even if it wasn't Saban, one of LSU's biggest rivals just hired a great coach. And LSU's rise came with Alabama's fall.

But the most damaging thing is that Saban is done with the NFL now. Alabama could have him for a very long time - longer than LSU. They might have him until he retires.

The only places - in the future - I could see him going now are West Virginia, which is his home state, Penn State if and when Joe Paterno retires, and Notre Dame, where I always thought Nick would be great.

Come back to the Bayou Bengals blog all day for entries leading up to and during the game.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Where's the buzz?

Is it because 2003 changed everything?

Is it because the Rose Bowl dream faded away?

Is it because the game is played in the middle of the week and two days after New Year's?

Is it because Nick Saban is stealing all of the headlines with talk of his return to the SEC at Alabama?

Whatever the reason, I didn't think I would live to see the day when an LSU-Notre Dame Sugar Bowl would seem like either a letdown or not the most important story of the day in Louisiana.

Here's hoping that changes as kickoff nears. Trips to BCS bowls and Sugar Bowls and games with Notre Dame shouldn't be taken for granted.

Anyone remember Curley Hallman?

Monday, January 01, 2007

D-Day for Saban

By all reports, Nick Saban is expected to give the Miami Dolphins and Alabama a decision today (Tuesday) about where he will coach next season.

Frankly, I'm getting to the point where I really don't care.

But since it's out there, let me say that as of this moment I think he's leaving the Dolphins and going to Alabama. Now, my head says he should stay at Miami and finish the job he was hired to do.

However, we saw this act two years ago at Christmas where he sits down with his wife and yada, yada.

I'm guessing he'll go to Alabama.

If not, well, then the Crimson Tide will have looked foolish not once but twice in this coaching search.

Hope I'm wrong, but we'll see.