Tag:Alfred Blue
Posted on: November 12, 2011 10:39 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 1 LSU 42, Western Kentucky 9

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



LSU WON: 
We wouldn't say there were any "anxious moments" for the Bayou Bengals -- Western Kentucky's offense was always a little too nonthreatening to think they might actually pull off the Upset of the Century -- but we also doubt many Tiger fans were thrilled at being up just 14-7 at halftime or needing a goalline stand to keep the score 21-7 in the third quarter. Still, thanks to a pair of quick Alfred Blue (pictured above) touchdowns either side of the third quarter break, LSU was able to cruise through the final period. Jordan Jefferson got the start, played the entire first three quarters, and finished 8-of-15 for 168 yards (an impressive 11.2 per-attempt average)with one sterling 59-yard strike to Rueben Randle.

WHY LSU WON: Because they're LSU, and they were playing Western Kentucky. But the Tigers were able to make the game's ending as non-stressful as expected thanks to a dominating second-half defensive effort. Through the first 30 minutes, the Hilltoppers put together four clock-churning drives and ate up nearly 19 minutes of first-half possession. Even if only one of them ended in points, they succeeded in keeping LSU off the field and themselves in the game. 

Second half? Not so much. WKU's first five third- and fourth-quarter drives went like this: six plays, punt; five plays, turnover on downs (see below); three plays, interception; four plays, punt; three plays, punt. Not one took more than 3:16. And not surprisingly, with far more opportunities to do damage than they had in the first half, Blue and the LSU offense did a lot more damage.

WHEN LSU WON: It probably wouldn't have mattered if, down two touchdowns midway through the third quarter, the Hilltoppers had punched in after a long kickoff return helped earn them a second-and-goal at the 2. The Tigers would have pulled away eventually; one of these teams is No. 1 in the country for a reason and the other is, putting it politely, not. But things would have been far more interesting down the stretch if fullback Kadeem Jones hadn't been stuffed on second down, a third-down play-action pass hadn't just missed, and Jones wasn't stuffed again on fourth. Jefferson handed WKU a safety when he was falgged for grounding on the ensuing possession, but it hardly mattered--if you're going to pull off the Upset of the Century, you can't not score on three tries from inside the 2.

WHAT LSU WON: A few grumbles from the locals who would have liked to have seen the 'Toppers put away more quickly, but otherwise, another week spent at the top of the college football world.

WHAT WESTERN KENTUCKY LOST: Lost? WKU hung in there against the No. 1 team in the nation for a good 35, 40 minutes of gametime. Add that experience to the fat check they'll pick up for playing tonight, and they've won more than they've lost tonight.

Posted on: November 1, 2011 6:06 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2011 6:07 pm
 

LSU-Alabama Daily, Nov. 1: Run game breakdown

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Counting down to LSU-Alabama with a daily dose of analysis and news.




DAYS REMAINING TO KICKOFF: 4, or the number of special teams and defensive touchdowns scored this season by LSU: two fumble returns for scores by Tyrann Mathieu, a kickoff return by Morris Claiborne, and pick-six by Ron Brooks. The Tide have three: a Marquis Maze punt return, and pick-sixes by Courtney Upshaw and DeQuan Menzie. Also the number worn (as you can see) by Tide All-American safety Mark Barron, who (despite our raving about the Alabama linebackers yesterday) leads the Tide defense in solo tackles with 25.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: We know both these teams can run the ball. But which one does it better?

You might be surprised just how decisively the statistics will tell you that answer is "Alabama."

Yes, the Bayou Bengals have an out-and-out stud carrying the ball in Spencer Ware, a veteran offensive line loaded with former blue-chips playing its best football in years, solid backups in Alfred Blue and Michael Ford (not to mention bruising freshman fullback Kenny Hilliard, who collected 65 yards and two touchdowns vs. Auburn), and a successful vertical passing game to keep defenses honest. But it hasn't added up to statistical dominance just yet: the Tigers rank a respectable-but-not-spectacular 31st in rushing offense, but a downright middle-of-the-pack 55th in yards per-carry. Ware's 73 yards per-game rank him 66th in the country, sandwiched between Nevada's Cody Fajardo and USF's Darrell Scott.

The Tide, meanwhile, have the numbers to back up Trent Richardson and Co.'s reputation: 14th nationally in rushing yards, but sixth in yards per-carry at 5.84 an attempt and fourth in touchdowns with 27. Richardson ranks seventh at 123 yards per-game, third in touchdowns, and first in yards per-carry (6.64) among backs with more than 125 attempts. And given that backups Eddie Lacy and Jalston Fowler are averaging a fairly ridiculous 7.6 yards per-carry between them, it's not just the Heisman candidate guy; Barrett Jones and the rest of the Alabama offensive line are, as the kids say, bringing the wood.

So would we agree with the numbers that this is that major an edge for the Tide? Not in the slightest, for two reasons:

1. LSU's stats are being dragged down by an usually slow start to the season; through their first five weeks, the Tigers were averaging just 3.96 yards per attempt despite facing the likes of Kentucky and FCS Northwestern State. That's changed in a big way over their past three games, with the Tigers gashing Florida, Tennessee and Auburn to the tune of 216 yards per game and 4.8 yards per-carry. That 4.8 is even more impressive when you consider ...

2. the Tigers simply don't get huge gains on the ground. The Tigers have just one run of 30 yards or more this season, tying them for the lowest mark in the SEC. 20 yards or more? They're still ninth, and those numbers are despite attempting the second-most runs in the league.

The Tide, by contrast, already have 12 30-plus yard runs; only four teams nationally have more, and two of them are option squads. When comparing the two sides, yes, it's fair to say that Richardon's explosiveness and LSU's confirmed lack of an out-and-out breakway threat make the Tide more likely to bust a long one.

But how likely is one of those long ones? Given the quality of both teams' secondaries in run support, not all that likely. Which running game gets the upper hand is going to come down to which team can slug forward for four, five, six yards at a time, which line can create just the slightest creases for their backs, which backs can consistently wriggle and drive for the extra yard here and there.

No one in the SEC -- not even Alabama -- does those things better than a focused Ware and the Tigers. We still have to give the Tide's ground game the slimmest of edges due to Richardson's extraordinary ability and the higher likelihood of a big gainer ... but in a game like this one, we do mean "slimmest."

THE LATEST FROM BATON ROUGE: Judging from his Twitter feed, Mathieu already plays with a decent-size chip on his shoulder. So we're curious to see how he responds to being snubbed from the list of 15 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, announced Monday. The Thorpe is given annually to the nation's best defensive back, and while all 15 are worthy candidates, it's hard to see how Mathieu isn't one of them ... unless the Thorpe organization is punishing him for his recent drug-related suspension. Fair or not, we wonder if a big day Saturday won't result in some Thorpe-related chirping from Mathieu in the near future.

Speaking of chirping, remember when Claiborne said he'd go for Richardson's legs if asked to tackle him one-on-one? Ryan Baker doesn't sound quite so impressed:
"Oh yeah, I can tackle him. I can tackle anybody in the country," Baker said of Richardson. "Don't need any help."
Wonder if Mr. Richardson will make any note of that. Other LSU defenders, for what it's worth, were not quite so brash. (For more from Baker, check out this well-done brief interview clip from the SEC Digital Network.)

If anyone ever decides to make another Australian fish-out-of-water comedy, we'd suggest they start with the story of LSU punter Brad Wing. Not only did Wing express bemusement at the exorbitant sums now being requested for tickets to the game in which his punting could make a dramatic difference -- "I think a Grand Final ticket in Australia might be 200 bucks. That’s crazy" -- but he's also getting a quick education in the history of the game he's stumbled into. Asked about Bear Bryant, Wing responded that the name "sounds familiar" before asking "Should I know [him]?"

Actually, Brad, it's more funny if you don't.

VIDEO BREAK: CBSSports.com's Tony Barnhart appears on the Tim Brando Show to preview the game:



THE LATEST FROM TUSCALOOSA:
Taking cues from their head coach, the Tide players have been admirably steadfast in their refusal to say anything other than boilerplate one-game-at-a-time-LSU's-a-great-team comments to reporters.

Examples from Monday: "We want to win every game, and LSU is the next team standing in our way, but I wouldn’t say ‘revenge'"; "They have a great defense. They also have a great offense, and we have a great offense and a great offense. It’s just about going out there and playing at our standards and not anybody else’s standards"; "I pay no attention to who the (LSU) coaches play (at quarterback). Having other factors at play just kind of throws us off, and we don’t want that to happen."

Richardson also had praise for the Tiger defense, saying they "don’t back down for anyone. They are going to come for me." But he also admitted that the game is hugely important to him personally--not just because of the stakes involved, but because he wasn't able to help prevent last year's defeat in Baton Rouge.

"I tore an abdominal muscle and I had a slightly torn MCL," he said. "This game means a lot to me, because I didn't get to play in it last year except for about one quarter. So I really can't wait to showcase what a healthy Trent can do in this game."

There's a lot of people, we would guess, that would love to see what a healthy Trent can do in this game. As for what his coach might do, we wrote Sunday that we shouldn't be too shocked if Nick Saban defies his reputation and pulls a trick out of the bag. So we were intrigued to find out that former Tide player and current Houston Texan DeMeco Ryans told the Sporting News that he wouldn't be surprised, either:
"I think the X factor could be a trick play. If you look at coach (Nick) Saban's history, he's got some tricks up his sleeve. I could see him calling a fake punt or an option pass or something like that to break open a close game. He's known for doing that. I hate to admit it, but when I played, he got me on one (fake punt) of those (when Saban was at LSU). As a defensive player or a special teams player, you've got to be aware of the possibility, but you can't let it affect your aggressiveness."
Ryans was one of four current NFL players and LSU/Bama program alums to offer their take on the game; you'll be shocked, shocked to learn that all four picked their former teams to win the game.

Posted on: October 19, 2011 2:42 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2011 9:05 pm
 

LSU's Mathieu, Ware, Simon suspended for Auburn

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Reports out of Baton Rouge are that Tyrann Mathieu's Heisman campaign is about to hit a major speed bump--and that his team may be about to have a more difficult time with visiting Auburn Saturday than initially thought.

According to the Associated Press, a "person familiar with the decision" has indicated that Mathieu is one of three players who will be suspended for (at the minimum) LSU's game against the visiting Tigers this Saturday. Also due to sit is starting tailback and leading rusher Spencer Ware and nickelback Tharold Simon.

At his Wednesday evening press conference, Les Miles declined to confirm or deny the reports. He said all healthy roster members had practiced.

"There is no real information about any specific player," he said. "When there is information to share, I will. The problem with this is it's internal. I am not inclined to be forthcoming with any information on this."

The Daily Reveille, the LSU student newspaper, reported that Mathieu and Ware will be suspended as a result of failing a random drug test. According to a source who spoke to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the players tested positive for "synthetic marijuana." At this time there is no indication the suspensions will be for longer than one game.

The good news for LSU is that while both Mathieu and Ware have made major impacts on the Bayou Bengals' 7-0 start, Les Miles has solid options for replacing both. Even with Simon out as the planned "next man up" at corner, Miles can call on experienced senior Ron Brooks to handle that position, or move either Eric Reid or Brandon Taylor from safety to corner and start the other. And against Auburn's 106th-ranked passing offense, the secondary may not be tested much anyway.

There's plenty of depth at tailback, too. Second-leading rusher Michael Ford is already averaging more than a yard more per carry than Ware and third-stringer-in-name-only Alfred Blue has rushed for better than 150 yards the past three weeks.

The bad news for LSU is that Brooks (or a moonlighting Reid or Taylor) is simply not Mathieu, and Ford and Blue are simply not Ware. That's not likely to matter when it comes to the final outcome Saturday, at least according to Vegas; LSU is installed as a 21-point-plus favorite.

But things might not be as comfortable as Miles or the Death Valley crowd would like, and after a season already plagued with off-field distractions like the Jordan Jefferson bar fight and Russell Shepard suspension, Miles would no doubt have preferred to ramp up toward the Alabama megatilt with his team's focus solely on football. Even if the suspensions prove to be of the one-game variety, that doesn't look like it's going to be the case.
Posted on: October 8, 2011 7:14 pm
Edited on: October 8, 2011 7:20 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 1 LSU 41, No. 17 Florida 11

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



LSU WON: At halftime, the Bayou Bengals had just 211 yards of offense, had completed only two passes, and had suffered the FBS's first-ever touchdown overturned for a live-ball "unsportsmanlike conduct" celebration call (see below). They were also ahead 24-3, because they are LSU, and without John Brantley or backup Jeff Driskel, Florida isn't the same Florida they were earlier this season. True freshman Jacoby Brissett had a few moments under center, but at 8-of-14 for fewer than 100 yards and two interceptions, he couldn't keep Florida moving with any kind of consistency against LSU's typically ferocious defense.

WHY LSU WON: Whatever hope Florida had of winning this game without Brantley or Driskel relied on shutting down the LSU running game ... and the young Gators simply weren't up to it. The Tigers ran the ball a whopping 49 times and still averaged a healthy 4.9 yards per-carry, frequently whipping the Gators up front and pounding them with Spencer Ware's thumping running style. 

At no point was LSU's physical superiority more evident than on the Tigers' second drive of the game, which started on the LSU 43 and went like this: Ware for 13, Ware for 8, Florida offsides, Ware for 4, incompletion, Alfred Blue (pictured) for 13, Blue for 11, Ware for 1, Ware for 2 and the touchdown. That put LSU up 14-0, and Will Muschamp's decision to go for it on 4th-and-1 in his own territory on the Gators' ensuing possession showed just how firmly the LSU offensive front had already seized control of the game--and how desperate the Gators' situation already was.

WHEN LSU WON: The Gators had the faintest glimmer of hope when Brissett found Andre Debose for a 65-yard touchdown strike near the end of the third quarter, doubly so when an ingenious two-point play -- a direct snap to Chris Rainey as Brissett effectively faked a snap over his head -- cut the LSU lead to 27-11 and made the contest, hypothetically, a two-possession game. All of three plays later Jarrett Lee hit Rueben Randle for a 57-yard gain down the Florida 3, andthree plays after that Jordan Jefferson's jump-pass TD restored the lead to 34-11. Good night, Gators.

WHAT LSU WON: Another week at the top of the AP poll, no doubt, and another hurdle cleared on their to way to Nov 5's Game of the Century of the Year against Alabama.

WHAT FLORIDA LOST: Though no one will fault the Gators too badly for losing to the Tide and Tigers, they still count for two SEC losses--one more than either South Carolina or Georgia have at the moment, with both still to come on the schedule. And Muschamp can't be happy with how his team has been shoved around on both lines of scrimmage.

THAT WAS CRAZY: LSU's Australian punter Brad Wing probably wasn't expecting to become a footnote in college football history when he woke up Saturday morning, but that's what happened on a fake punt early in the second quarter. Wing was strolling towards the end zone for what would have been a 44-yard touchdown when he extended his arms in what may have been innocent celebration and may have been a slight taunt in the Gators' direction; either way, he was flagged for it, becoming the first-ever player to have a touchdown wiped off the board for a live-ball unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Posted on: October 1, 2011 3:41 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 1 LSU 35, Kentucky 7

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

LSU WON: SEC wins simply don't get more ho-hum than this. Kentucky gained just 59 yards of offense through three quarters and didn't penetrate any further than the LSU 47 until fewer than nine minutes remained, meaning that even as the LSU offense sputtered -- 8-of-21 passing for Jarrett Lee and fewer than 4 yards per-carry probably weren't what the home crowd had in mind -- their 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter was never remotely threatened. The game had two bursts of excitement: when Jordan Jefferson came off the bench to sneak in from a yard out for that first LSU touchdown, and when budding Heisman candidate Tyrann Mathieu stripped replacement Wildcat quarterback Maxwell Smith, recovered the fumble, and returned it for his second touchdown of the season. 

WHY LSU WON: Because the collision of the impotent Kentucky offense and the ruthless LSU defense was as brutally one-sided as you'd expect. The Wildcats' first five drives all ended in three-and-outs as the Tiger defensive line crushed any efforts at running the ball -- their first nine attempts went for five yards or fewer -- and Kentucky starting quarterback Morgan Newton had been sacked twice before he completed his first pass ... on his 10th attempt. That Joker Phillips sent the true freshman Smith on for the second half ... against LSU ... down 14 ... in Death Valley should tell you the depths of the Wildcats' desperation.

The Wildcats' only realistic hope of getting on the board against LSU's first string was a turnover or huge special teams play. But the Tigers never lost a fumble or threw an interception, and committed just four penalties. The list of teams that can beat the Tigers when they commit that few mistakes is very, very short, and Kentucky most assuredly isn't on it.

WHEN LSU WON: The Tigers' 14-0 lead at halftime was more-or-less unassailable, but the win might as well have gone into the record books when they took their first drive of the second half 68 yards in 10 plays, capping it with a one-yard Alfred Blue plunge. At 21-0, Kentucky's chances of coming back were identical to their chances of coming back if the score was 437-0.

WHAT LSU WON: Another boost to Mathieu's All-American campaign, another notch in the win column, plenty of rest for the Tiger starters in the late-going. Aside from a little more crispness on offense, Les Miles couldn't have asked for much more.

WHAT KENTUCKY LOST: Just another bit of confidence in their offense to do anything against top-notch defensive competition. But given how little was expected of the Wildcats going on the road to face the No. 1 team in the nation, not much else.

Posted on: August 15, 2011 4:19 pm
Edited on: August 15, 2011 4:27 pm
 

SEC RapidReport roundup, 8/15: Wilson on fire

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Running down everything you need to know from the weekend's news in the SEC, courtesy of our CBSSports.com RapidReporters.


ARKANSAS: Maybe that Knile Davis injury won't hurt the Hogs as badly as expected? That might be the lesson from Tyler Wilson's scorching fall camp, which continued through the weekend after a 16-of-20 performance in the scrimmage in which Davis was injured. Saturday, Wilson hit all 10 of his passes in a skeleton drill and had newly-anointed starting tailback Ronnie Wingo singing his praises. "“He’s taken control of the offense," Wingo said.

Wilson's progress has been helped by a new film system in which the Hogs' practice is shot from a camera at the top of a pole positioned behind the offense. More good news for the Hogs: starting lineman Grant Cook is back at practice and JUCO linebacker Alonzo Highsmith appears to have a starting position locked up.

GEORGIA: True freshman outside linebacker Ray Drew was expected to contribute early and often after picking the Dawgs over offers from nearly every school in the country, but that job became harder Sunday after Drew sprained his shoulder in a scooter accident. He's considered day-to-day.

But the much bigger injury crisis for the Bulldogs is taking place in the backfield--three of the first four tailbacks on the depth chart were forced to miss practice Saturday, including potential starters Richard Samuel and Isaiah Crowell.

LSU: Michael Ford arrived at Baton Rouge as a much-hyped running back prospect, but he was not among the four tailbacks mentioned by Les Miles as being in the starting mix for the Tigers. Those would be Spencer Ware (the favorite), Jakhari Gore, Alfred Blue, and true freshman Terrence McGee, who Miles singled out for some praise. "It's who's got the hot hand a little bit, and right now it would be those four," Miles said.

ALABAMA: Nick Saban sounded less than thrilled with his running game's iffy performance in the Tide's Saturday scrimmage. "At some point in this camp, we need to develop some cohesion,” he said. “I feel like we have power up front, and we should be a better running team." The passing game still has to yet to begin working with one of its key pieces, too, as receiver Duron Carter has not yet begin practicing as the school waits to solve a transcript issue.

But the Tide defense rolls on as expected; Mark Barron is 100 percent after last year's pectoral injury and redshirt freshman OLB Adrian Hubbard drew praise from Saban -- no easy task -- for his pass-rushing potential.

MISSISSIPPI STATE: Via the Clarion-Ledger's Brandon Marcello, Dan Mullen was not happy with his team's Saturday practice and was even more disgusted with the Bulldogs' Monday morning effort, calling the offensive showing "pathetic." Also: though Clemson transfer linebacker Brandon Maye has been expected by many to occupy one of MSU's three vacant starting linebacker positions, Mullen said Maye "has a long way to go to get a spot."

ELSEWHERE: Jadeveon Clowney collected a pair of sacks in South Carolina's weekend scrimmage, but defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson says he's not in line for a starting position just yet ... Florida do-everything tight end Jordan Reed got a look at punt returner over the weekend--and from the sound of things, came away with a shot at the job ... Speaking of punt returns, Auburn assistant Trooper Taylor said he'd take some heat this year if the Tigers' lackluster returns on his watch didn't improve. "It needs to get better or somebody else will be here talking to you," he said. "I'll be spraying fruit at Walmart" ... Tennessee is poised to start a pair of true freshmen linebackers in Curt Maggitt and A.J. Johnson. And while Derek Dooley was pleased with the improved "efficiency" of the Vol offense under Tyler Bray, Bray still completed just 12 of 26 passes (46 percent) in Saturday's scrimmage ... And speaking of errant passing, the three quarterbacks dueling for the Ole Miss job went a combined 7-of-24 in the Rebels' weekend scrimmage.


 
 
 
 
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