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Pass Happy? LSU Will Still Lean On Its Power Run Game Against TCU

lsu-running-gameMuch of the talk in Baton Rouge this offseason has centered on quarterback Zach Mettenberger, new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, and a new commitment to the passing game.  That’s all well and good, but Les Miles is still the head coach, not Mike Leach.

When LSU faces TCU’s 4-2-5 defensive scheme on Saturday, expect the Tigers to try to crank up their traditional power run game early and often.  “Coach Miles emphasized in the meeting we’ve got to be able to run and pass the football,” tailback Alfred Blue told The Baton Rouge Advocate.  “In the past we’ve been pretty good at running the football here, and he’s trying to get that passing game going more.”

“We’ve just got to keep running physical and get those tough yards if they stack the box,” Blue continued.  “It’s those three or four yards, and eventually they’ll back off once we start throwing the football.  Once they do that, who knows?”

“There’s a lot of outside zone and outside toss plays that we can do to get out on that edge.  If they want us to stack that middle and allow us to get that edge, so be it.  I’d rather the edge anyway.”

Coaches rarely change their DNA.  And Miles is a man wired to run first, pass second.  Below are LSU’s run-versus-pass numbers for the last five seasons:

 

2012 — 527 rushes, 356 passes

2011 — 591 rushes, 279 passes

2010 — 538 rushes, 301 passes

2009 — 435 rushes, 336 passes

2008 — 495 rushes, 391 passes

 

Cameron and Mettenberger may toss the ball around the yard a bit more this season, but as running back Kenny Hilliard said this week: “That’s what we do here.  We pound the ball.”

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Another Coach Calls Bama’s Saban “The Devil”

nick-saban-the-devilsFirst, what’s said at a booster club probably shouldn’t make national news.  But in a world with social media, cell phone cameras, and booster events attended by media members, what’s said at those luncheons and dinners does make national news.

For that reason, Florida offensive line coach Tim Davis probably shouldn’t have said this in front of a Gator fan club yesterday:

 

“I’ve always wanted to work with Will (Muschamp).  Will’s got a plan.  Will coached under the devil himself for seven years.  I only did three.  He did seven.  And his DNA is not any different than Nick…

Will’s like the other guy, only he’s got a personality.  He’ll smile at you.  He’ll talk to you.  You understand?  that’s what he’s all about.  That’s Will.  I’m proud to work for him.”

 

Right.  And here comes Prince Charming now:

 

Will Muschamp is angry

 

Davis is the second SEC coach to make a Luciferian reference to Saban this offseason.  Vanderbilt’s James Franklin called Alabama’s coach “Nicky Satan” at a high school awards banquet in Georgia back in January.  He later called the Tide’s coach to apologize.

At least Davis made his comment in front of Florida fans.

Of course, the fact that Davis actually worked with Saban in the NFL and for a year at Alabama makes his comment seem a bit more serious than Franklin’s poorly-timed joke.

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ESPN Plays Up Saban Rumors, Others Play Them Right Back Down

On Monday, we said that Alabama’s big distraction for the month leading up to the BCS Championship Game would be Nick Saban’s rumored return to the National Football League.  A report in The Boston Globe this past weekend claimed that Saban — at some point — had told league sources that if he were to return to the pro ranks, he would do so with old Cleveland Browns co-worker Michael Lombardi as his GM.  Well, the Cleveland Browns might just hire Lombardi in the coming weeks.

Ah, ha!

Yesterday, the endless run of game show-like daily programming on ESPN ran the Saban story over and over.  Each of the network’s “I’ll take this point, you take that point and we’ll pretend to have a heated discussion” shows brought up The Globe’s story for discussion/argument.  After running all day on ESPN, the Saban story became America’s hottest game of connect-the-dots.

Trouble is… that’s all the story is.  It’s connecting dots.  Saban supposedly told someone if he returned to the NFL he’d do so with Lombardi.  Dot #1.  Lombardi might be hired in Cleveland.  Dot #2.  So if he is, Saban will go.  Dot #3.

Well, if we ever record and release a MrSEC.com reggae album, we’ll do so in December of 2012.  But the fact that it’s December of 2012 doesn’t mean we’re actually going to put out a reggae album.  Follow?

Forget logic, though.  The reading of signs has already begun.  Lombardi appeared on WKRK-FM in Cleveland yesterday and said of Saban: “He’s got great drive and he’s never satisfied.  Nick is always about the next challenge.”

So he must be leaving.

But at Alabama: “(Saban) can control all the things he wants to control in his environment.  I think he’s very content there.”

So he must be staying.  Whatever your view, Lombardi gave you something you could read into.

Taking things a step further, ESPN personalities Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic — as a kickoff to the wall-to-wall coverage to come on ESPN television — claimed yesterday morning that Saban would probably be interested in the Browns job because he appears to be unhappy at Alabama.

He does?

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DNA Inconclusive In LSU Bar Fight Case; If Jefferson Returns, Miles Will Have A Big Decision To Make

There’s some good news for LSU football players Jordan Jefferson and Josh Johns today — tests for DNA evidence in their bar fight case have been deemed inconclusive.  A grand jury is scheduled to begin hearing evidence in the case tomorrow.

Jefferson and Johns were arrested last month on charges of second-degree battery following a bar fight in Baton Rouge that left four people hospitalized.  The pair’s shoes were DNA tested to determine whether or not Jefferson or Johns kicked one of the victims while he was on the ground.

“This case will not be determined by DNA alone,” Hiller Moore, the DA for East Baton Rouge Parish, said.  “It will depend, like most other cases, on witness testimony and their credibility.”

No doubt.  But the state tested those shoes in the hopes of proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that one of the two players was the kicker/stomper in the brawl.  And they could not do it.

“The absence of (Andrew) Lowery’s DNA on Jordan’s show supports our postition that Jordan will be cleared,” said attorney Lance Unglesby.  “He should not have been arrested.”

Both players were suspended indefinitely by LSU coach Les Miles after their arrests.  The Tigers have raced out to a 3-0 start with Jarrett Lee filling in as the team’s starting quarterback.

If/when Jefferson is released, Miles will have a big decision to make.  Will Jefferson come back and get a shot at his old job?  Or has Lee earned the starter’s gig permanently?

If he’s released, it certainly seems that Jefferson should step right back in as LSU’s quarterback.  Just as some believe a player shouldn’t lose his job due to injury, one probably shouldn’t lose his job due to a wrongful arrest, either.

But there’s also the “right and wrong” of a football team.  In a world of Wally Pipp’s and Tom Brady’s, it might be right for Jefferson to get a piece of his job back, but it seems more right for the team that Miles not upset the apple cart.

LSU is rolling along quite smoothly at the moment.  Fair or not, Miles should stick with Lee until he gives him a reason or two to call Jefferson in from the bench.  If charges against Jefferson are indeed dropped.

Of course, just having Jefferson on the bench looking over Lee’s shoulder might be enough to negatively impact how the Tiger starter plays.

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Strength and Conditioning

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Mark Richt rebuilt the Georgia Bulldog football program in 2001 on the core premise of Finishing the Drill. The idea was simple. If we work harder than the other guys, we’re going to win the fourth quarter and therefore the game. (Image by Jim Hipple)

There’s been lots of bitching and moaning here and elsewhere about our strength program. The crux of the argument usually sounds like this, “Look at us getting mauled at the line of scrimmage.” Or “I hear bad things about S&C.” Beyond that the feedback is usually either very vague or full of innuendo.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t really know what goes on in the weight room. But you know what? I don’t care. I don’t give a damn if they try ballet, dabble in yoga, bust rocks or replicate the Siberian Workout Scene from Rocky IV. The process is of no interest to me. All I care about is the outcome.

This year against BCS opposition, Georgia was outscored in the fourth quarter/OT in 8 of 10 games by a combined score of 54 UGA to 88 opposition. In the six losses, the numbers are even more lopsided at 37-61. That point differential is an unacceptable outcome.

This isn’t a symptom of some larger issue. This is one of the DNA-level problems that Coach Richt has to resolve between now and next season, and it’s not going to be solved by touting fake 40 yard dash times or making field trips the swimming pool.

It’s time to GATA again.

PWD


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Elmore: Pearl Should Be Suspended For Two Years

ESPN broadcaster — and former Maryland star and member of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics — Len Elmore says that Tennessee’s Bruce Pearl should be suspended for two years for lying to NCAA investigators.

“That would really be taking a stand,” Elmore says on USAToday.com.  He believes the penalties self-imposed by Tennessee as well as those handed down by the SEC were “too soft.” 

Pearl will lose $1.5 million in salary over five seasons.  He is not allowed to recruit off-campus for a year.  And he will miss the first half of UT’s SEC schedule this season.  In addition, the NCAA will hand down its own penalties in the coming months.

“That sanction is no swift penalty,” Elmore said of the the eight-game ban.  “I call it mercy.  When people perjure themselves, you have to go after them hard.”

Wow.  I wonder if Elmore is a church-going man.  If so, he’s going to the wrong one.

As for Pearl’s decision to eventually coming clean to the NCAA, Elmore said, “A lot of times people are motivated to do that because they’re going to be found out.  It’s a mitigating factor but not enough to warrant a mere eight-game sanction.  That’s a total cop-out.”

When it comes to calling for people’s heads over moral failings — and that’s what lying is — that’s not in my DNA, as you surely know by now.  Sue me.  I’m a minister’s son and I get tired of watching sinners scream for other sinners to be stoned.  So I’ll give a thumbs-down to Elmore’s anti-mercy stance.

However, when it comes to the actual facts of this case, Pearl is the man at fault.  Pearl created enemies in the coaching profession when he ratted out Jimmy Collins of Illinois 20 years ago.  He should have known better than to cheat in any way, form or fashion — even if that cheating involved a barbecue and less than a 100 phone calls.  (Some say that’s nothing, others say that’s awful, either way it’s something.)

Pearl also should have just come clean to NCAA investigators when shown a photo taken in his own house.  He did not.  Perhaps he panicked.  Perhaps he tried to mastermind a cover-up.  That’s for the NCAA to decide.

Even before this incident, Pearl’s teams were often ranked lower in the coaches’ poll than in the AP poll.  Many coaches see Pearl as a self-promoter.  They weren’t impressed by his one shirtless night at a women’s basketball game half a decade ago and they didn’t buy his tears at his mea culpa press conference in September.

For basketball people who dislike Pearl, they have the goods on him now.  The barbecue, the illegal contacts, the lie.  And that’s no one’s fault but Pearl’s.  He and the Tennessee program will have to live with that.

But to angrily — at least Elmore’s words read angrily — call for harsher, stiffer punishments while also pooh-poohing mercy?  Sorry, I won’t go there.

And in case you’re wondering why we didn’t link to news that former Georgia AD Damon Evans had his arraignment for drunk driving postponed in the Peach State today… same principle. 

There are plenty of people in this world who like to pile onto others for their moral slip-ups.  I’ll try to stick to tossing barbs about bad play-selection and poor recruiting instead.

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