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LSU Defenders May Be Young, But They Say They’re Still Tough

gfx - they said itThere are five SEC squads in most national preseason top 10 polls.  LSU is not among them.  The likely reason for the Tigers’ absence is the enormous turnover the team experienced on the defensive side of the ball this offseason.

Only three of last year’s starters on defense are back.  But everyone from Les Miles (“It looks like the kind of defense that we’re used to having here at LSU.”) to defensive tackle Anthony Johnson believes it will be business as usual for John Chavis’ bunch:


“We’ll be the same as always.  We play fast, physical and dominant.  We’re going to go out there with a great game plan like Chavis always puts us in, and we’re going to go out there and play great football.  We’re going to be disciplined and attack the guys in front of us.”


The sheer number of starters lost suggests a drop off for the LSU defense.

But Chavis’ track record, the squad’s history under Miles, and one top 10 recruiting class after another suggest otherwise.

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SEC Headlines 8/16/2013

headlines-friSEC Football

1. A question at LSU.  Will Les Miles grant offensive coordinator Cam Cameron the same autonomy he does defensive coordinator John Chavis?  ”Miles has been guilty of meddling in the past.”

2. Could true freshman Ethan Pocic earn the starting center job at LSU?

3. Lineman Austin Long has lost his academic eligibility at Georgia.

4. What is South Carolina trying to do with quarterbacks Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson? “If we tell you guys (the media), we might as well tell the whole world.”

5. Your reaction to Tennessee’s new uniforms may come down to how old you are. Depending on how the Vols play, Butch Jones will be viewed as a “clueless maverick” or a “creative genius.”

6. Texas A&M University System chancellor John Sharp is defending Johnny Manziel: “I don’t believe the stories I hear from ticket brokers and people like that.” ESPN analyst Desmond Howard: ”They didn’t do this with Terrelle Pryor or A.J. Green.”

7. Florida defensive end Dante Fowler on 6-8, 363 pound offensive lineman Trenton Brown: “I never want Trenton to fall on me. If he does, I’m pretty sure my body will be imprinted in the grass.”

8. Arkansas defensive coordinator Chris Ash on defensive tackle Darius Philon: “He’s actually been one of the more surprise players here in training camp…”

9. The formidable challenge facing Gus Malzhan always comes back to a certain in-state rival: “If possible, Alabama’s stronger now than it was when Malzahn took the Auburn job eight months ago.”

10. Nick Saban on junior offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio: “I don’t think I’ve seen anybody more dedicated or determined, work harder.”

11. Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee on Kiehl Frazier’s transition to safety: ”He’s a phenomenal athlete. I think being a quarterback will help him pick things up pretty quick.”

12. Expect Vanderbilt to expand the offensive playbook this fall.

13. Lacking depth at the position, Ole Miss tries to creative in its approach to tight ends.

14. Missouri senior receiver  L’Damian Washington has gone from 160 to 200 pounds in the last four years.  ”I think a lot of that credit goes to (strength) coach (Pat) Ivey, putting on 40 pounds (on me) and getting (me) faster. That’s remarkable.” Bruised his heel this morning.

15. Senior Raymond Sanders the likely starter at running back for Kentucky.

Practice Notes

16. Tennessee coach Butch Jones says junior cornerback  Riyahd Jones may be out a while with a calf injury. “It could be a couple of months.”

17. Alabama freshman running back Alvin Kamara had his knee scoped Thursday – expected back in a couple of weeks.

18. Trio of freshmen steal the show at Thursday night’s Mississippi State scrimmage.

19. More than a thousand fans turn out to watch Florida practice Thursday night. Gators freshman defensive back Vernon Hargreaves has a sprained shoulder.

20. Florida coach Will Muschamp on today’s scrimmage: ”This is going to be moving day for a lot of guys.”

21. Georgia starting free safety Tray Matthews returns to practice – limited by shoulder and hamstring injuries. Freshman outside linebacker Leonard Floyd drawing attention from coaches.

22. Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin still hasn’t determined second phase of punishment for projected defensive starters Deshazor Everett and Floyd Raven Sr.  Three quarterbacks battling to back up Johnny Manziel.

23. Gus Malzahn was asked if Auburn defensive lineman Dee Ford’s knee injury will cause him to miss the season-opener: ”I would definitely hope not.”

24. There’s a battle for one spot along South Carolina’s defensive line.

25. Battle for defensive tackle spot at Vanderbilt. “It’s a heated battle, and I love it.”

SEC/College News

26. SEC BeachFest this weekend in Gulf Shores.

27. Vikings running back Adrian Peterson says college players like Johnny Manziel should get paid. ”The universities are making a lot of money off of student-athletes in general. So, yeah, he should be able to make money.”

28. Louisville A.D. Tom Jurich on keeping coach Charlie Strong: ”I was prepared to match anyone. Probably the only people I can’t compete with are the NFL.”


29. It took him 41 hours and 33 minutes.  A man runs 163 miles without sleeping to honor Boston Marathon victims.

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WOW Headlines – 5/14/13

New Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson says last year’s AU team was “a lot better than a three-win team”
LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis says that his rebuilt defense has “got to build depth”
Georgia OL Chris Burnette says the Bulldogs’ offensive line can be one of the greatest in school history
Florida G DeVon Walker has changed his mind and decided not to transfer
Auburn president Jay Gogue has written a letter to Auburn fans supporting AD Jay Jacobs
Tennessee has fired its director of the Office of Student Judicial Affairs after reports surfaced of inappropriate relationships between the director and student-athletes
Tennessee is investigating the situation
Follow SEC football, basketball and recruiting all year long at

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Report: Ex-Clemson DC Steele To Join LSU Staff

According to — the Rivals site covering LSU — former Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele will be trading in his old purple and orange Tiger stripes for a set of purple and gold stripes.  Fired after a 70-33 Orange Bowl beatdown at the hands of West Virginia, Steele will reportedly join the LSU staff in “some type of administrative position.”  (Oh, and yes, that 70-33 score is correct.) reports that “LSU officials are still working out the details of Steele’s job responsibilitis to make sure NCAA guidelines are being followed.”

Steele played at Tennessee and began his coaching career there in 1982.  Since then he’s coached at New Mexico State, Oklahoma State, Tennessee (again), Nebraska, Carolina of the NFL, Baylor, Florida State, Alabama and at Clemson.  He was D-coordinator at both Alabama and Clemson and reportedly turned down advances from Derek Dooley at Tennessee to make a third stop at his alma mater.

While a player at UT in 1978, Steele was teammates with long time friend and fellow South Carolina native John Chavis.  Chavis, of course, is LSU’s current defensive coordinator.

If Steele does join Chavis in Baton Rouge, he’ll be making his fourth stop in the SEC and be reuniting with one of his best friends.

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SEC Headlines – 4/25/12

1.  Here’s a quick overview on the current state of the BCS versus playoff debate.

2.  SEC newbies Missouri and Texas A&M are gearing up for Year One in their new home.

3.  Several ex-Alabama stars are hoping “the Saban Effect” will make their NFL draft waits shorter.

4.  Auburn has made progress on its new offensive identity.

5.  Jeff Long found Arkansas’ solution for 2012, but the search will go for the man to lead the Hogs in 2013 and beyond.  (Remember: Butch Davis.)

6.  LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis — with a new deal in the works – will be the SEC latest million-bucks-a-year assistant coach.

7.  New Rebel football coach Hugh Freeze and AD Ross Bjork are hitting the road to unite the Ole Miss fanbase.

8.  Freeze says UM’s quarterback battle goes on.  (“The race goes on, Judah.”  A little “Ben Hur” for you film buffs.)  And questions remain.

9.  Dan Mullen is happy with his team’s attitude at Mississippi State.

10.  Kevin Sumlin says Texas A&M’s quarterbacks are progressing faster than he expected.

11.  Want a summary of Florida’s recent football woes?  Chris Rainey might be the only Gator drafted into the NFL this year.  Wow.

12.  Will Muschamp is optimistic heading into summer.

13.  Georgia’s kickers are hoping to hear their names called at the NFL draft.

14.  Kentucky’s John Calipari threw out a first-pitch strike before a Cincinnati Reds game last night.  (For what it’s worth, the Mason-Dixon line in my view lies somewhere between Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio.  In Columbus, a “How ya doin?” will be met with a blank stare.  In Cincinnati, you’ll get a “Fine, how’re you?” back.  And for all the Ohio fans angry that Cincy honored UK’s hoops team last night, they do realize their airport is actually in Kentucky, don’t they?)

15.  New South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin says he “didn’t run away from Kansas State” because he was mad at that school’s AD and administration. ( That means he’s the first person to believe that.)

16.  Derek Dooley has released a post-spring depth chart at Tennessee.

17.  Vanderbilt’s James Franklin wanted turf not grass at Dudley Field… and what Franklin wants, he gets.  (Good for Vandy.  They really are making a commitment to their coach.)

18.  SEC coaches say Missouri’s offense will present league defenses with a new set of challenges.

19.  The coaches at Mizzou and A&M have walked onto difficult ground by entering the Southeastern Conference.

20.  Fans of both schools are getting more excited about joining their new league.

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SEC Recruiting Headlines – 1/23/12

1. Here’s more on Florida picking up a commitment from defensive end Alex McCalister.

2. SEC schools have pulled top prospects out of the state of North Carolina. McCalister is just the latest.

3. Alabama’s new assistant coaches are getting acclimated to their new jobs in Tuscaloosa.

4. LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis should be happy to have a commitment from linebacker Lorenzo Phillips.

5. Mississippi State made defensive end A.J. Jefferson “feel at home” before he committed to the Bulldogs.

6. Vanderbilt has made it a priority to recruit well in the state of Tennessee.

7. Tennessee has held on to the majority of its class despite the loss of six assistant coaches during the offseason.

8. Tennessee linebacker commit Justin King plans to study special education when he attends UT.

9. Florida remains in the picture for former Georgia Tech commit Junior Gnonkonde.

10. Here’s a report from the past recruiting weekend at both Alabama and Auburn.

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Report: LSU’s Chavis Turns Down $1 Million Offer From UT

Apparently LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis believes the old phrase: “You can’t go home again.”  According to the Twitter feed of Knoxville radio host Jimmy Hyams, Chavis had the chance to return to his Tennessee roots but he turned it down.

Along with more than a million bucks:

“UT offered LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis the DC job at over $1 million a year.  He declined.  Chavis coached at UT from 1989-2008.”

Chavis also played at Tennessee. 

But it’s well known the man running LSU’s tough-as-nails defense wasn’t thrilled with the way he and his old boss, Phillip Fulmer, were sent packing following their second losing season in four back in ’08.  The odds of him leaving a well-stocked, championship caliber program in a talent-rich state for a tougher job with a coach on the hot seat at a place that allowed Lane Kiffin to fire him after a 60-second meeting were mighty, mighty long.  Probably too long for Derek Dooley to have even given this one a shot. 

But many in the Volunteer fanbase will likely approve of the attempt to bring the man called Chief back to his old home.

And many more in Louisiana will be glad to know that his blood now runs purple and gold, not orange.

As for Tennessee, it’s been rumored that Dooley had also targeted Clemson’s Kevin Steele, but last night’s 70-33 shellacking at the hands of West Virginia might have cooled that talk.  The Vols are looking to replace Justin Wilcox who left to become the defensive coordinator at Washington.

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10 For The BCS Title Game – Thursday Edition

Here’s Day Two of our BCS title game look-around:

1.  Alabama players are confident that they’re ready for Monday’s showdown.

2.  LSU’s Jordan Jefferson wants to end his career on a high note.

3.  Here’s a preview of Bama’s receivers versus the Tigers’ secondary…

4.  And here’s a preview of LSU’s receivers versus the Tide’s secondary.

5.  The Tigers might be getting tired of hearing claims out of Alabama that the Tide beat themselves in the first game.

6.  Can Monday’s sequel match the intensity and drama of Game of the Century I?

7.  For Alabama, they’re on a business trip this week.

8.  Les Miles says what sets John Chavis apart is “how much heart he puts into” coaching.

9.  Kirk Herbstreit knows the moment when the SEC started to pull away from the Big Ten and everyone else.  (Hint: We said the same yesterday.)  Another must-read piece from Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News.

10.  If someone’s going to knock off the SEC next year, keep an eye on ex-SEC coach Lane Kiffin and Southern Cal.

Bonus — Ex-MSU coach and Alabama player Sylvester Croom says Bama “changed the way we look at football in the South” when it came to integration.

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SEC Headlines 10/15/2011 Part Three

1. Alabama would support Missouri’s entrance into the conference if it plays in SEC East, writes Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News.

2. Tennessee will have a gift on the field for LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis, who once played and coached at UT.

3. Urban Meyer received a $1 million payment from Florida after his tenure ended.

4. Georgia freshman tailback Isaiah Crowell is still getting used to life outside of football.

5. Dennis Dodd of hits on several SEC items in his Weekend Watch List.

6. Forward Murphy Holloway has been cleared to play basketball for Ole Miss.

7. Defensive tackle prospect Carlos Watkins chose Clemson over Florida on Friday night.

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Miles Loves The “Want” Of His Defense

Through three games, LSU defense looks as good, fast, mean, smart and powerful as any defensive unit in college football.  Heck, even the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs might trade D’s straight up with Les Miles if they could.

Miles, no surprise, loves what he’s seen from John Chavis’ latest group:

“I am the LSU coach, and I love every one of those teams (his current squad is being compared to).  I can tell you that this defense is one of the fastest teams that I’ve had.  There are more big-time plays made on this defense than I’ve been around for a while.  If the defense continues to play with that intensity, it has the opportunity to be a special defense…

You can coach it and insist on it, but there comes a natural intensity that this defense seems to bring.  There are some guys that take the field that just can’t wait for the next play.  That is a wonderful piece for a defense.  Just line the offense up so that we can get one more play in.  That kind of want is pretty special.”

How special can LSU’s defense be?  Well, it’s way too soon to be making serious comparisons, but if the Tigers play as well in their last nine games as they have in their first three, they might deserve mention alongside the 1992 Alabama defense — which for my money is the best SEC defense of the past quarter-century.

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