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SEC In The NFL – A.J. Green & Julio Jones Putting Up Almost Identical Numbers

Many similarities exist between A.J. Green (Georgia) and Julio Jones(Alabama).  Both are wide receivers who played their Saturday football in the SEC, both were taken early in the first round of the NFL draft – Green went fourth to the Bengals while Jones went sixth to the Falcons– and a quarter of the way through their first NFL season, both wideouts find themselves atop the rookie leaderboard.

On Sunday, the symmetry continued as both players went over 100 receiving yards, their teams won close games and the Bengals and Falcons now sport identical 2-2 records.

Green caught four passes – including a couple of highlight grabs – for 118 yards in Cincinnati’s 23-20 victory over the previously undefeated Buffalo Bills.

On the road at Seattle, Jones caught 11 passes for 127 yards in Atlanta’s 30-28 victory over the Seahawks. Only seven players have ever caught more passes against Seattle.

It was the second this season Jones has had more than 100 yard receiving in a game.  Green has also crossed the century mark twice.

For the season, Jones leads all rookies in receiving yards with 342.  Second place? Green, of course.  He has 312 receiving yards.

Rookie running back Stevan Ridley (LSU) saw his most extension action on Sunday, carrying the ball 10 times for a game-high 97 yards in New England’s 31-19 victory over Oakland.

“The offensive line did an awesome job. Like I said, those were the biggest holes I’ve ever seen in my life. So I just had to keep running and hit them at full speed,” said the Patriots rookie.

While Ridley had more rushing yards than Oakland’s Darren McFaddeen (Arkansas) who finished with 75 yards on 14 carries, McFadden still leads the NFL in rushing for the season – with 468 yards and an impressive 6.2 yards per carry.

Matthew Stafford (Georgia) and his Detroit Lions are a weekly staple here on SEC in the NFL – and this week is no exception.  Stafford led the Lions back from a 20-point deficit for the second straight week as Detroit defeated Dallas 34-30.

“Any time you can come back from 20 down, you are doing some kind of stealing.  But you have to play great to steal one like this,” said the Lions quarterback.

The Lions trailed Dallas 27-3 in the third quarter before embarking on their comeback. The Lions defense was responsible for two touchdowns but Stafford led the Lions on two TD drives, including what proved to the game winning score with just 2:34 left in the fourth quarter.

Stafford finished with 240 yards passing on the day.  The Lions are 4-0 for the first time since 1980.

In Houston, it was the running game that made the difference against Pittsburgh. Arian Foster (Tennessee) played his first full game since last January and become only the third running back in the past decade to rush for more than 150 yards against the Steelers defense.

“One thing about him,” coach Gary Kubiak said, “if you don’t have a good play, that big body of his falls forward, and it’s still a 2- or 3-yard (gain). He’s always a falling-forward guy. That’s just the way he plays the game. It’s so positive with what we’re doing.”

Foster rushed for 155 yards on 30 carries in the Texans 17-10 win over the Steelers.

A few other notes from around the league:

Two former SEC quarterbacks faced off in Chicago.  One got the stats – the other got the victory.  Cam Newton (Auburn) threw for 374 yards but the Carolina Panthers fell short against Jay Cutler (Vanderbilt) and the Chicago Bears – losing 34-29.

Two SEC alums accounted for all the points for the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday.  Ryan Succop (South Carolina) kicked five goals – including one from 54 yards – and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (LSU) caught a 52-yard touchdown pass as the Chiefs got their first win of the season – beating Minnesota 22-17.

Eli Manning had another impressive game and the New York Giants got another win.  The Giants rallied to beat the Arizona Cardinals 31-27.  Manning threw for 321 yards and two touchdowns.

The last touchdown came right after perhaps the most controversial call of the weekend.  Receiver Victor Cruz caught a Manning pass, dropped to the ground, left the ball, and then got up– all without being touched.

“We got a break on that one I think,” said Manning after the game. “I thought it was going to get ruled a fumble and I saw it pretty clear.  I don’t know what the call was or why.”

The referee ruled that Cruz “game himself up” on the play and was therefore down. Manning connected with Hakeem Nicks on what proved to be the game-winning touchdown on the very next play. The Giants are 3-1.

And finally, a week in the NFL can’t go by without mentioning Tim Tebow (Florida) and the Denver Broncos.  Denver was crushed by the Packers on Sunday 49-23.  Tebow saw action for one play and lost a yard.  After the game, Denver coach John Fox said he’s sticking with the starter. “We feel Kyle Orton is our starting quarterback.”

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SEC Headlines – 2/27/11

1.  Florida failed to snap Kentucky’s home winning streak and fell 76-68 to the Cats yesterday.

2.  UF top scorer Erving Walker has a rough time shooting against UK.

3.  Trey Thompkins and Georgia routed South Carolina 64-48 last night.

4.  UGA tailback Washaun Ealey is off of suspension after three weeks.

5.  Freshman Isaiah Crowell wants to rush for 1,000 yards as a freshman.

6.  John Calipari says beating Florida was a “huge” win for his Wildcats.

7.  Darius Miller is blossoming down the stretch for UK.

8.  Carolina was ice cold – try 17 of 60 from the field — in their loss in Athens.

9.  USC played better in the second half, “but it was just too much to overcome.”

10.  Tennessee suffered another bad loss at home, 70-69 to Mississippi State yesterday.

11.  Rick Stansbury said after the game that he wanted the Vols to jack up threes (because they can’t hit them).

12.  This writer believes an arrogant Bruce Pearl is heading for a fall.

13.  Vanderbilt’s stars came to life in the second half of a 90-69 rout of LSU in Baton Rouge yesterday.

14.  Lance Goulbourne said he’s still not 100% and probably won’t be until the end of the season.

15.  Alabama blew a double-digit lead in losing to Ole Miss 68-63 in Oxford. 

16.  The loss hurts Bama’s tourney resume and kept them from gaining sole possession of the SEC’s regular-season lead.

17.  Auburn lost another heartbreaker 57-55 to Arkansas yesterday.

18.  Cam Newton met the press at the NFL combine yesterday.

19.  A question about why he went off Gene Chizik’s script during the BCS title game caused Newton to stumble in a team interview.

20.  Ryan Mallett’s team interviews got “favorable reviews” at the combine…

21.  But he didn’t handle his media session very well.  (Asked about his on-field decision-making, Mallett said, “Seven-thousand yards and 60 touchdowns in two seasons.  That’s how I respond to that.”  How Ryan Leaf-ish.)

22.  Delvon Johnson won the game for the Razorbacks on a dunk with six seconds remaining.

23.  LSU started strong but faded against Vandy.

24.  Ex-Tiger tailback Stevan Ridley says Les Miles’ club is “going to win it all” in 2011.

25.  Miles’ coaching style drew some great praise from Kelvin Sheppard at the NFL Combine.

26.  MSU’s win in Knoxville yesterday was its first since 1999… Dee Bost said the team was “fighting” for play-by-play man Jack Cristil.

27.  The win capped Cristil’s career with another win wrapped in maroon and white as heads into retirement unafraid.

28.  Renardo Sidney was slowed by a stomach bug and an injured toe.

29.  Chris Warren registered 25 points against Alabama as Mississippi’s “guys continue to believe, continue to fight.”

30.  Anthony Grant said the difference in the game was Ole Miss’s 27 of 34 performance from the free throw line.

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SEC Headlines – 12/30/10 Part Two

1.  The Capital One Bowl is special to coaches on both sides of the field.

2.  Former Michigan State head coach Bobby Williams — now an assistant at Bama — has good things to say about the Spartans.

3.  It’s been a thrilling ride for Tide quarterback Greg McElroy.

4.  Auburn coaches are cranking up the practice pace on defense — requiring a new alignment within 10 seconds of a whistle blow — in preparation for Oregon’s lightning-fast attack.

5.  Tiger safety Zac Etheridge says “They know how to be physical (in the Pac-10) and they’ve got speed in that conference, too.”

6.  Kodi Burns’ sacrifices are being rewarded with a trip to the national title game.

7.  Oregon’s linebackers hold the edge over Auburn’s running backs.

8.  Tony Barbee’s basketball team blew a 29-point lead against Georgia Southern but managed to survive 88-84 in overtime.  They blew a 29-point lead?  That’d be hard to do if you tried.

9.  Sophomore guard Andre Malone is leaving the Tiger hoops team because AU “was not the right fit for him.”

10.  Arkansas offensive tackle DeMarcus Love is worried about the Sugar Bowl, not his future pro career.

11.  Ohio State players are tired of hearing about their school’s 0-9 record versus the SEC in bowl games.

12.  OSU’s Jim Tressell says he would not allow any of the five Buckeyes suspended for five games next year to play against Arkansas if they hadn’t promised to return to Columbus next year.  (So they could sit out for five games.)

13.  Rotnei Cleark led Arkansas to an 87-59 win over North Carolina A&T last night.  (Many years ago, when I lived in Charlotte, I’m pretty sure my family used to shop at a North Carolina A&P.)

14.  Playing in the Cotton Bowl on January 7th means LSU’s coaches will actually be coaching while rival coaches are on the road recruiting.

15.  Les Miles is through talking about Stevan Ridley and his NCAA appeal until there is some closure in the matter.

16.  LSU will hold a full game simulation – some would call it a “scrimmage” — today.

17.  Erratic shooting doomed the Tigers in a 74-68 loss at Rice last evening.

18.  MSU quarterback Chris Relf has gained confidence as the season has worn on.

19.  Speaking of confidence, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said of Michigan’s Denard Robinson: “Nothing can intimidate us… we’ve played a laundry list of guys that all could’ve been invited to New York this year.”  Well.

20.  Meanwhile, Michigan defenders want to make Relf “go outside, make him go the long way,” rather than allowing him to run up the middle.

21.  Vick Ballard and LaDarius Perkins have filled the void at running back for State.

22.  Dan Mullen says his program’s next step is to go from good to great.

23.  When Alcorn State takes the court in Oxford tonight they’ll have exactly ZERO wins under their belts…

24.  And that won’t do much for the Rebels’ RPI ratings.

25.  Former Memphis shooting guard Jelan Kendrick is planning to transfer to Ole Miss.

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Some SEC West Headlines To Go Under Your Tree

1.  Alabama is hoping the Christmas break will help heal up a number of injuries.

2.  If Julio Jones leaves for the NFL early, the door will be open for young Bama wideouts next year.

3.  Former Duck coach Mike Bellotti breaks down the differences between the Oregon and Auburn offenses.

4.  Continuity has been a key to success for Arkansas’ offensive line.

5.  The NCAA is having to explain why five Ohio State players won’t begin their suspensions until after the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas.

6.  LSU and Stevan Ridley don’t expect an answer to their NCAA appeal until next week at the earliest.

7.  Ridley was already thinking about jumping to the NFL before his academic suspension.

8.  Trent Johnson says his basketball team’s struggles have to do with getting “bigger, stronger and quicker.”

9.  Zach Graham scored 16 points coming off the bench, but Ole Miss still fell 68-61 to Colorado State yesterday in Cancun.

10.  MSU AD Scott Stricklin says Dan Mullen’s new contract is 95% complete.

11.  Michigan’s Denard Robinson draws comparisons to Cam Newton.  (Sure, if Cam Newton were 6-0, 193 instead of 6-6, 250.)

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SEC Headlines – 12/23/2010 Part Two

1. Cam Newton – the Associated Press Player of the Year-  doesn’t have a favorite play yet, but others do.

2. Gene Chizik has “proven a legion of naysayers wrong.”

3. The Alabama football team reports to Orlando on Christmas night.

4. LSU appeals the decision that made  Stevan Ridley ineligible for the Cotton Bowl.

5. The NCAA wants additional information from LSU on its self-reported violations.

6. North Texas 75 – LSU 55.  Tigers blown out on their home court.

7. Arkansas 67 – Texas Southern 59.  Razorbacks go on a 14-1 run to put the game away.

8. Arkansas wants a raise for all their assistant football coaches.

9. Washington State 83 – Mississippi State 57.  Renardo Sidney expected to play today against San Diego.

10. The Gator Bowl trip expected to be a money loser for Mississippi State.

11.  Next year’s game between Mississippi State and LSU will be on Thursday night.

12. Ole Miss 83 – Texas State 72.  Trevor Gaskins scores 21 off the bench for the Rebels.

13. The naughty and nice of 2010 sports.

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LSU’s Ridley Ineligible For Cotton Bowl

There have been a lot of positive stories about LSU tailback Stevan Ridley the past couple of days:

* He has a special bond with his offensive line…

* If he returns for his senior season he can become one of LSU’s all-time greats…

Well, there’s not much positive about this story: The Tigers’ leading rusher is academically ineligible and he will not be permitted to play in the Cotton Bowl against Texas A&M.

Les Miles did not specify what Ridley’s problems are, but he did say an appeal to the NCAA is planned.  Miles said Ridley’s issue is a “one-time nothing.”

“It’s an NCAA issue and we are very hopeful.  Stevan Ridley is the captain of our team.  He’s been in no off the field issues in any way.  Everything that has been done here has been done extremely well.  The School has been compliant.  Ridley has been compliant.  We just need to make our case yet again.”

If Ridley can’t go, the Tigers’ next leading rusher at the tailback spot is freshman Michael Ford.  Ford carried the ball 41 times for 235 yards this season.

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Translating Undefeated At Home CoachSpeak

LSU
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You expect THIS guy to make sense?

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You expect THIS guy to make sense?

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As part of our ongoing service to you, the ATVS reader, we once again try to translate a Miles press conference from Milesian to English. 

WHAT HE SAID: “Happy Thanksgiving. We have a lot to be thankful for, all of us. Our football team, our state, and our community have a lot to be thankful for. I have to say finishing a home stand at Tiger Stadium undefeated, I would have to thank the fans. I think those people that come and sit in those seats are rare and they make a great difference to our team. I can tell you that we play with more passion, and it is a wonderful place. I just want to say thanks. How wonderful it is to walk into a stadium where 92,500 fans believe in their hearts that you are supposed to beat the ever living tar out of your opponents just like you are supposed to believe. We set out together to that eventual end, and thanks.”

WHAT HE MEANT: Dear, Poseur.  Thank you for starting the Delusional Optimism campaign.  You’re right.  Positive energy brings positive results.  I know most Tiger fans aren’t as unhinged as the Humanoids.  I kick ass.  Did I mention that we went undefeated at home this year?

 

WHAT HE SAID: “This senior class has accomplished quite a lot. I want to say thanks to them, because as a group they have been outstanding leaders, they have been guys that like to work hard, and they are committed to the team. I believe in my heart they will be great husbands, fathers and people in business. I think we will really enjoy these seniors as they go on. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that they averaged 10 victories for five years, one of the winningest senior cases in school history. They are the sixth straight senior class to win 50 games, they have five straight bowl appearances and they are all on pace to graduate. They take a national title and 16 wins over top 25 teams with them. They are a very quality group of men, and I am fortunate to have worked with them.”

WHAT HE MEANT: Did I mention that this was my first recruiting class?  You can’t give any of the credit to what’s-his-name.  All me.  Again, I rule. Our kids win and also succeed in the classroom.  These seniors are totally awesome.   

WHAT HE SAID: “The Ole Miss game, I think Jeremiah Masoli waited for this game to play his best, and he was just uncanny. I thought he was as talented a quarterback as we have seen, and I have watched every game that he played and he played his best. I give it to coach (Houston) Nutt for having that team ready to play. Certainly we have to tackle better. There are ways to get better. There were a couple places where we missed the line on defense, a couple signals that they just didn’t quite get accomplished on the field and it led to some big plays. These things are definitely correctable, and the issue that I enjoy is I like how our defense plays. They are fast and they are hard-hitting guys that tackle. We will make some corrections and certainly continue to improve, and we will return that defense to playing a style of defense that we are used to seeing play.”

WHAT HE MEANT: Our defense is usually great, but this weekend, they made Jeremiah friggin’ Masoli look good.  I shall reign down terror upon the defensive unit this week in practice for letting that happen.  It was bad enough when Cam Newton ran through us like a knife through butter, but Masoli?  Come on. 

 

WHAT HE SAID: “Offensively we had a big day. I thought Jordan Jefferson had his best day to date, and he is the SEC Offensive Player of the Week. I think Stevan Ridley with three touchdowns, and giving him the ball in tough situations, displays each week with more confidence that he is capable. I would have to say the first game the defense won it for us. If you go on through and you look at how well the teams play, it takes a team. This week it was the offense’s turn. There was a point in time in that game where the defense had a busted coverage that led to a fast score by our opponent. It was told to me that Kelvin Sheppard went to the offensive leaders and told them ‘Guys, right now we need you. You need to come to play. You give us a chance to get back on the field, we blew that drive and we need to play. You have our back.’ Let me tell you something that defense has had that offense’s back a great majority of the season, so it was right. It was their time and they played well.”

WHAT HE MEANT: Jefferson.  Ridley.  Let those names sink in.  Those are the guys all y’all said I was stupid for starting.  Who’s stupid now?  Huh?  Oh, and Kelvin Sheppard is a bad ass.  In case you didn’t already know.

 

WHAT HE SAID: “Again, it takes a team. Josh Jasper may be the finest field goal kicker in the country. He is tied for the lead nationally with 23, and he adds three more just when we need him. I ask him to go kick three and he does. Like our quarterback he is also the SEC Player of the Week. We are 10-1 and 6-1 in the conference, and ranked fifth in the country. I like the position we are in. I recognize the enjoyment to come over here and see you all, and that the quickness to which the season goes by really predicts how much fun you are having. I go to work every day with guys that have a smile on their face all the time, and I go to work with guys that fight like hell for victory. As we get to the back end of the season we have a lot to play for and that is a wonderful thing.”

WHAT HE MEANT: Yes, Jasper is awesome.  But let me once again mention that we’re 10-1 and in the top 5.  Everyone can kiss my ass.  Don’t think I don’t know who was calling for me to get canned. 

On how important the secondary will be against Arkansas …
WHAT HE SAID: “Our secondary play is certainly going to be tested as is our pass rush and our underneath coverage, because we are going to have to stop a very quality running game. That secondary has to play big in this game, but it is a different challenge and certainly something that I think they will forward to.”

WHAT HE MEANT: Ryan Mallett throws for about 300 yards a game.  What do you think? 

On Offensive Coordinator Gary Crowton re-inventing himself on offense …
WHAT HE SAID: “I don’t know if there is really a re-inventing, but I can tell you that the things that we need to have happen. There are different facets of calling a game on offense. Finishing a game like he did, and having the opportunity to make third down plays and calls and getting our playmakers the ball, all of those things need to take place for a quality offensive performance. I think he did a very strong job in that last game.”

WHAT HE MEANT: I’ll give him a reference as he looks for a new job this offseason.

On Jordan Jefferson‘s progression as the season has gone on …
WHAT HE SAID: “It is interesting. The thing that you have to allow is for our guys to get better. The observation of where they are at now and where they are going to be is always going to be different. I think you look at Jordan Jefferson, and certainly he has continued to improve. If you look at the style of throws and the things that we are doing, it is the same. It is the comfort of the offense and the taking the steps and strides that a college student athlete takes to get better. I think both he and (Jarrett) Lee have done that, and again if you go back to key contests this year you will find that Lee has made some very big plays for us as well.”

WHAT HE MEANT: Believe it or not, we actually coach people around here.  He got better because we worked with him.  I don’t sit around all week and think of new ways to mess up clock management.  Jefferson got better because some of us actually believed in him. 

On why the wildcat offense has given the LSU defense so many problems …
WHAT HE SAID: “I don’t think it is necessarily the wildcat quarterback, because I think if you look at wildcat formations nationally and certainly in our league it has kind of had a difficult time because that wildcat quarterback is virtually a non-throwing quarterback. He is more of a running back, so the passing game is all ground to a halt. It is that quarterback that has the ability to throw it and the ability to run it that gives the defense, and every defense, not just ours, its biggest headaches. We are challenged best by the guy who is most talented, and by the guy that runs fast, is strong, breaks tackles, and can sit in the pocket and make the read and deliver the ball. When the guy who has the ball is both a running threat, a play action passing threat, and a wide and inside threat every time he takes the ball, that is a tremendous challenge to defense. I think our defense is equipped with the speed we have on the field as any for that attack, but we have run into two very good quarterbacks.”

WHAT HE MEANT: Please tell me the defense who has stopped Cam Newton this season. 

On increasing the amount of passing plays on first down against Ole Miss…
WHAT HE SAID: “I think what we’ve tried to do is to be 50-50 (percentage) on first down when the game is in question or that the situation does not suggest that we need to run it like the back end of the Ole Miss game. We wanted to make sure that we ran the football, so we got some first downs there and followed with the run yet again. If you would have eliminated those with the game in question and where the situation didn’t absolutely predict us, I think we’re 50-50 on first down in that game certainly.”

WHAT HE MEANT:  The run worked, so we kept running.  They didn’t seem to be able to stop it, did they? 

On Kelvin Sheppard and Stevan Ridley participating on the final kickoff…
WHAT HE SAID: “Those are guys that have played in it for years. They are as trained as they can be. They said, ‘Hey, listen. I want in on this one. This may be the last play of the game. I want in.’”

WHAT HE MEANT: Because fuck Ole Miss, that’s why.

On what the ‘Boot’ trophy means to him…
WHAT HE SAID: “I can tell you that since I’ve been here, the Arkansas-LSU game has been tremendously contested. Every game has always come down to the back end. Every game has had big plays, and I can’t imagine it will be any different (this year). I promise you when it comes to the challenge of keeping that trophy, that’s something that we want to have happen. I can also tell you that the ‘Boot’ kind of reminds me of the shape of our state. I can tell you that a boot is also a piece of clothing worn on the foot. The key is to not be given the boot.”

WHAT HE MEANT: This stupid trophy could not mean less to me.  So instead, I’m not going to ramble on about boots for 30 seconds and hope you don’t ask a follow up question.

On RB Michael Ford‘s performance…
WHAT HE SAID: “Again, as you would review our quarterback, our guys are improving, and Michael Ford certainly is as well. He’s much more comfortable in the offense. He’s much more comfortable with the checks. We put him in every situation. He’s much improved, and he’s taking coaching. Again, when I tell you that this team is filled with a group of men that have character, want, ambition and commitment to team. It really is a special group. It’s a lot of fun to work with guys that are saying, ‘Take me where I can’t take myself. I need to know. Give me the information.’ Then, they want to play it big on Saturdays. I’m fortunate that way.”

WHAT HE MEANT: Patience, people.  He’s gonna be a great one.

On if he has noticed any change in QB Jordan Jefferson‘s demeanor or body language…
WHAT HE SAID: “I’m not necessarily following demeanor and body language. I can tell you at practice he has continued to want to improve. There is an understanding that he’s got to get this, and he understands that. He’s maybe a little bit more selfish with the reps, making sure that the reps that he takes and when he steps onto the field with that practice rep or that game rep, that he fully understands what’s coming. I just think he’s improved and has a desire to get it right and be excellent, not just be the guy but be an excellent quarterback. I just think there is a fine line between executing and just being somewhat less, and I just think he has stepped up and continues to call himself to a higher level.”

WHAT HE MEANT: Jefferswag. 


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Jefferson, Ridley Lift No. 5 LSU Past Ole Miss

BATON ROUGE — Jordan Jefferson threw for a career-best 254 yards while running back Stevan Ridley ran for three touchdowns as the No. 5-ranked LSU football team came back three times in the final 20 minutes to beat rival Ole Miss, 43-36, at Tiger Stadium.
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LSU – ULM: What to Watch For

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I know we’re all focused on that thing involving that quarterback for that other team — I don’t remember a lot of the specifics — but LSU does actually play somebody on Saturday. I suppose this game sets up as the classic letdown, and given the Tigers’ last two performances against over-matched in-state opponents, this game shouldn’t be totally discounted. Besides that, keeping the offensive momentum of last week going would be fantastic with two tough conference games remaining.

But first, I would be remiss not to talk about the Homecoming festivities on campus, including LSU Day, a part of the university’s sesquicentennial celebration, which my office and I will be a part of. Allow me to refer to the press release:

As part of LSU’s Sesquicentennial Celebration in 2010, as well as the university’s Homecoming Week celebration, LSU will open its doors to the public Saturday, Nov. 13, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for LSU Day – a free, fun-filled day of exploration and discovery, highlighted by performing arts showcases, tours and exhibitions showing off LSU’s rich history, current offerings and goals for the future.

            A special opening ceremony will be held on the event’s main stage, located at the University Recreation Complex, beginning at 10 a.m. WBRZ on-air personalities Whitney Vann and Michael Marsh will serve as emcees for the event, which will feature the LSU Tiger Band, Golden Girls, cheerleaders and Mike the Tiger cheering for an LSU Homecoming victory.

            “LSU Day is a wonderful opportunity for everyone to see what the state’s flagship university has to offer to prospective and current students, the Baton Rouge community, the state of Louisiana and beyond,” LSU Chancellor Michael Martin said. “In a time where we reflect on the impact LSU has had over the past 150 years, we also want to celebrate what makes LSU such an outstanding home for education, research and community involvement. It also is a time when we reemphasize our commitment to remain a powerful force in changing the future of Louisiana.”

The festivities will be broken up into different districts, including the Field of Excellence at the University Rec Center, the South Campus Promenade along South Campus Drive east of Highland Road (where yours truly will be working, for those who have the overwhelming urge to meet me/punch me in the face*) and the Union Square, which is of course located in the Union.

The Field of Excellence area will feature some athletic department exhibits, including autograph sessions with some of the teams and former Tigers like Rudy Macklin, Ricky Blanton, Skip Bertman and Michael Papajohn.

If the weather doesn’t hold up, the events will move inside of the Union. Also, don’t forget about the Homecoming Parade – especially tailgaters, as it will affect parking and traffic. More information on the day, and a map of all the different exhibits, is available here.

*Note: Please do not punch me in the face.

What to watch for on Saturday

Over the Bridge

LSU comes to the final quarter of the season off of its best offensive performance of the season. So was that a peak, or just the start of another incline? This game won’t be the final answer to that question, but can it provide some hints. The Humanoids will look at the final score and the final stats, but the details will be more important. Are the quarterbacks decisive, efficient and look comfortable? Do the receivers catch the passes they should? How quickly does the running game exert itself (especially with a backup right tackle in)?

I don’t expect any 75-yard bombs from Jordan Jefferson in this game – but can he continue to complete the more rudimentary throws that have troubled him? Can he lead scoring drives (especially touchdown drives) and avoid turnovers?

Chances are, Jarrett Lee will still be needed in the final two games. Can his teammates continue to keep him comfortable with a good running game and pass protection? Can Terrance Toliver and company finish the drill when he distributes the ball? These little things will be more important than big plays and highlights.

Both Ole Miss and Arkansas will have the advantage at quarterback in the final two weeks. So it’s important for LSU’s quarterbacks to at least manage the offense efficiently and avoid turnovers. We saw last week that when the little things work, the big things take care of themselves.

That goes for the defense too. Against McNeese, the Tigers made a couple of big plays but still allowed a near-50-percent third down percentage. I don’t think the big plays are a problem there, but will there be that urge to choke ULM out?

Study Group

 

If you’re not watching Community, you need to start.

 

 

With new starters along the offensive line and in the secondary – the latter with freshmen continuing to emerge in major roles, reps are the key word. New starting strong safety Eric Reid, in particular, needs all the game action he can get before he faces veteran passers like Jeremiah Masoli and Ryan Mallett. Backups like Craig Loston and Tharold Simon will also likely see their roles increase. Keeping last week’s momentum going for these young guys would be great.

Our steampunk emperor Mingo and partner Ken Adams could also use some more work on lane integrity and containment before facing another mobile quarterback like Masoli. Luckily, ULM’s Kolton Browning does give the Tigers a look at a mobile quarterback in a spread attack (Browning is actually averaging more yards of total offense per game than Masoli, 265 to 218, and has just one less touchdown). Receiver Luther Ambrose is a player I saw a few times in high school at St. James — the typical Wing-T speed runner — and he has SEC-caliber wheels. The Warhawks (the fiancé hates calling them that) still have a shot at winning the Sun Belt, so this team is definitely an upgrade on McNeese.

This game can also be a valuable experience point for offensive backups like Michael Ford, Spencer Ware, Kadron Boone, James Wright and J.C. Copeland. Ware and Ford have seen their roles increase almost weekly, and it would also be nice to see them get some more work in the passing game, both receiving and in blitz pick-up. Plus, Stevan Ridley can use the rest. Copeland has flashed potential as a pretty devastating lead-blocker, and a team that still thrives on running the football can always use that.

Along the offensive front, watch the play of right guard Josh Williford, who was strong off the bench against Bama, right tackle Greg Shaw and redshirt frosh Chris Faulk, who is the backup left tackle but has cross-trained at right this week for depth purposes. There’s even an outside chance of Will Blackwell making a return this week.

Do NOT Expect

Stat Padding

As great as it would be to see one of the quarterbacks throw two or three touchdowns and see Stevan Ridley creep closer to the 1,000-yard mark, I wouldn’t count on it. Look for a lot of players to rotate in on a steady basis, and, even if the offense operates smoothly (and there’s certainly no guarantee of that) , Les Miles will likely slow things down once the deficit gets near 30 points or so. If it gets that high.


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