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LSU-Bama Headlines 11/5/2011

1. This is what you want to play in,” Alabama tight end Michael Williams said. “It’ll be one for the ages.”

2. What’s on the line tonight? The SEC West, the likely SEC champion and at least one of the slots in the BCS championship game.

3. Alabama’s 1992 defense vs. the 2011 version - which one is better?

4. LSU QB Jordan Jefferson can make a statement tonight.

5. Tide QB A.J. McCarron is a sophomore.  No team has ever won a BCS national title with a freshman or sophomore as its primary quarterback.

6. “A J McCarron can win a game with his arm. You bet he can.”

7. Will the game turn on the performances of the quarterbacks?

8. Welcome to your grandfather’s style of football.

9. Deep SEC roots no  longer necessary – at least when it comes to head coaches.

10. Verne Lundquist: “I think you’ve got the stern taskmaster at Alabama against the kind of looser personality of Les Miles.”

11. Dennis Dodd: “Trent Richardson is how Alabama wins the game.”

12. Scott Rabalais: “Is it good vs. evil? That depends on which side of Mississippi you live on – and what you think of Saban personally.”

13. Allen Barra: “This Saturday, nobody in Alabama or Louisiana is going to get married, and somebody is going to die.”

14. Tyrann Mathieu and the strict Catholic school upbringing that shaped him.

15. New Orleans Saints’ teammate Roman Harper (Alabama) and Devery Henderson (LSU)  have a bet riding on the outcome of tonight’s game.

16. Cost a hotel room at the Fairfield Inn in Tuscaloosa Thursday night?  $99.  Cost of that same room on Friday night? $299 (minimum two night stay).

 

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Richardson, Randle Are Two To Watch On Saturday Night

If I asked you for the names of two players to watch in Saturday’s night super-mega-uber-showdown between LSU and Alabama, you’d like throw out Trent Richardson’s name first.  The brusing Bama back would sit atop our own Heisman list at the moment.

From LSU’s side of things, would you toss out the Honey Badger’s name?  Tyrann Mathieu has gotten his own share of Heisman pub, though there’s little chance of him actually winning the trophy.

What about Spencer Ware, the Tiger tailback whose runs can best be described as violent?

Well try the name Rueben Randle.  As is the case with Richardson at Alabama, when it comes to yards from scrimmage in SEC contests, Randle is the leading weapon for LSU. 

Richardson averages 170.0 yards per game rushing and receiving (again, in SEC contests only).  Randle has outgained all his Tiger teammates to the tune of 90.8 yards per game.

There are 12 players in the conference who are averaging more than 75 yards from scrimmage per game in SEC battles.  Below is the complete list.  If you’re looking for a way to quantify the venerable MVP questions, start here…


Player
School
Position
Games Played
Rush Yds
Rec Yds
Total Yds
Yds/Play
Yds/Game
T. Richardson
Alabama
RB
5
674
176
850
7.7
170.0
M. Dyer
Auburn
RB
6
713
7
720
5.0
120.0
M. Lattimore
S. Carolina
RB
5
460
124
584
5.1
116.8
I. Crowell
Georgia
RB
6
543
45
588
4.9
98.0
Z. Stacy
Vanderbilt
RB
5
416
70
486
6.9
97.2
V. Ballard
Miss. State
RB
5
353
117
470
5.3
94.0
R. Randle
LSU
WR
5
0
454
454
21.6
90.8
D. Johnson
Arkansas
RB
4
251
110
361
7.7
90.3
C. Rainey
Florida
RB
6
328
195
523
5.7
87.2
J. Adams
Arkansas
WR
4
87
255
342 13.2
85.5
O. McCalebb
Auburn
RB
6
353
128
481
6.3
80.2
S. Ware
LSU
RB
4
301
15
316
4.2
79.0



Richardson averages 50 more yards from scrimmage per SEC contest than any other player in the league.  Can LSU stop him or at least slow him down?  If not, the Tigers’ chances won’t be too good on Saturday night.

Randle is LSU’s leading yardage-getter in SEC games.  And his 21.6 yards-per-tough average shows what kind of big play threat he has become.  Will Les Miles rope-a-dope Bama with Jordan Jefferson the runner in the hopes of eventually having his “running” quarterback go deep to Randle once the Tide’s safeties start creeping up?

There’s not a soul who didn’t already know to keep any eye on Richardson.  But now you see how important Randle is for LSU, as well.

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15 Alabama-LSU Headlines 11/2/11

Line watch:  The line has shifted a half-point back toward LSU since yesterday.  It opened at Alabama -4, moved to -5, and today sits at -4.5.

Ticket watch:  Someone must have bought those $10,000 seats from StubHub.com yesterday.  Today’s highest price is a mere $6,000 per seat for a pair in Bryant-Denny Stadium’s Ivory Club. 

And now the top stories on the game of the century all in one spot:


1.  It’s expected Alabama will hand out 600 media credentials for Saturday’s showdown.

2.  Alabama’s super-sized linebackers are the strength of its defense.

3.  LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis is getting it done with a bunch of very young players.

4.  The Crimson Tide wants to be prepared for Les Miles’ trickery.

5.  Bama running backs are concentrating on ball security.

6.  LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee hasn’t played well against Alabama… and he knows it.

7.  The Tigers’ special teams stars could be an advantage on Saturday.

8.  Alabama’s defense sure hasn’t suffered from the SI jinx.

9.  LSU’s Brandon Taylor says: “I think that the whole world is hyping this up a whole lot more than the players are.”

10.  Miles and his Tigers don’t need much help staying focused.

11.  Heisman hopefuls Trent Richardson and Tyrann Mathieu will face off on Saturday.

12.  Keep an eye on the Bayou Bengals’ fullbacks in the run game.

13.  LSU has turned the ball over fewer times than any other team in the country. 

14.  Both teams play A-plus grade defense.

15.  This writer predicts a 23-20 Alabama victory.

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No Surprise: All 3 Suspended LSU Players Back At Practice

Tailback Spencer Ware and defensive backs Tyrann Mathieu and Tharold Simon were all back at practice for LSU yesterday, reinstated after a one-game suspension for a failed drug test.  And the world gasps with surprise and shock.

“Those guys were at practice,” Les Miles said yesterday.  “If they continue to do the things they were doing (at practice), we would anticipate that they would play.  We’re practicing and preparing them to play and operating along that way.  We’re going to practice them.  We’re going to plan on using them.  They enjoyed being with their team.  They worked hard.  They were missed.”

And now they’re back in time for top-ranked LSU’s showdown game with second-ranked Alabama.  In making his announcement, Miles still refused to classify what befell Mathieu, Ware and Simon as a suspension.

“I don’t recall that I ever suspended them to you guys.  Am I right?  So I guess what I’m saying to you is we’ve operated as this discipline would be internal and we would handle it in that way, and our guys have returned to practice.” 

The Baton Rouge Advocate reports that when Miles was asked what term besides “suspension” he would use to describe the players’ situation, the coach said: “We withheld them from play.”

Oh.

Here’s the problem for LSU (and by association the SEC): The national media that will bury the Tigers-Tide matchup in hype and coverage will be all over the angle of whether or not “the synthetic marijuana three” should be playing at all.  Splitting hairs between “suspension” and “we withheld them from play” won’t help matters.

The Tigers are only a couple of months removed from a major bar brawl that made national news and left starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson — and his 49 pairs of shoes — facing serious charges (later downgraded) and off the team for several weeks.

Oh, and receiver Russell Shepard was suspended for the first three games of the season for an NCAA rules violation.

In addition, LSU has one of the softer drug policies in the SEC.  In fact, officially there is no final strike that would result in a player’s dismissal.  And in the case of these players there was wiggle room in the system allowing for a one-game ban rather than a two-game ban.

The reinstatement of the players above may be 100% fair.  But outside Louisiana, it’s doubtful it will be viewed as such by skeptical rival fans and a cynical media.  Allowing Mathieu, Ware and Simon to return only adds to the perception that Miles is running a pretty loose ship down on The Bayou.

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Report: LSU 3 To Be Reinstated Today

Yesterday, LSU chancellor Michael Martin said three suspended Tiger footballers would have to “get their act together” before being reinstated to Les Miles team.

He said that the ultimate decision would be made by AD Joe Alleva and himself.  Here’s the quote we showed you yesterday:


“Fortunately for them and the team, they have two weeks to get their act together because we have a bye week.  They have been directed to some counseling, and they will now be subject to greater scrutiny for the remainder of their time at LSU.”


Well apparently Spencer Ware, Tyrann Mathieu and Tharold Simon have already made it to their counseling sessions because CBSSports is reporting that all three are expected to be reinstated to the squad today.

This after Martin’s comments led many to believe that “if the game was this Saturday, the players may not be able to compete the process for reinstatement in time.”  It sure sounded like that, anyway.

Because the SEC has not led the way in intercollegiate athletics by implementing a league-wide, uniform drug policy, much of the buzz surrounding next week’s game o’ the century will involve whether or not those three players have been given a lighter sentence than they would usually receive simply because a big game is on the horizon.

Like it or not — fair or not — that’s certainly the way things appear.

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3 LSU Players Suspended Due To Synthetic Marijuana

Ever heard of synthetic marijuana?  How about K2?  Or Spice?

You can bet Les Miles has.  That substance is reportedly the reason his team will face Auburn shorthanded on Saturday, possibly derailing next Saturday’s dream matchup of unbeatens with Alabama.

While LSU’s coach refused to even confirm the suspensions of Tyrann Mathieu, Spencer Ware and Tharold Simon last evening, Jim Kleinpeter of The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that sources said all three sophomores tested positive for synthetic marijuana.

According to a 2010 ABC News report, synthetic marijuana “is a mixture of common herbs sprayed with synthetic chemicals that mimic the effects of marijuana.”  In many areas, the substance is legal because it is marked as being “not for human consumption.”  Synthetic marijuana is illegal in Louisiana.

Survey results released earlier this month suggest that synthetic weed is “popular among consumers because they are seldom detectable on standard workplace drug screens.”

Apparently LSU doesn’t use the standard, run of the mill, workplace drug screening program.  Much to the surprise of Mathieu, Ware and Simon.

For those who enjoy their Miles-isms, here’s a sampling of what he said yesterday when asked if his players had been suspended:


“No, cannot confirm that… I certainly understand the interest surrounding what seems to be news.  The problem with that news is it’s internal discipline and internal function of a team.  I’m not inclined to be forthcoming in information.  I am not reactionary to needs of media and things external to this building.  When there’s information that I can share, I will…

So, that being said, there’s a process that I go through, and it’s not going to be short-cutted for the need to communicate.”



When might that information become available?  “It’s something I review fully and I’m going to do it as I’ve always done it.”

Were there failed drug tests involving any of his players?  “I think you’re way left of center.  Wherever you got those reports, I haven’t confirmed them, I’m not going to confirm them, and it’s not information I’m going to respond to.”

Is Miles disappointed yet another off-field issue has popped up?  “I think the issues of society today (are) heaped full of temptation and distraction.  Frankly, it doesn’t surprise me in any way what’s presented to our team.”

Can his team handle this distraction?  “This football team might well understand what a distraction is.  I don’t know that I’ve seen a change in their get along.  I think they understand what they need to do.”

After saying that all of his players practiced yesterday and that his depth chart “hasn’t changed,” Miles said: “I expect that my team will take the field ably manned and ready to play at all positions.  If we miss guys we’ll promote from behind.  I don’t think speculation serves our team at this point.”

At this point, there are questions about who is suspended, for what reasons and for how long.  Sources have told multiple media outlets that three players have been suspended for the Auburn game for testing positive for synthetic marijuana.  But Miles confirmed none of that and suggested that the drug talk was “way left of center.”  But that’s probably because coaches typically choose not to discuss drug issues due to HIPAA rules protecting the privacy of players.

According to an AOL Fanhouse investigation last December, LSU’s drug policy is in the lower end of the SEC pack in terms of stiffness.

A first failed drug test brings no action.  A second strike calls for a suspension of 15% of the school’s games.  A third strike results in a one-year suspension.

However, Miles could have suspended the players after a failed test on his own.  If not, then it appears these players have tested positive before.  That means they’ll likely miss the Alabama game as well, depending on how that 15% rule is interpreted.  Fifteen percent of a 12-game season would equal two games.  Fifteen percent of LSU’s remaining six regular season games would result in just a one-game benching.

(This is yet another reason we believe the SEC needs a universal drug policy for all member institutions.)

We’ll allow John DeShazier of The New Orleans Times-Picayune to sum this one up:

“Opponents haven’t been an issue for LSU this season.  The Tigers themselves, though, have been another foe altogether.”

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Report Confirmed: LSU Suspends Ware, Mathieu And Simon For AU Game

The Associated Press is following up on a report by LSU’s student newspaper with claims that the Tigers will be without three suspended players for their game with Auburn this weekend.

“A person familiar with the decision” told the AP that Tyrann Mathieu, Spencer Ware and defensive back Therold Simon have been suspended.  And LSU spokesperson said that the three players are involved in an internal matter that Les Miles “will handle accordingly.”

As we noted about an hour ago, LSU has been able to weave its way around and through numerous obstacles already this season.  Now they’ll have to deal with the loss of three key players who’ve combined to record 512 yards rushing, four forced fumbles, three recovered fumbles, three interceptions, 71 tackles and 8 total touchdowns.

As for Auburn, the Tigers seem to be the kings of good timing in 2011.  They faced a struggling Stephen Garcia in Columbia right before Steve Spurrier pulled the plug on him.  Last week they battled a Florida team trying to use two true freshman backup quarterbacks.  And now they’ll face the top-ranked team in the country without — arguably — their best players on offense and defense.

Gene Chizik must be livin’ right.

If LSU survives this weekend’s contest, all eyes will be on Miles to see if he reinstates this trio prior to the Tigers’ “game of the year” matchup with Alabama.

The AP did not go into details regarding the suspensions, but The Daily Reveille claimed Ware and Mathieu were suspended due to failed drug tests.

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LSU Student Paper Reports LSU’s Ware, Mathieu Suspended For Auburn Game

LSU has reached the top spot in the BCS rankings despite becoming Team Turmoil for the 2011 season.


* An offensive coordinator diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease

* A bar brawl before the season

* Two players — including the starting quarterback — arrested due to the brawl

* NCAA probation handed down

* More NCAA questions asked about street-agent Willie Lyles


And now — if LSU’s student newspaper has got the story right – two key starters suspended for failing drug tests.

The Daily Reveille reported this afternoon that bruising tailback Spencer Ware and star cornerback Tyrann Mathieu will be suspended for Saturday’s game with Auburn “after reportedly failing a drug test” according to a source.

LSU officials neither confirmed nor denied the report.

According to the paper, “The suspensions could turn into multiple-game suspensions as well.”

Stay tuned…

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SEC Headlines – 9/28/11 Part Two

1.  Alabama has to ready for Florida’s quickness.

2.  Running back Dee Hart is recovering well from knee surgery, but he’s a longshot to play this year.

3.  Gene Chizik believes Saturday’s game at Carolina will tell Auburn where it stands in the SEC.

4.  With offenses unafraid of Barrett Trotter as a runner, Kiehl Frazier’s name continues to get more mentions.

5.  With pass protection an issue for Arkansas, expect Texas A&M to bring the blitz on Saturday.

6.  A&M AD Bill Byrne wants to keep the Hog/Aggie game at Cowboys Stadium.  (That’s because Jerry Jones pays both teams big cash to play there.)

7.  Injured Razorback running back Broderick Green may return before year’s end.

8.  Quarterback Jarrett Lee’s development at LSU is one of the top stories in the SEC this season.

9.  Leading LSU trash-talker Tyrann Mathieu thinks it may be time to zip it.

10.  A grand jury will decide what’s next for Jordan Jefferson and Josh Johns.

11.  As MSU toys with its O-line, left tackle James Carmon practiced “everywhere” yesterday.

12.  It’s time for State’s veterans to step up.

13.  The Ole Miss run game ain’t what it used to be.

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