Tagged with "TCU"
LSU Adds to Winning Streaks in Opener
Category: NCAA

LSU has now won 12 consecutive season openers. The last loss was in Blacksburg to start the 2002 campaign. Thatís not remarkable for some teams, but LSU hasnít shied away from opening-game competition, although of course there were a few cupcakes as well: (home team listed second if applicable; 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2014 have all been neutral sites)

2003- ULM 7, LSU 49
2004- Oregon St. 21, LSU 22
2005- LSU 35, Arizona St. 31
2006- ULL 3, LSU 45
2007- LSU 45, Mississippi St. 0
2008- Appalachian St. 13, LSU 41
2009- LSU 31, Washington 23
2010- LSU 30, North Carolina 24
2011- LSU 40, Oregon 27
2012- North Texas 14, LSU 41
2013- LSU 37, TCU 27
2014- LSU 28, Wisconsin 24

I thought SEC teams didnít travel to PAC-10/12 teams, hmm. LSU is expected to go to back to Arizona St. some time, but the date keeps getting pushed back. Right now, itís slated for 2022, but who knows? The Tigers are now actually supposed to travel to UCLA before then.

I donít know if Iím even ready to count on next season just yet. As of right now, it seems LSU will be hosting McNeese to open next season (they travel to Syracuse later next season for the only non-home non-conference game) and will then have a rematch with Wisconsin to open 2016, this time in Green Bay.

So Wisconsin may end LSUís streaks after all. LSU also won its record 46th straight non conference regular-season game. I donít want to count on it of course, but if there isnít a non-conference loss this regular season or next, the streak would be 53 going into that 2016 opener in Green Bay. I mentioned more about that streak after the Tigers broke the record a couple years ago.

As I expected, LSU didnít exactly have an easy time of things this year, but I was surprised by a couple of things.

I didnít expect Wisconsin to get an early touchdown as a result of a defensive line mistake. Credit does go to the blockers and running backs for exploiting it of course, but I mean from the perspective of LSU. Also, there were some questionable defensive play calls. For instance, one play Wisconsin lined up with extra blockers to the left and no one filled the gaps. I guess they were really convinced the runner would go to the end. At least they didnít get a first done one that drive though.

It will take some time to have four solid quarters where the play calling and execution syncs up better. Thatís why Iím so relieved LSU got past this game and will have what should be some somewhat comfortable home games to iron out those issues.

On offense, I was happy with the backs and the blockers, but Jennings still has some maturing to do. He hasnít learned that if you donít have a throw and itís third down with everyone expecting a pass, you can run, particularly with the match-up advantage the Tigers had against the Badger defensive line. It doesnít have to be part of the play call. Also, if there are no good downfield options and youíre outside the tackles, throw the ball to a buddy or your favorite coach on the sidelines.

Otherwise, I wasnít too terribly unhappy with anything except for the 19-yard punt. Iíll explain a little how the offensive strategy improved in the second half though.

I expected the final score to be more like 21-17, but thatís exactly what it would have been without the first touchdowns by either team. The first LSU touchdown was for 80 yards against the Wisconsin corner who started for the first time, so it was less surprising than the one LSU gave up. It reminded me of the Jennings touchdown throw that beat Arkansas last year (and that was before I realized it was the same receiver). Heís a reliable technical passer when he has time and is looking in the right place.

The easy narrative is Wisconsin went up 24-7, then LSU shut them down going forward; but I think there was a clear beginning, middle and end. LSU messed up a couple times, and those mistakes were the key to Wisconsinís 10-0 early lead.

Then it was a more even game. There was an exchange of touchdowns before the half and the Wisconsin touchdown was the only score in about a 23-minute stretch of the game. It so happened the following score was by Wisconsin, but that was answered by two field goals in the next 10 minutes. So in the 35 minutes between Wisconsin going up 10-0 and the start of the fourth quarter, Wisconsin only won that segment, 14-13. Then LSU took care of business in the fourth quarter, 15-0.

The defensive dominance did start midway through the third quarter though. The Badgersí last five drives were for a total of 42 yards. That includes a 23-yard drive after LSU took the lead, but that one took 8 plays. Thatís less than three yards per play.

LSU, on the other hand, couldnít maintain a drive early on. The Tigers got first downs (including the 80-yard touchdown) in five drives of their nine in the first half but never a second (except for the one that resulted from a penalty immediately following an offensive first down).

The fake punt was a turning point but not just some type of psychological boost. Apart from the first drive, the singular first downs in the first half had come from passing on the first play of the possession. The fake punt was the fourth running play in a row, which opened up the passing game. So Wisconsin didnít think the sky was falling because something went well for LSU, but they were starting to expect a run, and Jennings was allowed room to manúuver.

While passing didnít open up the running much, the reverse seems to have happened. LSU kept up this strategy in the second half and until they started to run out the clock, they kept tending to run, but they also started passing better when there was less pressure to do so. Thankfully, the necessary adjustments were made early enough. Otherwise, it might have been too late to start trying to commit to a running game.

I always wonder when I see a quarterback go 9-for-20-something and a running back average six yards per carry why there werenít a lot more runs by that person. I guess they wanted to give Jennings a chance to show what he could do, but at least get the lead first. LSU exploited the one member of the secondary they needed to exploit on the 80-yard play but didnít do nearly enough to exploit the questionable front 7 of Wisconsin until the second half.

I donít fault the coaches as much for giving other running backs a chance. Wisconsin was smart to give Reggie Love a chance on that first touchdown, for instance, although one could argue they maybe should have tried giving it to him again. The rest of the running-back carries were almost evenly split among two other players. Love got no further carries.

Most of you need no explanation on this point, but it also does wonders for your defense when you run the ball. If you get first downs, it often takes two or three plays. So even if itís an unsuccessful drive, you might have ten plays for two first downs, whereas an unsuccessful passing possession with two first downs could be just six plays. Also, running plays typically take longer to develop. This allows opposing defenses to be worn down while allowing your own defense a breather.

Jennings was only 5/13 in the first half, so 4/8 in the second was an improvement. 8/16 for the game would have meant one fewer completion against 5 fewer incompletions, i.e., opportunities for making or contributing to first downs. LSU ended up with 11.2 yards per pass, but apart from the 80-yard pass, there were just over 3 yards per pass in the first half.

Also, LSU won time of possession in the second half by almost eight minutes. That stat doesnít always mean much, but it does when both offenseís strong suits are their running backs and lines. Wisconsin had an even worse time of things trying to throw the ball, averaging only 2.1 yards per pass the entire game.

...For earlier access to my blogs, archives, etc., you can follow my†wordpress site†or my page on†facebook.† Hopefully I will resume a more regular schedule next week.† I usually like to get my rankings out first, but with the playing week ending on Monday, combined with my travels out of town, those will be posted some time later today (I hope) on my site and maybe some time on Thursday here.

Preliminary LSU Thoughts and Dodger Blue Skies
Category: NCAA

Preliminary LSU Thoughts

Iím fine with my team not being highly rated to start, but I still question the reasoning.

I guess people are forgetting that despite the #14 ranking to finish last year, LSU was one of the handful of top teams in the country for the third year in a row. The loss to Clemson in the bowl game was a matter of a highly motivated team playing a highly disappointed team. Iím not saying that it wasnít right for LSU to fall in the polls afterward, but that didnít mean that they werenít one of the best teams in the country. If Alabama had been slotted into the Peach Bowl (Chick-fil-A doesnít send me money, so Iím calling it what I want) against Clemson, that probably would have been a really close game too. When you are the national runner-up one year and you go down to the wire against a team like Alabama for what in all likelihood would have been a chance to repeat as SEC Champions, the Peach Bowl isnít something you get excited about.

Iím not saying LSU would have necessarily won the SEC (Georgia showed itself to be pretty much equal to LSU and Alabama despite having played none of the top three teams in the West before the SEC Championship game [SECCG]), but only very good SEC teams control their own destiny going into the SECCG. LSU was in that position in neither of its championship years; and of course in 2011, Alabama wasnít even in the SECCG.

An unfortunate aspect of preseason rankings is many voters (or random people who do preseason rankings) want to envision a team going undefeated. Thatís hard to do when you have to play the best four other SEC teams from last year (Alabama, Texas A&M, Georgia, and Florida) and TCU.

How many does Alabama have to play? Two. So itís possible LSU beats Alabama and still doesnít make the SECCG as a result of the rest of the schedule.

You might vaguely recall the fact that Alabama had an easier slate against the East last year too. The Tide played Missouri and Tennessee while the Tigers played Florida and South Carolina. It seems like the least that could have been done would have been to let LSU play Missouri this year.

LSU also had quite a gauntlet in 2011 and went 13-0 going into the BCS title game. And that was without a reliable quarterback, which LSU finally seems to have going into next year. Zach Mettenberger had some shaky starts early last year, but compared to Jarrett Leeís growing pains, his first season was a walk in the park. Had LSU not played Florida, the Tigers could have very well gone into the Alabama game (in which Mettenberger would have likely finished leading the team to victory had he been allowed) undefeated.

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Buzz from the Bleachers
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: MLB playoffs OSU v TCU coaching

With a little chill in the air and shortening days, we step into October. To be honest, Iíve been ready for October for some time. I got to the cider mill early this year. I went into late August. I got my usual cider and cinnamon donuts as well as a cider cooler (apple cider slush mixed with soft serve vanilla ice cream). You add some cinnamon to it and it woulda been apple pie in a glass.
While we donít get to see the World Series in October anymore, we do get to see some great baseball. Unlike last week, most of the races have been settled. The White Sox couldnít keep pace and the Tigers got hot, resulting in the Tigersí clinching the AL Central last night. Itís a great and welcome distraction from the Lions march backwards.†
Of course, the most interesting race is the AL West. Texas currently holds a one game lead over the Aís. As luck would have it, the Rangers are finishing their season out against the very same Aís! The Rangers lost a close 4-3 game to the Aís just last night. They square off tonight at 10 and have a final game Wednesday. The winner of this series gets to play the Tigers in the first round. The loser gets either the Yankees or the Oís in a one game playoff. As luck would have it, the Yankees and Oís are also battling for their final spots. The Red Sox are relishing the role of spoiler for the Yankees and currently lead their game 2-1 about midway through. The Oís are playing the Rays who, despite being out of the hunt, wouldnít mind keeping the Oís in the wild card. Still, how great would it be if the Oís snatched the East from the Yanks? (Well, not so much for our few Yankee fans out there, but the rest of us would love it.)
As it stands in the AL, the Oís and Aís will play in the one game wild card match-up. I like both of these teams. I donít think many folks saw either of them being here. I know I didnít. Buck Showalter had the Orioles playing really well as 2011 wound down, but I wasnít sure if theyíd be able to keep it up. The Red Sox implosion may have helped, but here they are. The Aís, on the other hand, always have young talent. Still, they never seem to be able to gel. This year, however, they did. I see Oakland as the hotter team right now and whether they play the Oís or the Yankees, they walk out of the wild card with a win. I wouldnít be shocked to see them move onto the AL Championship series either.
On the other side of the coin, the Tigers have caught fire. We have some solid starters (Sanchez has started to put some ball games together) and the hitting has improved, but they still struggle at the set-up man and closer positions, which can really cost a team in the playoffs. Couple that with the fact that the Rangers have had our number this year (Rangers lead the series 7-3) and you have a tough first round match-up.†
While things could flip entirely today, this provides a great match-up. Both teams are pretty evenly matched. Detroit has the best hitter of the season in Miguel Cabrera, while Texas has some solid hitters and the next best thing in Josh Hamilton. As far as pitching, I give Detroit a slight edge. I just like Verlander, Scherzer, and Fister a little better than Harrison, Darvish, and Dempster. Still, the Rangers have an edge in the bull pen and Joe Nathan has been notoriously nasty to Detroit. Iím optimistic for my team, but realistically pick the Rangers to win the series.
Barring any sort of miraculous comebacks or horrendous meltdowns, the NL is set. Youíve got Washington, San Fran, Cincy, Atlanta, and St. Louis with LA having as much of a chance as a snowball in downtown LA. What doesnít help LA is that they wrap up the season against the Giants. What does help them is that the Cards wrap up against Cincy. These are huge rivalry series, so itís anyoneís guess how theyíll shake out. Still, I donít see the Giants losing two.†
Thatíll give us an Atlanta v. St Louis one game playoff. Two storied franchises will get one chance to make it to the next stage. Tim Hudson against Kyle Lohse (I would guess). If only Chris Carpenter was healthy. Can you folks picture much better than a Tim Hudson-Chris Carpenter gun fight for that last playoff spot? Statistically the Cards have the offensive edge, but not by a terribly wide margin. I do, however, give the Cards the edge in experience. I think that will make the difference here. I take the Cards to move on.
The Cards prize is to face the Nationals in the next round. Washington will be without fireballer Stephen Strasburg, but they still have a formidable staff anchored by Cy Young candidate Gio Gonzalez. The Cards, in my opinion, have a much deeper rotation. They also have a lot more experience. I give the Cards a pass to the next round in a hard fought, seven game series.
The other match-up in the NL features the Cincinnati Reds and the San Francisco Giants. As I said last week, the Giants have a heck of a rotation with a revitalized Barry Zito. If Tim Lincecum can do what heís done in previous post seasons, this really is a scary team. The Reds have an up and coming offense and Joey Votto has returned just in time for the playoffs. Still, I take a good rotation over a strong offense most days. Letís not forget that San Fran has gotten itself some pop even without Melky. I think the Giants move on to face the Cards. My apologies to Bandit (though I would be perfectly happy to see the Reds move on).'
The story around Detroit is Miggy chasing down an achievement that your superstitious author was hesitant to bring up. Seriously, think of the pressure that going for this achievement has to be putting on the man. Heís looking to join names like Carl Yastrzemski (the last to do it), Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Frank Robinson, and fellow Tiger Ty Cobb. Itís a relatively short list, but itís long on hall of famers. Barring serious injury, I can see Cabrerra joining these men in the hall, but itíd be great to see him join them on a certain achievement list.
OSU president Gordan Gee will get a chance to eat his words come 2018. The Buckeyes have signed an agreement to play a home and home series against TCU. Gee famously called TCU a ďlittle sister of the poorĒ when asked about non-BCS schools playing for the National Title. Who knows, the Buckeyes might actually be eligible by 2018. Wouldnít it be poetic if TCU kept them out of the title game?
Some of you may have noticed that I havenít talked about my high school team lately. The reason is simple: I had to resign. As we ended practice a few weeks ago, our head coach asked for a joke. One of the seniors gave one at my expense (pretty much implying that I have no genitalia). Now most schools that costs you a game at least and a shit ton of running. My head coach laughed it off, broke practice and thought nothing of it. Being an unpaid volunteer, I was pretty pissed at my head coachesí reaction. †When I asked him about it, he first told me it was just a joke and nothing to worry about and then tried to convince me that I misinterpreted a 17 year old boy. I spent four years studying English lit, I think I can wrap my head around a 17 year oldís lewd jokes. Long story short, I didnít feel the right kind of respect, sense of team, or backing from the head coach and resigned. Iíve had the support of the school staff and one of the guys I used to coach with at Center Line was frankly shocked at my ability not to want to slug my former head coach. Frankly, Iím just happy to put it behind me.
Thatís it for this week. Thanks as always for stopping by to read my thoughts. I hope everyone is ready for some MLb playoffs. I leave you as always with your word of the week.
woman cave, noun†
A sanctuary in a home free from males and kids, where a woman can go to get some peace.
Sheila retreats to her woman cave to clean her gun after a long day on the job.
Teresa likes to watch movies in her woman cave when the kids go to bed.
LSU sets record in regular-season non-conference win streak
Category: NCAA
Tags: LSU Arizona St. Oklahoma West Virginia North Carolina Tulane TCU North Carolina St. Oregon St. Oregon Virginia Tech Louisiana Tech Troy

Intro and more on ASU (2005)

I wanted to write blogs on two separate occasions, but my work week did not allow me that.

If you want to see my top 25, please click here.

Iím not one of those ďhomerĒ types who likes to dwell on how great my team is, but I am impressed with the fact that LSU hasnít lost a regular-season non-conference game since opening the 2002 season with a road loss to Virginia Tech (then ranked #16). The streak of 40 wins in such games broke the mark completed by Kansas St. in 2003.

Although there are certainly more daunting non-conference schedules around, LSU has put forth a serious effort to have at least one non-conference opponent that at appears to be formidable on paper every year.

The other record is more of a ďpersonal bestĒ as LSU has won 20 consecutive home games since the 13-3 loss to Tim Tebowís #1 Gators in 2009. This is the only time in its history that LSU has won so many consecutive home games.

I wanted to go through them and talk in detail about some of the close calls and big games (some of which were not so close) during the longer streak.

This piece at ďNola.comĒ covers several of them, but Iíll mention a few more...

Full post

Week 10 Top 25 and BCS Mega-Commentary
Category: NCAA
Tags: NCAA Football Alabama Arizona St. Boise St. Cincinnati Clemson LSU Oklahoma Oklahoma St. Oregon Penn St. Southern Miss. Stanford TCU

(Go to the second bold subtitle on my Wordpress blog if you want to skip all the LSU/Alabama stuff. Every time I try to post this, I lose my internet connection, so as Iíve reviewed, Iíve kept thinking of new things to mention.)

LSU/Alabama For the Record

As you might have expected, Iím not quite done talking about LSU/Alabama (since this is the first blog Iíve written since the actual game).

A few notes on the history before I get on my soap box. The last time LSU was in a game where the only scoring was field goal(s), they lost to Alabama, 3-0, in 1979. Alabama won the national championship that year as the only major undefeated and untied team. Going back to 2011, Les Miles moved past Nick Saban in wins against Alabama, 5 to 4 (Miles admittedly leads Saban in losses against Alabama, 2-1). No other coach in LSU history had more than two wins against Alabama, although Bill Arnsparger (1984-86) was an impressive 2-0-1, the tie of course coming in Baton Rouge. If LSU can get past Arkansas, Miles will have a winning record with LSU against every SEC team except for Georgia (1-2). (That would have been true even had LSU lost this game though.) LSU has now won 11 of the last 15 against the Tide in the state of Alabama and 7 of 9 (also 9 of 12) against the Tide overall. Alabama still has leads in the series: 45-25-5 overall, 20-16-2 in Alabama in general, 10-9 in Tuscaloosa, and 25-9-2 in Baton Rouge. The one game missing is a tie in New Orleans. Itís just bizarre that LSU has as many wins in Tuscaloosa in this series as in Baton Rouge despite playing about half as many games in Tuscaloosa. The two teams are tied in their last 31 games (15-15-1), their last 29 games (14-14-1), their last 27 games (13-13-1), and their last 22 games (11-11) against one another. One more thing: LSU now leads in overtimes in the series, 2-1. The Tigers had won in 2005 (in Tuscaloosa, of course) and lost in 2008 (in Baton Rouge, of course).

Iíve seen some criticisms of this yearís LSU/Alabama game that claimed that the defenses werenít really so great, the offenses were just bad. I guess in that case, in every no-hitter in baseball history, the batting was just bad.

The fact that there were four interceptions thrown is somehow proof that the defense wasnít that good? Well, the two interceptions thrown by Alabama would have been completions against your average BCS-conference defenders (especially against Oklahoma St. or Kansas St.), and one of them probably would have been a touchdown. Jarrett Lee threw one interception all year, a pass that basically amounted to a punt against Mississippi St. He doesnít throw two in this game if Alabama doesnít make him extremely uncomfortable. He was used to being able to resort to his ďcheckdownĒ receiver when someone wasnít open downfield, but the Alabama linebackers were too good to allow that. And the reason Jefferson did better than Lee did is because they couldnít allow the linebackers to fall back into coverage as easily given Jeffersonís ability to spread out the field and run.

A low-scoring game does not mean there werenít sustained drives and good scoring opportunities. There were those things. For example, LSU had a 40-yard drive late in the fourth quarter, but that possession had started on the 5. Why did it start on the 5? Alabama punted after a 30-yard drive of their own. So why didnít that drive put Alabama in better field position? Brad Wingís 72-yard punt. Why was LSU so backed up before that punt? Eric Reid intercepted a ball at the 1. The offense of one team repeatedly did enough to bury the other team deep in its own territory (although Alabama didnít do this as often as it perhaps should have due to long field-goal attempts). And how can you call that a boring game when it was tied in the fourth quarter through all these great plays and potential game-winning drives? The defenses basically put up a wall when it came time for the offenses to potentially make a game-changing play. Thatís not simply offensive ineptitude.

Of course, there were some stupid penalties, but that takes place in big games all the time, especially in college. The back-of-the-helmet-grabbing penalty (I donít know if you call that a facecollar or a horsemask or what) actually wasnít that bad of a penalty, because I donít know if LSU would have gotten the tackle (at least it may have been many yards downfield) without grabbing at the head and shoulder area. Of course the substitution penalty by Alabama and the pre-punt-return mugging by LSU were inexcusable, but these are young men with the average age of about 20, and it was a very tense, frustrating sort of game, so I donít think thatís evidence of offensive ineptitude (of course the latter was a special-teams penalty anyway) or an indictment of either team overall. And I think it was tense and frustrating enough that even the coaches lost focus with some of the play-calling and decision-making.

Also, someone on the Alabama sidelines should have been making sure something like the substitution infraction didnít take place. Alabama also had a similar penalty in the first quarter (which also helped put the Tide out of field-goal range, but donít forget that in both cases, the LSU defense also helped out with tackles for a loss). LSU had a few pre-snap penalties as well, but a good defense will cause those at times. One of them was an illegal shift, which resulted from an effort to gain an advantage on the defense when those were obviously hard to come by. I think the only thing I didnít cover was a couple of holding penalties, but every game has thoseómaybe theyíre called, maybe not, but theyíre there.

There were 32 first downs in the game. By comparison, there were 37 in the Arkansas-South Carolina game, which the Hogs won, 44-28. Also, there was a good mix of run and pass in this game. In yards gained, there was a total of 290 passing yards and 244 rushing yards. Attempts favored rushing of course, but for Alabama even that was close, 29 passing attempts against 31 rushing attempts. The difference in the game, as expected by commentators and coaches alike, was a few big plays and special teams, but thatís not to say nothing else was going on. As stated earlier, those plays are less meaningful without enough offense to set them up.

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