It’s another Tuesday here in Baton Rouge, and just as the football season keeps chugging along, so too do we at the Bayou Bengal Briefing. Today, we have a wide variety of updates for you, ranging from practice observations and game plan notes to discussions of Egyptian politics and vigilantism. If that doesn’t hook you in, I don’t know what can. Let’s get to it.
According to the new Ed Orgeron regime at LSU, Tuesdays are now known as “Competition Tuesdays.” On the practice field, that means the offensive and defensive starters go at it to make each other better. But here? Here we’ll take it as a chance to look at some of this week’s position battles and shed light on some observations about them from Monday’s practice.
- Running back: Leonard Fournette did not practice Monday. Based on Orgeron’s quotes from his Monday press conference, Fournette might not practice at all this week. So in his stead, Derrius Guice was earning most of the first-team reps. If Fournette is unable to go this weekend against Florida, Guice will almost certainly be the featured back. That said, if play-calling wrinkles are your sort of thing, LSU did practice a couple of snaps from a formation reminiscent of the Wildcat with running back Darrel Williams taking snaps from the shotgun. That’s definitely one way to get the ball into the hands of your playmakers efficiently.
- Offensive line: It’s growing increasingly likely that neither Will Clapp nor Toby Weathersby will be available this Saturday. With two starting offensive linemen missing in practice, LSU lined up in a bunch of different combinations of a front five to simulate all of their options. This included the standard option of replacing Weathersby with Maea Teuhema and Clapp with Garrett Brumfield, and slightly more adventurous options, including one that moved Teuhema from right tackle to left guard, Ethan Pocic from center to right tackle and put Andy Dodd at center. Expect the Tigers to mix and match combinations all week until they find the right one, and even still some in the game for certain packages.
- Quarterback: There’s really nothing new to report here. Danny Etling seems to have won this competition once and for all. But Brandon Harris does still get some reps with the starters from time to time in practice, keeping him fresh in the off chance that he does receive game action.
This might sound more like LSU fan fiction than the actual truth, but Orgeron said Monday that when Fournette returns to full health, he wants to try to find ways to get Fournette and Guice onto the field at the same time.
“I would love to, love to,” Orgeron said. “I believe putting the best players on the field and putting the ball in their hands, if that’s something that can be a possibility in the near future, and it’s something that we have done in the past.”
Aside from the obvious issue that Fournette and Guice don’t have a cool running back duo nickname yet, the only problems a formation like this would create would be issues for the defense. Despite this, new offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger didn’t flash any sets that resembled this last Saturday in his first game as play-caller. Any time LSU had two backs in the backfield, one was a fullback.
But there are more creative ways to incorporate two backs into a formation, not including the obvious split backs method. The modern spread offense has redefined what certain positions mean, including running back. With this redefinition have come hybrid positions such as H-backs, which are combination tight ends and fullbacks and Gronks, which are football players named Gronkowski. But there’s also been a rise of slash backs, or so I call them, which are effectively running backs who line up at wide receiver and are frequently used in motion or on quick passes. Think of guys like Dexter McCluster or DeAnthony Thomas.
This would be one way to incorporate Guice into a Fournette-heavy offense, by working Guice in more as a slot receiver to take pressure off Etling by improving the short passing game. Or LSU could always run the wishbone. More teams should do that.
Arbitrary analysis part 2
As I discussed yesterday, former Purdue quarterbacks Danny Etling and Austin Appleby very well may start against one another this weekend when LSU and Florida match up. So, what better way to honor what no one is calling the Purdue Bowl by counting down the most famous alums in this history of Purdue University? I can’t think of one.
Just as a reminder, I’m using MIT’s spectacular Pantheon Project to decide who is more famous than others. If you don’t like my grading scale, take it up with the brilliant minds at one of our nation’s most preeminent universities. On Monday, we unveiled our honorable mentions. So, now let’s introduce No. 4.
No. 4: Essam Sharaf
Who is he?: I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most of you aren’t familiar with Egyptian politics, so don’t be ashamed if you don’t know who this man is. His fame can be traced back to the Egyptian revolutions back in 2010 and 2011, after which Sharaf became the first prime minister of a post-revolution Egypt.
How famous is he?: According to Pantheon, Sharaf is the 9,893rd most-famous human being who ever lived, making him a little less famous than “Summertime Sadness” musician Lana Del Rey and a little more famous than “Mini Me” actor Verne Troyer.
And he went to Purdue?: Yes! He received his master’s degree in engineering there in 1980, earned his Ph.D in 1984, and worked as an associate professor there for a year.
Why should I care?: I don’t know, actually. He did some really impressive things for Egyptian politics, but he was only prime minister for about nine months. He’s also an extremely accomplished and award-winning engineer, but that rarely makes people famous. Honestly, I’m a little surprised Pantheon considers him more famous than Orville Redenbacher, but maybe that’s just because I’m a lame American.
Make sure to check back tomorrow as we continue our countdown, next time with someone you’ve heard of.
Odell Beckham gets his own section
Usually an unstoppable force, Odell Beckham Jr. wasn’t Monday night in the New York Giants loss to the Minnesota Vikings. And this appeared to make him angry.
If Odell Beckham Jr. gets one more unsportsmanlike conduct penalty tonight, he'll be ejected pic.twitter.com/Ia60vuvibj
— Jeanna (@jeannathomas) October 4, 2016
Beckham was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct on the above play Monday night, indicted for getting a little too in-your-face with Minnesota defensive back Xavier Rhodes. Beckham might’ve just been angry that Rhodes tackled him a little late. But there might’ve been a little bit of frustration in there.
Beckham was targeted nine times but only caught 3 passes for 23 yards. The night was the worst of Beckham’s young career for receiving yards and the second worst of his career for receptions. The 33 percent catch rate was also tied for the worst mark of his career.
Who gets to be Batman?
I’m just going to let this tweet explain itself.
Reports of clowns wandering LSU campus results in groups of 30+ dudes walking around with 2x4s and tazers on a clownhunt #GeauxTigers
— Richard Fewell (@richard_fewell) October 3, 2016
So … this is what was going on in Baton Rouge on Monday night. To the best of my social media knowledge, no LSU football players were involved in the manhunt. Or were dressed as clowns. But that doesn’t mean the players didn’t take notice, with both Christian LaCouture and Willie Allen retweeting posts with clown-related images in them.
The fact that this happened is unusual and really has nothing to do with sports at all. But it’s definitely something that you should know about. And, if comic books are any indicator, most of the time when there are evil clowns, there are also Caped Crusaders. So, if a Baton Rouge Batman comes out of this situation, I’ll be the first to let you know.