BATON ROUGE, La. — There’s a better-than-good chance you’ve never heard of Vigo County, Indiana. But for today, I’ll give you two reasons to care.
For one, today is election day. And throughout the course of American history, Vigo County has decided nearly every presidential election. Since Dwight D. Eisenhower’s re-election in 1956, Vigo County has correctly selected our next president every four years. Like clockwork.
And the second reason? LSU’s starting quarterback is a registered voter in that county.
Yes, Indiana native Danny Etling is from perhaps the United States’s best bellwether county. Etling already has voted, and while he said he’s learned better than to discuss his political opinions, he did say that he doesn’t think Vigo County will keep its streak alive this election. For what it’s worth, most projections have Indiana leaning heavily toward Donald Trump, meaning that Etling might believe Hillary Clinton will be our next president. But I don’t want to put words in his mouth.
So instead, I’ll quote wide receiver D.J. Chark, who had this to say about today’s election and why he probably won’t be voting, despite being registered.
“This might sound crazy, but this season I’ve really just been focusing on football. I have yet to watch a presidential debate or even kept up with it. I see a lot of people talk about their views on it but I never really had a chance to form my own views, so I don’t want to just vote an uneducated vote.”
Three cheers for Chark’s responsible rationality. Happy election day to you all. Let’s get back to sports.
In Monday’s Bayou Bengal Briefing, I asked you guys your thoughts on Leonard Fournette’s future, namely if he should continue playing at LSU or if he should move on to the next phase to avoid injury. 246 of you voted. Here were your thoughts.
Exactly half of you gave the answer I expected: Leonard shouldn’t quit on his team. After that, 34 percent of you answered that LSU should slowly phase out Fournette of his role as starter to get Derrius Guice more experience carrying the load to prepare for next year. Then, whether you’re altruistic or just plain cynical, the other 16 percent of you said you thought Fournette should hang up his Tigers uniform for good and look out for his best interests.
It’s an interesting debate, and one that surely won’t be solved by a couple hundred votes. But if I were to give my opinion, I think I’m on the side of slowly letting his carries peter out and working Guice more and more into the gameplan. There’s nothing left for Fournette to prove in college. There’s also no reason he should quit playing entirely. You can get injured by dropping a suitcase on your arm while looking for your phone; playing football is what Fournette does, risk shouldn’t be a huge deciding factor.
But either way, thanks for engaging in the democracy of the Bayou Bengal Briefing. Stick around for more polls like this throughout the season.
Win, lose or draw: Basketball edition
The LSU men’s basketball team played its first and final exhibition match of the season Monday night, winning 113-80. The team was efficient and effective on offense but struggled on defense and with turnovers, just as it did last season.
After the game, coach Johnny Jones and his players had mixed feelings about how the game went. So do I. Here is one winner, one loser and one draw from the exhibition.
Winner: Duop Reath
The junior college transfer was LSU’s most effective player, leading the Tigers in points and rebounds with 26 and 13 respectively. He feasted on an undersized opponent, something he should be able to do in LSU’s early nonconference schedule with mid majors like Wofford and Southern Miss coming up.
Loser: Coaching drills
The main, and dare I say only, focus for LSU this offseason has been improving on defense. They haven’t. Reinhardt, an NAIA school that didn’t start a player taller than 6-foot-5, managed to hit 13 3-pointers and score 80 points against LSU, which sophomore guard Antonio Blakeney called unacceptable. And he’s right. If Reinhardt can be that effective shooting on the perimeter, LSU’s defense is going to be eaten alive by the likes of Wichita State, Louisville and the Tigers’ SEC opponents.
Draw: The point guard competition
Just using the eye test, I thought freshman point guard Skylar Mays had a tough night. He didn’t look too strong on defense, he was 4 for 8 from the field and he turned the ball over three times. But to Jones, Mays’s eight assists proved he was composed, he just needs to improve in reacting to the pace of college play. Neither Jalyn Patterson nor Branden Jenkins, both of whom are also involved in the point guard competition, played Monday.
There’s always news. And there’s a chance you missed some of that. In case you did, here are some LSU stories to catch up on.
- Ed Orgeron wasn’t exactly pleased with the officiating Saturday against Alabama. Can you blame him?
- Apparently Alabama used former Heisman finalist and NFL washout Trent Richardson to simulate Leonard Fournette in practice. That’s plain wacky.
- Take a look at the good, bad and the ugly, LSU vs. Alabama style…
- …or take a look at my film review of what went right and wrong, LSU vs. Alabama style
- Beating Arkansas might be more important for Orgeron than Alabama was. Thoughts?
- What effect does that loss have on the rest of LSU’s season… and on recruiting?
- Orgeron is confident the Tigers are going to bounce back though. Despite recent history.
It’s Tuesday. So as usual, it’s time for a caption contest. I give you a screenshot from Saturday’s game, you give me your cleverest caption of what might be being said.
I shudder as I present you this choice. As always, you can leave me your caption by commenting below, reaching out to us on Twitter @SECCountryLSU or hitting up our Facebook page, titled LSU Insiders.
Here’s the photo. Don’t be too mean.
One man’s opinion
Fox Sports columnist and purveyor of hot takes Clay Travis voiced an interesting opinion Monday, expressing his opinion that LSU would be better off hiring Lane Kiffin as its next head coach than retaining Ed Orgeron.
I’m not going to bother putting this debate up to a poll, because I know the general distaste for Kiffin and love for Orgeron in this community. But I am going to defend the opinion in at least one way: Kiffin has proven himself to be one of the most capable adapters in college sports.
Les Miles got run out of town because he couldn’t get with the times. He promised to change his offense but never did. Time and again, he got caught in his own style and became too predictable. Kiffin is anything but that. He’s gone from throwing the ball to one player 124 times in 2014 to handing it off to one guy 395 times in 2015 to spreading out a rushing attack between three running backs and a quarterback in 2016.
If you truly want to end the Les Miles era in Baton Rouge, Lane Kiffin is the anti-Les. Is his personality a bit much? Yes. But can he coach football? You’re darn right he can.
My bet is on Orgeron retaining his job come this offseason. But if not Orgeron, Kiffin shouldn’t be immediately scratched out of the discussion. He’s an intriguing candidate.
Is this what you call cold?
When the Tigers travel to Fayetteville, Ark., this weekend to play the Arkansas Razorbacks, it’s supposed to get cold.
Well, it might get cold. The high for the day is, as I type this, set at 61 degrees with a low of 37 degrees. For many players on the LSU football team, this temperature is potentially 40, 50, even 60 degrees colder than what they’re used to playing in.
But for center Ethan Pocic and quarterback Danny Etling, this is nothing.
After playing his first two years of college ball at Purdue and growing up in Indiana, Etling joked that football isn’t cold until you drop below freezing. And Pocic, who went to high school in Illinois, said that he’s seen the thermometer hit negative-40 degrees with a wind chill, so he’s not going to fret too much about a crisp autumn day.
Still, a 37-degree night won’t be pleasant to play in. Expect to see some guys in sleeves and thermal head gear.
Don’t worry. The low in Baton Rouge Saturday is still only 50 degrees.