What’s up, LSU fans? Good morning and welcome back to the Bayou Bengal Briefing, the easiest place to catch up on your daily dose of LSU news. We’ve got plenty of news to mow through today, including updates ranging from the Caribbean Sea to Canada and back down through the East Coast through New York and Philadelphia. Confused? You won’t be for long. Let’s get to it.
Rain, rain, go away … please
Hurricane Matthew, a Category 4 storm that made its way through Haiti on Tuesday, is putting the time, location and even existence of LSU’s scheduled football game against Florida this Saturday in serious jeopardy.
On Tuesday morning, the University of Florida issued a release saying that no changes had been made as they “relate to the status of Saturday’s football game.” But as the day wore on, indications rolled in that maybe this wouldn’t be the case for very long.
Don't see any way that Florida-LSU game goes off at noon.
— Thomas Goldkamp (@ThomasGoldkamp) October 5, 2016
According to the fine folks at weather.com, the storm is expected to cross through Gainesville, Fla., on Friday, but there’s still a 20 percent chance of rain with winds expected to be whirling at around 15 mph on Saturday.
This situation is somewhat reminiscent of the situation LSU faced last year when flooding in South Carolina forced the relocation of the Tigers’ game against the South Carolina Gamecocks. In that situation, a decision was made to relocate the game the Wednesday prior to kickoff, which would be today in this scenario.
And according to some reports, today might in fact be the cutoff date to make a decision.
Drop dead date on move the game is 3pm tomorrow…
— Charles Hanagriff (@C_Hanagriff) October 5, 2016
Odell Beckham gets his own section again
After being flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in his least productive game as a professional Monday night, Odell Beckham Jr. had some interesting things to say Tuesday.
Namely, Beckham said he “isn’t having fun anymore” playing football, which is somewhat shocking coming from a player as emotional and energetic as Beckham is.
If adversity is what’s bringing Beckham down, that’s slightly understandable. Beckham has yet to catch a touchdown in four games in 2016. The wide receiver was held touchdown-less in only five games all of last season. Even more than that, the ball isn’t finding its way into Beckham’s hands as much as he’s used to either. Last year, Beckham caught 61 percent of the balls targeted to him. This year, his mark is down to 56.
But one month of adversity shouldn’t be enough to sour a man from his life’s passion. Beckham himself referred to football as “his sanctuary.” So, if that’s the case, shouldn’t a couple weeks of underachievement be a way to drive him to play better instead of discourage him from giving it his all? I really don’t know the answer to this question so I’ll leave it up to you in this poll:
Elsewhere in professional sports
We’ve talked about the NFL, so let’s finish off the trifecta by throwing in some MLB and NBA news too for good measure:
- With the Baltimore Orioles’ extra-inning loss to the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL Wild Card Game on Tuesday night, one fewer former LSU baseball player has the chance to win a World Series ring. Baltimore starting pitcher Kevin Gausman, who was an All-American at LSU in 2012, will have to wait another year to chase his first pennant. That leaves just two players from LSU in contention for a championship — Boston Red Sox infielder Aaron Hill and Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Louis Coleman, who did not make the Dodgers’ active postseason roster.
- Ben Simmons, a recently departed LSU basketball player and the Philadelphia 76ers first overall pick, had surgery on his injured right foot Tuesday. LSU basketball head coach Johnny Jones said in his press conference Tuesday that he texted with Simmons, who said the surgery went fine and he hopes to be back soon. But some reports out of Philadelphia are saying that might be unlikely, pointing out that Simmons’ agent might ask for him to be held out for the entire season out of precaution. If that were to be the case, Simmons would be the first No. 1 overall pick to sit out his entire rookie season since Clippers forward Blake Griffin did so in 2010-11.
Arbitrary analysis, part 3
In honor of the possibility of this weekend’s Boilermaker Bowl between former Purdue quarterbacks Danny Etling and Austin Appleby, we here at the Briefing have been counting down the most famous Purdue graduates all week to get you in the right frame of mind. After Tuesday’s inclusion on the countdown was a relative unknown, we’re heading toward the big guns today.
Reminder: I’m using MIT’s Pantheon Project as the marker to determine who is more famous than whom. So while Kim Kardashian is certainly a more recognizable name to most Americans than Nicanor Duarte Frutos, Pantheon deems the latter more famous using algorithms far beyond my understanding, and I’m just going with it. Onward and upward with the countdown!
No. 3: Herman Cain
Remember Herman Cain? The guy who was at one point the front-runner for the Republican nomination for the office of President of the United States back in 2012? Former chairman and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza? Well, apparently he went to Purdue.
Well, kind of. Cain originally graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta for his undergraduate studies. But for graduate school, Cain trekked up to West Lafayette, Ind., where he studied and received his master’s degree in computer science. Who knew this guy was this much of a jack of all trades? Pizza magnate, presidential candidate, freelance Pokemon quote memorizer AND an I.T. specialist? No wonder Cain found a way to fall into fame’s lap.
But not too much fame. According to Pantheon, Cain is the 9,852nd most famous person, falling one slot behind “Bleeding Love” singer Leona Lewis and 63 spots behind famous seer of dead people Haley Joel Osment. There’s no need to fret for Cain though, because he is slightly more famous than Buffy the Vampire Slayer supporting actress Michelle Trachtenberg, 24 supporting actress Mary Lynn Rajskub and everyone’s third-favorite Spiderman Andrew Garfield.
If that’s not fame, I don’t know what is.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for No. 2 on the countdown.
Wide receiver Wednesday
It’s Wednesday here at the Briefing, so you know it’s time to talk wide receivers. And for the second week in a row, we’ll be focusing on an opposing wideout instead of an LSU pass catcher. This week, the focus of our breakdown is Antonio Callaway, one of the most explosive and productive targets in the SEC and the favorite target of potential Florida starting QB Luke Del Rio.
There are two things that make Callaway particularly good: his ability to find separation and his ability to wiggle through tight spaces. Dating back to his recruiting days, the book on Callaway was that he lacked top-end speed, but made up for it in strong hands and anticipation. But the way he plays now, you barely even notice that his high school 4.62 40-yard dash might’ve been belittled.
As the last play on the above film reel shows, Callaway has a burst equalled by few others in college football. But that excellent seam route was set up by his shiftiness at the line of scrimmage. If you rewatch the tape, Callaway jukes and jives away from the Kentucky defender, giving him fits and shimmying past him before Del Rio finds him well on his way to a touchdown. This, as well as the out route in the third clip, shows that Del Rio and Callaway had an impeccable rapport with one another.
Even more than that though, Callaway excels at creating opportunities for himself. Those first few short passes are great examples of this. Callaway is thrown the ball behind the line of scrimmage and asked to make a play. Both times he finds seams created by his blockers and darts up the sideline for sizable gains.
So, how can a team possibly shut down Callaway? The answer is actually simpler than it sounds: Don’t give him any extra space. Last week against Missouri wide receiver J’Mon Moore, LSU cornerbacks Tre’Davious White and Donte Jackson played almost shockingly well in press coverage and man coverage, taking away short outlet passes to get the receiver and his quarterback in rhythm. Duplicate this, and those 8 to 15-yard gains on bubble screens turn into losses and no gains. That said, press coverage does leave the team more susceptible to being beaten over the top on deep routes. With that being the case, safeties Jamal Adams and Rickey Jefferson need to be hyper-diligent to not bail on deep zones when they are in over-the-top coverage and the steady pass rush led by Arden Key needs to get to Del Rio, or Austin Appleby, quickly to prevent deep routes from developing.
The LSU defense is certainly good enough that it doesn’t need tips from me. But that’s my weekly dose of over-simplistic wide receiver and coverage analysis. I hope you enjoyed it.