It’s Thursday, people. We’re in the homestretch of the work week and, as your reward, gameday is only two days away. So why don’t you saddle in for today’s edition of the Bayou Bengal Briefing, where we discuss offensive line depth, comparative analysis and, just for good measure, more animated tigers? Let’s go.
The big-man enigma
The success of LSU’s offensive line last Saturday against Mississippi State was about as unlikely as a Baton Rouge blizzard in July. Despite using seven different combinations of offensive linemen because of staggered injuries sustained by Will Clapp, Toby Weathersby, Josh Boutte and K.J. Malone, the patchwork offensive line didn’t allow a sack and paved the way for the Tigers to rush for 4.54 yards per carry.
Though none of the injuries sustained in-game appeared to be all that serious, LSU coach Les Miles has been coy all week about the availabilities of his offensive linemen. Though he refused to divulge specific details, Miles said that he expects to have “most everyone back and in good shape” for Saturday.
“The health of our offensive line is returning,” Miles continued. “They’ve all practiced. We’ve had a couple of guys miss time because of cramps and we think we’ll be fine when we go to the game.”
When specifically referring to right tackle Toby Weathersby, who was seen walking in a boot Monday, Miles was particularly vague.
“His status is healthy and alive,” Miles said.
The LSU Bears versus the Auburn Razorbacks?
As of the publication of this column, LSU entered Thursday as 3.5 point favorites to beat Auburn this weekend. Take that to mean whatever you want it to mean, given that LSU is 0-3 this season against the spread.
According to ESPN and NumberFire projections, it’s almost a dead-even split in the likelihood for LSU to cover, with Auburn holding the slight edge at 50.6 percent likelihood that they will beat the spread. But that is nowhere near the niftiest thing NumberFire projects.
Using statistical analysis, NumberFire projected the five teams from this century that LSU and Auburn at this point in the season most directly compare to. With 95 percent accuracy, Auburn is being compared to the 2001 Arkansas Razorbacks, a team that finished 7-5 and lost in the Cotton Bowl.
The following list is a breakdown of the five teams NumberFire believes to be most comparable to the 2016 LSU Tigers. Glean whatever wisdom from it that you think you can:
2008 Baylor Bears (96 percent accuracy)
- Final Record: 4-8
- Postseason: None
- Worth noting: This was Art Briles’ first year at Baylor and Robert Griffin III’s freshman year.
2006 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (95 percent accuracy)
- Final Record: 9-5
- Postseason: ACC Championship (loss), Gator Bowl (loss)
- Worth noting: Just as LSU’s offense currently runs through Leonard Fournette, that Georgia Tech offense ran predominantly through ACC Player of the Year Calvin Johnson.
2008 West Virginia Mountaineers (94 percent accuracy)
- Final Record: 9-4
- Postseason: Meineke Car Care Bowl (win)
- Worth noting: This was the last year of the Pat White era in Morgantown and the first year after Rich Rodriguez left town.
2010 Pittsburgh Panthers (93 percent accuracy)
- Final Record: 8-5
- Postseason: BBVA Compass Bowl (win)
- Worth noting: Due to underperformance, coach Dave Wannstedt resigned after the season
2015 Georgia Bulldogs (92 percent accuracy)
- Final Record: 10-3
- Postseason: TaySlayer Bowl (win)
- Worth noting: Like Wannstedt, this was Georgia coach Mark Richt’s final year with the school.
A good story that you should read
Colby Delahoussaye has had a really tough couple of months. But in forging a relationship with someone who has had it even harder, he’s continuing to recover.
As Graham Couch of the Lansing State Journal wrote Wednesday, Delahoussaye has entered into a friendship with Karen Sadler, the mother of former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler, who died along with Nebraska punter Sam Foltz in a car accident on July 23. Delahoussaye was also in the car, but he survived the crash.
To quote Couch’s turn of phrase: “Karen and Colby have become fast friends, connected by unimaginable loss, the randomness of life and death and the memories of son and friend.” I highly recommend giving this piece a read for some perspective on how football can sometimes transcend what happens on the field.
So what exactly do you do, then?
As if playing every year wasn’t enough, Gus Malzahn and Les Miles are more intimately familiar with one another’s coaching staffs this year than ever before.
Coordinating Auburn’s defense is former LSU defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, who left behind the purple and yellow Tigers this offseason in favor of the blue and orange ones. That said, LSU’s wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig joined the LSU staff this offseason after three years of working at Auburn.
But Miles doesn’t seem to be concerned that one coaching staff will know too much about the other’s or vice versa. Because, in the end, what coaches know doesn’t really matter.
“I think we’re playing a game that is played by the players,” Miles said. “We put the players in the best spot so they can play how this game is played. I think you can overdo how much someone knows about someone else can make a difference. Not necessarily do I see it that way. The way I see it is the players play.”
Arbitrary Analysis, part 4
In honor of this weekend’s “Tiger Bowl” between the Auburn Tigers and the LSU Tigers, this week we at the Briefing have been counting down the top 5 fictional tigers in popular culture. Monday we unveiled No. 5, Tuesday we released No. 4 and Wednesday we gave you No. 3. Today we unleash upon you No. 2, a true icon. Remember to check back tomorrow for the conclusion of our countdown.
No. 2: Tony the Tiger, Frosted Flakes
Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored by Frosted Flakes. We are merely admirers of the awesomeness that is Tony the Tiger. Because really, when you think about fictional tigers, Tony is the one that comes to mind. (Maybe that’s because his surname, as far as we know, is “the Tiger.”)
He’s strong, he’s ferocious, he’s athletic and he’s all about making sure that you live a healthy and active lifestyle. Sure, maybe he doesn’t have much of a personality. Maybe he’s just a gym rat who is really into using supplements, albeit sugary ones that taste phenomenal in milk. But none of that matters. Who needs personality when you’re an icon? Be real: You wish you were friends with Tony the Tiger. Why? C’mon, say it with me.