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Former LSU defensive lineman Travonte Valentine

Bayou Bengal Briefing: Don’t worry, LSU football doesn’t need Travonte Valentine

Nick Suss

Welcome to SEC Country’s daily morning column covering LSU football with LSU beat writer Nick Suss. Today, we discuss rule breakers, cage dwellers, pass blockers and much more.

Strength in the strong

The LSU football team dismissed former 5-star defensive tackle Travonte Valentine on Thursday for violating team rules. This brings an end to a disappointing saga that’s seen Valentine be admitted to the team twice and squander both opportunities.

It’s a sad situation for a guy who looked like he was going to be able to take advantage of a second chance. But here’s the thing: It’s not sad for LSU at all.

To be blunt, LSU doesn’t need Valentine. Valentine wouldn’t have seen the field much in 2017 and it would’ve only gotten harder for him to play if he stayed for 2018.

In 2017, LSU has senior Greg Gilmore and sophomore Ed Alexander. Both played over Valentine in 2016 and both played well. On top of that, LSU is going to bring in 4-star defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin and 3-star recruit Neil Farrell as freshmen for the fall, as well as possibly 5-star player Marvin Wilson.

Valentine is a big body. And he could’ve been a great story. But his production wasn’t enough to make the muster. Ten tackles in a season isn’t worth the baggage.

Especially not when the team has veteran talent and an upcoming youth movement at the position simultaneously.

LSU is going to be fine at defensive tackle, with or without Valentine. So, don’t worry. This is a hit LSU can and should be willing to take.

Shameless self-promotion

In news that probably got you a special kind of excited, LSU released a timeline Thursday for when it expects to introduce Mike VII.

It’s looking like you’re going to get to meet LSU’s next Mike the Tiger in August, right around when school opens for the fall semester and a month in advance of the LSU football season.

This is encouraging news, but news I could’ve already told you.

This is where the shameless self-promo comes in: I have a huge, long story on the Mike the Tiger tradition and the debate surrounding it going up on SECCountry.com/LSU today at noon CT. I’d really appreciate it if you would give it a read.

Tell them the Bayou Bengal Briefing sent you.

LSU football in the NFL

Four teams remain in the chase for Super Bowl 51: the New England Patriots, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Atlanta Falcons and the Green Bay Packers.

Between those four teams, there are six former LSU football players still in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy. That said, you’ll probably only see three of them play, and they’re all on one team. Here’s how you can follow along this weekend:

  • The Atlanta Falcons host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at 2:05 p.m. CT on FOX. There are no former Tigers on the Packers, but the Falcons boast three former LSU football players on their starting defense. First-team all-rookie linebacker Deion Jones headlines the bunch, with Jalen Collins starting at linebacker and Tyson Jackson starting at defensive end.
  • In the AFC, the pickings are slightly slimmer. Former LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo is a second-string linebacker with the Patriots who doesn’t play very much. And former LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger is a third-string quarterback for the Steelers who plays even less. On top of that, the Steelers also retain the rights to former LSU lineman Jerald Hawkins, but Hawkins is out for the season on injured reserve.

Arbitrary Analysis, part 5

If you live in the United States, Friday is Inauguration Day for your next president. (If you don’t live in the United States, I’m shocked you’re reading this column.)

All week, as a countdown to the last day of Barack Obama’s tenure as president of the United States, I’ve been ranking my picks for the five most memorable LSU football wins of the last eight years. Today, I unveil my pick for No. 1. But first, a recap:

No. 5: LSU upsets Ole Miss

No. 4: LSU comes back to beat Bama

No. 3: LSU tricks its way to a win against UF

No. 2: LSU throttles UGA for an SEC title

OK., time for No. 1. I think you know what’s coming.

No. 1: The Game of the Century (2011)

It was everything it was supposed to be.

Undefeated, No. 2 Alabama. Undefeated, No. 1 LSU. Everything at stake. Bryant-Denny Stadium. Primetime. And it lived up to the hype.

The Game of the Century, as it came to be known, was one of the greatest showcases of defensive dominance (or offensive impotence, depending on your point of view) that college football had ever seen. But LSU came out on top, winning 9-6 in overtime.

This game was about as even as games come, down to the fact that time of possession was decided by a whopping 12 seconds. Alabama made 17 first downs. LSU made 15. Both teams turned the ball over twice and both teams ended regulation with six points.

But the difference was LSU made all of its field goals. Alabama missed four. And LSU’s magical, SEC-championship-winning season continued.

Never mind how that season ended.

Mocking the mock

Man with a never-changing haircut and ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. released his first mock draft for the 2017 NFL Draft on Thursday. He had two former LSU players go in his top 10. Here are my thoughts on both of those fits:

Jamal Adams

Jamal Adams-LSU-LSU Tigers-lsu football
Former LSU safety Jamal Adams (Sam Spiegelman/SEC Country)

Kiper had the rangy and aggressive in-the-box safety going No. 4 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Given the fact that the Jaguars used a top 10 pick on Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey last season, Adams would be part of a young corps of talented defenders on an ever-improving Jacksonville defense that also included youngsters Yannick Ngakoue, Myles Jack and Dante Fowler Jr.

That said, I don’t know if the need is there for Jacksonville. The Jags were a top 5 team by defensive NY/A (net yardage per pass attempt) and by passing touchdowns allowed. The Jags might have bigger fish to fry than grabbing a safety. But I think Adams would thrive in that situation either way.

Leonard Fournette

Leonard Fournette-LSU football
LSU running back Leonard Fournette (Sam Spiegelman/SEC Country)

Four picks after Adams, Kiper has Fournette going to the Carolina Panthers to join Cam Newton in an offense that will confuse Auburn fans everywhere. I think this offense is a perfect fit for Fournette, who would be taking over for the aging Jonathan Stewart, and his downhill style.

By total yardage, the Panthers had a top 10 rushing attack in football last season. But the Panthers pounded the rock a little too much; by yards per carry, Carolina ranked 23rd in the NFL. Only about two-thirds of Carolina’s rushing yards came from running backs last season, with Newton, fullback Mike Tolbert and wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. each helping out.

Fournette is a plug-and-play starter in that offense and the kind of guy who can help the Panthers get back to the Super Bowl, where they were last year.

Speaking of former LSU football players …

I think former LSU center Ethan Pocic deserves to be a first-round pick this spring. It’s hard for centers to be picked that early, but he’s a great player.

Don’t believe me? Stats don’t lie.

If you’re not impressed by that, you don’t care about offensive linemen enough.

LSU in the NBA

It’s Friday. You know what that means. Time to check up on how LSU’s former basketball players in the NBA are doing. Spoiler alert: None made the all-star team.

Player Games Played Minutes Per Game PPG RPG APG PER
Garrett Temple (SAC) 41 25.8 7.6 2.8 2.1 11.8
Justin Hamilton (BKN) 36 20.1 7.1 4.6 0.9 12.7
Marcus Thornton (WAS) 33 17.4 6.6 2.3 1.2 10.6
Jarell Martin (MEM) 38 14.0 4.1 4.1 0.2 8.2
Brandon Bass (LAC) 27 11.7 5.5 2.3 0.5 17.8
Jordan Mickey (BOS) 11 7.9 2.5 1.7 0.4 11.9
Tim Quarterman (POR) 12 3.3 1.3 0.5 0.6 20.2

Your weekly non-revenue LSU sports update

It’s a busy weekend in LSU sports. Who needs football anyway? Here’s a breakdown of what to consider watching:

  • Your No. 2 LSU gymnastics squad returns to the PMAC on Friday night to host Texas. It’ll be the annual Pink and Blue Meet for breast and prostate cancer awareness. Fans sitting in the 100 level will be given pink and blue T-shirts free of charge.
  • Saturday is a busy day, but only the women’s tennis team will be at home. The No. 19-ranked team will host Northwestern State at 11 a.m. and Southern at 4 p.m.
  • In order of chronology, here are the rest of Saturday’s events: Track and field heads to Birmingham, Ala., for the Auburn Invitational, the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams face off against Texas A&M in College Station and the men’s basketball team visits Arkansas to face the Razorbacks.
  • On Sunday, the men’s tennis team matches up against Memphis in Memphis and the women’s basketball team, coming off a loss to Kentucky on Thursday night, follows the swim team to Texas A&M for a matchup of its own versus the Aggies.

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