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Former LSU defensive back Tre'Davious White lunges for a tackle.

Bayou Bengal Briefing: LSU and Florida really aren’t that different

Nick Suss

Welcome to the Bayou Bengal Briefing, SEC Country’s daily morning column covering LSU football with beat writer Nick Suss. Today, we riff on the Florida rivalry, bestow premature honors, check in with the weight room and more. Enjoy!

Let’s get some things straight

Warning: I’m about to link to a story. You might not like it. It will probably make you angry. But we have to discuss it.

Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel wrote a scathing take on the state of the LSU-versus-Florida rivalry Monday. Without getting too far into it, Bianchi called LSU “Little Sisters University,” labeled Joe Alleva a buffoon and criticized Alleva and LSU’s handling of last year’s Hurricane Matthew situation.

This is one man’s opinion. And a lot of the stuff he said in there does hold value. But he portrayed the rivalry as a one-sided afterthought in Florida’s direction. If anything, these two schools should be clumped together, not contrasted against one another.

In the 2016-17 athletic year, Florida and LSU were the only two schools in the nation to play in a bowl game, make the men’s and women’s College World Series and compete in the Super Six gymnastics finals. On top of that, Florida men’s basketball team and LSU’s women’s basketball team both made the NCAA Tournament.

Yes, Florida beat LSU head to head in both World Series. But LSU finished one spot ahead of Florida in the final AP football poll and one position ahead of the Gators in the final gymnastics rankings. These are evenly matched opponents. And this rivalry shouldn’t be reduced to pettiness or anger.

We should appreciate it for what it is: great.

Praise where praise is due

Junior offensive lineman Will Clapp was named to the Rimington Award watch list Tuesday, the postseason trophy presented to the most outstanding center in college football.

After spending last season at left guard, Clapp will be bumping inside to his natural position for the LSU football team in 2017. Clapp was limited in the spring, still recovering from a shoulder injury that hampered him through most of the 2016 season. But he should be 100 percent healthy heading into fall camp and is expected to seamlessly fill in for departed center Ethan Pocic, now with the Seattle Seahawks.

Clapp is one of seven SEC centers on the watch list. Pocic was a finalist for the award a year ago, but the trophy ultimately went to Ohio State’s Pat Elflein. All three finalists from a year ago have moved on to the NFL.

Elsewhere in LSU football news

Tuesday was a busy day for LSU football content. Here’s a list of some of the stories you might’ve missed:

On the diamond

The MLB All-Star Game was Tuesday night, a game the American League won 2-1 in extra innings. The lone former LSU baseball player in the game, Colorado Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu, didn’t play thanks to lingering discomfort from a groin injury that kept him day to day a week ago.

That said, it is worth noting that LSU might’ve had an All-Star snub. No, not Alex Bregman. I’m talking about Nick Goody. The Cleveland Indians relief pitcher has been excellent in 2017, posting a 2.16 ERA with a 1.080 WHIP and 38 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings pitched. That’s an impressive total for the third-year right-hander.

But it’s a hard sell to put Goody in the All-Star Game when teammate Andrew Miller has a 1.42 ERA and a 0.677 WHIP with 67 strikeouts in 44 1/3 innings. Long live Andrew Miller.

Workout warriors

LSU strength and conditioning coach Tommy Moffitt tweeted out a workout leaderboard Tuesday. As we often do, let’s dissect it.

Three thoughts:

  1. Rashard Lawrence has been working his butt off this summer. “Uncle Phil” makes the list as often as anyone else.
  2. I have no idea who “Skrill” is. If you do, please let me know.
  3. Moffitt didn’t include a catchy hashtag in this tweet. But he could’ve made “Let’s geaux” a hashtag easily. Missed opportunities.

Checking in with PFF

Kings of Twitter and football analytics godsends Pro Football Focus tweeted out another stat the pertains to LSU on Tuesday, this one relating to cornerback Donte Jackson.

Among returning cornerbacks who were thrown at 20 or more times last season, Jackson has the second-best completion percentage against in the SEC. And that’s quite a feat, given the SEC’s reputation for gifted DBs.

Jackson gets unfairly criticized a lot because of one blown coverage last season against Florida. But he truly did grow a lot from 2015 to 2016. If he grows at the same rate heading into 2017, this is a guy who has a serious chance to leave LSU after three seasons and begin a bright future in the NFL. He’s a talented technician and his speed is otherworldly.

Be sure to keep an eye on Jackson, among so many others, as we approach fall camp.

Today in made-up holidays

According to the folks at NationalDayCalendar.com, Wednesday is “National Simplicity Day.” So, I won’t make beat around the bush with words today. I’ll just say this: Celebrate National Simplicity Day.

There. Thanks for reading.

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