LSU football: How might Matt Canada use Donte Jackson on offense?
Welcome to the Bayou Bengal Briefing, SEC Country’s daily morning column covering LSU football, with LSU beat writer Nick Suss. Today, we discuss playmakers on every side of the ball, numbers on backs, hangin’ out and more. Enjoy!
The fastest man on offense?
Forget Derrius Guice and Arden Key for a minute. With his unique blend of physical and technical ability, not to mention a whole bunch of speed, Donte Jackson might be the most entertaining player on the LSU football team.
And now, he might be the most entertaining 2-way player on the LSU football team.
— Nick Suss (@nicksuss) April 18, 2017
Jackson spent the first 5 minutes of the media viewing period of practice on Tuesday with the offense. He worked out as a wide receiver, taking jet sweeps alongside the likes of D.J. Chark and Russell Gage, among others. And as the man oft-accepted as the “fastest in college football,” this seems like a lethal setup.
I don’t want to come off as too much of a cynic, but I have one concern: If LSU seriously wanted to use Jackson on offense, the team wouldn’t have repped it during the media viewing session. This is the sort of gimmick most coaches would want to keep under wraps.
That said, if you get into reverse psychology, this is the perfect thing to do if you want to use Jackson as a decoy. Any time he steps on the field, defenses are going to key in on him. Teams don’t need to game plan for it. If they see a set they’ve never seen before, they’re going to be on edge. So, why not put the idea in an opponent’s head, make it prepare for the most difficult jet sweep in the college game and use him as an attention-sucking decoy?
Maybe I’m overthinking this. (Translation: I am certainly overthinking this.) But I’ll put it another way. No one is more gung-ho about getting Jackson on offense. Don’t believe me? I wrote a column four months ago arguing that Jackson should be LSU’s starting quarterback. That’s right. Quarterback.
Your move, Matt Canada. Jet sweeps are one thing. I’ll be impressed when you put him under center. Make it happen.
Wide receiver Wednesday
It’s Wednesday. On Wednesday, I talk about wide receivers.
Today’s topic: Recruiting and the future of the position
As SEC Country recruiting guru Sam Spiegelman wrote Tuesday, LSU football is looking to add as many as 5 wide receivers in the recruiting class of 2018. That’ll be on top of the already-deep unit LSU has now, stacked with 4 sophomores poised to make contributions in 2017.
Though Drake Davis, Dee Anderson, Stephen Sullivan and Derrick Dillon are all inexperienced, they’ve all had impressive springs, per quotes from their teammates and the players themselves. I got to speak with Dillon and D.J. Chark on Tuesday, as well as quarterback Danny Etling and safety John Battle. All were optimistically impressed with the direction the receiving corps is taking.
So, why is LSU looking to add so much depth? There’s the obvious answer. The Tigers only brought in 2 receivers last year, so they’ll need to overcompensate for next year.
But I think it’s bigger than that. Canada’s plan involves a lot of movement. There’s been plenty of press about how much motioning goes on in Canada’s offense. And, like it or not, that offense isn’t designed for 2 or 3 superstars like LSU has banked on in the past half decade. Receivers get tired running around that much. So, LSU needs as many as 6 or 7 capable receivers to comfortably execute a game plan.
On the one hand, this is dilution. LSU is diluting its own talent pool for the sake of satisfying a specific notion of how an offense should look. But in a bigger way, this is variety. It doesn’t matter how good your players are. If the defense knows what’s coming, it’s pretty easy to stop. But when you have to game plan for 7 wide receivers, 3 running backs, 2 tight ends and a couple of H-backs, you’ve got yourself a schematic nightmare.
This paradigm shift looks, to me, like a shift away from the superstar model LSU has thrived on in the past. Sure, guys like Leonard Fournette and Odell Beckham end up looking good. But this might be better for the team.
My Super Sweet 6
Inside linebacker Jacob Phillips just might’ve been the most important member of LSU’s 2017 recruiting class. Flipping him from Oklahoma was a turning point in LSU’s recruiting cycle and a key addition at the team’s thinnest position group.
And now, LSU fans know what jersey they can buy if they’re looking to support him.
— Jacob Phillips (@jacobphillips_1) April 19, 2017
Phillips will be wearing No. 6, a number vacated by a certain former quarterback on his way to Chapel Hill. He’ll don the number to honor his Nashville roots, an admirable move for a kid venturing away from home on a college journey.
LSU has never had a linebacker wear No. 6 before, so this is a bit of a venture outside the school’s comfort zone. But he’ll fit right in on a defense that owns No. 1 (Jackson), No. 2 (Kevin Toliver), No. 8 (Saivion Smith) and No. 9 (Grant Delpit). Of course, those other 4 guys are defensive backs. But still, it’s not too out of the ordinary.
Also, special props to Phillips for retweeting the Oklahoma troll calling him out three months later for his decision to flip. That’s the only way to deal with the guy. Make him feel important. Smooth move, Jacob. Smooth indeed.
For those of you who compulsively plan your schedules ahead of time, do I have a note for you or what!
LSU will host regional competitions for gymnastics in 2019 and for men’s and women’s golf in 2020 and 2021, according to a report from The Advocate.
Now that you know, get ready. Buy your tickets way, way, way, WAY in advance. Those things sell out surprisingly quick. Especially gym. Given how good LSU’s freshmen and sophomores were this year, that team is going to be stellar in 2019. That should be a fun one.
Look at my face
A couple times per week, Alex Hickey and I hop on the SEC Country Facebook page and do live broadcasts to answer any and all questions you have about LSU football and athletics. We did one Tuesday. Here’s a copy so you can watch it down below.
Make sure you never miss one of our Facebook Live chats. Ever. Never again. Like us on Facebook and turn notifications on so you know every time we’re talking. You won’t regret it.
There was a baseball game Tuesday night
The LSU baseball team won its sixth game in 7 tries, outlasting Lamar for a 10-4 victory on a rain-soaked Tuesday night.
All in all, it was an unremarkable game by LSU’s recent standards. The team did what it’s been doing recently, albeit with less technical precision from its pitching in the early going. That said, LSU’s late-era bullpen showed out, allowing only 1 hit in the final 5 frames.
It’s almost clinical how LSU goes about its game plan at this point. One of the first 2 guys in the lineup get on base. The second or third guy moves the runner with a sacrifice or a single. Greg Deichmann and the big boppers in the middle swing hard and hope to make contact. More often than not, Deichmann does. Runs.
I hate to reduce a complex game to an obvious and pedantic strategy, but that’s what LSU’s done. There’s some improvisation, sure. Who’d have expected Nick Coomes to wallop a pitch for a 2-run home run Tuesday night like he did. But more often than not, LSU scores by adhering to a formula as old as college baseball itself.
Here’s hoping it carries on to the postseason.
Today in made-up holidays
According to the folks at NationalDayCalendar.com, Wednesday is “National Hanging Out Day.” Apparently this is supposed to serve as a reminder to air-dry your clothing on a clothesline instead of using a washer/dryer like normal, industrial citizens of the modernized world.
But let’s take it differently. Let’s pretend this is just a day when we’re supposed to chill out. You know, like the phrase “hanging out” means in 2017. So yeah. Just relax today. You’ve earned it. You’ve got a big weekend of football and baseball watching ahead of you. Use today as a break.
And if you feel like air-drying your laundry, feel free. I’ll suggest it to the LSU baseball training staff next time I see them. I’m sure they’ll laugh in my face.
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