Good morning, LSU football fans. I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and made it through the holidays with smiles on your faces. But you can quit pretending. We here in the Bayou Bengal Briefing know what you’re actually excited for.
It’s game week in the LSU football world. No, really. In five days, the LSU Tigers will take on the Louisville Cardinals in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl.
I know it feels like it’s been ages since the game was announced, and there’s a good chance you’ve long since forgotten any and all the research you did about Louisville’s team. It’s natural. There’s no need to fret.
Here’s a quick refresher on what you need to know about Louisville, three things style:
Thing 1: Louisville thrives on the big play
Let’s start this off by dropping some elementary football knowledge: If you earn 10 yards on first down, you get another set of downs.
This is a fact that LSU’s defense will need to keep quick on the recall, as Louisville’s offense has gained 10 or more yards on a play more times (256) than any other team in college football.
That’s 98 more times than LSU’s offense did and 35 more times than Ole Miss, the top offense in the SEC.
But it’s not just the 10-yard gainers. Louisville’s offense gained 20 or more yards on 97 plays this year, the third most in college football and the most in the Power 5. Perhaps more impressively, the Cardinals had 16 plays of 50 yards or longer, or roughly 1.33 per game.
Thing 2: Louisville’s run defense is really good
Only two Power 5 teams held their opponents to less than 3 yards per carry: No. 1 Alabama and Louisville.
The Cardinals have only allowed 6 rushing touchdowns this year. Which teams have allowed fewer? No. 1 Alabama, No. 3 Ohio State and Sugar Bowl-bound Auburn.
In half of Louisville’s games this year, its defense held its opponent to under 100 rushing yards. The only teams to eclipse 200 yards? No. 2 Clemson and a Kentucky team that runs the ball nearly 44 times per game.
Thing 3: Louisville’s third-down defense is stingy
Louisville doesn’t allow its opponents to convert on many third downs. Opponents have converted on 30.7 percent of their third down attempts versus Louisville this season, the No. 8-best mark in college football.
The Nos. 6 and 7 teams directly ahead of Louisville are College Football Playoff teams Clemson and Alabama. The Nos. 9 and 10 teams directly behind of Louisville are College Football Playoff teams Washington and Ohio State.
So, yeah, good company.
This week’s LSU football poll
Since it’s officially game week again, LSU football fans, we can officially run another poll about a football game. And, with all due respect to polls about the draft and recruits, I think we can all agree that real football is more fun.
So, here’s my question for the week: How much value do you think a Citrus Bowl win will have for Ed Orgeron moving forward as LSU’s football coach?
Before we vote, an explanation of the sides.
- Some people are likely to believe that a win Saturday will set off a chain reaction that catapults LSU into a successful National Signing Day and positive offseason. This isn’t a bad outlook.
- Certain fans are likely to believe that the outcome of this game will have no effect on the future. It’ll be a new team next year, and the roster this season won’t change that. This isn’t a bad outlook, either.
So, which will it be? I’m capping the options at two today to keep things black and white. Your votes will be counted and revealed in the Bayou Bengal Briefing on Tuesday.
On the second day of Christmas …
Oh, did you think that because Christmas came and went that I’d stop talking about Christmas music? Don’t be silly.
As the famous song goes, there are 12 days of Christmas. So, we’re going to celebrate Christmas for exactly that long in the Bayou Bengal Briefing, recapping the gifts the LSU football team will celebrate receiving.
On Sunday, on the first day of Christmas, instead of a partridge and a pear tree, the LSU football team’s true love gave it a Cajun and an OC.
On Monday, instead of two turtle doves, the LSU football team’s true love gave it two quarterbacks.
Be sure to follow along with the Bayou Bengal Briefing over the next 12 days to fill out the song along with me.
One really good (and confusing) tweet
2016 might not have been the most pleasant season for the LSU football program, but it will always go down positively as Derrius Guice’s breakout season.
But after an All-SEC season where Guice led the conference in rushing touchdowns and yards per carry, the running back seems to be content with his achievements. He needs a new challenge. And that challenge might be replacing Jamal Adams.
I don't want to play running back anymore. Im a true Strong Safety!
— 5⃣ (@DhaSickest) December 25, 2016
Of course, Guice was joking. He followed up the tweet with a “#DBU” and never played off the joke, but there’s no way LSU’s coaches would let Guice play anything but tailback.
That said, I think Guice would be an interesting fit back in the secondary. Think about the speed and swagger the LSU defense would have with a Guice and Donte Jackson-led unit. The trash talk alone would be enough to win at least three games.
Man, now I want to see that.
Your weekly NFLSU update
The NFL split its games up this week as to not compete with Christmastime, meaning plenty of former LSU stars showed out on Saturday, just like old times. Here’s a rundown of some of the best statistical performances:
- In its win against the Carolina Panthers on Saturday, the Atlanta Falcons’ defense might as well have called itself LSU East. Rookie linebacker Deion Jones led the Falcons with 13 tackles, 8 solo, and added 1 pass defensed. Second in tackles? Defensive back Jalen Collins, who made 6 tackles, all of which were solo, defensed 2 passes and intercepted 1, returning it 37 yards.
- Continuing with the defensive theme, Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Kwon Alexander kept up his fantastic season, recording 10 tackles, 5 of which were solo, and notching 2 passes defensed. Alexander now has 135 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 6 PDs, 9 stuffs and a touchdown in 2016.
- Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill had his worst game of the season Saturday, just in time for the fantasy football playoffs. Hill rushed 7 times for 8 yards with a long gain of 4.
- However, one of Hill’s teammates balled out Saturday. Wide receiver Brandon LaFell caught 6 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown. With 6 touchdowns on the season, LaFell is one TD shy of matching his career high.
- Facing the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware carried 13 times for 62 yards. With the win, the Chiefs guaranteed themselves a playoff spot and eliminated the Broncos from contention.
One more NFL note
JaMarcus Russell wasn’t the best NFL quarterback of all time. In fact, the LSU football legend might just have been the worst NFL quarterback of all time. But he did hold one record. Until Sunday night, that is.
In that very same Chiefs-Broncos game, defensive tackle Dontari Poe shocked and entertained the world with a touchdown pass.
6-3. 346lbs. @PoeMans_dream is a defensive tackle…
— NFL (@NFL) December 26, 2016
At 346 pounds, Poe is now the heaviest quarterback ever to throw a touchdown pass. The previous record holder? JaMarcus Russell.
Man, life just keeps getting harder for the biggest draft bust in NFL history.
Today in made-up holidays
If you’re anything like me, you probably didn’t get much for Christmas. But, if you’re anything like every other normal person who celebrates Christmas in America, you’re probably drowning in new stuff.
Which is where today’s made-up holiday, courtesy of the fine folks at NationalDayCalendar.com, comes in. Apparently, Monday is “National Thank You Note Day,” which makes sense. Unless you thanked the people who gave you your gifts in person. In which case, thank you notes are a bit redundant. But that’s a completely different rant.
So, in the comments section of this article or on our Facebook page, let’s celebrate the occasion. I’m going to write a thank you note of my own about LSU sports. Join me, won’t you, and write some thank you notes of your own. If there are any great notes submitted, I’ll highlight them Tuesday in the Briefing.
Here’s my note. It’s a letter to spring sports.
Dear LSU spring sports,
Thanks for starting so quickly. I don’t know what I’d write about, or what I would do for fun, if you weren’t right around the corner. And I’m not just looking at the obvious ones. Sure, basketball and baseball are nice. But I’m looking forward to gymnastics and softball, to tennis and golf, to track and field.
You’re all great. Sports are such fun, silly things, and without the pressure of football looming overhead, you’ll have license to be as fun and silly as you can be.
So, thank you, LSU spring sports. You’re what I’m looking forward to in 2017.
The Bayou Bengal Briefing