LSU football: Is the Tigers’ NFL draft invite lead a bittersweet celebration?
Welcome to the Bayou Bengal Briefing, SEC Country’s daily morning column covering LSU football, with LSU beat writer Nick Suss. Today, we celebrate a bittersweet honor, preview what could be a banner weekend for LSU athletics, close out this week’s countdown and much, much more. Enjoy!
It’s a tough compliment to accept
Even the most loyal of LSU football fans will admit the Tigers wasted quite a bit of talent over the past couple of seasons. There’s no sense in peeling at old scabs, but I bring this up for a reason.
LSU had more players invited to the NFL draft this year than any other college with 3: running back Leonard Fournette, safety Jamal Adams and cornerback Tre’Davious White. This mark beat out College Football Playoff qualifiers Alabama, Ohio State and Washington, each of which had 2. LSU football coach Ed Orgeron will also be in attendance, boosting the Tigers’ number to 4.
There are two ways to look at this:
- LSU continues to put more talent into the NFL than any other school in college football. Having superstars at the NFL draft helps get the name of the program out to a wider audience. Ultimately, this is a good thing.
- LSU continues to put more talent into the NFL than any other school in college football. Despite this overwhelming amount of talent, LSU hasn’t won the SEC West, let alone the SEC, since 2011. Ultimately, this is another reminder of LSU’s recent shortcomings.
I don’t know if you prefer to look at the 8-4 season half full or the 8-4 season half empty. Any way you slice it, the LSU football team had an immense amount of talent in 2016. Fournette, Adams and White should be commended for their contributions to the program. But with that commendation has to come a twinge of wondering what could have been.
LSU had the talent to keep up with the Alabamas, Ohio States and Clemsons of the world. It just didn’t. And this NFL draft might end up being a celebration of that very fact.
Your (very important) weekly non-revenue sports preview
Easter weekend is going to be a pretty hectic one for LSU athletics, headlined by one of LSU’s flagship programs competing for its first national championship. Here’s all of what you should keep an eye out for over the next three days:
- The No. 2 LSU gymnastics team is in St. Louis this weekend for the NCAA Championships, beginning Friday at 7 p.m. CT. In the semifinal session, in which the Tigers are the top seed, LSU competes against No. 3 Florida, No. 6 Alabama, No. 7 Michigan, No. 10 Georgia and No. 13 Nebraska. If LSU finishes with one of the 3 highest scores in the meet, it’ll move on to the Super Six, where it’ll compete for a national championship. Friday’s meet will be televised on ESPNU and ESPN, while Saturday’s will be exclusively on ESPNU.
- LSU baseball will try to build off its blowout victory against Ole Miss on Thursday with two more home games versus the Rebels this weekend. The two teams will go at it Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. Both games can be streamed on WatchESPN.
- The beach volleyball team hosts The Battle on the Bayou, facing off against Texas A&M-Kingsville, University of Louisiana Monroe, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Georgia State. The Tigers rank No. 7 in the country and have won 16 matches in a row.
- Just like the baseball team, LSU softball faces off against Ole Miss this weekend, meeting the Rebels for three games in Oxford. The two teams will play a doubleheader Friday to avoid playing a game on Easter Sunday.
- The track and field teams are splitting up this weekend. Some athletes are in Long Beach, Calif., for the Beach Invitational and others are in Torrance, Calif., for the Mt. SAC Relays. Neither are a bad way to end spring break.
- Women’s tennis travels to Athens, Ga., Friday to take on Georgia and to Knoxville, Tenn., on Sunday to face the Vols. Men’s tennis hosts Tennessee on Saturday.
Speaking of baseball …
The LSU baseball team absolutely routed Ole Miss on Thursday night, defeating the Rebels 15-2. It was the most runs the Tigers have scored in a single game since the last time they won an SEC series opener, when they hung 22 runs on Georgia.
After a month of fielding complaints that LSU’s offense had disappeared, it came back in a grand display Thursday night. Most impressively, there was Greg Deichmann’s grand slam, a shot that, well, just look at these numbers.
That grand slam by @Greg_D07:
Exit velo – 111.4 mph
Launch angle – 29 degrees
Distance – 457 ft
Max Height – 113 ft
Hang Time – 5.91 sec
— LSUBaseballData (@LSUBaseballData) April 14, 2017
I’ve watched pretty much every LSU baseball game this season. And, by far, this was the most impressive. Fifteen hits from 10 guys. Seven shutout innings from Alex Lange. No errors. Three stolen bases. It was about as perfect of a game as Paul Mainieri could’ve scripted himself.
Does this mean LSU is back to its 10-runs-per-game ways from earlier in the season? Probably not. But the Tigers made a pitcher who came into the day with a 1.85 ERA look like a chump. And a lineup that was 21-12 on the season go scoreless.
If that’s not a stride forward, I don’t know what is.
In LSU football news …
LSU linebacker Donnie Alexander has been practicing through an injury all spring, and it seems like now he finally went through with it and got the surgery he needed.
Crazy I had surgery and put on weight lol all I gotta do is keep it !!!! #233 😈
— #First4️⃣8️⃣ (@GreatBambino__) April 13, 2017
Alexander’s injury was in his shoulder. His surgery was the same procedure that center Will Clapp underwent, so it’s unlikely that he’ll miss more than a couple weeks of summer workouts. But it would be a bit of a surprise to see him in anything other than a T-shirt and shorts in LSU’s spring game next week.
Without Alexander, expect Devin White, Michael Divinity and Layton Garnett to step up for the Tigers. In particular, Divinity will likely have to step in for Alexander in the starting lineup, fulfilling his transition from outside to inside backer.
Arbitrary Analysis, part 5
The LSU football team has been on spring break this week. The Bayou Bengal Briefing has not. To pass the time, I’ve been participating in a spring-break-adjacent activity in the Briefing this week, counting down my 5 favorite beach-themed TV sitcom episodes. Today, I’ll reveal my No. 1 pick. But first, here’s a recap of what we’ve gone through so far.
No. 3: Beach Games, The Office
And now, my No. 1 pick.
No. 1: My Soul on Fire Pts. 1 and 2 (Scrubs)
This isn’t just a top 5 beach-themed episode. This is probably one of the 5 best episodes of Scrubs ever made. And that’s saying a lot.
Both parts of My Soul on Fire, especially part 2, play as perfect half-hours summing up eight years of Scrubs jokes. You have the meta-bromance of Turk and J.D. on full display. Jordan and Dr. Cox’s relationship is at its most play-heated. The schmaltz is juxtaposed with the absurd. And, in classic Scrubs fashion, there are references aplenty to other classic sitcom beach episodes, most notably The Brady Bunch.
Above all, though, this episode comes down to its abundance of heart. Eight years of episodes playing with the idea of J.D. and Elliott’s romance came down to this episode. And the speed J.D. gave at the end of the episode brought it home. Scrubs’ picture-perfect series finale came about a month later. But My Soul on Fire might’ve been the best capsule of the show’s power.
Gather the Brain Trust. A No. 1 vote has been cast.
LSU in the MLB
LSU has plenty of former baseball players in the MLB this season. Here’s how they’ve been doing, 2 weeks into the season.
- Houston Astros IF Alex Bregman: .243/.317/.297, 1 run, 2 RBI, 0 HR
- San Francisco Giants IF Aaron Hill: .118/.250/.294, 2 runs, 2 RBI, 1 HR
- Detroit Tigers IF/OF JaCoby Jones: .238/.360/.524, 3 runs, 4 RBI, 1 HR
- Colorado Rockies IF DJ LeMahieu: .189/.268/.351, 4 runs, 2 RBI, 1 HR
- Detroit Tigers OF Mikie Mahtook: .071/.188/.143, 1 run, 1 RBI, 0 HR
- San Diego Padres IF Ryan Schimpf: .160/.361/.400, 3 runs, 5 RBI, 2 HRs
- Baltimore Orioles starter Kevin Gausman: 3 starts, 1-0, 3.94 ERA, 11 Ks, 9 BBs
- Houston Astros reliever Will Harris: 4 appearances, 4.2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 3 Ks, 1 BB
- Philadelphia Phillies starter Aaron Nola: 1 start, 1-0, 4.50 ERA, 7 Ks, 2 BBs
What else can I do with my life?
Sports not your thing? Well, congrats for making it nearly 1,400 words into a sports column. As a reward, here’s a list of non-sports things you can do in Baton Rouge this weekend:
- You can head to Friday Night Live tonight at The Grind Gastropub on Sherwood for some live music and grown-up conversation. Especially with the students on spring break, this isn’t an activity for the free-spirited partygoers. This is a chill place to spend a Friday night if you’re not feeling Tigerland.
- From 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, you can visit Beer Club. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Fun.
- Folk icon Loudon Wainwright III is playing Red Dragon Saturday night. If you’ve never listened to his music, it really is a treat. Give him a try.
- The Renaissance Baton Rouge Hotel is hosting an Easter brunch, starting Sunday at 10 a.m. Once church lets out, get your grub on. It’s as simple as that.
- For a full listing of events, check out The Advocates’ handy calendar here.
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