Welcome back to the weekly LSU football and recruiting mailbag.
Every week, LSU reporter Sam Spiegelman goes through his stack to answer some of the most pressing questions submitted by you, the readers.
ADD TO THE MAILBAG: If you want to submit a question, send a message to @SamSpiegs on Twitter or e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Room is getting tight in the Tigers recruiting class, with just a handful of scholarship spots remaining for what appears to be a wide range of blue-chip targets.
We’re past the midway point in the college football season and about to move into the fourth quarter of the recruiting cycle.
So, what’s next? Let’s take a look:
Will we see Jeter and Smith used more in this game? Mismatches … (@biglsufan77)
If trends are something that interests you, then you might be on to something.
In three games with Ed Orgeron as LSU’s interim head coach and Steve Ensminger as the interim offensive coordinator, the Tigers’ tight ends have been more involved in the game plan. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the box scores reflect that, but in reviewing the tape that’s certainly been the case.
Under Ensminger, LSU’s former tight ends coach, Colin Jeter and DeSean Smith have lined up wide to spread out opposing defenses. That began in Orgeron’s debut when LSU’s offense ran right past Missouri.
The strength of the Alabama defense is its stout front seven, which is comprised of four standout linebackers in Tim Williams (JACK), Ryan Anderson (SLB), Shaun Dion Hamilton (MLB) and Reuben Foster (WLB).
If Ensminger continues to split Jeter and Smith out wide, then Alabama would likely counter by shifting Foster or Williams over to cover them. That takes one Crimson Tide defender out of the box, giving Leonard Fournette one less defender to get past. If not, one of LSU’s tight ends might have a mismatch out wide.
Again, the box score doesn’t exactly reflect much-increased production for the LSU tight ends. Smith leads the pack with four receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown. Jeter is right behind him with four for 71 yards, and Foster Moreau has also hauled in four passes for 39 yards and a score. In the past three games, the tight ends have managed a combined seven catches for 113 yards. Before that, they collectively totaled 12 receptions for 122 and a touchdown.
What did you dress as for Halloween? (@bigahickey)
Good question, Alex, and thank you for allowing me the opportunity to shamelessly plug my Instagram account.
As a former Terp, I felt no costume captured the true hero inside of me better than the Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles. That, plus I’m just a huge fan of pizza.
My posse was short one, but we were equipped with a Michaelangelo (me), Leonardo and Raphael. So what if we didn’t have a Donatello?
LSU-Alabama score … I say LSU 24-20. What score you got? (@Jarradjrod25)
I like where your head’s at, Jarrad. I’m inclined to predict a very similar score.
You know, Alabama’s Nick Saban said when he looks at this LSU team, he considers them unbeaten. After all, it’s a very different team than what we saw in Lambeau Field against Wisconsin, even in the heart-breaking loss against Auburn.
Orgeron’s version of the Tigers are still a run-heavy team, but they take chances down the field. Special teams have been cleaned up under Bradley Dale Peveto’s watch, and the defense has played lights out under Dave Aranda, just as it has throughout the season.
Check out these numbers:
|Alabama||LSU (Under Les Miles)||LSU (Under Ed Orgeron)|
|Scoring offense (ppg)||43.9||21||41.7|
|Total offense (ypg)||498||339.5||536|
|Scoring defense (ppg)||14.9||16.75||12.7|
|Total defense (ypg)||274.5||341.25||277.3|
You can even leave the LSU defensive statistics out of the discussion and simply compare LSU’s offense in the past three games favorably to Alabama’s. The point totals are nearly even. The Tigers hold an edge with total yardage. Defensively, the units have posted nearly identical numbers.
Expect a defensive-themed showdown between No. 1 Alabama and No. 15 LSU on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium. Don’t expect either team to score 30 or more points, and if one does, you might as well give them the win now.
I believe this game will come down to Jalen Hurts and Danny Etling, and which quarterback makes fewer mistakes against these opportunistic defenses. Will it be Hurts, a freshman, or Etling, making his first career start against the Crimson Tide? It’s a bit of a toss-up.
Throw in a few defensive plays and possibly a safety, my gut says that the home team pulls off an upset: LSU 23, Alabama 21.
Do we have a real shot at Trevor Lawrence? (@serrient_Bell)
I hate to be the breaker of bad news, but Lawrence’s first visit to Baton Rouge is not nearly enough to convince me that LSU has a fighting chance with the elite quarterback prospect.
Lawrence, a 5-star from Georgia, was supposed to decide between the hometown Bulldogs and Clemson earlier this fall. That decision has yet to happen, meaning the door is slightly cracked open for other schools to enter the race.
Here’s the interesting twist:
Last May, former LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron traveled out to the Peach State to extend an offer to Lawrence. There had been little communication between Cameron and Lawrence since then. After all, LSU holds a commitment from 2018 Texas pro-style passer Zadock Dinkelmann and is courting a number of 2018 dual-threat passers such as top in-state prospect Justin Rogers and 4-star Dorian Thompson-Robinson.
This past week, however, Lawrence’s family reached out to the LSU staff about a visit. In fact, the family has always had an interest in LSU’s program, according to a source, who stated that the top priority for Lawrence is to land somewhere that he can start from Day 1.
That led to the top 2018 quarterback making his inaugural visit to Tiger Stadium.
Of course, we’ll see what transpires over the next few weeks, but to me, it is highly unlikely LSU will be able to nudge Lawrence away from either Georgia or Clemson at this stage in the process. Lawrence seems set on deciding between the aforementioned schools.
Plus, with 4-stars Myles Brennan and Lowell Narcisse already embedded in the 2017 class, the path to a starting job might not come as easy as Lawrence expects.
“The biggest factor is where I feel the most comfortable at,” Lawrence told DawgNation. “I feel comfortable at both. They are both great so I’m trying to find out which school feels the most comfortable to me.”
In order words, the level of familiarity between Lawrence, Georgia and Clemson is much greater than one visit to Baton Rouge. Then again, there’s the old saying: If he was going to commit, then why didn’t he do it already?
Assuming (I know, it’s dangerous) that Coach O gets a victory over ‘Bama and Tom Herman is off to Texas, what are Coach O’s chances of being head coach? Who are some alternate head coaches? (pferrer1865)
Paul, let’s be frank: If Orgeron leads LSU past Alabama, he should cement himself as the leading candidate to be the Tigers’ next head coach.
As I understand it, Orgeron is one of three clear-cut front-runners, along with Herman and Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher.
You pointed out that Herman is the most likely candidate to land at Texas, if and when the Longhorns make a change with Charlie Strong. Then again, Herman’s Houston club has suffered two losses over the past month after an impressive start to the season, which included a defeat of Oklahoma.
In other words, Herman’s resume is good, but is it as good as LSU fans want?
Fisher is still a bit of question mark. His ‘Noles are not playing as well as we expected them to this season, and at 5-3 after losing at home to Clemson, there is some chatter around Tallahassee, Fla., that perhaps Fisher’s message is no longer being received.
If Orgeron can beat ‘Bama, he should overtake both Herman and Fisher in the race to be LSU’s next head coach. In fact, even if he doesn’t, there is still a chance.
Orgeron’s resume already includes a 3-0 record with a win over a ranked Ole Miss team. Besides top-ranked Alabama, Orgeron will have a difficult remaining schedule with dates against ranked Florida and Texas A&M, which according to sources, will play a role in the LSU brass’ decision to make Orgeron the permanent head coach.*
*More on that to come, by the way
Nonetheless, I still contend that Orgeron can take this job depending on how the Tigers close out the season. Herman and Fisher are both going to be in the discussion, though neither has gained steam in the past month. Of course, you need to take that with a grain of salt considering they are both head coaches at other programs.
In the next month, expect a decision to be made and legitimate candidates to emerge. But for now, it’s Orgeron’s job to lose. If he does, in fact, lose it, then it’s going to be a race between Herman (if he wants it), Fisher (if he’s willing to move) and the field (which isn’t exactly overwhelming).
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite rankings unless otherwise noted.
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