Welcome to the inaugural edition of the Bayou Bengal Briefing, your one-stop source for the latest news on football, recruiting and all things LSU. Today in the briefing, we’re going to let you know just where and when to show up at Tiger Stadium for this weekend’s SEC opener against Mississippi State, as well as break down some game film, update you on what some of your favorite former Tigers are doing in the pros and just have some good, clean, social media fun. Sit down, pour yourself some coffee and let’s jump right in.
Mark your schedules
As you already know by now, the No. 20 LSU Tigers host the 1-1 Mississippi State Bulldogs in Baton Rouge on Saturday. The game is scheduled to start at 7:05 ET and, for those of you who won’t be able to make it, you can catch the game on ESPN2. But for those of you who will be in town for the conference-opening affair, here are some key times to write down so you’ll know where to be:
- 3 p.m.: Club level and suites will open
- 3:15 p.m.: Student gates open up
- 3:30 p.m.: All other gates will open
- 3:55 p.m.: Players will walk down Victory Hill
- 5:47 p.m.: Guest captains Todd McClure and Karl Wilson are announced
- 6:01 p.m.: LSU takes the field
- 6:02 p.m.: Coin toss
This is only a short list of the many things that will happen both pregame and in-game Saturday. For a full list of the day’s expected activities, click here.
Friday Film Study
Every Friday here on the Briefing, we’ll break down some film on LSU’s opponent for the week. This week, we look at why Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald is dangerous with the ball in his hands and what LSU needs to do to prevent him from turning short gains into huge field-position shifts.
The above video shows Fitzgerald (7) tearing up the South Carolina defense last week for a huge gain on a zone read. But before we get to what makes Fitzgerald so dangerous, it’s important to point out what his teammates did so well. Let’s start with the offensive line. Mississippi State’s big men are just running a simple zone blocking scheme, moving in unison to their left and generating enough push to shift the defensive front seven with them. Imperatively, no defender penetrates through the line. This clean pocket allowed for tight end Justin Johnson (81) to move across the formation from his spot as an H-Back almost as a pulling guard would to lead block for the quarterback.
This is where Fitzgerald takes over. Noticing that South Carolina’s end man on the line of scrimmage chased after his running back, Fitzgerald smartly kept the ball and followed Johnson as his lead blocker. Unfortunately for Fitzgerald, Johnson missed his block — choosing to seal off a defender coming from the inside rather than kick out a defender on the outside — and the quarterback had to improvise. Well, if you can call lowering your shoulder and trucking through two arm tackles “improvising.” One stiff arm and 74 yards later, Fitzgerald had the Bulldogs in the red zone.
If you’re thinking to yourself “Man, how can anyone stop that?,” the second video answers a couple of your questions.
Last week against Jacksonville State, LSU faced a similarly mobile quarterback in Eli Jenkins. If you watch this play closely, you’ll notice it’s practically the exact same play. Jacksonville State’s offensive line zone blocks to the left. An H-Back comes across the formation to lead block for the quarterback. The end man on the line of scrimmage crashes, leading the quarterback to tuck and run himself. So what was different?
Well, let’s start with that end man on the line of scrimmage, Lewis Neal (92). The senior crashed, sure, but he didn’t bail. He gave the quarterback the keep read, but he also kept his balance well enough to shift his weight, turn around and chase after the ball-carrier, taking away the offense’s numbers advantage.
Next, linebacker Duke Riley (40) did a great job of attacking the lead blocker. Instead of letting the H-Back dictate where Riley was going to go to make a hole for his quarterback, Riley ran straight at the blocker, pushing him back and forcing Jenkins to dance indecisively behind the line of scrimmage.
Finally, there’s Jamal Adams (33), who, let’s face it, is pretty good. As soon as he read Jenkins kept the ball for himself, he diagnosed and attacked, covering a little less than 20 yards of space in three seconds to stop Jenkins in his tracks.
This is what LSU will need to do this weekend to make sure Fitzgerald doesn’t end up looking like the second coming of Tim Tebow. It’ll need to be an all-around effort where the defensive line shows off its athleticism, the linebackers play aggressively and the defensive backs trust their instincts. It’ll be hard for all three units to succeed together on every play, but it’s the surest way to slow down a potent rushing attack.
‘Brocking’ the bank
Former LSU defensive lineman Michael Brockers got paid Thursday.
The 25-year-old fifth-year pro inked a three-year, $33.125 million extension with the Los Angeles Rams, pushing a fresh $17 million guaranteed into his bank account.
Brockers was the No. 14 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. On the Rams defensive line, Brockers is joined by fellow first-round picks in Robert Quinn and Aaron Donald. Thanks in large part to that trio, the Rams have the No. 4 ranked front seven in the NFL this season according to Pro Football Focus.
In his four seasons in the NFL, Brockers has averaged 27 tackles and 3.5 sacks per season.
We’re more than football
Just because it’s football season, that doesn’t mean all other sports at LSU stop existing. In fact, it’ll be a busy weekend for LSU athletics even if you don’t count football. Here’s a quick schedule of events for you, just in case you want to venture outside of your football comfort zone:
- LSU’s soccer team opens conference play Friday at home against Ole Miss at 7 p.m.
- The women’s tennis team competes Friday-Sunday in Cary, N.C., in the James Bonk Invite Tournament.
- Men’s and women’s cross country host the LSU Invitational on Saturday morning at Highland Road Park. The women will run at 7:30 a.m. and the men at 8:10 a.m.
- The volleyball team hosts No. 13 Florida State at the Maravich Center at 1 p.m. Sunday.
- Also at 1 p.m. Sunday, the soccer team closes the weekend against Lamar.
Don’t panic, but…
There probably isn’t too much need for alarm, but former LSU baseball standout and Houston Astros rookie infielder Alex Bregman left Wednesday night’s game with a hamstring injury. The Astros were off Thursday night, so the severity of the injury isn’t yet known, but after Wednesday’s game, Astros manager A.J. Hinch said he would be surprised if Bregman played Friday.
Injury aside, Bregman is having a spectacular rookie season. The 22-year-old is slashing .260/.311/.480 with 24 extra-base hits and 31 runs scored in 47 games. His success, however brief it has been, led the Houston Chronicle to ask whether or not Bregman has a good enough resume to garner some AL Rookie of the Year attention.
The short answer is probably not. He’s played fewer than 50 games while outfielders like the Indians’ Tyler Naquin and the Rangers’ Nomar Mazara have been consistent all year and Tigers pitcher Michael Fulmer has been equally electric off the mound. Plus, Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez has played fewer games than Bregman and has even better numbers.
That said, there’s no reason to discredit Bregman’s immediate success. But maybe there’s a little cause for concern if his hamstring keeps acting up.
Here’s a selection of stories from Thursday on SEC Country that you might have missed:
- Alex Hickey talked to Mississippi State beat writer Michael Bonner about the state of the Bulldogs and how they’re moving on from Dak Prescott.
- Sam Spiegelman broke down why Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen doesn’t care who LSU starts at QB.
- Sam also jumped on Facebook Live to answer fan questions about quarterbacks, coaches and scheduling.
- I explained why Les Miles might be right for wanting to play SEC East opponents more often
Fun with Twitter
Let’s end the first edition of the Briefing with some tweets, shall we?
It was a fun day as usual tracking the tweets of LSU’s football players. Lineman Willie Allen met the one and only Shaquille O’Neal. Linebacker Ben Nola kept himself amused with a Harambe meme. And safety Jamal Adams not-so-passive-aggressively retweeted information about the dominance of LSU defensive backs in the NFL.
But the tweet of the day has to go to Tre’Davious White. White, still coming down from the high of his exhilarating special teams touchdown last week, found a video that was circulating the internet of the Spanish-language play-by-play call of his return.
White said he couldn’t stop laughing watching the video. Let’s see if you have the same reaction.
— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) September 15, 2016
Well, that’s all for today’s edition of the Bayou Bengal Briefing. Check back Monday for the next installment, complete with analysis and color on this weekend’s action and much more. Remember, this column will be posted daily five days a week, so continue to check back to the site regularly, as well as let us know in the comments what you want to see covered or see more of in the column.