SEC: Bradley Dale Peveto
Now in his second stint as one of Les Miles' assistant coaches at LSU, Peveto brought his entire 120-man roster from Natchitoches to Baton Rouge in 2011 when he was head coach at Northwestern State -- and he made sure to get to the stadium early.
"We got here 45 minutes earlier than we normally got to the game, just to give our guys 45 minutes to take in Tiger Stadium," recalled Peveto, LSU's special teams coordinator. "What I told them was, ‘Look guys, you've got till the two-hour mark before the game. You've got 45 minutes to go out and take pictures, turn cartwheels, do anything you want.'
"I'll tell you what they did, I walked out of the locker room and they were all taking pictures with Coach Miles."
Peveto's Demons went on to lose 49-3 that day to an LSU club that would go on to win the SEC title. But it was an experience of a lifetime for Peveto's team, 70 percent of whom hailed from Louisiana. And the $405,000 guarantee the Demons received for the trip was awfully valuable in helping an in-state FCS program pay the bills.
"That's a credit, I think, to Coach Miles and our administration. I think they're thinking of the state," Peveto said. "Again, with budget cuts -- and I lived it, so I understand how important a dollar is for your athletic program, for your football program. When you can roll into these places and pick up a nice paycheck, it takes care of a lot of people."
Hosting in-state teams for nonconference games is a relatively new scheduling trend at LSU, but it has become a staple of Miles' tenure. Saturday's game against Lousiana-Monroe will be the 12th time since 2005 the Tigers have faced an in-state club.
Under Miles, LSU is 11-0 against the likes of ULM, Lousiana-Lafayette, Northwestern State, McNeese State, Louisiana Tech and Tulane. The games usually aren't particularly competitive -- LSU won by an average score of 41-6 -- but Miles expects ULM to show up for more than its $975,000 paycheck on Saturday.
"If you look back not too long ago, they beat our Arkansas team that was nationally ranked and several years ago a Monroe team beat Alabama, so we are so warned," Miles said. "We recognize and respect that opponent."
Even if the games have rarely been close, LSU accepts some risk in facing in-state teams from smaller conferences. Beating the state's top dog would provide further legitimacy -- and perhaps even a recruiting boost -- for a program like Louisiana-Monroe.
Some SEC programs will barely acknowledge in-state teams from outside the conference. See Arkansas' treatment of Arkansas State or Alabama's testy relationship with UAB (or Troy and South Alabama). Neither SEC school has played an in-state opponent from outside the conference since 1944.
Meanwhile, other SEC schools have a more inclusive scheduling philosophy when it comes to in-state programs. Mississippi State plays an in-state team nearly every year -- its season-opening 49-0 win over with Southern Mississippi marked the fifth time in the last six seasons the Bulldogs played an in-state nonconference game -- and the strategy has been received with enthusiasm by its fans.
"There's no question that you get more people from the visiting school coming in than you would for an out-of-state, nonconference opponent from a similar conference," Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin said. "We've played Jackson State and Alcorn State, who are FCS, historically black institutions and they've traveled really well the times they've been to our campus.
"And Southern brought over 5,000 people for our opener. I don't think another team from their league would have traveled that way if it weren't for the connection to being in-state. ... I think it's good for Mississippi whenever two Mississippi schools can get together and play. We don't do it every year, but when we have the opportunity to, we like to take advantage of it."
The opener marked the first time Mississippi State and USM had met since 1990, although it was once an annual rivalry game. The Bulldogs will visit USM next season in the return game for their home-and-home agreement, but Stricklin said he does not anticipate the series becoming a once-a-year fixture again.
A loss by the SEC program would also add some spice to the rivalries against their in-state little brothers. Even if Peveto's team was taking pictures with LSU's coach before the game, the Demons still threw the kitchen sink at the Tigers after kickoff.
Peveto grinned while recalling a fake punt the Demons attempted during the game -- and his current team knows well enough to expect the same kind of fight from ULM on Saturday.
"Any team that we play from Louisiana kind of has a point to prove," LSU running back Kenny Hilliard said. "They come out and play real hard, but we've just got to start fast and finish fast."
Added another native Louisianan, receiver Travin Dural, "Being that we're supposed to be the team in Louisiana, when we play a Louisiana team, it's that [much] more special to show why we are who we are."
"And that has nothing to do with me as it does with the attitude of the guys, No. 1, but the amount of pressure John [Chavis, LSU's defensive coordinator] and his defense put on them. Any flaw a guy has is going to get exposed and get exposed in the first 30 minutes of practice."
LSU's assistant coaches, quarterbacks and freshmen spoke with reporters on Sunday for the first and possibly only time this preseason, so Jennings, Harris and Cameron were among the day's busiest participants.
Head coach Les Miles said he is not rushing yet to name a starter between sophomore Jennings and freshman Harris as he wants to allow a competitive environment to thrive.
"I think the naming of a starter will be when one separates himself from the other. And when it's a real advantage to name him as a starter because he needs to recognize as does the team that this is where we're going," Miles said. "We're not there."
"My job is to make this decision as tough on Les as possible," Cameron said. "What do you mean by that? Well, we've got two guys that we feel confident we can win with -- if not three, if not four. We're not coaching one guy more than the other hoping he's the guy."
Cameron might even find roles for both quarterbacks to fill.
He's best remembered for leading the game-winning touchdown drive against Arkansas after replacing injured Zach Mettenberger last season, but Jennings played in nine games -- including contests against TCU, Florida, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and his first start in the bowl win against Iowa -- in 2013.
Using him in spot duty made more sense because the dual-threat Jennings possesses a different skill set from Mettenberger, a prototypical dropback passer. However, Jennings and Harris are much more similar players.
Regardless, Cameron expressed confidence that whoever wins the competition will be ready to be successful once the opener against Wisconsin arrives on Aug. 30.
"I would say this confidently: we're going to have more than one quality starter here at LSU," Cameron said. "That's what we're charged with and we'll get that done."
Linebacker rotation?: Defensive coordinator John Chavis has rarely enjoyed the luxury that a deep group of linebackers might provide this season. Beyond starters Kwon Alexander, D.J. Welter and Lamar Louis, Chavis' position group runs two and three deep with quality players across the board -- and that might help not only on defense, but on special teams.
"If they're ready to play, we're going to play them. There's no question about that," Chavis said. "They're not any different than anybody else on our field. In an ideal situation, you'd like to have six starting linebackers and then they all could go play special teams and we could rest them on defense. Unfortunately we haven't been that way with depth.
"Is this a year that we can reach that? We're closer than we've been in the past."
In addition to players such as Deion Jones, Duke Riley and Ronnie Feist, Chavis has talented sophomore Kendell Beckwith trying to surpass Welter as the starting middle linebacker and one of the Tigers' top 2014 signees, Clifton Garrett, behind them.
It might be difficult to juggle, as there are only so many snaps to go around between the three linebacker spots. But Chavis seems confident that everyone who deserves to play will be on the field in some capacity.
"If you can go two deep and you don't have a drop-off, then that just makes your special teams even better," Chavis said.
No decisions on return men: Speaking of special teams, coach Bradley Dale Peveto said he is considering six candidates for the punt return and kickoff return jobs, but wasn't ready to identify them yet.
Tre'Davious White and Travin Dural are among the players known to be working at punt returner and Terrence Magee is among the kickoff return men.
"We had four great days in evaluating a lot of our team, got it down to six guys at each spot," Peveto said. "I don't really want to talk about that yet because we've got a great competition going on, but I'm going to tell you we've got enough. We've got some really good guys, some really talented young men who might compete for those positions."
Miles said earlier that Trent Domingue has taken over as the Tigers' kickoff specialist.
Right guard competition: Offensive line coach Jeff Grimes chuckled when asked how the right guard competition is shaking out.
"It's still shaking," Grimes said. "We'll let it go until somebody lays claim to it."
Seniors Fehoko Fanaika and Evan Washington have battled for the starting job at right guard, the lone spot where the Tigers lost a starting offensive lineman from 2013.
What's new: Former Auburn and Virginia Tech assistant Jeff Grimes joined the staff in January, replacing Greg Studrawa as offensive line coach. An old face will also return to Les Miles' staff, as Bradley Dale Peveto -- a Miles assistant from 2005-08 and participant in a failed experiment as co-defensive coordinator in 2008 -- was recently hired as special teams coordinator. He replaces Thomas McGaughey, who accepted the same position with the New York Jets of the NFL.
On the move: If comments he made last month are any indication, Miles and the coaching staff intend to leave Jalen Mills at safety on at least a part-time basis. He started at the position in the Tigers' Outback Bowl win against Iowa. Don't be surprised if players who have played other positions -- tackle Evan Washington and center Ethan Pocic are reportedly among them -- figure into the competition to replace Turner at right guard. Also, keep an idea on how the Tigers deploy Kendell Beckwith this spring. He has the ability to contribute at defensive end or linebacker, and he might play both positions at points.
New faces: The Tigers have two early enrollees participating in spring practice in quarterback Brandon Harris and defensive back Edward Paris Jr. We'll discuss Harris, who was ESPN's No. 2 dual-threat quarterback and No. 37 overall prospect for the 2014 class, more below. ESPN ranked Paris as its No. 4 safety and No. 50 overall prospect, but LSU listed him as a cornerback when it added the freshmen to the roster.
Key battle: There will be several position battles worth watching -- right guard, defensive tackle and quarterback are among them -- but let's talk about the wide receivers. With Landry and Beckham jumping to the NFL, LSU lost nearly all of its production at wideout. Speedster Travin Dural (seven catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns in 2013) is the only receiver who has done much of anything, and even his production was limited last fall. With arguably the nation's top collection of receiver signees -- led by ESPN's No. 1 wideout Malachi Dupre and No. 3 Trey Quinn -- set to arrive in the summer, now is the time for the players on campus to show they deserve some snaps. Senior Quantavius Leslie (1-11) was disappointingly quiet last season as a junior college transfer. Freshmen John Diarse, Avery Peterson and Kevin Spears all redshirted. Conventional wisdom has Dural and Diarse as the most likely contributors in 2014. Will at least one or two of the others join that group?
Breaking out: Let's see whether cornerbacks Rashard Robinson and Tre'Davious White continue the ascent that started late last season. They started alongside one another in two of LSU's last three games -- wins against Texas A&M and Iowa -- and the secondary made strong showings in both games. Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel had one of the worst outings of his college career (16-for-41 for 224 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions), with Robinson intercepting the former Heisman Trophy winner once. LSU held Iowa to 13-for-30 passing and 157 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions -- one of which came when White picked off a Jake Rudock pass at the LSU 7-yard line in the second quarter. LSU has a longstanding tradition of excellence at cornerback, although the Tigers' entire defense needed to perform more consistently last fall. Perhaps they've found something in sophomores Robinson and White.
Don't forget about: Most of us have already penciled in No. 1 overall prospect Leonard Fournette as the Tigers' starter-in-waiting at tailback. And he very well may be. But he won't arrive on campus until the summer. For now, rising seniors Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard will handle the carries, and both players have proved themselves capable of producing. Magee was Hill's primary backup last season, rushing for 626 yards (and 7.3 yards per carry!) and also flashing good receiving skills (six catches for 49 yards). Hilliard has never been the No. 1 tailback, but he has acquitted himself in a short-yardage role, rushing for at least six touchdowns in all three seasons. Fournette has stardom written all over him, but he won't push the veterans completely out of the way. Count on Magee and Hilliard to keep getting their touches.
All eyes on: Anthony Jennings started LSU's bowl game against Iowa after replacing an injured Zach Mettenberger -- and leading the game-winning comeback -- against Arkansas. He was shaky to say the least (7-for-19 for 82 yards and an interception) in that first career start, however. With Harris, an excellent passer and explosive runner, already on campus, Jennings needs to show he can handle the starting job. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron hand-picked Harris and is no doubt excited about what he can bring to the offense, but he needs to learn the offense first before he can truly threaten Jennings for a starting spot. Throughout the summer, LSU fans will dissect the two quarterbacks' performances in the spring game. Jennings seems like the safe bet to open the season as the Tigers' starter, but whether he holds onto that spot is up to him -- and perhaps up to his new freshman competitor, whose ability to execute the offense will be under heavy scrutiny over the next month.
- New Georgia assistant coach Mike Ekeler wrote a letter thanking his many friends in the Nebraska program (among others) who helped him land a job on Mark Richt's staff.
- Matt Hayes of the Sporting News writes that conspiracy theories related to Nick Saban's alleged fears over up-tempo offenses are ridiculous.
- Auburn has several vacancies on its support staff after five analysts left for other jobs during the offseason.
- Jeremy Darveau will join Florida's staff as assistant offensive line coach.
- It appears as though Kentucky assistant Bradley Dale Peveto will return to LSU, where he was previously an assistant coach under Les Miles for four seasons.
- Ole Miss' Denzel and Robert Nkemdiche are among the Ole Miss athletes being sued for $2 million in relation to a fight at a fraternity party last year.
- Police dropped charges against Auburn signee Kalvaraz Bessent, but coach Gus Malzahn said he hasn't decided on how to proceed with Bessent.
- Malzahn said Tuesday that the proposed NCAA rules change aimed at slowing down hurry-up offenses would “change the dynamics of football.”
- Arkansas senior associate head coach Randy Shannon received a big pay bump to $400,000 annually.
- Watch the Tennessean's time lapse video as artist Michael Cooper paints over James Franklin's face on a mural near the Vanderbilt campus and replaces it with new Commodores coach Derek Mason.
- Former Texas A&M punter Shane Lechler has been picked for induction into Texas' high school football hall of fame.
- South Carolina's Kelcy Quarles is hoping to “blow people's minds” with an outstanding showing at the NFL combine.
ATHENS, Ga. – As an SEC West school, LSU is hardly a fixture on Georgia's annual football schedule. But when the Tigers and Bulldogs do get together, the results are almost always memorable.
Just think back over the past decade. Two meetings in the SEC championship game – one won by each school. The phantom celebration penalty against Georgia receiver A.J. Green in 2009, helping pave the way for LSU's comeback victory. Georgia putting huge point totals on LSU's defending BCS champion teams in 2004 and 2008.
There's a lot to remember – and just like in Saturday's meeting between No. 6 LSU (4-0, 1-0 SEC) and No. 9 Georgia (2-1, 1-0) – there are often major SEC and BCS implications in play.
“[I told the younger players] any game can go down to the last second, but what kind of fight that they're going to have to be ready for,” said Georgia fifth-year senior receiver Rantavious Wooten, one of the few Bulldogs who were on the team when LSU last visited Athens in 2009. “They've got aspirations just like we do. They want a championship and we want a championship and this game right here, this is the game for it. So I just let them know what to expect and how it's going to be and just to get ready for it.”
Georgia coach Mark Richt is 3-4 against LSU since arriving at UGA in 2001 and Tigers coach Les Miles is 2-2 against the Bulldogs. Let's take a look at the last five times their programs squared off:
In one of the most bizarre games of Richt's tenure, Georgia's defense thoroughly dominated the first half. LSU didn't muster a single first down and was in danger of falling down by a big margin, but Georgia receivers dropped a pair of potential first-half touchdown passes and LSU punt returner Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu took a kick back for a touchdown to make it 10-7 Georgia at halftime. The second half was a completely different story, as the Bulldogs committed a couple of turnovers, LSU's pounding rushing attack began to have its intended effect and Todd Grantham's defense seemed helpless as the Tigers rushed for 202 yards and three touchdowns after intermission, turning the game into a rout.
Oct. 3, 2009 (Athens): No. 4 LSU 20, No. 18 Georgia 13
This one will forever be remembered among Georgia fans for a referee's questionable decision to penalize Georgia superstar Green for excessive celebration following his leaping, go-ahead touchdown catch with 1:09 to play, giving Georgia its first lead at 13-12. The penalty forced the Bulldogs to kick off from their own 15 and LSU return specialist Trindon Holliday made them pay by returning the kickoff to the Georgia 43, with a 5-yard penalty against the Bulldogs on the kickoff moving LSU even closer to the UGA end zone. Two plays later, Charles Scott rushed for his second touchdown of the fourth quarter, a 33-yard run with 46 seconds to play allowing LSU to improve to 5-0.
Oct. 25, 2008 (Baton Rouge): No. 7 Georgia 52, No. 13 LSU 38
As wild as the ending of the 2009 game was, this one was crazy from the very beginning. Georgia linebacker Darryl Gamble returned an interception for a 40-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage and added a 53-yard pick six in the game's closing minutes as the Bulldogs hung half-a-hundred on LSU's porous defense. The Tigers surrendered 50-plus twice that season – the first time in school history that had happened – leading Miles to dump co-defensive coordinators Doug Mallory and Bradley Dale Peveto after the season in favor of former Tennessee coordinator John Chavis, who has been in Baton Rouge ever since.
2005 SEC Championship Game (Atlanta): No. 13 Georgia 34, No. 3 LSU 14
Although fellow receiver Sean Bailey caught a pair of first-quarter touchdowns from D.J. Shockley that got Georgia off on the right foot, Bulldogs senior Bryan McClendon – now the team's running backs coach – might have delivered the play of the game when he blocked a punt midway through the second quarter deep in LSU territory. That helped Georgia score to take a commanding 21-7 halftime lead which LSU never threatened. The Bulldogs' defense also did its job that day, limiting an LSU rushing attack that dominated in their 2003 meeting in Atlanta to just 74 rushing yards.
Oct. 2, 2004 (Athens): No. 3 Georgia 45, No. 13 LSU 16
Nick Saban's final game against Georgia while at LSU ended with a humiliating loss, as the Tigers surrendered the most points allowed by an LSU defense since Florida hung 56 on them in 1996. Georgia quarterback David Greene threw only 19 passes, but set a school record by completing five of them for touchdowns. The Bulldogs had lost twice to Saban's Tigers in 2003 – 17-10 in Baton Rouge and 34-13 in the SEC Championship Game – but they quickly exacted a degree of revenge by jumping out to a 24-0 lead before LSU could answer. The Bulldogs also generated three turnovers and sacked LSU quarterbacks Marcus Randall and JaMarcus Russell five times.
Both teams have been ranked in the top-20 in all seven of their meetings in the Richt era, and this will be the second time they've both been in the top-10. While not every meeting between the two has produced a close contest, they've all been memorable – and almost always impacted their respective championship chases.
“They've been great games. ... Just about every one of them, both teams are ranked teams and at least in the Top 25,” Richt said. “It is a cross-conference rival, so it doesn't hold quite the weight of an Eastern Division [game] when it comes to who plays in Atlanta. We could lose the game and still control our destiny, and they could lose the game and still control their destiny, so it's not do-or-die as far as league play, but it's very important for any national title hopes.”
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Let's take a stroll around the SEC to see what else is being written and said:
- LSU co-defensive coordinator Bradley Dale Peveto is named the head coach at Northwestern State. The Tigers' other co-coordinator, Doug Mallory, is reportedly heading to New Mexico to be Mike Locksley's defensive coordinator.
- Georgia coach Mark Richt says he's ready for a playoff and senses that the sentiment is shifting among coaches and even college presidents toward some type of playoff.
- Columnist Kevin Scarbinsky of The Birmingham News writes that Auburn is once again Pat Dye Country.
- South Carolina kicker Ryan Succop has been playing through a painful sports hernia injury this season.
- Former Arkansas star receiver Marcus Monk is trying his hand at basketball with the Hogs.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
It's a foregone conclusion that LSU coach Les Miles is going to revamp his defensive staff in light of the Tigers' disappointing performance on defense this season.
But it looks like Miles may have some openings without having to fire or demote anybody. Co-defensive coordinator Doug Mallory is reportedly headed to New Mexico to become Mike Locksley's defensive coordinator.
Also, the Tigers' other co-defensive coordinator, Bradley Dale Peveto, is interviewing Wednesday for the head coaching job at Northwestern State and is considered one of the leading candidates.
LSU finished 11th in the SEC this season in scoring defense and ninth in total defense. The Tigers gave up 30 points or more in each of their last three games.
Former Tennessee defensive coordinator John Chavis has been mentioned as a possibility at LSU, and Miles is also expected to talk to some NFL assistants.
1:50 2nd Qtr Northern Illinois 7 Arkansas 21 1:26 2nd Qtr Mississippi State 17 8 LSU 0 12:17 2nd Qtr 14 South Carolina 3 Vanderbilt 14 Final Troy 0 13 Georgia 66 Final 6 Texas A&M 58 SMU 6 Final Florida 21 3 Alabama 42 Final Indiana 31 18 Missouri 27