Chat with Gary Laney
Welcome to GeauxTigerNation! On Tuesday, reporter Gary Laney stops by to chat about the state of LSU football.
Laney joined ESPN.com in 2012 after spending a year and a half as online sports editor of the Baton Rouge Advocate. Before that, he covered LSU sports for the Advocate. He has also been the sports editor at the Beaumont (Texas) Enterprise and covered McNeese State athletics for the Lake Charles (La.) American Press. Laney currently lives in Baton Rouge, La.
Send your questions now and join Laney Tuesday at 1 p.m. CT/2 p.m. ET!
Gary Laney (1:49 PM)
Folks, the chat starts up in about 10 minutes. It's not too early to load up your questions though. Lots to talk about.
Gary Laney (2:01 PM)
Let's get this thing going...
What are the expectations for Notre Dame after Manti Te'o is gone
Gary Laney (2:02 PM)
The residual effect is that Notre Dame is recruiting well. The Irish have a young QB and some young talent coming in. They'll be fine. I was never a believer that Te'o was the end-all, be-all of that team's success anyway. Not that he wasn' part of it. But he wasn't the only part. I can see ND continuing to play in BCS bowls...maybe one against LSU?
robert (Denver, CO)
hi gary, with coach miles having stated that the emphasis will be on getting the offense getting straight, does that mean that quaterback zach mettenberger will be getting special attention toward reaching the hype that coach miles bestowed on this young man last season, and showed flashes toward the end of the season?
Gary Laney (2:05 PM)
Robert, I think Mettenberger will get plenty of work, but I wouldn't necessarily call it "special" attention. I've said here many times that the passing game problem was more systemic than just a QB problem. The emphasis shifted from a mobile QB who would make plays on the move to a pocket QB whose skill set relies on a more stable pocket and more precise route running to get the most out of talent. I think you saw LSU adjusting to that for a good chunk of the season. I think you'll see LSU continue to emphasize those areas this off-season.
Steve (Oklahoma City, Ok)
gary did the top wide receiver from JUCO. I can't remember his name has he enrolled early for spring practice. I read where he has the size an speed to give mettenberger another weapon.
Gary Laney (2:06 PM)
Steve, you are thinking of Quantavius Leslie, the 6-foot-4 receiver out of Hinds CC in Mississippi. He is not enrolled, as he failed to complete his school work in junior college. The hope is to get him into school in the fall semester with the regular class. Right now, I wouldn't bet on it, but you never know.
Mark (New Orleans)
What preseason ranking would you give the Tigers?
Gary Laney (2:08 PM)
I hate giving preseason rankings out this time of year because so much of the off-season hasn't happened yet. But based on what's coming back, I'd have LSU somewhere between 10-15. I think LSU is better than the 15th best team in the country, but the ranking is reflective of their schedule, which is quite challenging next year. They could have a top five team just in terms of ability, but still losing a couple of games and end up out of the top 10.
Jason Tyler (Mountain Home, AR.)
Everyone wants to know if there will be any changes made to the Offensive coaching staff... specifically the the Coordinator. Can you share any knowledge you have, rumor or fact, on this topic?
Gary Laney (2:11 PM)
This has been the single most discussed topic on these chats, even with national signing day approaching and the recruiting questions that come with it. Right now, I'd say don't expect a move. But having said that, the wheels are still spinning on the coaching carousel. There's a rumor that LSU could losing special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey to the Pittsburgh Steelers and that's a relatively new development. So there's still a chance that somebody else on the LSU staff could pop up in coming weeks, especially as the NFL settles its coaching staffs.
Tyler Belanger (Saginaw, MI)
Will jeremy hill be the featured back or will LSU stick with the same combination running scheme with hilliard?
Gary Laney (2:14 PM)
You'll hate this answer: Both. I think Hill is going to go into this season much like Spencer Ware in 2011 and Alfred Blue in 2012: As the clear No. 1 guy. However, LSU is going to give a second back carries. It's going to have a third back for certain situations. It's going to play Furman and Kent State in games where several backs will get to show what they can do. And if Hill gets "nicked," you'll see LSU being quick to rest him to try to get him healthy. In the last two years, the No. 1 guy has not stayed healthy, so it became a committee effort. In 2010, Stevan Ridley did stay healthy and remained the No. 1 guy all season.
Bill Campbell (Orange County, CA)
Are the Tigers thinking about a new offensive coordinator?
Gary Laney (2:15 PM)
Illustration of the most common question...I'd guess not right now, but these things can change quickly.
Well, I've heard the rumors. Nkemdiche has canceled his LSU visit. Is it true? Def. the nail in the coffin there. Not happy about what im hearing on the tahaan goodman front either (that the coaches just didnt call him back). That cost them Willis.
Gary Laney (2:18 PM)
Kipp Adams has been our guy closest to the Nkemdiche front and I'll wait to see the latest from Kipp. I never thought Nkemdiche was going to come, so it won't surprise me. As for Goodman, the sense I get is that Goodman was not seriously considering LSU and once that became clear, LSU might have given him a cold shoulder toward the end. But I don't think Willis is nearly as attached to Goodman as your post implies. LSU is working on trying to get him to flip.
David (Baton Rouge)
With the horrible offensive performance and low rankings for the last 3-4 seasons. What is the chance that LSU will hire an OC before next season?
Gary Laney (2:21 PM)
Another OC question. I think it would take somebody leaving, meaning an opening too good for Studrawa to pass up. Coach Stud and Coach Crowton can get together and share a drink and have a discussion about their LSU OC experience when it's all said in done. Stud's become the new Crowton in the eyes of fans. Until LSU is able to put together a high-powered passing game, that's going to be the case for any OC.
Nick (Houston, TX)
Based on the losses to the draft and the graduating seniors, what other areas of concern are there aside from the the D-line?
Gary Laney (2:23 PM)
LSU hasn't been able to fill a need at safety. I'm hearing that Jeremy Cutrer has a serious academic issue and may not be part of the signing class. If so, LSU is left without a true safety in the class. The biggest of the corners is Rickey Jefferson, so it might make sense to have him at safety. Right now, LSU is maybe 6 deep at the position, so there is a huge need to add somebody. Unless they flip Willis or get Eddie Jackson, that might not happen.
Peter (atlanta, GA)
Still have high hopes on getting Nkemdiche?
Gary Laney (2:26 PM)
Peter...I helped you out on the spelling of "Nkemdiche." ... you can thank me later. LSU is in the position where, outside of DB, it has filled needs in this class, so it's been able to focus on trying to close out with some big national names like Willis, Nkemdiche, Bower, etc. So if there's hope, it's based on that: LSU is not so spread thin trying to fill a bunch of needs. There can be a focus on a guy like Nkemdiche. At this point, I doubt it though.
Pretty much what I was thinking, Robert... I want to know when the LSU Tigers are going to get a quarterback that's an actual "leader", and doesn't have to hide behind equipment boxes on the sidelines?
Gary Laney (2:30 PM)
That's an interesting question Kevin. Mettenberger has a strong personality, stronger than some may realize, but he does seem to wear it on his sleeve a bit, doesn't he? In terms of leadership skills, I think Mettenberger has "tools" to have that. It's up to him and to LSU to get them to come out more. For example, he can be blunt, which in the right context can be constructive, or it can be alienating. It's up to him and the coaches to mold that characteristic in the right direction. Don't get me wrong, I'm not condemning the bluntness, nor praising it. It's a personality trait that can work for you, or hurt you, depending on how you hone it. Make sense?
Has there been any talk about replacing Coach Greg Studrawa as Offensive Coordinator for LSU?
Gary Laney (2:31 PM)
Anybody keeping count of the OC guestions? Jon, I'm sure you've seen the question answered earlier (and, in your defense, your question was asked before I answered the others). I posted your question simply as an illustration to how big of a topic this is with LSU fans right now...
It looks like LSU's recruiting class is another strong one, are there going to be any surprises?
Gary Laney (2:33 PM)
I'm becoming skeptical of it. I wouldn't consider Eddie Jackson a surprise if LSU gets him. Nor would I consider it a surprise if LSU went ahead and offered Duke Riley a "regular," non-grayshirt, scholarship. But I'm not expecting a Willis flip and I'm not expecting a Nkemdiche commitment, nor a Bower commitment. Can't see anything else like that coming.
Robby (Nashville, TN)
Gary, any changes expected on defense with the number of new players who will be lining up next year? Who do you expect to step up as the new leader on defense?
Gary Laney (2:36 PM)
Robby, I don't think the scheme ever changes, just the emphasis based on personnel. In the last couple of years, LSU has been able to be very selective with its blitzes because it could usually generate pressure with its front four. If they can't do that this season -- and we'll have to wait and see in that regard -- I'm sure Coach Chavis might go with less straight man-to-man and more mixing defenses to take the pressure off the secondary and confuse offensive blocking schemes. The defense won't change, but the play selection might.
Gary Laney (2:36 PM)
As for leaders, Barrow is going to have to step up. Anthony Johnson has to step up and "Big Poppa" Loston will need to step up in the secondary.
Matt (Baton Rouge)
With Robert Nkemdiche cancelling his recruiting trip to LSU after his Ole Miss visit...Can we assume that he definitely won't be a Tiger?
Gary Laney (2:38 PM)
Matt, I wouldn't say "definitely" at this point...not quite yet. I will if I hear LSU has called off the dogs on him, but I haven't heard that definitely yet. I was hearing that about Goodman before he committed and about Williams for a long time before he committed. I know LSU hasn't given up on Willis and I have not yet heard it's given up on Nkemdiche (that may change, given that the not taking a visit rumor is relatively new).
Gary- watching you guys all season and especially in the bowl game it seems to me that its time for a coaching change... but not the head coach. I'm talking about the offensive coordinator! Am i the only guy that feels this way or does the LSU fan base agree that changes are in order? I hear poeple calling for Les Miles' head but that seems ignorant when the offense is whats been so tragic!
Gary Laney (2:40 PM)
Another OC question...anybody doing a count? Eric, your question was asked probably 10-15 minutes ago and in that time I answered OC questions 4-5 times, I'm guessing...which should sort of answer your question about whether you are the only guy thinking that...
you think tiger fans will see more of Terrence Magee next year or will he be the next Russell Shepard?
Gary Laney (2:41 PM)
I think either Magee or, possibly, Brazil might be the speed back this year, the Michael Ford role. LSU needs a consistent pass-catcher out of the backfield as well and Magee is a candidate to do that too. There are some rules he can fit into.
Morgan (Atl )
What are you looking for in the LSU Georgia game?
Gary Laney (2:44 PM)
Big question is where will LSU's defense be by then? Will it have an identity. I don't think it will slip anywhere near its 2008 low because of John Chavis. But Georgia is going to be awful good on offense, won't it? Big challenge. Another question will be Mettenberger coming to Athens. Where will he be mentally?
Any updates on Tashawn Bower, Eddie Jackson and Courtney Gardner becoming a tiger?
Gary Laney (2:45 PM)
Justin, quick summation: Bower is doubtful, Jackson is the best bet of the three and I don't expect Gardner to ever get eligible. But you never know.
Are we the most demanding fans? I am not saying we should be complacent or settle. If our kids give 100% and things did not fall our way. I would think LSU fans has something special.
Gary Laney (2:46 PM)
Kishore, I think LSU fans are unrealistic until I look at Bama fans or Kentucky basketball fans. LSU fan expectations are high, maybe unreasonably so. But man, I've never seen a meltdown from a fanbase like I saw the day after LSU clinched the 2009 SEC basketball championship at Rupp Arena. I seriously think Lexington may have had a sudden spike in suicides that day.
Peter (atlanta, GA)
chances of Eddie Jackson committing to LSU?
Gary Laney (2:47 PM)
Hard to pinpoint that. 40 percent. That's where the dart I just threw hit the board.
Joseph A (Buffalo, NY)
Let's talk recruiting! I am very surprised at how hard it has been to recruit top ranked safties to LSU in this current cycle. They always have secondary talent drafted very high in the NFL draft and the south is loaded. What is your take on why we haven't been able to recruit top level H.S. talent (outside of Louisiana) to Baton Rouge this year?
Gary Laney (2:50 PM)
Joseph I meant to comment on that. The stereotype is that safeties fall of trees in Louisiana and normally, it's absolutely true. This year, it's strangely not the case. There are far more CB prospects nearby. I don't think that's the case in 2014. As for out-of-state talent, LSU is doing fine there. Gilmore from NC is probably the prospect most likely to see early playing time. Pocic from Illinois is arguably the best OL prospect in the class. Herron from Tennessee is the best DE prospect in the class. LSU's out-of-state impact is fine. I see the lack of Texas prospects as more of a quirky year than simply a failure to recruit that state well. LSU has a 2014 commit from Texas and has a great shot at several other top Texas 2014 guys.
Joseph A (Buffalo, NY)
LSU usually has a big recruiting haul from Mississippi and Texas. Very little in terms of new H.S. talent from those states coming to Baton Rouge in this recruiting cycle? Why is that?
Gary Laney (2:51 PM)
Sort of answered in the last question. Good question that. With Hardeman (may have misspelled that) committed for 2014 from Texas and Voorhies out of Mississippi already committed for 2014, I think LSU's recruiting in those two states is just fine.
Peter (atlanta, GA)
Thank You-can't believe I misspelled the name of the best high school player in the country who played right down the road from me.
Gary Laney (2:51 PM)
You won't be the last one to misspell Nkemdiche.
Ray Mitchell (New Orleans)
Is there any reason to think John Chavis will leave for an NFL position? Possibly the Saints?
Gary Laney (2:52 PM)
I'm not suspecting it, but you never know. I've always looked at Chavis as a college guy.
Ok, so no OC change. How about an OL coach added? That group seems to need some attn to detail.
Gary Laney (2:54 PM)
In defense of the OL, you had two freshmen starting on the right side and a sophomore on the left side. I actually think Stud did a great job keeping that thing pieced together this season. Losing three starters during the season would challenge any OL coach in the country.
Calder @ Lucas (Covington, LA)
Any chance J Hill will see enough carries to make a Heisman push?
Gary Laney (2:55 PM)
I wouldn't count on it. Not like LSU to let one guy tote it 250 times or more. I'm thinking a 1,200-yard season with about 1,000 more from the rest of the stable.
Ian (Lafayette, LA)
What will LSU's offensive line look like for 2013. Strong? Young? Experienced? All SEC? I think this will have a tremendous affect on how well the offense performs next year.
Gary Laney (2:56 PM)
All of the above. The one big question is left tackle, where I think La'el Collins moves. I think he'll kill there. If I had to guess, I'd say Collins at left tackle, Williford/Fanaika at left guard, Porter at center, Turner at right guard and Alexander at right tackle. I think it will be a very good line.
Scott (Los Angeles)
Do unexpected departures like Chris Davenport mean LSU has more scholarships to offer, so they don't have to greyshirt some kids? We seem to do that a lot lately.
Gary Laney (2:57 PM)
Davenport doesn't matter to the scholarship numbers except where it effects the 85 counters in the fall. LSU couldn't sign more players because of his departure. It needed to make room for the signing class by August anyway, so the attrition was necessary to have room for the class.
Which commits are legit concerns for not qualifying?
Gary Laney (2:58 PM)
Cutrer is the one I hear the most. Leslie I hear about. I'd expect 1-2 more, though I'm not sure who at this point.
What is the status with JUCO WR Courtney Gardner? Is he opting for the NFL? LSU still interested?
Gary Laney (2:58 PM)
He didn't declare for the NFL. I don't think he'll make it academically. Not sure what his plans are.
Gary. With the star systems on recruiting websites often being wrong, do you see any underated players that will be a surprise in this year's class? (Claiborne or Mathieu)
Gary Laney (3:00 PM)
I love the job our scouts do, trying to independently scout each player without getting into the politics of regional guys promoting "their" guy. Having said that, I like Tre'Davious White a lot more than where he is. I think he'll contend to start as a true freshman. Love our scouts, just love White's game too.
Scott (Los Angeles)
Was Russell Shepard really a bust, or just not used properly? I saw flashes of a great weapon one game, then not even being used at all in others. He didn't even play against Clemson it seems. Why not?
Gary Laney (3:02 PM)
Scott, I'd say he could never find a niche because where his niche might have been best served, he was redundant. As a speed back, he's not better than Michael Ford. As a slot WR, he's not better than Jarvis Landry. I just think he got caught in a numbers game a bit. So it's kind of mix of both. If he was the No. 1 athlete in the country, he should be able to start at slot receiver, right? Not Russell's fault though. He did the best he could. I wouldn't be shocked to see him on an NFL roster.
What's your way to early predictions on the starting defensive players? I'm thinking jalen Mills/Colins, Loston, Martin in the back. Anthony/Mickey johnson, Ego Fergeson, Jeremia Rasco on the line. Kwon Alexander, Lamin barrow, and maybe beckwith. Thoughts?
Gary Laney (3:04 PM)
Kevin, I like your starters, though Idon't think the No. 3 DT won't be Johnson. I think Jordan Allen, if healthy, will get a look at the other DE spot. Linebacker spot is deep and a lot of guys will get looks.
Gary Laney (3:04 PM)
Guys I've run out of time. Still a lot of questions in the bullpen. I'm going to turn them into a mailbag for Wednesday. Look for them there! Thanks for participating.