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)
Laissez les bons temps rouler people. It's Mardi Gras. And that means...football chat? Yup. We're doing our usual Tuesday chat today even as the parade floats get ready to roll down St. Charles and the chickens get chased in Mamou. Because this is SEC country and football season never ends down here. We'll start at 1 p.m. (CDT). Get your questions in.
Gary Laney (2:00 PM)
Folks, it's 1 p.m. and I'm ready to get this going. So here we go.
It's hard to imagine Leonard Fournette going anywhere but LSU right? i don't even understand how there is a battle b/t LSU and Bama? Bama has 8 RBs (all 4/5 stars). LSU will have 2 after this year (Hill/Hilliard) and both of them will be in the NFL after the 2014 season. LSU didn't sign any RBs in the 2013 class which is clearly a plan to get Fournette. Thoughts?
Gary Laney (2:03 PM)
I think LSU has reason to feel good about its chances with Fournette and that may have influenced its approach with RBs in 2013. If LSU had serious doubts about Fournette, I think they take Adam Taylor, the RB from Katy, Texas who was a strong LSU lean (even tried to commit). Similarly, Alabama took RBs, so it must think it's way behind on Fournette. I hear Frank Wilson has a great relationship with Fournette and his family. I think LSU is sitting pretty at this point and that's part of the reason for its approach with the young man so far.
Would love to see tigers in hurry up offense as a standard set. Start the lobbying effort Gary. Defense is so athletic and talented, and deep it can withstand being on field longer
Gary Laney (2:05 PM)
PJ, you'll hate to hear this, but before Cam Cameron was fired, Joe Flacco had complained that the Ravens had gotten away from a no-huddle offense it had success with early in the season. That said, I don't think lack of creativity is generally considered a weakness with Cameron.
Beaux Beaux (Lafayette)
Bigger disappointment: Russell Sheppard or Tennessee Volunteer Football?
Gary Laney (2:08 PM)
Shepard, but I must qualify that. I think Tennessee is getting a dose of reality and a chance to reflect on what it had with Fulmer. It's not an easy place to win because you don't have a great talent base in the region. When you have to "import" your team, your potential isn't great regardless of how big your stadium is and how many fans you have. Now, having said that, Shepard was what he was. I don't think the scouting services took into account projecting his talent to a position. That was his issue. I'm always suspicious of guys who lack an obvious position they can play.
Besides just trying to keep all the best Louisiana prospects in state, what are the positions of actual need for the 2014 class? What is the main focus?
Gary Laney (2:10 PM)
I'll address that in a story for tomorrow Kevin. But to sneak peak, I'll say they still need WRs (two seniors, plus Landry could play himself into the draft), they need a couple of true safeties and, of course, they need 2-3 running backs and really need to land Fournette to make it work. Aside from that, it's about keeping the rhythm going. A couple of OLs, a couple of DLs, a couple of LBs, maybe a QB, maybe a FB. Might be a year for a K as well unless they like their walk-ons.
Joe Dirt (Denham Springs)
Cam Cameron just got fired for not getting Ray Rice the ball enough. How is that going to work at LSU when the head coach wants to run the ball 70 percent of the time? If Mettenberger starts dropping back to chunk it around, will Miles get on the headset and start over ruling play calls?
Gary Laney (2:13 PM)
Joe, I think it was a little more complex than "not getting Ray Rice the ball enough." I've spoken with a couple of people who have covered Cameron's teams at various points in his career. I don't think the Ravens version of Cameron is all he is. At Indiana, not only did he use a dual threat QB (Randle El), but he also had a power running game. And remember, he not only coached in an Air Coryell system, he also coached at Michigan under Schembechler. I don't think it'll be too hard for Cameron and Miles to get on the same page.
What are the big names attending LSU Junior Day this weekend? Do you expect any commits by the end of it? From who?
Gary Laney (2:15 PM)
That's been a little tough to wrap arms around so far, given that LSU's coaches are currently on vacation (Mardi Gras is a holiday in this state, ya know) and won't come back to work until tomorrow or Thursday. So at that point, you'll start hearing prospects solidifying their plans a bit more. I'll be checking in with some big Texas and Mississippi prospects. Tony Brown is one I want to hear from, for sure. Since his sister committed to LSU in track, many think he'll follow her to BR.
Gary Laney (2:16 PM)
One guy to keep an eye on is Texas QB Patrick Mahomes. Our Damon Sayles reported that he's considering making LSU's junior day this weekend.
Beaux Beaux (Lafayette)
Bigger disappointment: Ryan Perriloux or Russell Sheppard?
Gary Laney (2:18 PM)
Perrilloux. Always a bigger disappointment when you don't pan out because of something that was completely in your control. There was never any indication that Shepard was anything but a good citizen from a football standpoint. He worked hard, he provided leadership in his later years, he gave special teams his all...he just could never find a position that translated to his skill set.
Any word on whether Tony Brown feels the same way about LSu as his sister? Sure seems like a family aspect could be in play here. Would be good for parents to be able to come watch them both!
Gary Laney (2:20 PM)
I would say LSU feels as good about Brown as it does about Fournette, maybe better. He's on "commit" watch for LSU fans, I'd say. If he comes to a junior day, he's a guy to check on to see if he made the commit. When you consider Adam Henry's ties to Beaumont (his home town), LSU's secondary reputation, Tony's history at LSU camps, his sister...it all adds up. Again, I'll be trying to reach Tony today. You Texans are in school today, so I'm sort of waiting. If you lived 20 minutes to the east, he'd be on holiday!
Joe Dirt (Denham Springs)
Does the offensive line improve with Studrawa heading back to the sideline?
Gary Laney (2:24 PM)
I think so. I think it hurt not having him there in the last two seasons, honestly. There were about 4-5 games in the last two seasons when, honestly, LSU struggled to get people blocked and, as a result, could not move the ball at all. Couldn't get a first down. To me, those were situations where the offensive line might have needed its leader on the sideline to regroup the troops and get it playing with confidence and direction. I think in those handful of games, it missed Stud. That fact wasn't always evident because in most games, it wasn't an issue. But it's just that in the 3-4 games where it perhaps was an issue, the consequences were severe, I think.
What is your feel on Cameron Robinson? I know it's early but do you think LSU will lock him up in the end?
Gary Laney (2:27 PM)
I've seen them both play at the high school level. Robinson is bigger. Collins is a slightly better athlete. But Robinson is so much bigger than La'el, Robinson may be a better overall prospect. He can just swallow up a defensive line. I can see why LSU would put Collins at guard because he runs so well, he's a beast when he pulls out in front of a runner. Robinson isn't that same kind of player. He needs to be on the edge, I think. He moves his feet well laterally. His length is unbelievable and he can just swallow people up that are trying to pass rush.
What details are getting cleared up before the Cam Cameron deal is official?
Gary Laney (2:29 PM)
Honestly, I would think mostly holiday down time. If LSU wasn't closed for Mardi Gras, I think something official would have come out by now. But everybody is at parades, with family, or what not. This is a huge holiday for LSU football. Remember, they work right through Christmas and New Year, then hit the ground running for the stretch run of recruiting season. After signing day, it's the first chance for these guys to catch their breathe and that's what they are doing now. So things like this truly get put on hold a bit to allow everybody to take a break for a few days.
What do you think about University of texas new policy not allowing commits to take other school visits? I don't see the big deal around this. If a recruit wants to look at other school will just wait to he's done visiting all schools before commiting to UT now.
Gary Laney (2:31 PM)
If Robert Nkemdiche was committed to Texas, then decided the weekend before signing day he wanted to visit Ole Miss, if he recommitted to Texas the next Monday, do you think Texas would take him? That's what I think of the policy. It's intimidation for more marginal kids. It means nothing for the top-end kids.
Better parade: Bacchus or Endymion?
Gary Laney (2:32 PM)
any news on Priest Willis and him coming to LSU?
Gary Laney (2:34 PM)
Priest signed with UCLA over the weekend. It became obvious that would be the case on signing day. Tashawn Bower committed to LSU, then Willis appeared on regional TV in UCLA garb. When Miles addressed the media later in the day, he said LSU was out of scholarships for 2013. The take-away? The scholarship was probably there for the first taker between the two of them. Bower jumped on it first. LSU let Willis know and at that point, he was all UCLA. Make sense?
Gary Laney (2:35 PM)
Links don't work so well on the chat, but if you paste this in your browser, you can read the Willis commitment story: http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles/ucla/post/_/id/13303/defensive-back-priest-wills-signs-with-ucla
I really like LSU's Baseball lineup this year!! Unfortunately, I don't love their pitching rotation so much. Nola is great, but Eades was just so bad last year. His numbers from last year really don't tell the full story of just how bad he actually was. the worst part is he was always pulled too late also. Always pulled after 5 when he should have been pulled after 4.
Gary Laney (2:39 PM)
I know this: Mainieri has always loved Eades stuff. And one thing I noticed about Mainieri is he subscribes to the "struggling starter is better than a mediocre middle reliever" college approach. I've seen Mike Bianco and others do this. Let's say you have a starter who is 92-94 with a hard slider, but he's not locating, do you pull him for the 85 mph middle reliever or do you let him work through his control issues? It's not like the big leagues where your pen is full of guys with similar stuff or, at least a pitch that makes them effective in situations. There is a more of a clear hierarchy with college staffs. So you are more likely to see a college pitcher go 5 innings, give up 11 hits and 8 runs where an MLB pitcher would long ago have been yanked.
Gary Laney (2:40 PM)
First baseball question of my chats. Wow. Good job Kevin.
What's the latest on Tevin Lawson? Do you think there's still a chance he accepts a gray shirt offer with LSU?
Gary Laney (2:42 PM)
Greg, that's being considered. He was scheduled to visit Kentucky last weekend and we'll see how that goes. Lawson's upset over the change in the offer and I do think LSU has some convincing to do, both in terms of making him feel wanted in the program and convincing him on their wisdom on the redshirt. Basically, Lawson's in the Elliott Porter position, circa 2009 (was that his senior year?). Porter is now their heir apparent to start at center for LSU after first choosing Kentucky over LSU's grayshirt offer. It'll be interesting to see which way Lawson goes.
I really like the Patriots use the hurry up! After a big play, they run to the line and run a play quickly that seems to always turn into another big play. Wish Cameron would implement this.Things he needs to address:-Conservative play calling ESPECIALLY on 3rd downs.-3rd down converting-Redzone offense especially in the 5-7 yard line range
Gary Laney (2:46 PM)
Things that will work in Cameron's favor at accomplishing the things you talk about: 1. His history with the Chargers, 2. Having his offensive line coach on the field to make corrections. Things that may work against him: He's going to be LSU's fourth OC in four years and Mettenbergers' fifth OC of his college career (Georgia, juco, Kragthorpe, Studrawa and Cameron). It's hard to compare what Brady does in his umpteenth year with Belichick to what a college senior might do with his fifth different OC of his college career.
Scott (Los Angeles)
What do you make of the news coming out of Bama today? There's seems to be more stories every year out of the SEC of off-field trouble, which doesn't help the image. How do they measure personal character in the recruiting process?
Gary Laney (2:52 PM)
That's a good question Scott. LSU is not immune to taking risks. Its starting QB and starting TB have been arrested and know a bit about the legal system, just off the top of my head. It's interesting because in so many ways, SEC teams have the opportunity to separate the good apples from the bad apples because there are so many darn apples down here. Make sense? So when LSU took Jeremy Hill despite his off-field issues, you know his talent had to be rare because LSU would not gamble on an average talent. I think that's where your answer is. The risk-reward gamble. Now, why are so many high-end players getting in trouble? Let's bring in a team of sociologists to take on that question. But I do think some of its has to do with the socioeconomic situation many players come from and some of it comes from the pedestal our culture, especially in the south, puts athletes on. There may be a sense of invincibility, that you can get away with it because everybody loves you. Of course, there comes a point where that's not the case any more. But then you see colleges take some of these guys and you wonder if they aren't right to make that assumption.
Joe Dirt (Denham Springs)
Who's a better prospect, Cameron Robinson or Leonard Fournette?
Gary Laney (2:56 PM)
To some extent, apples and oranges. In terms of his place in the Louisiana sports, Fournette. I think Robinson may be the top OL in the country (I hate to make that assertion when our scouts haven't ranked them yet...but others have called Robinson the top guy, so I'll run with it), but Fournette is becoming almost a legendary figure in Louisiana. Part of it is he's an RB. I've seen really quality football people who aren't prone to hyperbole bring his name up in the same sentence as a Bo Jackson. To me, that's crazy talk at this point. But having seen the kid play, he's special. I'd say Fournette for that reason.
Gary, love your chats! As a native Red Stick, it's been tough moving from Brightside dr, where you can see the stadium, to big ole H-Town but I'm holding down the fort! I've got my texas tiger t-Shirt!Keep up the good work!
Gary Laney (2:57 PM)
Thanks Kevin! I wouldn't be surprised to see LSU taking its show to Houston (neutral site game) sometime in the future. You aren't the only LSU alum in Houston by a long shot! You might be called upon to scout for the next Michael Brockers. You up?
Joe Dirt (Denham Springs)
You really think they take a fullback?
Gary Laney (3:01 PM)
I think making sure there's a viable option at fullback is a priority. LSU hasn't always had to resort to signing an actual fullback to accomplish that. Sometimes they've been able to find one by moving a player from another spot (J.C. Copeland) or finding a walk-on (Connor Neighbors) or by temporarily using a big tailback (Charles Scott, Kenny Hilliard, Jacob Hester, etc.). So I'll say they are looking for a fullback to replace Copeland. Doesn't necessarily mean they'll sign one.
Gary Laney (3:01 PM)
That's my hour. Time to find a parade. I'll address LSU needs tomorrow and I'll be back here to chat again next week. Until then, Happy Mardi Gras!