Chat with Gary Laney
Welcome to GeauxTigerNation! On Friday, 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 Friday at 3 p.m. ET!
Gary Laney (2:55 PM)
We'll be starting in a couple of minutes for a our weekly Friday LSU chat. Bring your questions. LSU has had some big recruiting news and there was a decent football game last week, you may have noticed. LSU is now trying to remain a BCS bowl contender. Let's talk about it.
Gary Laney (3:00 PM)
Let's go ahead and get the ball rolling here ...
Joe Dirt (Denham Springs)
Should LSU just unleash Mettenberger tomorrow? He looked really good against Alabama. I think he's ready to be the man and his receivers are ready. Landry and Beckham looked like studs.
Gary Laney (3:01 PM)
Mettenberger did have something of a coming out game against Alabama, although his team fell short. But don't forget that Jeremy Hill had his third straight 100-yard rushing game for the Tigers. That remains a big part of what they do. LSU has had seven individual 100-yard rushing games this season, the most of the Les Miles era. So don't think for a minute LSU will be airing it out exclusively any time soon.
I keep hearing how good the SEC is, but Texas A&M seems to be better in the SEC than it was in the Big 12. Is the SEC overrated?
Gary Laney (3:04 PM)
There are two things LSU did not have last year: Kevin Sumlin and Johnny Manziel. Between those two things, A&M is profoundly different this year. Remember, recruiting players was never the Aggies' problem. The foundation of players has been there for a few years now. So I'm not shocked that the Aggies are competing in the SEC, although they are better than I thought they would be in year one. I fully expect them to join Georgia, LSU, Florida and, of course, Alabama in the league's upper tier for years to come.
Joe Dirt (Denham Springs)
It's a shame we have the same record as Moo State. We've got to change that. Silence the cowbells.
Gary Laney (3:05 PM)
Joe, those are two vastly different 7-2. But it is notable that MSU is a game away from having a better record than LSU, isn't it?
Jose Juan (Memorial City)
You've seen both teams. Do the Aggies have a chance against the Tide?
Gary Laney (3:07 PM)
Lots of Aggies on here today. I saw that Tim Brando flat-out picked A&M today. I wouldn't go that far. But I do think if Alabama has a weakness, it's the suspect secondary. With Manziel's ability to buy time and the A
Gary, What a game last week huh? The guys were really ready for a fight. Do you think the offense can continue with those types of performances for the rest of the year and have you heard anything on how RSJ enjoyed the experience?
Gary Laney (3:09 PM)
First on RSJ, from what I'm hearing he shifted his focus after the game to his high school team, which is in a must-win mode this week to get into the UIL playoffs in Texas. So there hasn't been much feedback from him. Obviously, he had to be impressed ...
Gary Laney (3:11 PM)
As for the offense, yes, I do think that could be LSU's offense. This is a developmental level of football, so it's not uncommon for players to profoundly improve over the course of a season (A.J. McCarron's improvement between the first LSU game and the BCS game was substantial, for example). Mettenberger seems to have taken a huge developmental step, as have a few young offensive linemen -- Collins, Turner and Alexander. The offensive line is rounding into a top-notch SEC line despite its youth. LSU has recruited well at that position and some of the young talent is starting to blossom from having to play ahead of schedule.
Brett (Lake Charles)
Stung last time, will Les be more or less likely to dig into his bag of tricks for this game?
Gary Laney (3:14 PM)
Brett, I'd think that game might have taught Miles a lesson: His team might be a little better than the tricks. Against Alabama, they may have felt they needed an edge against a team that might be better than them. I don't know if they'll feel the same way against anybody else on their schedule and if they do, they might pause for a moment and have more faith in their talent...if you take away the failed "tricks," they might have beaten Alabama straight-up.
Craig G. (Fairfield, CA)
Hey Gary, where would you rank Zach Mettenberger among the SEC QBs?
Gary Laney (3:17 PM)
Craig, I honestly haven't thought about a hierarchy so this is really, really, tough to answer. I'd go 1. McCarron, 2. Manziel, 3. Murray, 4. Wilson, 5. Bray...then 6-11 or so would be a mix of Mettenberger, Driskel, Shaw, Rodgers, Russell, Wallace...it's hard to separate them just at a glance here. I do think Mettenberger may have as much upside as anybody I grouped him with.
Do you know why we are taking so much heat from the media about the close win at LSU? I mean, its LSU! Not some lowly Pac-12 school. LSU is a Dang "tough football team."
Gary Laney (3:19 PM)
I'm not seeing quite as much heat as you re Sweatervested, but I'm not a Bama guy. I'd tend to agree with you. I thought LSU was comparable physically to the Tide, but Alabama was a better functioning team, largely from being a bit more experienced. But this was the first time Alabama faced a team that, in terms of pure size, strength and speed, could match up.
Bama fan (here)
Just saying Tim Brando hates us. So his pick means nothing. Plus, doesn't he have ties to Louisiana?
Gary Laney (3:22 PM)
Brando lives in Shreveport, so yes, he has ties. I didn't hear his prediction, so I don't really know his logic. But I do agree that it could be a little tricky for Alabama. LSU receivers didn't create separation against secondaries that were supposed to be much weaker than Alabama's and they were creating separation against the Tide. Given how long you have to cover against Manziel and his ability to extend plays, that could be a problem against the Aggies. Plus, A&M might have the second best defense Alabama's seen behind LSU. Still think Alabama wins, especially at home, but A
Ben (Richmond, KY)
Gary, everybody has been blasting Miles for his decisions last game. I agreed with the decision to go for it on 4th and 1 late in the game. However, I DID NOT agree with the play call for 2 reasons. 1...why take the snap under center? You aren't going to get a big push against Bama's massive D-line. 2...why wasn't Jeremy Hill taking the snap instead of Spencer Ware? I think Hill has shown enough that he should be THE GUY at RB. I think he should start taking about 90% of the carries.
Gary Laney (3:25 PM)
Ben, the first part I have no problem with. The second part has everything to do with skill set. As far as I know, Hill has ALWAYS been a RB...he was in high school (could have played QB in junior high, I don't know). Ware, on the other hand, was a high school QB who is still comfortable with things as simple as the QB-center exchange. When he's under center, you have to respect the option, the pitch and maybe even a pass (he has thrown passes before). I think he's the right running back to put under center in those situations.
I know recruits usually change their minds a lot between now and signing day. How do you see this years class adding up and do you think there will be any early enrollees since there was only 21 signees for last year?
Gary Laney (3:28 PM)
I do think some players are going to enroll early, although I'm not completely sure who right now. LSU will certainly have a chance to push the scholarship limit boundary this year, considering they are at 24 now. I do think some of it will take care of itself. I've heard of at least four state kids who have committed -- I haven't confirmed any, so I don't want to toss out names -- who at least have a lot of work to do academically to ultimately be part of the class. So they could potentially have room for Beckwith, Williams, RSJ and maybe even one more without having to worry about doing any kind of gymnastics with the 25-man limit.
Ben (Richmond, KY)
I heard that Kendall Beckwith was pleased with what he saw from LSU on Saturday. Do you think he is now a slight lean to the Tigers? Also, have you heard anything of Leonard Fournette's impressions from the game?
Gary Laney (3:31 PM)
Fournette loved it, though he didn't tip his hand in any direction. I think you could say the same of Beckwith. I keep hearing different things on Beckwith. One day, I'll hear he's a Bama lean, then the next, that it's LSU. If I had to guess, right now I'd say he's an ever-so-slight LSU lean after the visit. But I do think he's going to Tuscaloosa Saturday for the A&M game, so we'll see what comes out of that.
Shawn (South Alabama )
Who is the best player on LSU?
Gary Laney (3:34 PM)
That's a tough question, Shawn. The NFL loves Montgomery and Mingo, as well as Logan and Reid. I'd say that Kevin Minter is having the best season of all of them. Having said that, if I had to pick one player to start a team with, it would probably be Montgomery. And if I had to pick one based on what I thought he'd be in five years, I might pick Jeremy Hill.
Gary Laney (3:34 PM)
So to sum up: Minter is my answer, but qualifiers for Montgomery and Hill. And La'el Collins. I'd better stop before I think of somebody else.
Joe Dirt (LSU)
With the two new defensive tackles, is LSU getting the same quality at the position it's been getting with Brockers, Logan and Johnson?
Gary Laney (3:37 PM)
I know LSU really likes Gilmore. I've heard some question Gilmore's initial burst off the ball and perhaps his flexibility, but he seems like the perfect space eater inside like a Logan. LaCouture is a really long kid with a more lean body type. He can bulk up to 290 and still not look his weight. They are different guys from the bunch they have right now. It'll be interesting to see how they fit in, possibly even next season.
Bama fan here. First great game last week by both teams. I was very impressed with the gameplan LSU had, specifically the passes they were having Mettenberger make. Has the gameplan been the same for the entire season with regards to the passes they are having him make?
Gary Laney (3:39 PM)
Brad, no. I've made the comparison before, but it's worth repeating: Mettenberger's learning curve was not completely unlike McCarron's a year earlier. I do think there were baby steps with him early and I think the injuries and attrition to the offensive line set the passing game back. They were doing a lot of stuff with one or two receives in the pattern to play max protect while the offensive line was developing. One thing that was clear coming out of the bye, the coaching staff seemed much more comfortable to send four or five receivers out in the pattern with just the offensive line protecting Mettenberger than they have been at any point this season.
Do you think Minter will leave early for the draft? He has been a beast.
Gary Laney (3:41 PM)
I'm on the fence with Minter. He's been fantastic this season, so it might make sense for him to leave. There are some physical limitations to him that won't make him a first-round pick -- he's not extremely tall nor fast -- so having the production he's having this season might have him about as high as his draft stock will get. He might decide that's good enough. Hard to say.
Sean (Crappy Alabama)
Do you think Steven Rivers will be the QB of the future for us?
Gary Laney (3:44 PM)
Sean, Rivers is going to have a ton of competition. We know LSU won't hesitate to use talented young players so don't necessarily assume that Hayden Rettig and Anthony Jennings will be coming to Baton Rouge looking to redshirt, then wait behind Rivers. Plus, just because Rivers is ahead of Rob Bolden now, doesn't mean it will stay that way. With Bolden trying to learn the offense, it made sense for him to use his redshirt year this year while Rivers served as the No. 2. I'd expect it to be a more open competition going forward.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Even though you Cover LSU College Football, What is your Favorite NFL Team?
Gary Laney (3:46 PM)
Honestly, Chris, I grew up in the 70s and 80s and as a young kid, I was a fan of the Purple People Eaters Vikings. That didn't stick. I lost interest in them as the Bud Grants, Ahmad Rashads, Jim Marshalls, etc, moved on. Now? If anything, I follow the Saints, since I live an hour away. But mostly, I pull for Team Laney in the ESPN RecrutingNation Fantasy League.
Who do you see as the quarterback of the future? I saw some film on Jennings and was surprised with his arm strength. I liked the film on Rettig also.
Gary Laney (3:49 PM)
That's the second such question, Jim. I think it would have actually helped Rivers' chances if Mettenberger was, as some had hoped early, a one-year wonder. But with Mettenberger back next year and with Rettig and Jennings having gotten a year under their belt, the 2014 competition should be pretty fierce. I'm not seeing Rivers as a prototype arm like Mettenberger, so if one of the others, including Bolden, shows that kind of talent, it's there for the taking, in my opinion. I'm reserving judgement between Rettig and Jennings. I love Jennings. Not sure on Rettig based on what looks like limited competition I see on his game films.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Out of all the LSU Players that was Drafted in the 2012 NFL Draft, Who do you think is the Best So Far?
Gary Laney (3:51 PM)
I'd have to see both Claiborne and Brockers have had very good rookie years. I hear a bet more positive feedback on Claiborne, though Brockers has been no slouch for the Rams.
Joe Dirt (Denham Springs)
So, does LSU go 10-2?
Gary Laney (3:53 PM)
Probably. A couple of "X" factors include: 1. Does LSU regress after losing its primary goals for the season? I'd say not likely considering that Miles teams have bounced back in these situations before and 2. Does Arkansas shut it down before Thanksgiving weekend. If it's a motivated Arkansas team in Fayetteville, I think that could still be a tough out for the Tigers. If Arkansas loses another game and sort of quits on the season, LSU will have no problem.
Ben (Richmond, KY)
Gary, I do not understand why the NFL scouts love Mingo so much. Do the scouts base everything on potential? Don't get me wrong, I love having him on our team. But the young man is too light and not strong enough to fight off the blocks of a very physical O-line, which was somewhat demonstrated Saturday night. I also don't understand some of the hype for Reid. He is a tremendous athlete, but he gets beat like a drum on deep balls occasionally. (Maybe I'm just trying to convince myself that they should both comeback next year.)
Gary Laney (3:57 PM)
Ben, I'd like to see Mingo come back and play on the side Montgomery plays on now, that blind side of the right-handed QB. He'd deal with fewer tight ends and I think would be a little more productive as a pass-rusher. In the NFL, he could end up being a 3-4 outside linebacker, which he's plenty big enough to play and, I might add, plenty fast enough too. I think his versatility is a plus to NFL types. I like Reid. I think there have been a couple of cases where he was beat because he gambled and lost, but I think the moral is he's not a good gambler. Mathieu had a knack for guessing right when he'd go for a gamble. Not Reid. But when he plays technique, he's solid, solid.
Who's the best player in Louisiana, regardless of class.
Gary Laney (3:59 PM)
College? High school? All levels, I'd say Drew Brees, but I don't think that's what you mean. Best college player is Kevin Minter. Best high school player is probably Leonard Fournette, the junior running back at St. Augustine in New Orleans. I think he'll be ranked a little higher in his class than Beckwith and Tim Williams (Louisiana's top two 2013 players) are in this class.
do you thing UGA ghs a chance to beat Alabama. if they do would they be in the BCS Championship
Gary Laney (4:01 PM)
I don't think Georgia is as good as LSU, mainly because I don't think Georgia is as good defensively as a year ago. Would they have a chance? Yes, especially in the Georgia Dome. Do I think they would win? No. And if they do, I would think they need two of the other three unbeatens to lose. I don't see them jumping an ubeaten K-State, Notre Dame or Oregon.
Ben (Richmond, KY)
I see in a previous response you said "Miles teams have bounced back in these situations before." Remember in 2008 when LSU lost a heartbreaker to Bama in OT, the very next week they found themselves down 31-3 at one point to TROY!!!! Hope we don't repeat that episode!
Gary Laney (4:03 PM)
Good point, but in 2006 they rallied nicely after picking up their second loss to Florida in early October. I think they'll be fine, with the Arkansas game behind one to be concerned about depending, of course, on Arkansas' state of mind.
Gary Laney (4:04 PM)
Time's up for our chat. This was a great one guys. Glad to have everybody's involvement. Same time, same place next week!