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 (2:00 PM)
It's time to get this started. As we sit in the aftermath of a season where LSU was a disappointing 10-3, finishing No. 14 in the nation after starting No. 1, let's talk about where the Tigers are headed. I'm going to pour a cup of coffee, then get started!
Joe Dirt (Denham Springs)
Has LSU hurt its 2014 season with its sub-par finish?
Gary Laney (2:04 PM)
While I do think one season can influence the next some, it's largely a different puzzle. I think by spring, the disappointing finish will be behind them. I'll be interested in seeing their perception of this season. They are still pulling in elite talent and I won't be surprised if this class finishes top five. I don't think expectations will be lower by any stretch.
Corbin Estess (Athens Georgia )
Do you think mettenburger will start next year for LSU
Gary Laney (2:05 PM)
In a word, yes. I don't think Bolden or Rivers are better than him, so even if they compete in August on an equal footing with Mettenberger, they'll likely defer to Mett's experience. It would be a huge surprise if one of the two true freshmen pushes him for a starting job. I'd imagine LSU is hoping more for those two to be ready to compete to replace him in 2014.
Will Les hire a new offensive coordinator?
Gary Laney (2:07 PM)
JDG, while it would not shock me, to me if it was going to happen, it would have happened already. LSU has a lot of good offensive commitments already and if they were to let Studrawa (and probably others) go now, you would have little time to re-recruit some guys who were coming under the premise that they would play under the current coaches.
What does LSU do to get offensive players to want to go there?
Gary Laney (2:09 PM)
LSU really isn't having a lot of trouble right now getting high-end offensive players. Pocic, Dodd and Boutte are all very good line prospects. Johnson, Diarse and Leslie are quality receivers. They have two ESPN 300 QBs coming in. Now, let's see if there's a negative effect on 2014 recruiting.
Kevin Otte (Loveland, CO)
Any chance Nkemdiche signs before national signing day???
Gary Laney (2:11 PM)
It's sort of pointing to a signing day decision, but I don't think he's said as much. It strikes me that he'll announce on a national stage and the next great national stage is signing day. That's sort of what I would expect but if there is an announcement before then, I would suspect it would be because there is another national stage for him. I can't think of one right now.
What does LSU need to do to keep up with Alabama and seemingly A&M next year?
Gary Laney (2:14 PM)
MB, next year may be tough for them, but let's take inventory on who bolts at A&M and Bama first. I found A
Early odds are out for2013. LSU has 4th best odds, how? Brand new defense. Still inconsistent offense. Bad play calling. Questionable end of close game management. What is this based on? I am an LSU fan btw. Give me hope.
Gary Laney (2:17 PM)
Kevin, perhaps its based on pure talent accumulation. I know the young linebackers are going to be outstanding. I'm hearing that a couple of the young defensive linemen who didn't play much this year will surprise folks next year. We know they'll reload in the secondary, as they've continued to clean up in secondary recruiting. Offensively, I think they will be significantly better though I, like many of you, wonder if there is an issue with an ability to develop the talent right now.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
True or False, Nick Saban passes Bear Bryant and goes down as the greatest coach in SEC history if he stays in Tuscaloosa five more years?
Gary Laney (2:19 PM)
Tough one Tony. Cop out answer is both. I think he has a chance to have a resume that compares favorably to Bear. But part of Bear's mystique is what he did in creating a program identity and that part of the legacy Saban can never compete with. Sort of the Wilt-Shaq comparison, if that makes sense. So, to summartize, Saban COULD (emphasis on that word choice) end up with a more impressive resume, but won't be as iconic. That make sense?
how are the tigers looking with edward paris
Gary Laney (2:22 PM)
I know LSU is after him hard Brian, but beyond that, I'll just say it's a bit early. I'll add this: Even if LSU is viewed with slightly more skepticism overall by recruits, that won't be true for DB recruits. Eric Reid was yet another all-American in the LSU secondary this year and he'll be the latest high draft pick out of the secondary. The DBU perception is alive and well and that should play a role for Paris and all DB recruits.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Do you think Florida or Georgia will be the main competitiion in the East now that Murray announced he's coming back to Athens?
Gary Laney (2:24 PM)
Yes, along with South Carolina, but for slightly different reasons that your premise. Right now, there are five schools in the SEC that have a huge advantage in recruiting base: Bama, LSU, Florida, Georgia and Texas A&M with South Carolina maybe a half-notch behind. These schools are top dogs in areas that produce tremendous talent. And all of these schools currently have tremendously strong and well-known and respected coaches who recruit their bases well. It's going to be hard for the other 9 in the SEC to break into that "big six" so long as those programs don't drop the ball.
Do you think lsu will Beat texas a&m next year?
Gary Laney (2:27 PM)
Purely on paper, no to both, especially Bama since the game is in Tuscaloosa. But let's see what those two teams lose to the draft. LSU appears to be done losing players (could be surprised by a Chris Faulk departure), so right now it looks worse for LSU than it may look in a week or two after all the draft entries are known.
This program needs to put the ego aside and really think about getting an OC quik
Gary Laney (2:28 PM)
What, you don't think Ego Ferguson should start? ....
Gary Laney (2:31 PM)
OHHH, I see what you're saying. Seriously, I wouldn't be shocked if an offensive staff move were made, but at the same time, I don't think it will happen now. But I do think if the offense has an issue with consistency next year, there will be a house cleaning. The problem is having long stretches of drought. If happened in 2011 and 2012 (Florida and Clemson games). LSU had more possessions with 3-and-outs in the Chick-fil-A Bowl than possessions where it got a first down. Against Florida, it went a huge chunk of the game without getting a single first down. All that was reminiscent of the BCS game against Alabama and the previous game, where it went through the first half without a first down against Georgia. That is a huge, huge red flag and must be addressed, in my opinion. Even if it only happens a couple times a year, that is far too often.
Derrin (Plano, TX)
Miles snatched up Beckwith, does Williams follow? Or will he join Landon Collins in Tuscaloosa?
Gary Laney (2:34 PM)
I doubt if Williams follows, but I don't know if they would lose him to Tuscaloosa. What I'm hearing this year is LSU is cooling on Williams more than Williams is cooling on LSU. Take that for what it's worth. It's an interesting situation because Williams goes to school with the children of many LSU coaches, including Miles' kids (Miles' son is a pretty fair HS WR and I think will be th QB next year). Both sides know the others' warts. It's an unusual recruiting situation.
When Les made the statement about "adjustments will be made" after the Clemson loss, what adjustments, in your opinion, would be made, if not a new oc?
Gary Laney (2:37 PM)
JDG, it might mean very little. We've heard Les talk for four years about improvements in the passing game, the opening up of the offense, etc., but it really hasn't happened. There may be an intent to tweak things philosophically, but when the lights come on and it's time to call a play on third-and-2, it's easy to go back to the comfort zone and call the toss lead. Does that sort of answer the question? Again, if there's an offensive staff shuffle announced on Friday, it won't shock me, but right now, I'm thinking that they are talking about philosophical tweaks by the current staff.
when will we see the touchback rule go back to the 20 yard line?the pros are using it.
Gary Laney (2:39 PM)
Victor, the 20-YL touchback may come back eventually. The NFL leaves it there for safety. The NCAA may follow suit. They wanted to encourage fewer touchbacks but the NFL's attitude is the kick return is the most dangerous play in football in terms of injuries, so they have sort of encouraged the touchback by keeping the field position modest. Right now, college teams are tempted to kick it high and short of the goalline and try to cover well enough to keep the return inside the 25. This was LSU's general approach.
Whats YOUR thoughts on nkendiche tweet about he will wining a NC in college. Since its down to ole miss and LSU, do you think its a good sign for LSU?
Gary Laney (2:41 PM)
Don't read too much into that. These kids have egos and they likely think that they can carry programs to the promised land -- and if you're a competitor, you SHOULD think that way. Having said that, LSU fans should tell him the well-worn joke about Oxford, Miss.: From Oxford, there are no roads to take you to Atlanta (the SEC championship game) or Omaha (the College World Series).
How are things on the inside of the program? Seems odd for some of the players to leave early. Obviously not the ones that were expected (Mingo, Montgomery), but not sure anyone saw us losing nine players. Players not buying in?
Gary Laney (2:43 PM)
Mike, I do think that "Les fatigue" could have played a role, but honestly for those that cover the program on a day-to-day basis, the exodus was largely expected. In the last few years LSU has really put an emphasis on the 3-year cycle and is sort of recruiting to it now. The idea is, top high school players think of themselves as NFL players. Sell them on the program's ability to prepare you for the pros and point to things like this as proof that you are getting them ready ...
Gary Laney (2:45 PM)
If you see the quotes from Miles yesterday, I think you'll see evidence of their emphasis on this.
What kind of team do you expect to take a chance on Honey Badger?
Do you think LSU would have made it to the SEC championship with Honey Badger?
Gary Laney (2:48 PM)
Nick, I'll take it as a two-part question. To your first question, I'll say any team that has trouble "making plays." There are players who look the part and sort of do their job correctly, but don't come up with big plays. Mathieu is just the opposite. He's always around the ball, always wreaking havoc. For a team that, perhaps, is lagging in turnover margin, he'll be an interesting player to bring in as a coverage guy.
Gary Laney (2:51 PM)
To your second question, it's interesting. I think that LSU was forced to play so many true freshmen ended up hurting. On Alabama's screen pass to TJ Yeldon for the game-winning TD against LSU, true freshman CB Jalen Mills had a busted assignment. He blitzed when he was supposed to stay back on the receiver. He's the guy who replaced Mathieu. In the Chick-fil-A Bowl, RT Vadal Alexander, another true freshman, had an awful, awful game and LSU gave up six sacks. He replaced senior Alex Hurst. I don't know if Mathieu cost them an SEC West, SEC or national title. But I do think the volume of true freshmen they ended up having to play in significant roles cost them games.
Derrin (Plano, TX)
Are the Tigers still in the mix for Priest Willis? Haven't heard much about him lately.
Gary Laney (2:53 PM)
He had a great mid-December visit to LSU, then participated in the Under Armour Game. LSU's still very much in the picture, though I wouldn't necessarily call LSU a leader.
If significant adjustments are not made on offense (such as an oc hire similar to the Chavis hire at dc a few years bakc), I am afraid this years outcome will become the norm (coming up just short). Would you agree?
Gary Laney (2:56 PM)
Probably JDG. You simply cannot have 2-3 games a year where you can't move the chains. There were two games this year and two last year (and really, LSU struggled in the first half of the Arkansas game too in 2011). The offense looked fine against Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and really Alabama. There were times where it looked just fine in 2011 too. But the depths where the offense drops at its lowest points simply should not be acceptable. You are recruiting elite talent into your program. There is no way you should have eight 3-and-outs and only get 9 first downs against Clemson. Period. ...
Gary Laney (2:58 PM)
Now, I will add this: LSU had Crowton, then Kragthorpe, then had to switch quickly to Studrawa. Next year, there will have been time for things to settle on offense, some consistency in the system. If the staff stays the same, let's see if some consistency within the staff and staff leadership will help it get better results.
Gary Laney (2:58 PM)
If the current staff isn't efficient at what it does next year, then certainly it would be overdue for a change.
Gary Laney (3:01 PM)
That's my time folks! Great chat. Same time, same place next week and keep the conversation going at my Twitter page: @glaneyespn