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)
Wow. Lots of questions already...probably a record. Right to it we go...First few will fly by as I typed my answers out before hand...
robert (denver, co)
do you see the arrow moving up or down on lsu's qb zach mettenberger?
Gary Laney (2:01 PM)
Mettenberger will improve Rob. There's been some transition in LSU's offense, from coordinator, to preferred style (less dual threat action, more drop-back) to Mettenberger himself. I think the continuity should lead to natural progression.
Kevin (New Orleans)
Can LSU's Defense remain one of the premier group with departure of many Defensive players?
Gary Laney (2:02 PM)
Kevin, the talent level will be as high, but I just can't imagine they'll be as good with so many young players having to take the field. The one area where the talent might be questioned is the defensive line because outside of Anthony Johnson, these guys are mostly unproven. But they'll be very young everywhere. At linebacker and in the secondary, a lot of freshmen played this season, so they'll be young, but with some experience.
Any chance that Les Miles abandon Mettenberger for another QB on the roster? Bolden, Rivers, etc
Gary Laney (2:03 PM)
Rob, I have my doubts on that. I think those guys would have seen significant snaps this season if they were in any position to make a challenge. Now, as next season develops, perhaps, but I can't imagine Mett having to fight for a job in the spring or in August.
BJ Boutte (Lake Tahoe)
Do you think anymore underclassmen will add their names to the NFL-declaration list (OG - Josh Williford, FB - J.C. Copeland, RB - Alfred Blue, etc.)???
Gary Laney (2:03 PM)
BJ, I'd think LSU is done losing players. Today is the deadline for a non-senior to declare for the draft and I haven't heard rumblings of anybody else leaving.
Gary Laney (2:04 PM)
By the way BJ, any relation to Josh Boutte, the current LSU OL commit, or Marc Boutte, the LSU d-lineman from the late 80s (and a high school teammate of mine)?
I don't know what to worry about more, the mass exodus or the no change on offensive coaching staff????
Gary Laney (2:06 PM)
Virginia, your worries are primarily on opposite sides of the ball, for what that's worth I'd be more concerned for the defense because of the youth as the exodus really hurt there more than on offense, where LSU can shrug off losing some running backs and should be fine on the O-line even without Faulk. On offense, having continuity at the coordinator spot and at quarterback might do it some good, so not changing coordinators could have its benefits. Time will tell.
Donnell (New Orleans)
Gary, just wondering what is going on with Brian Bridgewater, haven't heard his name in recruiting for football/basketball at LSU in awhile. Can you explain if he is still a target of CLM or CJJ.
Gary Laney (2:07 PM)
Donnell, from what I'm hearing Bridgewater made the decision to go all-in to basketball, but his lack of height -- he's maybe 6-foot-5 -- has limited his options. He's one of those kids who was a dominant, prime-time prospect at 14 because he was already 6-4, 6-5 and there was an assumption about his future based on him being the same player, but growing to 6-8 or 6-9. But that never happened. Part of the reason he transferred to Scotlandville High, which has a couple of legit big men, is so he can play on the wing and work on his game out there. He's trying to play his way back to major offers. I'll say this, if LSU has to "settle" for Bridgewater in the spring, it can do a lot worse in my opinion. He's going to be a solid basketball player for somebody and if he sees the writing on the wall for his basketball future, he knows football is still an option.
Why are so many underclassman leaving LSU right now and out of them all who do you think will change their mind and return to school for their senior season. Also, have you heard any news as to if LSU are getting any more recruits for the outstanding bball class coming in next year. Thanks for covering my favorite team.
Gary Laney (2:10 PM)
Tracy, it's a done deal for all 10 (11 with Mathieu) early departures as they all hired agents and are no longer amateurs. End of story with them. Why do they leave? LSU is reaping what it sows. They sell kids on the opportunity to play their way to the NFL through their program, sign players good enough to do it and it's in their mindset to leave if they feel they are ready. LSU recruits to this cycle, so theoretically, it should be able to absord the blow. That will be put to the test this year.
Gary Laney (2:11 PM)
As for hoops, I hear Keith Frazier has dropped LSU from his list and he's the last big name connected to LSU for now. The aforementioned Bridgewater is a pretty good option and I'm sure LSU is working on some others.
Blake (Houston, TX)
I get depressed when our offense is on the field. Any chance we will have a new offensive coordinator this season? I don't think our defense will be good enough next season to bail the offense out like it has so many other times.
Gary Laney (2:12 PM)
Blake, like I've said before if LSU was going to make a change, it would be done already, I would think, but you never know. The keys to me are continuity on the offensive line and progress at wide receiver. If they can get that, I think they'll be pretty good on offense.
Phillip (A stadium near you)
Gary, what is the most important thing that has to happen during the offseason that will help the LSU offense become more consistent?
Gary Laney (2:14 PM)
Sort of addressed that a bit in my previous answer, but I'll add to it that there needs to be something in the passing game that has to be sort of a go-to thing for LSU's offense. That started to develop last season with Jarvis Landry as a go-to guy to move the chains. The big issue to me is just keep drives alive consistently. There are always a couple of games a year where LSU simply cannot move the chains consistently enough.
Gino (Charlotte, NC)
Expectations for Jeremy Hill 2013?
Gary Laney (2:15 PM)
My guess? 1,200 yards. Blue and Hilliard about 1,000 between them. A fourth back will emerge. We'll see who that is. I don't think LSU stops using a stable, but it will have a clear No. 1 guy for the first time since Stevan Ridley.
What's going on with the Nkemdiche recruiting??? Why is it so difficult to get the LSU visit planned booked?? Running out of weekends here. Ole Miss visit next weekend, and where did this UF visit come from??? What's going on with LSU, are they still in this?
Gary Laney (2:17 PM)
David Kamara told me that they would (both) either come this weekend or Feb. 1. This weekend is fast approaching. I read in the AJC that Brick Haley was visiting them this week at their school and they would work out their visit schedule. I also heard rumblings that Nkemdiche may visit Florida (have not confirmed that). I texted Kamara shortly before the chat and he's usually pretty good about getting back. We'll see.
Is Kamara visiting LSU this weekend? Who is visiting this weekend besides Tahaan Goodman?
Gary Laney (2:20 PM)
Addressed Kamara already. Goodman and Kevin Spears, a wide receiver out of Holy Cross High in New Orleans, are the two big uncommitted guys that I know of right now. Spears has an offer now so there's a good chance he'll commit. He committed ot Louisiana Tech last weekend. Classic under-the-radar guy. Did not play organized football until his junior year and did not start until his senior year and had 1,000 yards receiving for a 4A semifinal team. 6-foot-3, former basketball star with good speed and great ball skills. If he had a longer track record, he'd easily be a 4-star with multiple SEC-level offers, in my opinion.
Joe Dirt (Denham Springs)
I read where LSU brought one quarterback to Boys from the Boot. is he a guy LSU's going to offer? Why doesn't Louisiana produce quarterbacks like it used to when it was putting Peyton and Eli Manning, Jake Delhomme, Kordell Stewart, Josh Booty, and a bunch of others into the NFL?
Gary Laney (2:22 PM)
Donovan Isom of Destrehan was the only Louisiana guy at LSU's Junior Day (Boys from the Boot) which brings in the top prospects in the state. Louisiana is in a QB drought of sorts. There have been a pretty good number of mid-level QBs, but a lack of top-notch, future pros. Texas is the hotbed for those right now. I do hear Evangel Christian has one coming in next year's freshman class. But I feel ridiculous even talking about how good an 8th grader is supposed to be.
Give me your gut feeling on where Priest Willis will end up? I saw those socks at the UA game. Mean anything serious?
Gary Laney (2:23 PM)
If I had to guess, UCLA lean for he and Goodman based on the close-to-home factor. But by no means is that a prediction. Goodman and Willis may pair up in the same way Kamara and Nkemdiche may pair up. If Goodman is blown away by his LSU visit the same way Willis seemed to be, they could both end up playing college ball in the south.
G Money (Edinburgh, UK)
Why did you entitle your recent article "Big one gets away from LSU" when your story talks about there not being much mutual interest?
Gary Laney (2:26 PM)
He was a big one in that he was our highest-rated player from Louisiana. And he got away from LSU. But it's also accurate to say the interest from both sides was tepid. So while it may seem in conflict, actually that's not really the case.
Mark (Lexington. Ky)
Will the QB position be opened up for competition in the spring? And why has the TE dropped out of the passing game so badly? Thanks.
Gary Laney (2:31 PM)
Mark, in terms of rep distribution at the QB position, I think it'll be fairly even so in that sense, there will be a chance for the other QBs (including the true freshmen, who should be in school now...Rettig was scheduled to start class today). Again, I doubt Mettenberger gets a serious challenge. LSU didn't have a legit pass-catching tight end last season. Juco transfer Logan Stokes and (especially) 2013 commit Desean Smith have good ball skills. I would expect the tight ends to be used more in the passing game as 2014 commit Jacory Washington is, like Smith, a talented receiver. When LSU had Richard Dickson, the tight end was used. I suspect they'll go back to that.
Gary Laney (2:31 PM)
Sorry for the short delay. Did a quick check to see if I could confirm that Rettig has arrived...nothing new yet.
G Money (Edinburgh, UK)
Why is it that T. White is ranked so low on ESPN and ranked so high on other recruiting sites?
Gary Laney (2:34 PM)
Good question. I really like White and have absolutely no problem with those who rank him much higher. I know of one well-respected scout who ranks him as the state's top player ahead of the likes of Tim Williams, Kendell Beckwith and Jeryl Brazil, who I think he's comparable to as a player. Our scouts do completely independent evaluations based on what they see on film and other scouting opportunities. I respect that too. But I really do like White and when I hear rumblings that he may be the true freshman most likely to make a quick impact, I believe it.
The LSU schedule is just absolutely brutal next year. I finally agree with the ol ball coach that only divisional games should count towards winning the division. How fair is it for both LSU and UF that they have to play each other every year while bama gets to play UT??? When will this become a reality??
Gary Laney (2:38 PM)
Kevin, I may agree with the Ball Coach too. Not all the time, as I don't think Bama would beat any NFL team. But I digress. LSU is definitely at a competitive disadvantage based on its permanent opponent. The other side of the argument is that it's luck of the draw, Tennessee can be just as good, or better, than Florida. But two points to that: 1. If both programs are operating at optimal levels, Florida will be better than Tennesee based on recruiting base and 2. LSU doesn't have a natural rivalry with Florida, so why must it play the Gators every year? All in all, I'm somewhat sympathetic to LSU. I think Spurrier's idea is a good compromise in that regard.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Are you surprised that some of the players decided to leave LSU? If so, which decision jumped out at you?
Gary Laney (2:39 PM)
Wasn't surprised at most. Was a little surprised by Tharold Simon and Chris Faulk. I thought both could have helped themselves by coming back to school. Everybody else made sense to me, especially within the context of LSU selling kids on the ability to prepare to play pro football.
Chris (Shreveport la)
What top recruits left do you think Lsu has the best chance to get this year
Gary Laney (2:41 PM)
As for top recruits, they'll all been mentioned on here: Nkemdiche, Willis and Goodman. I think LSU has a decent shot at all three, but isn't the favorite for any. I think if LSU can get Nkemdiche and his parents on campus, all bets are off at that point. Willis and Goodman are more likely to stay out West, but LSU remains a factor for both.
Why did Nkemdiche name LSU and Ole Miss as his finalists when Clemson has so many key players returning and Alabama is a dynasty?
Gary Laney (2:43 PM)
It's well documented why he leans Ole Miss. His brother is there. And the relationship built with his family during his brother's recruitment is strong, so his mother would like for Robert to play there too. As for LSU, it was on Nkemdiche early and built a strong relationship with him. If he didn't have an older brother at Ole Miss, I tend to agree with those who say he'd already be committed to LSU by now. Having said that, because of the factors mentioned above, I expect him to end up at Ole Miss.
Going back to what you said about LSU recruiting players who will leave for the NFL before they are ready, doesn't Alabama do the same thing but with better results?
Gary Laney (2:46 PM)
Nick, one thing I may disagree with is I'm not sure any of these guys aren't ready outside the two I mentioned (plus the punter, who was in some hot water -- he had been suspended for the bowl game -- so his departure may have had as much to do with that as anything). I think the rest are in the position to do as well in the draft as they would if they waited until their senior year. So it becomes a matter of risk. If you are at your optimum draft position, why risk losing that by going back to school?
Gary Laney (2:47 PM)
Nick, to finish the thought, it would be interesting to compare how Alabama approaches its NFL-bound players to LSU. I think there may be subtle differences. I'm not close enough to Alabama to speak on their approach.
Lou Holtz (Bristol, CT)
Garry, what are you doing texting recruits? Leave all that smartphone and social media nonsense to the young folks. My pigeons have been serving me fine for years.
Gary Laney (2:48 PM)
Lou, spell my name right please. And sometimes the pigeons will come back faster than you'll get a text answer from a kid.
Scott (Los Angeles)
Steve Kragthorpe was brought in to help develop QBs. Jefferson didn't seem to improve much and the same problems exist with Mett in holding on the the ball too long and taking sacks. Yes, his lack of mobility is a problem, but still.... Is he still the best man for the job, considering he's battling an illness?
Gary Laney (2:51 PM)
I'll say this for Kragthorpe: Look who led the SEC in pass efficiency last year. Part of the reason there was so much backlash on Les for the BCS title game was Lee had been so efficient up to the first Alabama game, then when he lost his job, it was like he couldn't get on the field any more. Kragthorpe had done a great job with Lee, I thought. Having said that, let's see Mettenberger in year three in the offense next year. If the offense is mediocre to bad next year, I think there will, and should, be a cleaning of the house on offense. I would have understood it if Miles did it this year, but can also understand why he didn't.
Scott (Los Angeles)
Every time someone mentions a change at Off. Coordinator, you say it just needs time and they need to find consistency. That's a coach answer. The truth is Studwra filled in due to Kragthorpe's illness. Why has Miles not even considered finding that Chavis type hire on the offensive side?
Gary Laney (2:53 PM)
Valid point. That would likely involve kicking Kragthorpe to the curb, which I don't think Miles wants to do. He thinks this can work. Next year is the make or break for it. It has been a long time since LSU has had an ideal situation on its offensive staff, has it?
G Money (Edinburgh, UK)
Do you really think Tim Williams is the best player in the state?
Gary Laney (2:54 PM)
That's a tough question G Money. There is no Leonard Fournette in the mix this year that's going to stand out from the crowd. A lot of very good recruits, Williams among them. I'd have no problem with Williams, Beckwith, Brazil or White being at the top of somebody's list this year.
How many more spots does LSU have for commits for this years class?
Gary Laney (2:55 PM)
I think LSU can get to about 28-29, but I'm not sure if it'll use them all.
Scott (Los Angeles)
LSU has already hit it's recruit limit at 25. Should Nkemdiche or someone else sign, someone else will get the shaft, no? Kylie Fitts from CA just decommitted. Was he ever on the radar?
Gary Laney (2:57 PM)
Scott, the 25-man limit is complicated. LSU brought in 21 last year, and just brought in several (7-8, don't have the list in front of me) guys at the start of the spring semester. Some of those guys can be counted back to last year's class, depending on where LSU stands with its 85 counters in spring, which is the part I'm not entirely clear on at this point. Does that make sense?
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Who will be the breakout player for LSU in 2013?
Gary Laney (2:58 PM)
Anthony Johnson is going to play more snaps at DT and it's going to be his draft year. I can see him putting in close to double-digit sacks and 15-20 TFLs. He's really talented.
John (Baton rouge, La)
What's up with guys like S Landon Collins and DE Tim Williams, which both played high school ball in or around Baton Rouge, going else where for college? (Not LSU)
Gary Laney (3:00 PM)
Good question John. I know sometimes the backyard can be the hardest place to recruit. I know this to be particularly true of Williams, who had his sites set on leaving home early on (though it seemed he fancied himself at Miami early). Just like any other teenager, there's the draw of going out into that big world beyond what you know. Now, that doesn't mean LSU should just accept that ...
Where do you see the Honey badger going in the draft?? high/Low?
Gary Laney (3:01 PM)
mid-rounds, depending on how he does at Pro Day/combine. He's still small. But he still has a tremendous instinct and feel for the game.
Who do you think will be the Defensive star this year?
Gary Laney (3:01 PM)
I mentioned Johnson. Lamin Barrow steps up at linebacker. One of the Jalens steps up at corner.
Do you think Jarvis LAndry take that next step like some many WR before him LSU has?
Gary Laney (3:02 PM)
I do Derek. I think he was taking that step down the stretch.
Gary Laney (3:02 PM)
Thanks for all the questions. Just ran out of time. Same time same place next week guys. See you there!