Welcome to the Bayou Bengal Briefing, SEC Country’s daily morning column covering LSU football, with LSU beat writer Nick Suss. Today, we practice empathy, prepare for a weekend of football, celebrate the most made-up holiday of them all and much more. Enjoy!
Between Friday and the next Bayou Bengal Briefing, the LSU football team will have played a game. Boy, that feels incredible to say again.
And, as I’ve been doing all week in the Briefing, it’s time to treat things like a game week. So, as I do on Fridays before football games, it’s time to check in with high-profile members of the LSU football team and match them with SAT vocabulary words.
Yep. It’s time for the spring game edition of Four Friday Feelings. Let’s get to it.
Definition: Shocked or excited, typically into taking action
In a sentence: One month into spring ball, Etling has been galvanized by Justin McMillan constantly breathing down his neck.
Explanation: Etling has done everything he can this offseason to retain his job as LSU’s starting quarterback. But McMillan and Lindsey Scott won’t cut him any slack. The job is still up for grabs. But with a good spring game, Etling could swing the perception back in his favor.
This is his call to action. All that’s yet to be seen is if he accepts.
Definition: Mental or emotional stability, especially under tension or strain
In a sentence: While everyone else fights for a starting job, Guice laughs with equanimity.
Explanation: Virtually every starting position on LSU’s offense is up for grabs. Running back is not one of those. Guice has nothing to prove. While his teammates fret over how they’ll look, he can sit back with aplomb. (There’s another free SAT word for you.)
Definition: Forced or driven, especially to a course of action
In a sentence: As the sole returning starter in LSU’s defensive backfield, Jackson is compelled to become the superstar he’s expected to be.
Explanation: Tre’Davious White is gone. So is Jamal Adams. And Dwayne Thomas. And Rickey Jefferson. This is the Jackson show. It’s his turn to lead DBU. And Jackson isn’t the kind of guy to shy away from any challenge. So, here he is: the face of the most storied secondary in modern college football history.
Eric Monroe is feeling … FATALISTIC
Definition: Acceptance of all things and events, submission to fate
In a sentence: Though he entered spring camp optimistic, Monroe has since grown fatalistic about his future.
Explanation: Coming into spring practice, the heralded safety was one of the main breakout candidates on LSU’s defense. After sitting a year behind Adams and Jefferson, the redshirt freshman was poised to take over as an option next to John Battle. But then LSU moved Ed Paris to safety. And early enrolled freshmen JaCoby Stevens and Grant Delpit have looked outstanding. Leaving Monroe as the odd man out. Again.
Sounds like Monroe just showed up at LSU at the wrong time. Fatalism at its finest.
Coach O spoke to the media Thursday night for the final time this spring, the spring game notwithstanding. A few things he said stuck out. Let’s break them down, 3 things style:
Thing 1: The guest list is pretty cool, man
LSU might be starting a new tradition this season. Orgeron and his staff invited LSU football legends back to “guest coach” the spring game. Realistically, they’ll probably show up pregame, make some appearances at the coin toss and the first quarter, then duck out before halftime. But any time you get Odell Beckham Jr., Kevin Faulk, Matt Mauck and Charles Alexander in the same place, LSU fans should be happy.
Thing 2: Rashard Lawrence looks like a spring winner
In his presser on Thursday, Orgeron referred to defensive end Rashard Lawrence as a starter, which is a sharp change from what we’ve heard all spring. You have to feel for Frank Herron, a senior who had waited his turn for years behind a parade of NFL-caliber guys. But Lawrence is the better option. If there’s anyone you can trust to identify talent on the defensive line, it’s Orgeron.
Thing 3: John Battle is hurt?
Battle is LSU’s only returning starter at safety and the veteran presence in the secondary. But, per Orgeron, he’s fighting a few nagging injuries. Orgeron said it’s not clear if Battle will be able to go on Saturday. If he isn’t, expect to see a lot of Monroe, Stevens and Delpit. Which is exciting, but somewhat unsettling. That degree of inexperience in a spring game shows just how thin LSU will be on defense this season.
Football isn’t the only sport at LSU. In fact, there’s plenty going on this weekend. Enough to warrant a huge chunk of your attention. Here’s a full schedule of what to keep an eye on:
As I mentioned earlier, the LSU baseball team’s series against Kentucky this weekend is a big one with potential championship implications. As of right now, Kentucky leads the SEC East and has the highest RPI in the conference. Beyond that, the Wildcats are the only SEC team batting above .300 as a team and are an impressive 17-2 at home.
That said, LSU seems qualified to throw Kentucky off its hot streak. Kentucky’s home ballpark is a launch zone, with dimensions that would make some high school hitters want to play home run derby. As a result, Kentucky’s pitchers have allowed more home runs than any team in the SEC, just the sort of fact LSU’s power-laden lineup should be able to take advantage of.
Whether things will work out like this is yet to be seen. But the Tigers’ two games on Friday, with dual aces Alex Lange and Jared Poché starting, are just about as important of April starts as you can find. These games could either set LSU on a path toward hosting a regional or set the team back heading into a tough stretch to end the season.
I get it. Not everyone loves or cares about lower-level LSU sports. And spring games can be a bit boring. So, if you’re looking for non-sports activities in Baton Rouge this weekend, here are some suggestions:
How are LSU’s alums doing in Major League Baseball this season? I’m glad you asked. Here’s a breakdown:
Nearly every day, I end the Bayou Bengal Briefing by highlighting a made-up holiday I found on NationalDayCalendar.com. Well, for the first time in the Briefing, today we get to talk about a holiday I actually made up.
Back when I was a senior in high school, a friend of mine and I decided to spend a Saturday night by going to McDonald’s and buying way too many Chicken McNuggets. When my younger sister asked why we wanted to spend our night doing that, I just replied, “It’s April 21. It’s McNuggetFest.”
For some reason, the joke stuck. I told a bunch of people about it when I got to college the next year as a throwaway joke and they all got really enthusiastic. Way too enthusiastic. So much so that we never talk to each other anymore and live in different states, but earlier this week I got a Facebook invite to celebrate McNuggetFest on Friday night.
So, how do you celebrate? Eat McNuggets. Duh. If you can eat more than 40 in one sitting, you’ve effectively done more than I’ve ever tried. So, all the power to you.
Now, if you’re a stickler for real made-up holidays, Friday also is “National Kindergarten Day” and the National Day of Silence. Take those however you want. But for me, I’m just going to keep up my weird tradition. I hope you partake, too.
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