| Last night in Hammond, Louisiana, the Southeastern Louisiana University Lions “upset” number 17 Nicholls State Colonels. The Lions’ suffocating defense was flying all over the field with three interceptions by Sione Teuhema, Max Lyon, and Mayori Ellison. The three turnovers were key as Southeastern would not lead in any statistical category other than turnovers.
On the offensive end, the Lions were led by Marcus Cooper, who had 11 carries for 142 yards and one score. Juwan Petit-Frere blasted by all the Colonel defenders for 85 yards and a touchdown with 29 seconds left in the third quarter. Southeastern held on for a 21-17 victory over Nicholls State in a regular-season finale on Thursday night.
Southeastern Louisiana had a decent crowd, and the crowd seemed to give the defense energy when needed! Are You Serious?
“You got one guy going boom, one guy going whack, and one guy getting in the endzone.” This is a legendary quote by Hall of Fame coach and broadcaster John Madden. In football, the great John Madden has had many great quotes, but this one reminds me of what is going in New Orleans. The Saints have rattled off seven straight wins and have been nothing short of amazing. Most fans and national media are astonished by the fact the Saints are 7-2 and have essentially “come out of nowhere”. However, do not say this to Drew Brees, who was quoted this week, “we felt like we were always knocking on the door, and we were a few guys away… I don’t plan on leaving New Orleans ever!” The future Hall of Fame Quarterback has had an easier path this season, and with the Brees contract coming up, let’s look at the three key pieces to why the Saints have turned things around and has made life easier for Brees.
The last two seasons the New Orleans Saints have gone 7-9 and have been one of the leaders in the passing game in the NFL. This year the Saints have taken a different approach and it starts upfront with one of the league’s best rushing attacks. Over the past few seasons the Saints have spent two first round picks on the offensive line in Andrus Peat, and this year with Ryan Ramczyk. Peat had his share of struggles in the beginning when being drafted to New Orleans, having to play multiple positions as a rookie. Peat has found a home now at left guard and arguably is having a Probowl season with his physical play upfront. Ryan Ramczyk was not worshipped in the beginning by most Saints fans when being drafted with the 32nd overall pick (unlike me who was screaming for the Saints to draft him), but with Probowl Right Tackle Zach Strief going down to injury, Ramczyk was a great addition. We should also mention the offensive line is only giving up 16% of pressures and has given up the fewest sacks in the league this year so far being led by Center, Max Unger.
The success of the offensive line has helped the emergence of the best one-two combination in the NFL with Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, aka “Thunder and Lightening”. Ingram is coming off his best year in the NFL with over 1,000 yards rushing and seven touchdowns. This offseason the Saints brought in two new running backs in future hall of famer Adrian Peterson and Alvin Kamara. This seems to have helped motivate the former Heisman winner who is turning his game up a notch, and is on pace to have his best season so far. Kamara was a third round pick for the Saints this past season and may have been the biggest find for them. Fans, and people around the league remember Darren Sproles, Reggie Bush, and Pierre Thomas in the Saints prolific attacks over the years. However, Kamara may be a mixture of all three put into one running back with his “do it all” mind set. Kamara is second on the team in rushing with 417 yards (6.5 ypc) and second on the team in receptions with 42. Kamara is quick and explosive, and has a physical running style which has helped the Saints multiple times this season convert first down when desperately needed. Just this past week against the Buffalo Bills, the Saints ran the ball 24 straight times and both men eclipsed over 100 yards rushing. They were the only two to do so in the entire NFL, and the first time the Saints have had two 100 rushers in a game since 2006.
Lastly, the defense has played lights out and are a top five defense. The worst statistical defense the past couple season, things have changed in New Orleans with the new “swag” they are playing with. The Saints first overall pick this season Marshon Lattimore is getting national attention, and may not only be Rookie Defensive Player of the Year, but the NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
You may be asking yourself how is it a football coach, Nick Saban, and new LSU basketball coach, Will Wade, have anything in common. They do not coach the same sport, and there is nearly thirty years separating the two men when it comes to age. So how is it LSU has found its new Nick Saban but in basketball you may ask? We will look at three clear ways and the same things both men have already done at LSU at the similar traits.
The first thing is making demands before taking the job in Baton Rouge. The state of Louisiana is not short of having great talent in the state in both sports, but getting those players to LSU was always the key. Before both men took the job they made demands of a multitude of money being poured into their sport with newer facilities, locker rooms, weight rooms etc. We know LSU would then give Saban everything he had asked for, and progressively doing the same for Wade. This, in turn, has and will always translate into our second trait the two men share.
Recruiting will always be the forefront and be key to winning big time games. We all remember how Saban put a fence around the state of Louisiana when it came to recruiting and he got those talented athletes to come to LSU. Right out of the gate Will Wade has done the same thing with the Number 4 Recruiting Class in the nation and signing the number one recruit in Louisiana, Ja’Vonte Smart. Wade then went outside the state and got a 5 star Power Forward in Nazreon Reid, and would also go to the state of Florida and pluck out another 4 star Power Forward Daruis Days. This is may be more crucial then when Saban came to LSU because of the state College Basketball is in with the Louisville scandal and recruiting in the sport. This is not to mention the first class Wade had which finished 16th in the Nation led by 4 star Tremont Waters. Waters would lead the Tigers in points in their first game were he scored 27 points and was named SEC Freshman of the Week.
Finally, both coaches got the fans completely engaged and bought in to what it is they are doing. When the fans buy in to what it is you are doing, it is hard for the administration to stop you. Wade started his hashtag “BootUp” and in todays society, will make people get behind something. This was very intelligent by Wade and when asked he said “all know the people of Louisiana are prideful of their state.” Before the season and even during football games, Will Wade was going around to fans during tailgates asking for their support and to come to games. The fans have showed they are wanting to get behind Wade by having the biggest opening night crowd in twenty years with attendance being 11.856. At the end of the game Wade addressed the fans in thanking them for their support, and when Wade stated “Hey guys this is Coach Wade”, the PMAC was a mad house!
For all the heat LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva has taking, this was a very smart hire by him and his staff!
On November 12, 2017, around 11:00 am CT, the University of Tennessee fired football Head Coach, Butch Jones, after five seasons. This is coming off Tennessee’s humiliating loss to SEC East opponent Missouri 50-17. Jones had a record of 34-27 (14-24 in SEC) in the five years and as most would agree had to rebuild the football program. However, rumors had been swirling in Knoxville before the firing of Jones of a former Super Bowl winning coach being the replacement for the Vols.
During an interview yesterday, Tennessee Athletic Director, John Currie, was asked a question about his good friend and Tennessee’s own Jon Gruden. When asked the question, Currie instantly perked up to the question with a grin and stated “he could not comment on talks he has had with Jon.” Now this could be Currie leading on the program to the possibility of getting Gruden, but just last week Gruden was on The Rich Eisen Show in which he was asked if he would get back into coaching. Gruden has stated in the past of his love for ESPN and the love he has for Monday Night Football, but Gruden went a different direction when asked this time. Gruden stated, “if the right opportunity came up in the right location I would strongly consider getting back into coaching.”
Gruden’s name constantly comes up every time a coaching position comes up, but why Tennessee? Just last week Gruden’s wife, Cindy, stated to a Vol’s beat editor “she would not mind moving back to the home,” and as we all know the women run the home. Ha! Are You Serious?