Sports are back now in full throttle, and right out of the gate, we were reminded of the frustrations that could come with them.
Both the Saints and LSU fell this past weekend — something that had not happened in the same weekend since 2017.
Perhaps more venomous than the losses were how they took place with both teams playing abysmal defense.
As one might expect, the mailbag is full, so let’s empty it out.
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Q: Are either of the 2 true freshman quarterbacks ready to play for LSU?
A: Likely no, and even if they were, I think LSU should be content with what it has. Myles Brennan was not perfect on Saturday, but his struggles were pretty low on the to-do list of things LSU has to clean up. He tossed for 300+ yards, had nearly 60% completions and if not for a meaningless garbage-time interception with the game out of reach, he would have had 3 touchdowns to 1 pick. Oh yeah, and he had absolutely zero protection, being sacked 8 times in the game. Brennan did not play a perfect game. He held the ball too long at times, and he was inaccurate on a few throws. But LSU has to fix its offensive line, defensive backs, tackling and many, many other aspects of the team before they try and replace Brennan with true freshman players who are ill-equipped to play in an all-SEC schedule. LSU scored 34 points on Saturday against a pretty good Mississippi State defense. To compare, LSU only scored 36 points against that very same Bulldogs’ defense just 12 months ago, and that’s WITH Joe Burrow, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Ja’Marr Chase, an NFL offensive line and a defense capable of handing the ball back to the offense on third downs.
Q: How serious are the Saints’ issues?
A: I think very, because I am not sure how correctable the team’s flaws are. Right now, New Orleans is losing because its secondary cannot avoid giving up big plays and is too penalty prone. That’s been an issue for now a half-decade. The Saints used to wash some of those problems away with a high-powered offense that always was near the top of the NFL in yards per game. This year, New Orleans is 19th in total offense and is struggling mightily to make big plays to vertically challenge defenses. Do I think the Saints are a playoff team? I do. But I don’t think a team can win the world championship dinking and dunking unless that team’s defense is special. And right now, New Orleans’ defense is anything but, which, to me, is a big problem.
Q: How many wins do you think LSU gets after a rough start to the year?
A: Between 5 and 8, depending on how the ball bounces in some of the close, hard-fought 50-50 games that are ahead. I think LSU is going to get drastically better in the coming weeks. I think they just ran into a buzz saw on Saturday. Going in, we knew LSU’s secondary was thin. We knew that was going to be the one area where the team would need some work to build comfort and experience. Mississippi State offers little-to-no margin for error there with a 5-wide, air raid scheme that’s designed to test a team’s secondary. Hell, the Bulldogs threw the ball 40 times in the first half alone. Oh yeah, and Derek Stingley went out. And oh yeah, he went out on Friday night, so you had no practice time or preparation to see how to configure and shuffle your other guys around. It was a perfect storm and, frankly, LSU was lucky to even have a chance to win in the fourth quarter. In the coming weeks, I expect progression, better discipline and a team that while not a national title contender, is more than capable of competing on any given week.
Q: Do you think Taysom Hill is REALLY the guy going forward for New Orleans?
A: If he is, he only will be for one season, because the team will have such a poor record that they will have a Top 10 pick and will be drafting a quarterback for the future in the first round of the NFL Draft. Taysom Hill is not that guy, folks. He cannot throw the ball well enough. He just can’t. In college, Hill was a 58.2 percent passer, and in his senior season in 2016, he had 12 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. And that’s at BYU — hardly the SEC powerhouse. Hill is best utilized in his current role as a utility player/Swiss army knife. He will not be able to make enough plays with his arm to be anything more. Folks talk about Lamar Jackson and make that comparison. Guess what? Lamar Jackson completed 66 percent of his passes last year — something Hill couldn’t even remotely do at BYU. Also guess what? Jackson is 23. Hill is 30. One more guess what? Lamar Jackson actually reads the read-option play correctly. Hill doesn’t. He’s just back there guessing — much like the play last night where he read it incorrectly, then fumbled. That comparison is like comparing a fresh, ripe apple to a half-eaten piece of cantaloupe. It’s not even remotely the same thing.
Q: On the podcast, you said you like the Bills to win the Super Bowl. Good pick so far, right?
A: Well, just to be clear — I did not say the Bills were going to win the Super Bowl. I just thought they were the best price in Las Vegas, given the talent of their roster. They opened the season with 25-1 odds, which I thought was insane. Today, that’s down to 20-1, which is still, in my opinion, one hell of a price. At 20-1, they are currently have the 9th best betting odds, according to Las Vegas. There’s no way that team is just the 9th best team in the NFL. There’s amazing value with that team as a 20-1 price. That number should be closer to 15-1, if not even 12-1.
Q: Who are your picks in the MLB playoffs?
A: In the American League, I expect chaos. Complete, utter chaos. I can make a case for every, single one of the underdogs in round one. The best team, when healthy, is the Yankees, but they’ve not been fully healthy and free from strain since the first 2 weeks of the season. So for that reason, I’ll go with the A’s to beat the Twins, though, as I stated above, I can also literally see every, single lower-seeded team (Blue Jays, White Sox, Astros and Yankees) all winning in the first round. In the NL, I think it’s the Dodgers all of the way. The top-half of the NL bracket is where all of the contenders lie. The bottom half is a mess, including my Braves, who drew a tough matchup in a short series with the pitching-happy Reds.
Q: How many people are allowed at Tarpon football games?
A: Plenty. The numbers are something like 1,000 people on the home side and 700-800 more on the away side. Nothing will change for the Tarpons in 2020 in terms of capacity at games, except that some people may be asked to sit on the visitor’s side to help space things out. I can’t think of the last time South Lafourche drew 1,800 people for a home game that wasn’t a playoff game. There will be seating o’plenty. For the other public schools locally, their capacities are less, but still plentiful. I am told Thibodaux High School will have 600 fans per side, and while we do not have an official number from Central Lafourche, we can suspect that their numbers will be near the same, because their stadiums are roughly the same size.
Q: What are the keys to victory for both teams in Friday’s South vs. Central game?
A: For South Lafourche, they have to play a cleaner game. They won the majority of the snaps on Friday against Patterson, but lost on the scoreboard because the plays that they did not win were catastrophic ending in big defensive busts or offensive turnovers. Clean up the giant errors, and be more sound fundamentally and you have a great chance. For Central Lafourche, they have to find some offense — some way, some how. In their scrimmage, Assumption smothered and swarmed the Trojans’ offense, completely controlling the pace of play, according to reports. That has to change on Friday night against an aggressive Tarpons defense. And a joint key for both teams: special teams. Everyone is on an accelerated schedule right now due to COVID. The one phase that sometimes falls through the cracks is special teams. South Lafourche on Friday muffed a punt, missed an extra point, and had two delay of game penalties on punts. But on the flip-side, they also recovered a couple onside kicks. So which team will win teams? The answer may be who decides the game.
Q: I’m still alive in a survivor pool. I’ve already used the Chiefs, Colts and 49ers. Give me your thoughts on Week 4? I’m thinking maybe Seattle.
A: I think Seattle is going to beat the Dolphins, but I admit that that’s somewhat of a risky play because the Seahawks are traveling across the country for that game. Better options, to me, would be the Rams or the Ravens. The Rams are hosting an abysmal New York Giants team, and the Ravens are taking on Washington. Both of those games are currently 2-touchdown spreads in Vegas. That’s as big as you’ll ever seen a betting line in the NFL.
Q: Convince me not to buy the PS5.
A: Why would I do that, when I, myself, am likely to buy the PS5? I think it’s a great bargain, to be honest. The pricing is competitive, there is backwards compatibility, which means that you can play your PS4 games, and the graphics are out of this world good. Oh yeah, and it’s 2020, man. When capable of treating yourself during this terrible, wretched year, it’s always wise to do so. Look at it as a 36-month investment. At minimum, you will get 3 years of fun and entertainment for $500 or $400 if you buy the digital edition. That’s $13 a month, which is, in essence, the price of a Netflix subscription. Dive in and enjoy.