Brandon Harris is leaving LSU

Brandon Harris announced today that after LSU released him of his full scholarship, he’s going to leave LSU as a grad transfer – as one of the most disappointing recruits LSU has had in recent years.

He came into Baton Rouge as a four-star, dual-threat QB, after being recruited by the Tigers, Ohio State, Alabama, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Auburn, Texas A&M, Arkansas and Baylor amongst others. He was the top QB in Lousiana and the seventh overall player in the state. Ahead of him were Leonard Fournette (LSU), Cam Robinson (Alabama), Malachi Dupre (LSU), Speedy Noil (Texas A&M), Gerald Willis III (Florida) and Hootie Jones (Alabama).  Only Willis III could not have been described as an outright success.

Harris wasn’t a bad guy – he was never arrested (unlike QB Anthony Jennings) – but he was a terrible QB.

In his first year in 2014, he went 25-45 for 452 yards for 6 INTs, 2 INTs, throwing for an average of a smidgeon over 56 yards per game. He also ran for 159 yards on 26 attempts with three TDs.

There was hope in LSU Nation. 

In his second year in 2015, he had a completion rating of 53.6% (148 for 256) for 13 TDs and 6 INTs, with a QB rating of 130, throwing for 179.8 yards per game. He also ran for 226 yards and 4 TDs.

The problem for Harris is that he was incredibly inconsistent. His electric arm seemed better – when he missed his wide receivers – at overthrowing them by miles or missing them when the chances were easier. It was excruciatingly bad at times, and laughable at others. 

In his third – and final year in 2016 – he was dropped after a dreadful performance against Wisconsin on the first game of the season, and was replaced by Purdue transfer Danny Etling. He played in a total of 4 games, with a 52% QB rating (13-25) for 1 TD and 2 INTs.

dAnd then Brandon Harris departed, stage left. LSU fans can either blame Harris’ lack of development squarely on now-departed offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, or Harris himself. Frankly, we believe that it’s a lot of both.

Firing Les Miles would be stupid, LSU

Listen, I’m not a LSU fan but I AM an unabashed Les Miles fan.

I love Les Miles because he’s not boring. His clock management is something of legend. His way of leading his team out by holding them back might be one of the most underrated things in sports. I love the way he claps his hands. No other coach has offered to kiss his players on the mouth. He’s fun in press conferences, and seems to be a real opposite to most college football coaches, who are more vanilla than a McDonald’s shake.

I have problems with Les Miles off-the-field. Les Miles kept Jeremy Hill when Jeremy Hill should have been thrown out of LSU. He can’t seem to control his players from fighting or smoking weed. It’s as though he really does have a laissez-faire attitude to bad kids doing bad things.

I have problems with Les Miles on the field, too. He’s a fabulous recruiter….but his teams seem to rarely hit their potential. Is it because so much of that talent goes to the NFL every year, or is it because he and his co-ordinators are dreadful? I have problems that despite their talent, LSU is almost always an afterthought when it comes to winning at SEC title (You can say that they weren’t this year, but they hadn’t played the back-end of their schedule and the committee royally screwed up by having them so high so early). And while I have less problems with the play-calling, I also have problems with the execution. The LSU offensive line is awful, and LSU’s defensive line can’t seem to tackle. And LSU hasn’t had a good quarterback since JaMarcus Russell. His Cam Cameron hire at offensive co-ordinator and his defensive co-ordinator hire of Kevin Steele have been poor to say the least.

But let’s get this straight. Despite his foibles, here’s some facts that you can’t take away from The Mad Hatter in Baton Rouge.

  1. He knows how to win. Since he arrived in 2005, Les Miles has had SEVEN double-digit win seasons. He’s won a National Championship and played in another. And won two out of three of the SEC Championship Games he’s been in.
  2. His players love him. That’s a good thing.
  3. He gets his players into the NFL. 40 of them are on active rosters, so far.
  4. He knows how to recruit. I’ve mentioned that before and want to do that again.
  5. He’s going to be very expensive. You fire Les Miles, he walks off with a $15m buyout. LSU claims it has the money, but this could cost the school $15-30m to get another coach? And how many coaches would really want to come into a school with that high pressure? Anyone really think Jimbo Fisher would walk from Florida State, where he’s got a pretty good thing going?

If LSU fires Les Miles, it could trainwreck the future for the Tigers. How many high school players do you think are out there, recruited by Les Miles, falling in love with his joie de vivre, who are now going “Actually, I’ll go play for Alabama or Auburn or Ole Miss if they fire Les Miles”. I would say 70% of the players. And of the good ones? Possibly even 90%.

Because LSU fans and its Board of Regents are so short-sighted, they won’t see it that way. They don’t like losing three games in a row (it could well be four after Thanksgiving!). Do any of them realise that before Les Miles era, LSU only had FIVE 10+ win years?

So what’s my alternative? Fire Cameron and Steele. One can’t teach his team to play offense and the other can’t teach his team to tackle. Get some good co-ordinators, and keep Miles. Give him another chance.

Week 7 Rankings: LSU, Bama roll while Georgia plunges

The SEC was dealt another blow by minor league opposition when Memphis beat Ole Miss, but otherwise things stayed with the favorites. Alabama went to Texas A&M and romped home thanks to the help of A&M QB Kyle Allen gifting them THREE pick-6s, LSU beat Florida on a fake field goal (we love you, Les Miles!), and Georgia and Missouri played a baseball game in which Georgia won 9-6. Oh, and South Carolina, free from visors and Spurriers, beat Vanderbilt.

After a lay-off of rankings last week, here’s our rankings after Week 7:

  1. Alabama (1): Texas A&M couldn’t stop Alabama’s rush, and Texas A&M couldn’t stop Alabama’s secondary (you remember: The guys we all thought would be ‘soft’?) snaring THREE interceptions and taking them back to the house. Oh, and try and run at this defensive front. Please. Try.
  2. LSU (6): Beat Florida by a field goal, and is looking better and better as the weeks go on. OK, that’s not actually true. Brandon Harris is looking better and better. Leonard Fournette’s just looking like Leonard Fournette.
  3. Texas A&M (3): Kyle Allen was awful. The defense couldn’t stop Derrick Henry. But strangely, this team is defensively better.
  4. Florida (4): Despite the fake field goal loss in Death Valley, this Florida team is still good, and still on the rise. Now imagine what they would have been able to do with Will Grier.
  5. Ole Miss (5): Laremy Tunsil’s coming back so that’ll make the offensive line so much better. And we all hope Robert Nkemdiche can get back to us after sustaining a concussion early on in the Memphis loss. The team looks bad without him.
  6. Mississippi State (7): Dak Prescott and the Mississippi State offense is starting to tick, which needed to happen against a lively Louisiana Tech team last week. This team is going to be a tough out in the SEC West this year.
  7. Arkansas (10): Didn’t choke it all away to bye week this week, but gave Alabama everything they could handle in Week 6. This team needs to learn not to give away penalties though.
  8. Tennessee (12): Grew some balls against Georgia after being down 24-3 early, and profited from Georgia’s lack of catching them. Josh Dobbs should get quite the treatment against Alabama.
  9. Georgia (4): The Nick Chubb injury at Tennessee has KILLED this team. The Florida game could be uncomfortable.
  10. Auburn (13): Win over Kentucky makes this team close (ish) to being bowl eligible, but it’s still not a very good side.
  11. Kentucky (10):  Kentucky probably feel they should have beaten Auburn on Thursday night. At the start of the season, who would have thought we’d be saying that?
  12. Missouri (11): Mizzou’s got a quarterback in Drew Lock, who went 21/28 for 136 yards and 2 TDs against South Carolina. The defense had 3 picks. They were a lot better against this crappy opponent than they were, say, against UConn. Mind you, that’s hardly a high standard.
  13. South Carolina (14): South. Carolina. Is. Awful. But weirdly enough, less awful now Steve Spurrier’s gone.
  14. Vanderbilt (14): Welcome back to the bottom of the list, Vandy. We missed you.

 

 

After Week 2: Auburn and Arkansas fall in SEC rankings

If you are an Auburn and Arkansas fan, you had an intensely forgettable Saturday. Of course, Auburn survived mighty Jacksonville State — in overtime — with the rest of the SEC cheering on the Tigers to fall, while Arkansas comedically fell at ‘home’ to Toledo (2014 record: 9-4, 7-1 MAC). Elsewhere, Missouri and Florida struggled with Arkansas State and East Carolina respectively, Tennessee gave up a 17-0 lead to Oklahoma in the best atmosphere of the day in Neyland, and Les Miles was Les Miles (and LSU won despite it). Otherwise, Alabama, Georgia and Texas A&M pretty much cruised.

Anyway, here’s your SEC rankings after Week 2.

  1. Alabama (Previous Ranking: 1) — Resounding win over Middle Tennessee State despite starting slowly. Derrick Henry had another triple-touchdown day.
  2. Texas A&M (2) — Crushed Ball State with no issues whatsoever. We didn’t watch the game for fear that the commentators would use the words: “Revamped Kyle Field” 4,000,0000,0000,000,000,000 times. They (probably) did.
  3. Ole Miss (4) — “Jumped” one in the rankings. Simply because the offense looks awesome. And Robert Nkemdiche scored another TD. Something tells me that their two-game run of scoring 70 points ends in Tuscaloosa.
  4. Georgia (3) – There are worries at quarterback. Greyson Lambert didn’t have ‘it’ against a poor Vanderbilt side, and nor did Brice Ramsey. But even if Nick Chubb HAS hurt his ankle more than Mark Richt’s letting on, Georgia’s going to have a filthy RB set, offensive line and defense. They’re just fine.
  5. LSU (7) – Les Miles’ clock management is shocking. Leonard Fournette is awesome (3 TDs). Brandon Harris was a hell of lot better than we expected. Need to lessen the penalties, which could have killed them.
  6. Florida (8) – Struggled with dumb penalties and had some poor moments in the secondary, but Florida fans must be psyched to see the offense score more than 21 points in two-straight games.
  7. Auburn (4) – If Jeremy Johnson wins the Heisman this year, I’m going to be an exotic dancer. And they SHOULD have lost to Jacksonville State. Blame JSU for not going for it on 4th down.
  8. Mississippi State (10) – Great comeback (albeit too little, too late) and the Dak Prescott – De’Runnya Wilson connection could be fun to watch. But the defense was poor against the run. Could suffer in the long run.
  9. Arkansas (6) – The “Brandon Allen For Heisman” campaign stopped here when he airmailed it over yet another wide receiver and hit someone in the crowd.
  10. Tennessee (11) – This is a young team, and it’s going to be very good. But maybe not great in 2015. But as a buddy of mine pointed out: “If you give up a 17-point lead in that atmosphere, you’ve got problems”.
  11. Missouri (9) – Maty Mauk was pretty dreadful, but they had enough to beat Arkansas State. Yes, mighty Arkansas State. Auburn probably would have lost to them.
  12. Kentucky (12) – Kentucky’s got a good RB trio in JoJo Kemp and “Boom Williams” and Mikel Horton, who put up over 200 yards on South Carolina. Why so low? They could have easily lost it had it not been for a controversial INT/fumble call in the final minutes.
  13. South Carolina (13) – This team isn’t very good. Sorry, South Carolina.
  14. Vanderbilt (14) – We know there’s a land called hope, but it’s not going to come in Johnny McCrary, who’s not going to win games when throwing 500,000 times.

Saturday SEC round-up: Texas A&M impresses, Auburn does not

Saturday’s SEC games saw victories for all SEC schools playing – including resounding ones for Texas A&M, Auburn and Alabama in the three biggest games out there.

So here are our big thoughts about the SEC’s Saturday.

1. Texas A&M’s performance impresses

Great performance by the Aggies, who crushed Arizona State 38-17 and looked comfortable. A lot of credit has to go that the game wasn’t played in an actual ‘neutral’ venue (Houston’s in Texas, people), so ASU struggled with crowd noise…but they also struggled with Myles Garrett, who was sensational. On the other side of the ball, Christian Kirk was excellent (1 TD, 1 TD from a punt return) as the Aggies put up 247 yards. Great going, folks. But seriously, big hand for the Aggies’ defense, which looks 100% better under John Chavis than it ever did under Mark Snyder.

2. Auburn wasn’t wonderful

Auburn sped out to a 24-0 lead, with the highlight of the day Justin Garrett’s 82-yard fumble recovery for a TD and a INT. But the Tigers tired out, managing to only squeeze out a 31-24 victory. And Jeremy Johnson, the Heisman candidate? 3 interceptions were horrible.

3. Derrick Henry…was Derrick Henry

We expected a big performance from Alabama’s Derrick Henry against Wisconsin, and we got one. 147 yards and 3 touchdowns destroyed the Badgers, even on a day where neither Jacob Coker or Cooper Bateman had us jumping with joy at QB.

4. If you think Nick Chubb disappointed….

Listen, if you think Georgia’s Nick Chubb disappointed Heisman voters by only putting up 120 yards and 2 TDs in the Bulldogs’ waltz against ULM, then think again. Keith Marshall and Sony Michel had a combined 16 touches, over 100 yards and 3 TDs.

5. But Georgia’s secondary certainly did

You would have thought by only conceding 14 points that Georgia’s secondary had been pretty good against ULM, but after the Dawgs sped out 35-0, ULM put together its passing game and Georgia really struggled. The lightning break for about an hour managed to give UGA’s D a big kick-up-the-ass and they managed to stop them, but what happens when there is no lightning storm?

6. Tennessee’s defense was absolutely terrible

As much as Vols fans will talk about the ‘W’ and a 29-point ‘W’ (59-30), their defense was absolutely awful. And yes, we watched the game. Well, most of it until the rain/lightning delay, and UT’s D got a kick-in-the-ass from their will-get-fired-in-2016-unless-things-improve-quickly DC John Jancek. My worry – like Georgia’s – will be if there’s no lightning delay.

7. Welcome, Jim McElwain

Florida’s 61-13 win, in which they put up 606 yards – including 385 in the air – was tremendous. Sure, it was against New Mexico State, but it was good to see not only Treon Harris but also Will Grier having competent days, sharing 382 yards and 4 TDs.

8. Sorry, Brandon Harris

Lightning made sure LSU’s clash with McNeese State was cancelled, so that means that Brandon Harris’ first game will be on the road to the clanging cowbells of Mississippi State. And McNeese kept $500,000, will will doubtless annoy LSU’s administrators.

9. Robert Nkemdiche with the play of the day…

Offensively. For Ole Miss. It was wondrous. Click here.

10. Arkansas, Mississippi State, Missouri, Kentucky win too.

Well done.

 

Ranking and Predicting Saturday’s SEC games

Right, so it’s Christmas Day on Thursday, with Steve Spurrier dressed up in a garnet and black Santa costume, ready to deliver us all presents. It’s going to be a phenomenal day out, and we can’t wait. The biggest pity? South Carolina – and North Carolina – screwed over their season ticket holders by having the game in Charlotte. We’ll be stunned if the stadium’s sold out.

Anyway, here’s our previews, in terms of importance. HINT: South Carolina vs North Carolina isn’t No.1 on the list.

1) AUBURN VS LOUISVILLE

Trying to work out what the best game of the day was between this one and Texas A&M vs Arizona State, but we’re going with this one because of the Bobby Petrino/Will Muschamp factor. Bobby Petrino’s team is suddenly getting built on a really tough defense, while Auburn’s defense had better improve. The offense – as is always the case with Gus Malzahn’s teams – won’t have a problem putting up the yards. Will be fun to see Duke Williams and Jeremy Johnson link up, too.

PREDICTION: The game is close for three quarters, but 10.5-point favorite Auburn pulls away. Auburn by 14.

2) TEXAS A&M VS ARIZONA STATE

A lot has been talked about Arizona State and what Todd Graham’s been doing in the desert land, and they are all good things. And Texas A&M fans are happy that they’ve hired a new defensive co-ordinator in John Chavis. Myles Garrett, Chavis’ biggest player, could be a gamechanger.

PREDICTION: Arizona State’s a 3-point underdog. We’re going to say ASU wins by a touchdown in a really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, good game.

3) ALABAMA VS WISCONSIN

Wisconsin loses Melvin Gordon. And this is the first game for Paul Chryst. Alabama has Derrick Henry. Wisconsin really isn’t that good. Alabama may well be in the CFB Play-Off and win the SEC. There’s only one way we can see this game going.

PREDICTION: Alabama beats the spread and wins by 17. Sorry, Badgers fans.

4) SOUTH CAROLINA VS NORTH CAROLINA

This is actually going to be pretty fun, bearing in mind that North Carolina’s a pretty talented side and South Carolina’s got a Pharoh (Cooper) at wide receiver that could cause some problems.

PREDICTION: South Carolina’s a 3-point favorite. We think they win by 7, establishing superiority in the Carolinas.

5) VANDERBILT VS WESTERN KENTUCKY

For a lot of people – including us – Vanderbilt may have another 0-fer in the SEC. But people believe that the game against Western Kentucky – where the Commodores are a 2.5 point underdog – will be their first loss. And on the evidence of the two teams last year, it’s not hard to see why.

PREDICTION: Western Kentucky wins by 7. And it’s not Vandy’s defense’s fault, necessarily. Their offense will remain awful. 

6) KENTUCKY VS LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE

A lot of people believe this is going to be a difficult clash for UK at Commonwealth Stadium, so much so that some books have UK as a 14 point favorite.

PREDICTION: UK wins by 24, cruising mid-way through the third quarter. 

7) TENNESSEE VS BOWLING GREEN

A hugely-hyped Tennessee – armed with a great offense led by Joshua Dobbs – are a tidy 20.5 point favorite against Bowling Green at Neyland. The tester won’t be on that side of the ball. It will be interesting to see if the Vols have learned to talk this year.

PREDICTION: Vols win by 28. 

8) GEORGIA VS LOUSIANA-MONROE

A lot of UGA fans will be piling in to see if Greyson Lambert is actually a good quarterback. And Nick Chubb, of course. Otherwise….M’eh.

PREDICTION: UGA’s a 35-point favorite. We think they’ll win easily. By over 40.

9)  FLORIDA VS NEW MEXICO STATE

Jim McElwain’s first game is reason enough to peek into this game for SEC fans. The Gators will have their wicked way, and are 38-point favorites.

PREDICTION: Florida wins by 35, and annoys a lot of degenerate gamblers. And me. Probably.

10) LSU VS MCNEESE STATE

We’re starting to scrape the bottom-of-the-barrel with these SEC match-ups, but safe to say that the only reason people should be tuning in is LSU fans wanting to see Brandon Harris in his new role as starting QB, Leonard Fournette, and a half-full Tiger Stadium under the lights. Even the bookies aren’t interested.

PREDICTION: LSU wins by 45, and for once, all is well in the world with Tigers fans. Until Sunday’s hangover.

11) MISSISSIPPI STATE VS SOUTHERN MISS

Is it a complete mispricing in Vegas that Southern Miss – who finished the season 3-9 last year – is only a 21-point underdog to Mississippi State? Probably.

PREDICTION: Dak gets ’em. Mississippi State by 31.

12) ARKANSAS VS UTEP

Arkansas is going to be fun to watch with Alex Collins. Sadly for the Razorbacks they’ve lost Jonathan Williams for the year, but will this stop Collins getting around 200 yards against UTEP – particularly behind an offensive line that’s going to dominate? No.

PREDICTION: Arkansas is a 33-point favorite. We think they win by 35.

13) OLE MISS VS TENNESSEE MARTIN

Do not watch this game unless you are an Ole Miss fan, you have a man-crush on Robert Nkemdiche, or you are a NFL Scout (for Robert Nkemdiche).

PREDICTION: Ole Miss by 45. Neeext.

14) MISSOURI VS SOUTHEAST MISSOURI STATE

There is no interesting reason to watch this one.

PREDICTION: Missouri by 41. 

 

LSU names Harris as starter

LSU has named Brandon Harris as the starting quarterback of Saturday’s game against McNeese State.

Harris and Anthony Jennings battled over QB duties during the Spring.

Harris was named starting QB in the 2014 season, and struggled, ending the season going 25-45 for 452 yards, 6 TDs and 2 INTs. He also rushed for 3 TDs and 159 yards.

Although the numbers weren’t terrible, Harris looked out of his depth against stronger opposition, and had to be replaced by Anthony Jennings as the season wore on. Jennings struggled too.

BOTTOM LINE: It’s still difficult to be confident about LSU’s prospects this season with Harris as QB, but he at least has two elite WRs in Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural and an excellent receiving RB in Leonard Fournette.