Dig Baton Rouge

The Sports Troll: Camp is here; let’s take some questions

I apologize to the awesome, loyal readers this blog has picked up over the past several weeks.
With summer in high gear, the sports season at LSU has sort of dimmed down and, quite frankly, there’s not much to talk about.

But with the calendar almost flipped to August and the LSU football team set to begin fall practices, I think the speed limit of the Sports Troll is about to go way, way up.

LSU football reports to camp next week and the Tigers will be playing competitive football in just more than a month.

I took some questions and was pleased to see that the reception was good.

Sorry again for the delay.

From here on-in, we will be rocking and rolling full steam ahead with the latest in LSU athletics.

Q: What will be the best position battle at LSU camp this fall? (Asked by Pete, Baton Rouge)
A: The sexy answer would be at quarterback, but I think Danny Etling has that job on ice and it’s really not that close. I think the defensive backfield has some intriguing position battles – especially at safety. I am curious to see how high true freshmen JaCoby Stevens and Grant Delpit shoot up the depth chart after having terrific spring practices as early enrollees. I think both are the real deal and can make unbelievably big marks on the SEC in the first seasons of their careers.

Q: What will be some of the things to look for in Matt Canada’s offense (Asked by Russ, Gonzales)
A: Movement and creativity. Russ, I actually went back and watched almost every Pittsburgh game last season so I could have a feel for what to expect with Canada at the helm. His offenses aren’t overly complicated in terms of the types of plays being run. But there is a lot of deception before the snap and at the snap, which often puts defenses in a bind when trying to figure out who is getting the ball. Canada is big on getting the ball in the hands of his best players – in any form or fashion. If the passing game is struggling a little, he’s keen on handing the ball off to an explosive receiver. If the running game is struggling, he might throw a swing pass to the halfback or find other creative ways to get him the ball in space. Before each play, LSU will send guys in motion. At the snap, they’ll often be pulling a lineman and/or teasing a jet sweep. Something is literally always happening. It’s a total 180 from the previous regime.

Q: You’ve been adamant about Etling being the guy. Do you still feel this way? (Asked by Reid, Thibodaux)
A: Nothing has changed. In fact, my position on this is actually stronger than ever. Danny Etling was hurt last year and was never supposed to see the field. When Brandon Harris got yanked from the lineup, Etling played far sooner than he ever expected and his lingering back injury never got to heal. Matt Canada said on the radio a few days ago that Etling had a hard time feeling his legs last fall because of the back ailment. Etling, himself, told us at the Manning Passing Academy that he often was significantly bothered by the ailment – especially early in the week. Now 100 percent, I think Etling is in line to be as effective as ever for LSU. I truly believe that. He won’t be a Heisman Trophy guy. But I think he will be more than serviceable.

Q: Is there a freshman you’re looking forward to seeing most? (Asked by Amanda, Lake Charles)
A: My answer is probably Delpit, but I talked about him a few questions ago, so I will give a bonus answer and say outside linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson. Chaisson is a freak of a man, standing 6-foot, 5-inches and weighing 230. Athletically, he’s a beast, as well, owning Arden Key-like quickness and elite-level ability to get to the quarterback. When LSU signed Chaisson, Coach Ed Orgeron called him the best pass rusher in the country. I think that’s a fair statement. He should cause chaos to opponents in pass-happy situations this fall.

Q: How is LSU getting in on these prized basketball recruits after such a bad season? (Asked by Mike, Baton Rouge)
A: Will Wade, my friend, Will Wade. LSU basketball hit a grand-slam home run this past spring when it secured Wade to lead the Tigers’ program into the future. The dude is a tireless recruiter and a proven winner. I don’t know a ton about his X’s and O’s, but when you’re recruiting as well as he’s been doing in the past few months, it doesn’t much matter, because the Tigers will likely have too much talent in the future to be the bottom feeder they are now.

Now, for a few non-LSU questions, let’s roll!
Q: There’s no way Kyrie Irving gets traded, right? (Asked by Norm, New Orleans)
A: From what I’m hearing, I think he will get moved. LeBron James is the sheriff that runs the Cavs franchise and he seems to be in favor of the team making a trade – as long as it gets reasonable value in return. The problem with this whole situation is the timing. The Cavs could have easily moved Kyrie for Paul George or Jimmy Butler and everyone would have been happy. But a lot of the big fish are now in different aquariums and I’m not sure how many teams are now willing to make significant changes to their rosters.

Q: Who are your Super Bowl picks? (Asked by Monty, Berwick)
A: Without actually having seen a preseason game, I will say the Seahawks and the Raiders. Man, wouldn’t it be fun seeing Beast Mode go against his old team in the big game?

Q: Can anyone beat the Warriors in 2017-18? (Asked by Nick, Metairie)
A: If the Rockets get Carmelo Anthony, it would sure be fun to see them try. There are a lot of big-time questions about whether a CP3, James Harden and Melo trio could share the ball effectively enough to challenge Golden State. But in Mike D’Antoni’s offense, I think they’d be awfully exciting to see. In the NBA Finals, I think Boston has an outside shot, too. Brad Stevens is the best coach (not named Gregg Popovich) in the NBA. With Gordon Hayward on the roster now, they may have what it takes to match up on the perimeter.

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