LSU football Q&A: Searching for ball-catching tight end, THE go-to receiver, defensive ball hawk, much more _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU defensive back Dwayne Thomas (13), cornerback Tre'Davious White (18) and wide receiver Travin Dural, right in sweats, leave the field after the game Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Oxford, Miss. LSU lost 38-17.

Twitter Mailbag is a blog series running each Tuesday or Wednesday answering readers’ questions about the LSU football team. Readers submit their questions through Twitter each Tuesday, and the best are posted here with answers. Follow us on Twitter at @RossDellenger to submit a question.

No. The latest on this emerged at pro day two weeks ago. Dillon Gordon told us that he expected to receive something after spring break in the next “two to three weeks.” That would mean around now. But Les Miles, at pro day, said he did not expect anything from the NCAA before LSU’s spring practice concludes (the spring game is April 16).

The NCAA does not work quickly. These things can drag on. Miles told us more than a month ago that he felt “50-50? about the NCAA’s ruling on granting Gordon a fifth-year of eligibility. You should keep in mind that Miles is normally very optimistic and positive when speaking about his players and issues surrounding his players. That “50-50? line is not optimistic.

Gordon, a 310-pounder who serves as one of the squad’s primary run-blockers, missed the final six games of last season after rupturing his Achilles tendon.

According to the NCAA rule, a player can receive another year of eligibility if they played less than one-third of the season – all of it coming in the first half of the season. Gordon played in part of three games, and the Tigers played their sixth game against Florida in an 11-game regular season.

LSU handled Auburn well – there’s no denying that. In fact, LSU handled Auburn (LSU 45-21) about as well as Auburn handled LSU the season before (41-7).

Keep in mind, though, that Auburn team last season was worse than the 2014 LSU team. LSU handled Auburn last year because it played well that day and because Auburn was not a good football team last season. AU finished 6-6 in the regular season and won two of eight SEC games. AU needed overtime to beat Jacksonville State.

It seems like we get this question every spring practice. And, honestly, there’s no real way of telling right now.

After all, LSU’s best pass-catching tight end (DeSean Smith) is missing spring practice while recovering from a knee injury. That said, Colin Jeter has proven that he’s one of the more versatile of LSU’s tight ends. He made some highlight reel one-handed catches last season.

Les Miles has talked for much of the off-season about how LSU’s offense is changing, with specific to the passing unit. Does that mean more tight end catches? We won’t really know until the season opener, but don’t necessarily count on it. LSU is a run-first team with a Heisman Trophy candidate at running back. They’re going to use tight ends to block for him.

I think it’s 50-50, but that’s just judging off of last year’s statistics. Malachi Dupre finished with the more productive season, but Travin Dural missed the final three games of the year after tearing his hamstring at Ole Miss.

Here were the stats entering that Ole Miss game:


Pretty even right? Dupre has the edge in catches and touchdowns, but Dural has the edge in yards, average-per-game and average-per-catch.

I think you’ll see the two neck and neck next season – barring injury.

I did not do a Texas Bowl Film Room. I normally do not produce a film room after a bowl game because of the amount of news that emerges afterward (this year, for example, Kevin Steele’s departure and Dave Aranda’s hiring).

Yes, I do plan on producing some sort of spring game film room. I’m not sure it’ll be exactly like our normal film rooms, though. We’ll see. We appreciate your interest and glad you enjoy them.

Great question. Dural’s hamstring injury, though, isn’t a normal hamstring injury. The tendon tore completely away from his leg bone. Sounds painful, right?

In our Q&A with Dameyune Craig, the LSU receivers coach talks about Dural’s injury.

“I don’t know of any football players I can recall that’s had the same injury. It actually came off (the bone),” Craig said.

This is a good question, and we’ll get to digging to find a player who suffered the same injury, but, according to Craig, it won’t be easy.

Juluke’s been knowing Fournette since LF was a 5-year-old. Juluke and Leonard Sr., Fournette’s father, grew up near each other in New Orleans.

It’s tough to replace a guy like Frank Wilson, but, it appears, that Les Miles hired a younger version in Juluke – a New Orleans guy who made a meteoric rise from his days as a successful New Orleans high school coach.

LSU’s had a ball hawk for the previous two seasons: safety Jamal Adams. Adams says his role isn’t changing much in Aranda’s new 3-4 defense (it’s unclear if he’ll be utilized as a Dime/OLB in a Mustang-type package as he was the last two years).

But that doesn’t mean Aranda won’t use Adams as the ball hawk guy he’s been since moving into the regular DB rotation in October of his freshman season in 2014.

Other candidates: Devin White, who Aranda said earlier this month has stood out during the first week of spring; Arden Key, who the Tigers are utilizing as more of a standup OLB who’s near the line; Corey Thompson, a safety moved to outside linebacker.

Never? LSU’s last couple pro-style quarterbacks – excluding Zach Mettenberger – have transferred from the program before even getting significant playing time (Hayden Rettig and Phillip Rivers).

After leaving, both Rettig and Rivers attributed their departures to LSU’s style change at the position – Miles and OC Cam Cameron want a dual-threat guy who can escape the pocket if need be.

There will be growing pains, I’m sure, but it’s not necessarily because of the new scheme. There will be several new players in, potentially, big roles and different roles.

For example, Corey Thompson is moving from safety to outside linebacker. Devin White, a mid-year enrollee, is a new guy in a new role. The rookie signed as a running back. Duke Riley and Donnie Alexander are in the mix to see their first real significant action at linebacker.

We get 20-30 minutes to watch each spring practice and, during that time, players are rarely participating in team drills. They’re mostly in individual drills. It’s tough to determine much – aside from a depth chart – during these individual drills.

However, it’s pretty clear that LSU has itself a quarterback competition. Danny Etling is challenging Brandon Harris for the starting job, as we wrote here. It’s exactly what the staff wants to see. Competition makes everyone better, coaches will tell you.

From watching individual drills, the separation in arm talent between Harris and Etling is pretty obvious. Harris’ pass has more zip, but you could say that about Harris when comparing him to any other quarterback. He’s got superior arm talent – the rotation, the speed, etc.

Last year, Les Miles branded D.J. Chark as that guy during spring drills (though that could have been a tactic in motivating Malachi Dupre). This year, Miles hasn’t mentioned one guy in the same way he did with Chark last spring.

Assistants have talked glowingly about Devin White and David Ducre, to name a few. Miles has discussed Chidi Okeke a good bit as well.