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Style points aside, Saints get the job done — on the road

Carolina Panthers' Jerricho Cotchery (82) catches a pass as New Orleans Saints' Marcus Ball (36) defends in the second half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Stylish, it was not. The New Orleans Saints win with flair and a panache at home, often turning a brutal game into something artistic and graceful. But take the Saints on the road, and it’s all gritted teeth and clenched fists and, lately, a lot of heartache. Seven straight times in… Continue reading →

Rabalais:

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU coach Les Miles acknowledges fans while walking to Tiger Stadium before Saturday's game against Ole Miss.

Considering this week marks LSU’s first open date after a long nine-week slog to start the season, and that the Tigers’ postseason prospects have changed markedly with their three-game winning streak to get to 7-2, this seemed like a great time to try to pick off some common questions regarding LSU’s bowl, Southeastern Conference and, yes, CFP… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Mutual love of Miles, players shows after loss of mom

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU special teams coach Bradley Dale Peveto, center, celebrates the win after Saturday's win over Ole Miss.

The LSU football team was sequestered at The Cook Hotel on campus Friday night as usual before a home game when Les Miles arrived to speak to his team. Unfortunately, there was nothing usual about this night for LSU’s coach. Earlier that evening, while Miles and his wife, Kathy, were watching their son Manny play football… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Not dead yet; Saints resemble Super Bowl contender in win vs. Packers

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Saints coach Sean Payton talks with quarterback Drew Brees against the Green Bay Packers in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014.

The Saints' big win vs. the Packers made New Orleans -- for the first time this season -- look like the team that everyone back in the preseason thought was a Super Bowl contender.

Continue reading →

Rabalais: History is on the Tigers’ side as LSU snuffs Ole Miss’ hopes again

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Fans fill the field after LSU's win over Ole Miss, Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014 in Baton Rouge.  LSU won, 10-7.

Doubt, despair, anger, anguish, even out-and-out grief have permeated this LSU football season. But on Saturday night, one epic Saturday night in The Valley, a young, undervalued LSU football team came to everyone’s emotional rescue. Who would have thought these guys, run over by Mississippi State’s Dak Attack and the victim of arson at Auburn, could come… Continue reading →

RIVALRY RENEWED

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU fullback Connor Neighbors and Ole Miss defensive end D.T. Shackelford jaw at each other after the kickoff during the first half last month at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss.

Back when the world was young, LSU and Ole Miss may have been the best rivalry in college football. Billy Cannon, streaking through the night like a Halloween phantom in 1959. Archie Manning, darting and scrambling and reducing LSU’s otherwise perfect 1969 season to ruin. Bert Jones’ touchdown pass to Brad Davis on the last tick… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Saturday's Ole Miss at LSU game could be a classic ... for those who stay

Advocate staff file photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU coach Les Miles

Notes on a golf scorecard from the endangered species that is the LSU Golf Course … … It’s a sad state of affairs when LSU coach Les Miles has to beg LSU football fans to come early and stay late for Saturday’s Ole Miss game, even to the point Monday where he invited them to bring food.… Continue reading →

Rabalais: The Saints’ engine blows another rod for a stunning loss in Detroit

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton walks the sidelines during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson) ORG XMIT: otkco215

Here in the Motor City, where they know about recalls all too well, the New Orleans Saints have a simple question: Can they have a do-over? Hit the reset button? Bring this defective lemon of a team back to the factory and fix the parts that always seem to go… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Soft-spoken Slive carried a big stick

Mike Slive is a unique figure in college athletics. He isn’t physically imposing. He’s never known to raise his voice to make himself heard. And, in an increasingly rare trait in the sports world, never puts himself in a compromising position through his word or deed. In fact, it would be easy to underestimate Slive completely… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Taking stock of the LSU Tigers after their wild win at Florida

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU wide receiver Travin Dural (83) pulls in the touchdown pass in spite of the pass interference by Florida defensive back Brian Poole (24) during the second half of the teams' game Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014 in Gainesville. LSU won 30-27.

Some thoughts from 40,000 feet heading home from Saturday’s LSU-Florida game … -- What, you thought Les Miles’ 100th win at LSU was going to be ordinary? Dullsville? A game that wouldn’t have you too wired to sleep until well after midnight? Not in a million. With The Hat at the… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Where does LSU go from here? Who knows, but it’ll surely be interesting

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU safety Rickey Jefferson is dragged down by Florida receiver Demarcus Robinson after his interception in the final seconds of the fourth quarter Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014

Dire Straits was somewhere under the stands at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, tuning up to send LSU out of here as a three-time Southeastern Conference loser. Twice. Follow the pinballing Jeff Driskel football from here, if you can: The Tigers trailed 24-20 with 3½ minutes left, facing… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Saints keep hope alive with late rally for overtime win over Tampa Bay

New Orleans Saints running back Khiry Robinson (29) celebrates with teammates and fans after scoring the game winning touchdown in overtime in an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in New Orleans, Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014. The Saints won 37-31. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman) ORG XMIT: NYOTK

The New Orleans Saints looked like a leaking boat. The injuries mounted even before the game began. Safety Jairus Byrd made it onto the cover of Sunday’s game program, but he never made it to the field after season-ending knee surgery. Once in play, tight end Jimmy Graham, linebacker Ramon Humber, center Jonathan Goodwin… Continue reading →

Tattered tigers

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU running back Leonard Fournette (7) walks off, after a 41-7 LSU drubbing from Auburn, as fireworks go off behind him in Jordan-Hare Stadium, after the teams' game, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014 in Auburn, Ala.

The LSU Tigers need a hug. And some quick-drying cement. And a fire extinguisher. The smell in the air over the so-called loveliest village on the plain wasn’t corn dogs. (Sorry, Katy Perry.) It wasn’t even from a four-alarm… Continue reading →

The young and the tested

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU coach Les Miles walks the team out before LSU's game against New Mexico State, Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014, in Baton Rouge.

It’s a stretch to say the LSU Tigers need to be driven to Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday in a fleet of stretch limos because they’re not old enough to drive themselves. Or that they’re going to be asked to show their IDs at the locker-room door. Or that their moms have packed a postgame… Continue reading →

While temperatures slowly drop, SEC football heats up

Advocate staff photo by ANGELA MAJOR -- LSU's Darrel Williams (34) is tackled by New Mexico State defenders Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014, during LSU's game against New Mexico State in Tiger Stadium.

Notes on yet another losing U.S. Ryder Cup scorecard while wondering if the Americans will ever win it again … -- September was a lousy month schedulewise for the Southeastern Conference. But now it’s October. Fall is really coming this weekend — if only for a brief visit — and so are a flood of games… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Saints’ season takes a turn for the even worse in Dallas beatdown

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett meets with New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan following an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

DeMarco Murray broke into open space, into one of the many fault lines that have fractured the New Orleans Saints defense this season, bound for glory. The only man between Murray and the big blue heaven of the Dallas Cowboys end zone was free safety Jairus Byrd — the… Continue reading →

Rabalais: What more do you need to see? Brandon Harris should be LSU’s starting quarterback

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU running back Leonard Fournette (7) runs for a touchdown as LSU quarterback Brandon Harris (6) trails behind during the first half of the teams' game Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014 in Baton Rouge.

In the coming days, you may hear tales that Brandon Harris can cure male pattern baldness, is working on a patent for a new version of the Air Jordan and is such a sweet-singing tenor he could make Andrea Bocelli want to chuck it all and become a shepherd. Let’s not fit the young man for Superman’s… Continue reading →

Scott Rabalais: Is Les Miles really talking change for LSU football?

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU coach Les Miles shouts during warmups before the Sam Houston State game Sept. 6 at Tiger Stadium.

Les Miles has trumpeted change for his LSU team in the wake of last Saturday’s loss to Mississippi State like a politician on the campaign trail. The question for LSU fans is whether it’s change they can believe in. There isn’t much faith in government these days, and frankly there isn’t a lot of faith that Miles is going… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Tigers need culture change to move forward

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU and LSU quarterback Brandon Harris (6) work on traveling the length of the field, with the stands fairly well emptied out, late in the fourth quarter against Mississippi State, Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014 in Baton Rouge. LSU made a late comeback after State rolled to a big lead,  but fell short 34-29.

It’s time for LSU football to undergo a culture change. On the field. On the sideline. And in the stands (sorry fans, you’re not exempt on this one). LSU coach Les Miles faced the media Monday less than 48 hours after his Tigers lost 34-29 to Mississippi State. The Tigers were dominated for all but the final frantic… Continue reading →

Rabalais: ‘The Takedown’ of Drew Brees gives Saints some fuel for the fire

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD --  Referees restrain New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) after the Minnesota Vikings were called for roughing after Minnesota Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (24) and Minnesota Vikings strong safety Robert Blanton (36) sacked Brees during the third quarter Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

A flash of anger may have turned out to be the spark the Saints needed to finally ignite their season. New Orleans was teetering again after an 0-2 road start. Up 13-0 early in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome after a pair of bang-bang touchdown drives to start the game, the offense flew off the rails and… Continue reading →

Rabalais: ‘The Takedown’ of Drew Brees gives Saints some fuel for the fire

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD --  Referees restrain New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) after the Minnesota Vikings were called for roughing after Minnesota Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (24) and Minnesota Vikings strong safety Robert Blanton (36) sacked Brees during the third quarter Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

A flash of anger may have turned out to be the spark the Saints needed to finally ignite their season. New Orleans was teetering again after an 0-2 road start. Up 13-0 early in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome after a pair of bang-bang touchdown drives to start the game, the offense flew off the rails and into a swamp… Continue reading →

Scott Rabalais: Mississippi State at LSU, ‘things are fixing to get real’

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU running back Kenny Hilliard (27), running back Leonard Fournette (7) and linebacker Donnie Alexander (48) leave the field after the second half  half of the UL-M game,  Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014 in Baton Rouge. LSU won 31-0

It’s been so long since Mississippi State beat LSU in football, The Streak seems to stretch out like a long, flat road to the horizon. No bends. No breaks. Just heartbreak for the Bulldogs year after year and victory mileposts for the Tigers. Fourteen times the Tigers and Bulldogs have played in the 21st century. Fourteen… Continue reading →

Rabalais: SEC race could be anyone’s to take

Advocate staff photo by Patrick Dennis -- LSU coach Les Miles celebrates with players Saturday after the Tigers' 31-0 win over UL-Monroe in Tiger Stadium. With a wide-open Southeastern Conference, the Tigers are hoping to be in the thick of the chase.

Three weeks into the college football season, virtually everyone in the Southeastern Conference has some reason for optimism if not downright bubbling overconfidence. Everyone except Vanderbilt, that is. After three straight bowl trips, the Commodores look like they’re going to “anchor down” once again to the bottom of the SEC East standings, familiar territory for… Continue reading →

Rabalais: After the Saints’ latest stunning loss, there’s no time like the present to turn this around

New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham walks off the field after a 26-24 loss to the Cleveland Browns in an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard) ORG XMIT: CDS127 ORG XMIT: BAT1409141543403671

We interrupt the mudslide of appalling off-the-field NFL storylines to bring you the tale of the New Orleans Saints’ freefalling 0-2 start. And you thought Roger Goodell had problems. The NFL’s embattled commissioner only has issues with his image and with people calling for him to be ousted from his $44 million-a-year… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Marquee names missing from Tiger Stadium marquee

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU coach Les Miles watches the field and crowd during pregame warmups for the Sam Houston State game on Sept. 6 at Tiger Stadium.

The debate over how LSU schedules in football has grown to where it almost rivals the debate over how the Tigers play that schedule. It’s part of paying the cost of being good at your business. Folks haven’t had much reason to worry for the last 15 years whether or not LSU is winning. Instead,… Continue reading →

Scott Rabalais: Roger Goodell fumbles the ball when faced with crises in NFL

FILE - in this March 26, 2014, file photo, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell answers questions during a news conference in Orlando, Fla. Goodell says the league asked for, but was not given, a just-released video showing former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice hitting his then-fiancee on an elevator. Goodell says during an interview with CBS aired Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014:

If the Saints’ Bountygate situation were converted to football terms, Roger Goodell would have fumbled the snap. In the mushrooming Ray Rice fiasco, the NFL commissioner has thrown a pick six that may ultimately scuttle his ability to govern sports’ most popular and increasingly most criticized organization. The rest of the world now views Goodell the… Continue reading →

Rabalais: This Saints loss stings, but there’s a whole season left to turn it around

New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas (23) and others walk off the field after overtime of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in Atlanta. The Atlanta Falcons won in overtime 37-34. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

When it was over, when 71 points sent sparks shooting from the Georgia Dome scoreboards and the teams combined to melt the artificial turf for 1,040 yards and the lead changed hands like a relay baton five frantic times after halftime, the Atlanta Falcons celebrated victory over their most hated rival by turning the… Continue reading →

In impressive fashion, these young Tigers make it 2-for-2

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings celebrates his second touchdown pass to LSU wide receiver Travin Dural on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, at Tiger Stadium.

CenterAlign.30Our cultural obsession with youth has found quite a happy home with this LSU football program. The Tigers came into this 2014 season heavily dependent on the young, the restless and the completely unproven. They had no choice, particularly at critical spots like quarterback, wide receiver and defensive tackle. Even 90-year-old Tiger Stadium got in on the… Continue reading →

LSU’s Tiger Stadium now looms larger than ever

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Tiger Stadium's new south end zone expansion, top, ready for Saturday's home opener against Sam Houston State.

Tiger Stadium turns 90 this season, and the old gray lady on Nicholson Drive never looked grander. She certainly has never loomed larger. Years of renovations have recoated her exterior walls, replaced rusting dormitory windows, added dramatic lighting, improved the gates, fencing and walkways around the structure and beefed up the sound system within. The… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Highs, lows from LSU’s week 1 victory

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU safety Jalen Mills (28) pulls in an interception over Wisconsin tight end Troy Fumagalli (48) in the second half of LSU and Wisconsin's season opener, Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014 at NRG Stadium in Houston.

Taking a look at what was good and what was bad from Saturday’s LSU-Wisconsin game: BIG PICTURE: LSU got the win in its signature nonconference game. If the Tigers (and we are in no way predicting this yet) can get into CFP contention, this win will serve LSU well provided Wisconsin peels off a string of… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Win over Wisconsin — the weird, the wild, the thrilling — was vintage LSU under Les Miles

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen congratulates LSU's Les Miles after the Tigers completed their 28-24 comeback victory Saturday at NRG Stadium in Houston.

HOUSTON — You can say what you want about this LSU football program. All the good. All the bad. All the head-scratching insanity. A delay-of-game penalty on the second half-opening kickoff? That doesn’t happen in Pop Warner football. This only happens with Les Miles football, baby. Welcome to his world. Welcome… Continue reading →

Numbers add up for Les Miles

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU head coach Les Miles pumps his fist on the way to Tiger Stadium for LSU's home opener in this September 2013 Advocate file photo.

Impressive numbers have accumulated as part of the Les Miles coaching story the way some people collect matchbooks or cars or, as in his case, a fresh white LSU baseball cap to wear to each and every game. Numbers like 95. That’s how many games he’s won at LSU since arriving in 2005, the most for any Southeastern Conference… Continue reading →

Saints look like confident, talented team

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Baltimore Ravens defensive back Brynden Trawick can't stop a long reception by Saints receiver Robert Meachem in a preseason game Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014.

The final chapter of the New Orleans Saints preseason schedule was written Thursday night against the Baltimore Ravens. The 22-13 loss to the Ravens was more epilogue than page-turning climax — maybe even just the index. That’s the way of it by the time the blessed final exhibition game rolls round. By week four of the… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Seeking white smoke as LSU’s lack of QB clarity drags on

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Quarterback Anthony Jennings throws downfield at LSU's spring game.

If it wasn’t so vital, and if it wasn’t obvious how much he really wants to unearth one primary quarterback, you’d think Les Miles was enjoying all this quarterback chatter. Here’s the CliffsNotes version of what the LSU coach had to say at Monday’s season-opening news conference about his quarterbacks, Messrs. Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris:… Continue reading →

For the most part, Saints able to complete checklist

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees throws before an preseason NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in Indianapolis, Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Sam Riche)

CBS saw a tantalizing matchup between New Orleans and Indianapolis when it decided to televise Saturday’s preseason game, in full denial of the fact preseason games rarely resemble the real thing. For the Saints, though, there was a lot about this one that had real meaning. They came to Indy, checklist in hand,… Continue reading →

Rabalais: 10 topics facing LSU football before the season opener

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU defensive tackle Quentin Thomas (95) run from under the canvas as defensive end Danielle Hunter (94) waits his turn during drills as LSU's veterans practice.

Ranking the top 10 topics facing LSU football with less than two weeks to go before the Tigers’ season opener: 1. THE POLLS: LSU opens at No. 13 in both the USA Today coaches’ and now The Associated Press preseason polls, the latter being released Sunday. That’s one notch higher than where the Tigers finished in… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Plenty of flags (boo) and turnovers (yay) for Saints

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER --  New Orleans Saints safety Vinnie Sunseri (43) returns an interception in the second half as Tennessee Titans wide receiver Michael Preston (14) pursues as the New Orleans Saints faced the Tennessee Titans in pre-season action at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Friday, August 15, 2014.

Some random thoughts and observations on Friday night’s New Orleans Saints-Tennessee Titans game. DIRTY LAUNDRY: The Saints committed 10 penalties in the entirety of their 26-24 win at St. Louis in their preseason opener. They committed 14 penalties in the first half alone, an unbelievable 22 for 184 yards in the game, though two of… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Jalen Mills thankful for second chance after troubling off-field incident

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU junior safety Jalen Mills answers questions Sunday at the Anderson-Feazel Indoor Field.

At the far end of the LSU indoor practice facility Sunday, well away from the maddening media day hordes surrounding Leonard Fournette and Brandon Harris and Anthony Jennings, Jalen Mills sat hunched over a folding chair alone with his thoughts. More than once he must have appreciated the simple fact he was still sitting there on a… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Few answers as LSU drops curtain on starting quarterback competition

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIGLSU quarterbacks Brandon Harris, left, and Anthony Jennings look to throw to receivers during practice earlier this month.

It was like one of those scenes in a classic movie: the long goodbye. As us media types headed for the exit at LSU’s football practice Friday morning, we strained for one last, knowing glimpse of how Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris were looking as the Tigers went to scrimmage plays. A pass? A handoff? Show… Continue reading →

Rabalais: More and more Louisiana players calling Tulane home

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Tulane University Head Football Coach Curtis Johnson speaks during the team's media day in New Orleans, La. Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014.

Tulane football may be building a new house, but it’s sticking with the old neighborhood. This fall, for the first time in 40 years, the Green Wave will play its home games on campus. Tulane will open the gates Sept. 6 on brand-new Yulman Stadium, a gleamng 30,000-seat facility wedged into the sliver of Uptown New Orleans… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Repaired shoulders have Jermauria Rasco ready to go

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Asst. coach Bradley Dale Peveto, left, shouts encouragement as LSU defensive end Jermauria Rasco (59) does a drill at LSU's practice.

For Jermauria Rasco, every play there was pain. This is nothing unusual for a football player. The anomaly is to tackle or be tackled to the ground and get up with out something hurting or stinging or aching. For Rasco, LSU’s senior defensive end, playing the game meant years of dealing a different level of discomfort.… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Now Fournette gets to prove he can handle the hype

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Freshman running back Leonard Fournette makes a catch in a drill during the first preseason practice for incoming LSU freshmen Monday at LSU's Charles McClendon practice felds.

Would you believe that Leonard Fournette parted the Mississippi on Monday and walked across its dry river bottom on the way to his first LSU football practice? Or that he leaped over linebackers at said practice in a single bound? Or even that he killed him a bear when he was only 3? Les Miles joked that… Continue reading →