Class is in session for LSU football’s standout freshmen

Brandon Harris is shirtless in the photo. His back is to the camera, and his arms are outstretched as if he’s mimicking an airplane. He’s standing near midfield at Tiger Stadium, staring at the new south end zone structure looming before him. Harris, one of the headliners of LSU’s 2014 signing class, posted the… Continue reading →

LSU’s freshmen, at glance

Immediate impact: This is the year RB Leonard Fournette: The headliner to LSU’s No. 2-ranked signing class, Fournette is a thick-framed runner out of St. Augustine High School who is expected to see substantial playing time. Named the No. 1 recruit in the nation, Fournette has enough speed and… Continue reading →

Old-school ground game is LSU’s offensive mindset in 2014

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron

Vadal Alexander, LSU’s thick-framed left guard, stands in the huddle. He hears the play call and smiles. He walks to the line of scrimmage, swivels his head to the right and glares at his soon-to-be victim. “Yeah, I’m about to come for you,’’ Alexander thinks. Alexander… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Youth movement may give LSU the upper hand

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

“I remember my youth and the feeling that will never come back anymore — the feeling that I could last forever, outlast the sea, the earth, and all men.” — Joseph Conrad I feel sorry for Alabama’s football players. I do. They have been branded with the smirking… Continue reading →

LSU’s schedule, at a glance

Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Game 1: vs. Wisconsin WHEN: 8 p.m. Aug. 30 WHERE: NRG Stadium, Houston TV: ESPN Early storyline Both teams prize the run (Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon rushed for 1,609 yards in 2013) and possess stout defenses, but the Badgers return a veteran quarterback in… Continue reading →

LSU depth chart breakdown

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU sophomore quarterback Anthony Jennings

QUARTERBACKS 10 Anthony Jennings 6-2 211 So. 6 Brandon Harris 6-3 183 Fr. What’s to like? Harris showed his talent — speed, vertical passing — in the spring game. Jennings displayed a spark in that winning drive against Arkansas after Zach Mettenberger’s injury.… Continue reading →

2014 is the year of the (new) quarterback in the SEC

Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason and tight end Arthur Lynch celebrate their 41-34 double overtime win against Georgia Tech on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Tulis)

Quarterbacks never appreciate turnover — an interception or otherwise — but that’s exactly what the Southeastern Conference is experiencing at the position this season. In fact, that might be an understatement. Last year, five passers threw for more than 3,000 yards, including a particular Texas A&M Aggie who eclipsed the 4,000-yard mark. When the… Continue reading →

SEC West, at a glance

Alabama head coach Nick Saban leads his defensive backs through drills at an NCAA college football practice in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/, Vasha Hunt)

Alabama 2013: 11-2, 7-1 Coach: Nick Saban Key Players: QB Jacob Coker, Sr.; RB T.J. Yeldon, Jr.; WR Amari Cooper, Jr. Strength: Coker has drawn high praise, and having Cooper will give him a reliable target. In the end, though, the… Continue reading →

SEC East, at a glance

Associated Press photo by JOHN RAOUX -- South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier

South Carolina 2013: 11-2, 6-2 Coach: Steve Spurrier Key Players: QB Dylan Thompson, Sr.; RB Mike Davis, Jr.; DT J.T. Surratt, Sr. Strength: South Carolina was fourth in passing offense last season, and Spurrier has most… Continue reading →

Cajuns believe as their goals get loftier

Associated Press photo by DANNY JOHNSTON -- Louisiana-Lafayette quarterback Terrance Broadway

The bar is set high — so high that the team would have been laughed at as recently as three years ago. Nobody’s laughing now. Except, of course, the Louisiana-Lafayette fans who bought into coach Mark Hudspeth’s dreams of bypassing a mere winning record and building a winning program. They’ve had to learn the… Continue reading →

Cajuns’ Alonzo Harris ready to resume his bruising assault on the record books

Louisiana-Lafayette running back Alonzo Harris is congratulated by Elijah McGuire after scoring a touchdown during the first half of the New Orleans Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

Louisiana-Lafayette senior running back Alonzo Harris doesn’t stand out much during practice. He’s a first-team all-Sun Belt Conference player, he’s in line to make a run at some prestigious school rushing records and he’s on the Doak Walker Award’s preseason watch list, but it’s hard to distinguish what separates him from the other backs on the roster… Continue reading →

Southern’s back and ready to run the SWAC again

Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ -- Southern running back Lenard Tillery heads for open ground, leaving Grambling players in his wake, during the Bayou Classic in New Orleans on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013.

Whoever plays quarterback for Southern this season will be learning on the job. Whether it’s Deonte Shorts, who was the front-runner early in camp, fellow redshirt freshman Francis Kanneh or one of two first-year freshmen — Austin Howard and Jarrad Hayes — the Jaguars offense will be in the hands of someone who hasn’t played college football… Continue reading →

Last year is history as Southern seeks a SWAC title streak

Advocate file photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Southern receiver Chuck Baker holds his helmet aloft as the Jaguars celebrate their SWAC title game victory against Jackson State in December.

Southern won its first Southwestern Athletic Conference football championship in 10 years last season. The Jaguars consider that a good start. But just that — a start. Now they’re setting their sights on being championship contenders every year, building the SWAC’s best program. It wasn’t that long ago that Southern was a perennial… Continue reading →

Southern’s schedule, at a glance

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Southern fans pack the stands in A.W. Mumford Stadium to watch the Jaguars take on Jackson State in September.

Game 1: at UL-Lafayette When: 6 p.m. Aug. 30 Where: Cajun Field Briefly: There’s no doubt this is an extremely difficult opener for the Jaguars. But it’s also an opportunity to gauge their progress after losing the opener last season 62-13 at Houston and their first game the year before that 66-21 at New Mexico.… Continue reading →

SWAC team capsules

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Southern players kiss the championship trophy following their 34-27 win over the Jackson State Tigers during the SWAC Championship in Reliant Stadium in Houston.

Alabama A&M 2013: 4-8, 4-5 (5th, East) Prediction: 2-10, 2-7 (5th, East) Key players WR Montarius Smith, Jr.: Has had consecutive 50-catch seasons and is poised to increase his productivity. QB Jaymason Lee, Jr.: After playing… Continue reading →

Grambling prepares to embark on a steep climb

Associated Press photo by DACIA IDOM -- Grambling quarterback Jonathan Williams

Grambling has won 23 Southwestern Athletic Conference championships, has five members in the College Football Hall of Fame and has sent more than 100 players to the NFL since the Tigers’ first contest back in 1928. Yet during the 2013 campaign, the university had trouble even fielding a football squad. Only three years ago, the Tigers… Continue reading →

Southeastern is flying high but staying grounded

Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- Southeastern quarterback Bryan Bennett celebrates a running touchdown,

A Southland Conference championship and a trip to the Football Championship Subdivision quarterfinals a year ago are certain to raise the expectation level to greater heights for Southeastern Louisiana this fall. But the expectations that come with being ranked third in the preseason national polls and having a Walter Payton Award Watch List candidate in quarterback Bryan… Continue reading →

Charlie Stubbs seeking Thibodaux turnaround at Nicholls State

Advocate staff photo By BRAD BOWIE -- Nicholls State quarterback Tuskani Figaro

Nicholls State coach Charlie Stubbs couldn’t help but take notice of what happened in a short amount of time for Southland Conference rival Southeastern Louisiana last fall. In one season, SLU went from a 5-6 team to an 11-3 team and captured the SLC title with a 7-0 league mark. The Lions went on to reach the… Continue reading →

Reinforcements will be pivotal for McNeese State

Associated Press file photo by L.G. Patterson -- McNeese State coach Matt Viator

When McNeese State coach Matt Viator stares out over his squad on the practice field in Lake Charles, he will be looking for not one but two new generals for his offense. A combination of quarterback Cody Stroud and running back Marcus Wiltz carried the Cowboys to a 10-3 record in 2013 after combining for 4,318… Continue reading →

QB Zach Adkins has the Golden touch for Northwestern State

Advocate file photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Southern linebacker Franchot West pressures Northwestern State quarterback Zach Adkins

When it comes to Louisiana football programs in the Southland conference, California seems to be a breeding ground for prime quarterback talent. While Bryan Bennett dominated opposing defenses for Southeastern Louisiana, another Golden State signal caller was making his presence felt 227 miles to the north. Northwestern State quarterback Zach Adkins was a force in his… Continue reading →

Skip Holtz sees stability as key to Louisiana Tech’s turnaround

Associated Press file photo -- Louisiana Tech's Kenneth Dixon

Last season, the first under Skip Holtz as head coach, Louisiana Tech went 4-8. However, Holtz, hired in December 2012 after previous stops at UConn, East Carolina and South Florida, feels his Bulldogs could be poised for a rebound. “Excited, a lot more stability. You feel like you have your feet on the ground a little bit… Continue reading →

Tough schedule looms over UL-Monroe

Associated Press file photo by Gerald Herbert -- Louisiana-Monroe coach Todd Berry

Louisiana-Monroe coach Todd Berry knows the schedule his 2014 team faces is daunting, but he believes it’s more than prepared for the challenge. “Our players are used to playing this kind of schedule, and they look forward to these opportunities,” said Berry, who is entering his fifth season in Monroe. “It allows for a better offseason because… Continue reading →

Louisiana College has something special brewing

Louisiana College coach Dennis Dunn has quietly generated a culture of winning in Pineville. Over the past six years, the Wildcats have a 43-18 record, the second-best winning percentage in the state over that span behind LSU. In 2013, the Wildcats strung together another dominating campaign under Dunn, finishing 7-3 as runners-up in the American Southwest… Continue reading →

Saints star Cameron Jordan is hungry for more

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — The 25-year-old has spent almost a week straight studying, working and attending meetings, but on this day he is finally off. He’s tempted to get a head start on the work ahead. He knows there’s lots of it, especially if he wants to expedite fulfilling his dearest professional ambition: earning his… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Saints fans, you need to be in that number this year

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --Saints coach Sean Payton

For those of us old enough to remember their woebegone days under such past-their-prime-time coaches as Hank Stram and Bum Phillips, the sight of the New Orleans Saints coursing through the city in a Super Bowl victory parade five years ago remains a memory that still that doesn’t quite register. Sort of like seeing a famous actress in… Continue reading →

Saints’ 2014 schedule and predictions

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON -- Saints tight end Jimmy Graham

Week 1: at Falcons WHEN: Noon Sept. 7 WHERE: Georgia Dome, Atlanta TV: Fox BRIEFLY: These Falcons should be better than the team New Orleans beat twice last season, with help from an improved offensive line on their side, but these Saints should also be better than last… Continue reading →

As always, NFC South is difficult to put in focus

The Panthers' Cam Newton uses a TV station's camera to record fans after practice at the team's Fan Fest in Charlotte, N.C., on Friday, July 25, 2014. (AP Photo)

To some observers, the signs that point to why the Saints should win the NFC South in 2014 are glaring. They retained the most important pieces to an offense that gained the fourth-most yards in the NFL last year — and in the first round of the draft added explosive receiver Brandin Cooks, who needed just two… Continue reading →

NFC South, at a glance

The Panthers' Kelvin Benjamin (AP Photo/The Charlotte Observer, David T. Foster III)

Atlanta Falcons 2013: 4-12 Coach: Mike Smith Key returnees: QB Matt Ryan, WR Julio Jones, LT Sam Baker Top newcomers: RT Jake Matthews, RG Jon Asamoah Strength: Expect the Falcons passing game to get back on track with the return of two key pieces: 2012 Pro Bowl wideout… Continue reading →

NFL team capsules, non-NFC South edition

The Seahawks' Russell Wilson holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy after Super Bowl XLVIII. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

AFC East Buffalo Bills KEY ADDITIONS: WRs Mike Williams and Sammy Watkins; LBs Brandon Spikes and Keith Rivers; DB Corey Graham; RB Bryce Brown; RT Cyrus Kouandjio; defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and defensive line coach Pepper Johnson KEY LOSSES: Owner Ralph Wilson; S Jairus Byrd; WR Stevie Johnson; defensive coordinator Pettine; LB Kiko… Continue reading →