Tigers to face TCU on Aug. 31 to start 2013 season
The LSU Tigers are going back to Jerry World.
LSU and ESPN announced Tuesday that LSU and TCU will open the 2013 season against each other in the fifth annual Cowboys Classic at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The game will be played on Saturday, Aug. 31. According to ESPN, the game will be televised on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.
This will be LSU’s second appearance in the Cowboys Classic in three years. The No. 4-ranked Tigers beat No. 3 Oregon there 40-27 to open the 2011 season, the springboard to an undefeated regular season and an ultimate trip to the BCS National Championship Game.
The game will cancel a planned home-and-home series between LSU and TCU previously scheduled to begin in 2013, but the chance to open the season with such a highly visible game made it appealing for both sides.
“It’s very exciting because that’s how you want to start the season off — with a big game,” LSU junior defensive end Barkevious Mingo said after practice Tuesday night. “You want to start with a quality opponent because it’s a good measuring stick. Everybody should start the season that way.”
This will be the first football meeting between LSU and TCU since 1968. The Tigers lead the series 5-2-1.
Unlike in 2011, when LSU had a decided crowd advantage over an Oregon team whose fans had to travel thousands of miles to get to the Metroplex, the Tigers will be the “visiting” team this time. TCU’s Fort Worth campus lies just 18 miles west of Cowboys Stadium.
LSU still has two other non-conference games scheduled for Tiger Stadium: Sept. 14 against UAB and Oct. 26 against Furman. Barring an unexpected switch by the SEC from eight to nine conference games, LSU has one nonconference game to schedule.
Muncie seeks weight gain
LSU linebacker Luke Muncie has emerged as an effective starter in the strong side since Tahj Jones was declared ineligible for this season, but Muncie is struggling to get his weight back to normal.
He had a scope done Monday morning, the latest in a series of tests to try to determine the cause of a stomach ailment that caused him to lose 20 pounds during preseason camp, which he has been unable to regain.
“They’re trying to see what’s going on,” Muncie said. “They knocked me out and put a big tube down my throat. I don’t know exactly what they did because I was asleep.
“I lost a bunch of weigh,t and we’re trying to get it under control so I can put it back on.”
Muncie, who is listed at 210 pounds in the team’s media guide, said he vomited nearly every day during preseason camp and was hospitalized overnight before being released an hour before the Tigers Fan Day.
“I feel a lot better now,” Muncie said, “but we’re still trying to find out why I can’t gain the weight back.”
Muncie said Tuesday night he’s fine to play and is still awaiting test results.
Be wary of Ware
Running back Spencer Ware has always stood out for his bruising running style. After getting just eight carries in the first three games combined because of injury, Ware looked like his old self against Auburn. He gained 90 yards on 16 carries, handing out as much punishment as he absorbed.
Ware said he ran with a little more fire than normal “because of my competitive nature and I wanted to be out there with my teammates,” he said.
With starting halfback Alfred Blue sidelined indefinitely because of a knee injury, Ware, Michael Ford and Kenny Hilliard were all poised to get more carries.
“I knew I was going to have to contribute tremendously in order for our team to get the victory,” Ware said. “Whether I had a little bit of carries or a lot of carries, I was going to make those reps count to put our team in position to win.”
Ware also took a swing pass from Zach Mettenberger and ran for a 33-yard gain late in the fourth quarter. That helped LSU secure its 12-10 victory.
“I think Spencer’s a tremendously competitive guy,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “I think he’s lost 10, maybe 12 pounds in the offseason. I think he’s faster than he’s been. He’s a physical back, and he has great ball skills. This is where Spencer needs to play. This shows just how well he’s playing. He’ll have a number of very, very productive Saturdays.”
Ford a good fit
Ford has suddenly become the Tigers’ primary kickoff returner even though he had returned a couple of kickoffs in his life before two weeks ago.
LSU inserted Ford on kickoff returns for the first time in his three seasons for the game against Idaho two weeks ago. Ford totaled 99 yards on three kickoffs in that game, and Miles said he expected Ford to continue in that role for the rest of the season.
Jarvis Landry had the only return against Auburn last week (for 22 yards), but Ford looks like he’ll continue in the mix.
Ford said he got his first taste of kickoff returning as a senior at Leesville High School, but it was a tiny taste.
“My senior year in high school I think I returned two and they stopped kicking it to me,” Ford said. “They’d kick away from me or kick it out of bounds.”
Donaldsonville High coach Terence Williams, who was Ford’s coach at Leesville, said opponents learned their lesson after Ford returned the second-half kickoff 80-some yards for a touchdown against Alexandria. That triggered Leesville’s comeback from a multiple-touchdown deficit to win.
“I’m glad to see him returning kicks again,” Williams said. “He’s got great speed and vision, and he’s so strong. That’s going to be a good fit for him and for LSU.”
Ford, who was the Tigers’ leading rusher last season, said the biggest difference in returning a kickoff compared to carrying the ball from the backfield is “your vision is more blurred.
“There are so many guys coming at you and your guys too,” he said. “I definitely love it. It’s another aspect I can add to the game and do something to contribute.”