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Deke Bellavia

Join Deke and the Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert for live, local talk about the Saints, LSU, Pelicans and much more on "Sports Talk!" 

Weekdays 4-8pm

Twitter: @dekebigchief
Email: bigchief@wwl.com

Saints OTA Highlights: If Peat starts, who's the odd man out?

Zach Strief is one of only two players remaining from the Saints Super Bowl-winning team back in February 2010. And after hearing what Saints head coach Sean Payton had to say, he could be in for a good battle this training camp.

Payton said today he expects 2015 1st round draft pick OL Andrus Peat to be a starter on the Saints offensive line. So, what does that mean for Strief? If you go by what was said, it means Strief could be out and Peat could be the starting right tackle.

Now am I twisting what Sean Payton said? Not necessarily. Payton stressed in the past that Andrus Peat is a better fit at RT. But, we have also heard time and time again about the Saints finding and starting the best five linemen up front.

So, if you go by who started at RT last season (Strief) and what other position along the O-Line Peat can play (Offensive Guard), then one of the following three guys may be the odd man out. Tim Lelilto, Senio Kelemete or Zach Strief will more than likely not start up front this season.

Players, who did not participate in today's OTA included defensive backs Keenan Lewis and Jairus Byrd, DE Cam Jordan and WR Brandin Cooks. On the other hand, players, who made their presence known at were DBs Delvin Breaux and Brian Dixon. Although neither picked off a pass, both were around the ball making plays.

Bobby Hebert is not worried about Cam Jordan being out today. "If we could have other players improve like him (Jordan), the defense would be a lot better. Cam Jordan has become a complete player in the league. He came into the NFL labeled as a good run stopper, but needed to work on pass rushing. Well, I can tell you double digit sacks are a sign of a good pass rusher and Cam is very consistent against the run," said the Cajun Cannon.

Safety Kenny Vaccaro got his hands on a ball, tipping it away, while the Saints second round pick Ohio State safety Vonn Bell and Erik Harris both saw action at the safety position. As second year player LB Stephone Anthony expects to play more on the outside this season, but Anthony did play at the Middle LB spot today along with veteran off season pick up LB James Laurinaits.

Speaking of defense, after observing today's OTA, the Saints look like they have plans to make an interior tandem of Defensive Tackles Nick Fairley and Jon Jenkins. Both played alongside each other on the Saints defensive front.

Saints QB Drew Brees made several nice throws, including hooking up with WRs Brandon Coleman and newly acquired Vincent Brown. Brees hit both Coleman and Brown with deep strikes. And, Saints fans will be excited to know that Sean Payton plans on getting rookie WR Michael Thomas in the mix right away. The former Ohio State Buckeye standout worked a good bit with the first team today on offense.

The Saints will have OTA sessions next week with the media allowed to view Thursdays. Then, the biggest action during the off season takes place in three weeks when the Saints hold their annual Mini-Camp June 14-16 at the Saints facility on Airline Drive.

The Saints next off season workouts are next week - with open access to the media Thursday. Who Dat Nation, be the first to know the latest on the Black & Gold. Get WWL Saints alerts directly to your phone. Text the word SPORTS to 870 870! Message and data rates may apply
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Deke: Do you believe 2016 LSU Tigers hype, or don't you?

We've seen and heard all of this before, haven't we? When it comes to the LSU Tigers football team, it's all about expectations. And in a world of 'what have you done for me lately,' the Tigers haven't done much at all!

Now there are those out there who have eyes that see no wrong in what LSU does. And then there are those that have eyes that the Tigers are never good enough. And then there are those people who are fair and level headed people who wisely use caution instead of bravado when analyzing a team.

So far, I've seen a few post-spring/pre-season Top 25 College Football polls and LSU is ranked in the top 10 in all three. Post-spring way-too-early Top 25's from ESPN and Fox have LSU at #6 (ESPN) and #2 (Fox) while Althon's pre-season Top 25 has LSU at #9.

High praise for a team that has not played for a league title since 2011. Tigers fans hope, and to be fair, mostly look at the glass half empty instead of half full, as they know oh so well that the Tigers seemingly have everything they need to make a run. But what is going to happen when the big boys tangle with the Bayou Bengals?

Look - with 18 starters back, more depth along the offensive and defensive lines than they have had in several seasons, LSU should be highly thought of. But until the Tigers are in Atlanta the first weekend in December, they are still a 'what could be,' 'what might turn out to be' and the old dreaded 'what if' type team.

An opening weekend tilt against a good foe in Wisconsin could give the Tigers a little pep in their step going into the rest of the schedule. An early season upset loss to the underdog Badgers could be the start of a doom and gloom season in the making.

Regardless of what LSU does this season and what their final record will be, right now,today, there is not a Tigers fan breathing that would not take wins over Alabama and Ole Miss right now and let the rest of the chips fall where they may!

Will LSU live up to the hype? Do you believe the hype? I guess only time will tell and better help answer those questions!
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Deke: After the draft - a look at the past, present and future of the Saints

I like to kind of give like a PSA as I start out each feature that I write; I have no inside information, so I, like you all, just try to follow what goes on. I read, listen, look and pay close attention to the things that the Black and Gold do. So here's what I'm feeling currently.

The Past

Sean Payton's past has produced a Super Bowl win, and in my book that carries a lot of weight. And because of that Super Bowl win, I feel like I'm more lenient than most. It's not being a suck up or taking it light. I always have felt like winning a title carries a lot of stroke.

With that out of the way, the statute of limitations is over! February 2010 was six years ago. And you can only coast so long on one title. Now, if the Saints had won two titles in three seasons like they should have when they lost to the 49ers in the post-season, then I wouldn't be typing what I am now.

Sean Payton has gotten two contract extensions since the Saints won the Super Bowl and he is currently the highest paid coach in the NFL. What does that mean? Well if you go by record then Sean is paid handsomely, and guys like Pete Carroll and the hooded one in New England are underpaid. Just saying!

I have the utmost confidence that Payton can bring another title to New Orleans. But in order to get bang for the buck, anything less than a title is unacceptable!

The Present

The present state of the New Orleans Saints ( from what the organization says) is good! The Saints feel like they are closer to having the right mix of players to compete and be a winner than they have had in a while. The Saints are 14-18 in their last two seasons. The Saints have missed the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, and keep in mind - two years ago eight wins would have won the NFC South and allowed the Saints to host a playoff game. But nada!

New Orleans is an offensively-built team that consistently features the league's best offense in more years than not. But like in every phase of life if there is no balance, then the end results will not be as good as those teams that are more balanced.

The Saints defense has been deplorable, dismal, embarrassing, awful, terrible, horrible.. you get the point. And what's so sad is the Saints seemingly are OK with having an OK defense. Hey look, the Saints won a Super Bowl with an OK defense that created a lot of turnovers.

To be fair, Dennis Allen did have the defense looking better the last half of the season. But what will happen in 2016? Folks the Saints will score, we know this. But until New Orleans makes bigger strides in improving their defense this team and all their fans will continue to hold their breath at the end of games unless the offense is on the field with the game on the line. We've seen what happens when the defense is out there!

Presently the Saints have had a run of great luck at the game's most crucial position and that of course is quarterback. Drew Brees has been beat up, battered and called on to carry this franchise on his back for too long. Brees has a good three to five years left up putting up good numbers. It's going to be a damn shame if the Saints don't win another Super Bowl with a Hall of Fame QB under center.

According to Sean Payton's strongest mentor, Bill Parcells, you are what your record says you are. And until proven otherwise the Saints are 7-9 the last two seasons. We shall see!

The Program

Around draft time, we hear words like character, quality, committed, dedicated, improvement and program. So does that mean the Saints want these type of players only? And do these type players give them the best chance to win?

The Saints have six players left from Draft classes 2010-2014. New Orleans made nine picks in 2015 and five in 2016. Of those 14 picks, nine have been picks for defense and five for offense. And the #1 pick in 2015 has to step up (Andrus Peat) this year or he will be the next high profiled O-Lineman (Charles Brown) that does not pan out for the Saints.

As we follow what the Saints have done as of late, we see that some moves allude to other moves that didn't work out. For example - the Saints have brought in umpteen safeties the last few years via the draft and free agency. And of the moves that have been made at that position the decision to let Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins go was the wrong move!

Kenny Vaccaro is still here and has not played well other than his rookie year, and the Saints damn sure aren't getting what they paid for in Jairus Byrd. And now New Orleans has spent another high draft pick (2nd round) on - you guessed it - another safety.

Folks, you don't have to be a Rhodes Scholar from Oxford to know that Rob Ryan did not like Harper and Jenkins. Dennis Allen must feel like he needs more help back there with the team drafting Vonn Bell last weekend.

In addition to drafting Sheldon Rankins (which most give high marks on), the Saints took a WR early in the second round, a safety late in the second round and a up and coming defensive lineman from North of the Border.

Folks, I hope that DL David Onyemata is the next Jim Burt, Leonard Marshall, Decon Jones, Clyde Simmons, Michael Dean Perry... I hope David turns out great. But according to his college coach up in Canada who we had the pleasure of interviewing after David was drafted, he says that Onyemata is a year or two away. David's coach told us that he just picked up a football four years ago after leaving Nigeria. I'm not making this stuff up, this is real!

So now, the Saints feel good about their program in the form of the new players that they have brought in the last two drafts and during the off season. Maybe DL Nick Fairley will play like he did back in 2010 when he was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year for the National Champ War Eagle/Tigers of Auburn. Maybe James Laurinaitis will become the 2016 version of former Saints great Jonathan Vilma. And maybe Vaccaro can play as good as he sounds in those 5-Minute Oil Change ads. And maybe Byrd will finally give the Saints fans what he gave Bills Fans for years in upstate NY. And that is good play!

I'm a believer! I have faith and I'm upbeat but I'm also a realist of sorts. The Saints need a lot of things to come together and a lot of players to play their best yet for the defense to get to the middle of the pack. Has it happened here before? Absolutely! Can it happen again? Hell Yes! Will it happen this season? I don't know.

The Saints are clearly (at best) the second best team in the NFC South behind three-time champ Carolina. And with sound, strong and solid offensive and defensive lines, the Cats from North Carolina are the favorite again.

Now as the OTAs, Mini-Camps and training camp begins to take place, what the Saints do as far as finding the right mix of players on defense to climb out of the bottom tier ranked teams in the NFL and their offense continues to be one of the best, the Saints have to find some sort of balance between the two. Being ranked in the top three in one phase of the game and being rankled in the bottom three in the other phase don't work. So I guess it's time to do something different.
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Deke: Hokie was #46 in your program but #1 in our hearts

From the days when he used to buffalo his way over many who tried to derail this one man stampede from Baker, Louisiana...to becoming one of the hardest, most physical and flat out toughest Tigers from LSU...Hokie Gajan was hard as nails on the field of play and as kind, respectful and gentlemanly off it.
Hokie was number 46 in your program, but number one in our hearts.  He was a son, who made his parents proud, a brother who gave his all, a friend like no other and Hok developed into a legendary Louisiana football player, a loyal loving husband, devoted and cherished father.  From top to bottom from beginning to end, he was a damn fine man.
For five straight years Hokie and I lived together for a little over a month during Saints Training Camp.  And, although we were covering the Black and Gold, it would be me who was in training.  If you paid attention to what Hok said, who he worked with, scouted for and then told his team who to pick in the draft, you would have easily noticed that Hokie Gajan scouted and gave grades on at least six pro football Hall of Famers and ten times as many players who were great in the NFL. 
But the ball, which was a part of his entire life, was just a small fraction of the man Hokie really was.  I learned more about being a humble, loyal, dedicated and determined person, which also led to life lessons about how to be a great father and become a better man.
Oh, yes, although the masses knew Hokie Gajan for what he did as a player and the many signature one liners he produced without missing a beat, he was so much more than a great football mind.  Hokie told you how he felt.  He never lied on anyone.  And, if you wanted a real honest...in your face opinion...you always got it from Hok. 
For 56 years the world was a better place, because Hokie Gajan was in it.  And, today, the world lost a one of a kind, unique and just flat out real good dude.  Yes, today we all mourn in sadness that he’s gone, but when we think of his loyalty, love and memories...when he said things like “he’s so fast he can go rabbit hunting with a hammer,” we know his impression was lasting and his time with us will never really end.
From the 15 hour road trips Hokie, Jim (Henderson) and I made...to brim fishing on worms and crickets while using a good old cane pole in Mr. Jack Liuzza’s Pond...I do thank God I spent a lot of time with Hokie.
There’s no way one show, one day or even one week could tell what he meant to all of us.  But I guess there never really is enough time to properly send off a man like Hokie Gajan - a man of faith, family, friends, food and football.  A man like Hokie don’t come around often. A man like Hokie comes around just once in a lifetime.  

I never told him to his face I loved him.  But I hope that my actions, our time together and the things we did for each other helped him see that I did love him. 

Hokie, thank you for everything.  

Hokie, I love you!  ​
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Saints LB Laurinaitis: "You have to earn respect before you can lead"

When it comes to 'durability,' his name is next to the term in the dictionary.  He’s never missed a game in the NFL and he is considered one of the best team leaders in the very same league.  New Saints linebacker James Laurinaitis is an all-business type player. 

“I feel like you lead by example," he said on SportsTalk Tuesday afternoon. "You go out and work hard with your teammates and then you lead by earning their respect. If I’m not out there I feel like I’m letting the guys down. I couldn’t imagine missing a football game.”  

James has never missed a game seven seasons with the St. Louis Rams.  Drafted in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft out of the Ohio State University where he was an All American Player for the Buckeyes. 

So how did James land on his feet in New Orleans?  “When I was released by the Rams, I had to call my wife to let her know.  And then I called my agent and told him I’d like to go to a team that can make the playoffs and chase a trophy and a team with an established quarterback,” said Laurinaitis.

You can listen to Bobby and Deke’s entire conversation with Laurinaitis by clicking below. 

FULL AUDIO: Saints LB James Lauriniaitis on SportsTalk

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Deke: A look at Saints in free agency, embarrassing hoops teams

New Orleans/LSU Hoops – I know down here people don’t care about basketball nearly as much as football, and I fully understand that.  But maybe if basketball was held under the same light as football, our products might be better than they currently are.

For the first time ever in Louisiana, the great state is home to the best player in college hoops and the best young player in the NBA.  LSU’s Ben Simmons will be the #1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.  And Anthony Davis is the best young gun in the NBA, in only his fourth season in the association.

People, both the Tigers and Pelicans are MAJOR disappointments this season.  New Orleans is hard pressed to make the NBA post season, likewise for LSU. When the two best players, one in college and the best up and coming player in the pros both won’t be in the post season, there’s something wrong.  

Is it coaching?  Well, hell yes, coaching has something to do with it.  Again, I know what we care about down here and what casually pay attention to, and in the hoops area it’s a bad year. From a national standpoint it’s downright embarrassing!

Saints off to good start in Free Agency – After another sorry 7-9 season the New Orleans Saints have taken a line from the movie "Annie" - they know that tomorrow is only a day away. The Saints are looking ahead to 2016, and 2015 is in the rear, very rear view mirror.

In a matter of 24 hours the Saints lost one of their most productive offensive weapons in tight end Ben Watson and found his replacement in Colts TE Coby Fleener.  Did the Saints do good? Well let’s look at it.  The Saints had a smart, productive and solid veteran team leader in Watson.  What do the Black and Gold get with Fleener, who will be entering his 5th season in the NFL in 2016?

Coby was drafted in the 2nd round (34th overall) by the Colts in the 2012 NFL Draft.  In four seasons in Indianapolis, Fleener had 183 receptions for 2,154 yards with 17 touchdowns.  And Fleener has caused match-up issues for those who have to cover his big 6'6" 250 pound frame.  And coming from Stanford Fleener is smart upstairs if you feel me.   I’d say good move for the Saints in all areas!

Here today gone tomorrow?
With all of the sad, underachieving and disappointing basketball this season, the question of job security has been raised in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.  First let’s start with LSU coach Johnny Jones.

Jones recruited a great class that has been everything but great this season.  LSU will be the first team since the University of Minnesota to have the #1 player in the NBA Draft and not make the NCAA Tournament since the 1978 Minnesota Golden Gophers and star Mychal Thompson.  

LSU has been in the news for all the wrong reasons the entire second half this college hoops season. LSU knew going into the season that Simmons was one and done and on to the NBA.  LSU had to get something out of Simmons aside from him being hyped up.

Instead, no NCAA tourney, possibly no NIT and all with the #1 NBA Draft pick.  Wow!  That’s bad.  But again if we were talking football on the very same campus there would be an uproar.  But in the hoops area one has to wonder if many people are that concerned with the job Jones has done this season even with a nice raise before the season began!
Way down yonder in New Orleans first year Pels coach Alvin Gentry has not had the splash in the water feel-good season that we all hoped, heard and had wanted the team to have.  But people I’ve got to be honest with you on this one, this one falls on the GM, not the head coach.

Dell Demps has his fingerprints all over this entire team and organization, and he has done a poor job.  You can take all that “well they’re hurt all the time” talk and trash it.  Poor excuse. Demps has overpaid, brought in the wrong players, and he did so after he picked Gentry to coach his team.  

So did Dell make the right hire?  Are we supposed to assume that the Pelicans are just a few injured players away from being a playoff team?  Will Dell ever talk to the media?  Does Dell know what he wants to do with this team?

Hey call me a broke down, bootleg, bad woods broadcaster but all of those above questions are more than valid.  And if changes are made this off season with the higher ups (Benson and Loomis) have a sit down with Dell?  If not they should.  Having the best young player in the game and four playoff games in four years is bad.  

Regardless of what happens to Dell and Johnny, this has been a wasted season for both. Both wasted the best talent in the game today, and there’s not much worse in life than wasted talent.  At least that’s what Robert De Niro said in "A Bronx Tale!"

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Deke: A look back at NFL Championship history

The long history of Championship Sunday has many highlights, big plays, historic players and coaches and a little bit of everything in between.  But tomorrow we may be witnessing the four best defensive teams to play on title game Sunday.

The high profiled storyline is around Peyton and Tom, and the other two QB’s could also very well be Hall of Fame bound one day in Carolina’s Cam Newton and Arizona’s Carson Palmer - but in a league that has been geared to have the offensive teams do their thing, it’s still the ole saying that defense wins championships.

All four of Sunday’s defensive teams are ranked among the top ten in scoring defense.  And according to the current NFL playoff format, the fans are getting the four best teams in football to see which two clubs reach the Super Bowl.

Each of these games obviously has many historical moments, and some teams have been at these points far more times than their conference counterparts. The Pittsburgh Steelers hold the distinction of most appearances in AFC Championship Game history, with 15, while the San Francisco 49ers hold the distinction in the NFC, also with 15 appearances.

The Steelers and the New England Patriots have won the most AFC Championships, winning eight each, while the Dallas Cowboys have won the most NFC Championships, with eight wins, while the 49ers have only won six.

The Seattle Seahawks are the only team to reach the championship game in each conference, as they were a member of the AFC until 2002. The Houston Texans are currently the only team in NFL history that has not reached the championship game in either conference. The winner of the AFC Championship game receives the Lamar Hunt Trophy, while the NFC Championship winner receives the George Halas Trophy.

Recently, there have been some memorable moments in these games. In the 2015 AFC Championship, the New England Patriots won 45-7, followed by allegations by the Indianapolis Colts that the Patriots had used under-inflated footballs, now dubbed "Deflategate."

In the 2015 NFC Championship Game, the Seattle Seahawks overcame a 16-0 deficit to the Green Bay Packers, a game that was highlighted by an onside kick recovery late in the fourth quarter by the Seahawks, who would eventually force overtime and go on to win and advance to Super Bowl XLIX. It's fair to assume that we will see a great performance by one team this time around.

Denver is a three point underdog at home while the Carolina Panthers are a three point favorite at home in Charlotte.  Both games can be heard right here on WWL Radio beginning with the AFC Title Game Sunday just after 2PM.

Arizona is trying to reach the Super Bowl for the second time in club history as is their foe Carolina.  The White Horses of Denver can punch their ticket to Super Sunday for the eighth time while the Pats can get back to the Super Bowl for a ninth time!
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Deke: Saints cannot miss on Payton

If I'm wrong, I say I'm wrong. If Sean Payton did not want to remain in New Orleans as Head Coach, then you can't fault the Saints for that - after all, you can't force anyone to do something that they don't wish to do.

But if the Saints are to lose Sean Payton, and the higher ups (including the team president, general manager and owner) do not do absolutely everything they can by any means necessary to keep the coach here, then they are flat out wrong.

The Saints front office has missed far more than not on players and free agents in the past several seasons.  But they can't afford to miss on this one!  I mean am I the only one who thinks all of this noise about a #2 pick for Sean Payton is ignorant?

PROGRAMMING NOTE: We will carry Sean Payton's press conference live at 2pm Wednesday on AM/FM and streaming at WWL.com

A number #2 pick!  Are you kidding me? Sean Payton should draw a #2 pick for just sitting down and talking to another team. But to think that the Saints would even look at the phone, much less pick it up to entertain the notion of trading Sean Payton for a #2 pick is just dumb!

Hey I don't know what I don't know.  And again the Saints can't be faulted if Coach Payton does not want to be here anymore.  But the Saints HAVE to do everything they possibly can to keep Payton here!

Deuce said it, so did Bobby, so am I.  A #2 pick for a Super Bowl winning coach is crazy!  We are talking about a coach who has not had the best of talent given to him lately.  And a coach that is on the exact same page as his Hall of Fame QB commands far more than a #2 pick.  

Look if the Saints do happen to lose Sean Payton, then they better damn sure make it known that they (Saints front office) asked for some crazy amount of stuff in return.

I mean even if it's over the top, like two Number #1 picks, two Number #2 picks, two Number #3 picks, a boat load of cash and a player or two - then let it be known.  People I'm telling you if we are sitting here a week from now and Sean Payton is gone and only for a #2 pick then there has to be something more on the inside that we don't know.

Unless there is something among the teams and their front offices that we the public don't know about, then there is no way you can only get one #2 pick for a Super Bowl winning coach.  That is a no brainer!

The next man could win another title.  The next man might be great.  But my people, in the world of business this was a risk, a gamble and one that is not a smart business move.

And I'll stand by what I say.  You don't know what you don't know.  You have to go on what you do know.  And the Saints know what they have in Sean Payton.  As this story continues to unfold, we may learn of things we know nothing about right now - all in the next coming weeks, depending on the outcome of the Sean Payton situation.

You all read, have radios and TV's, and you all see how Payton is the guy who's atop of everyone's list. New Orleans better make sure that Sean Payton is atop of their list.

The Saints can't miss on this pick.  They can't.  

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Deke: SEC flexes its muscle during bowl season

Let me first of all say that ever since I have been able to make sense of sports, when it comes to college football, I’ve always had the mindset that the ultimate factor in determining which conference is the best, I first and foremost point towards bowl games.

Sure there are some big and very meaningful games during the season that feature some powerful schools in non-conference games.  But to me, it has always been the bowl games and their outcomes that have given me the fuel needed to back-up who has the best overall conference.

Last season the mighty SEC had one of their worst bowl seasons ever as the big boys including Alabama, Ole Miss, LSU, Auburn and Mississippi State all took it on the chin, and they did so by allowing huge numbers to the opposing teams offense and each of those powerful SEC Western clubs were basically taken to the woodshed in games that had all of the above mentioned schools as favored to win.

So if you come at me with that “aw he’s just a local boy, another Southerner that’s bumping his gums and busting his lips about how good the SEC is,”  the record shows that I am fair and I do call it like it is, and I let those so called powerful mighty SEC schools have more than their fare share of a good ole verbal beat down for not showing up when it mattered most.

Now I take a complete 360 and present to you the gospel for the 2015 bowl season.  And this bowl season belongs to the SEC.  Folks, the SEC sent 10 schools and eight of those ten shined like new money, leaving the rest of the nation in awe of how dominant the deep south’s NFL play-in league really was in 2015.

And during my note taking I was brought back to the national pundits claiming how the SEC was down this season, due to the fact that after the first full weekend of November the SEC had no undefeated teams.  Ha! The games all have to be played, things have to play out and the teams that are left standing and the teams that end their season with an impressive win are the ones that validate their entire season and only then is the body of work judged once each team’s season is complete.  

The SEC’s dominance in this bowl season can be even more impressive with a national title win by Alabama on January 11.  With eight wins to just two losses the SEC can rightfully brag about their league’s performance over the last few weeks.
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Deke: Aranda should bring solid results to LSU defense

Coach Les Miles did not waste any time in naming his new Defensive Coordinator.  "He’s everything that we were looking for in a defensive coordinator. He’s youthful with tremendous enthusiasm; our players are going to love him. He brings great defensive knowledge to our staff both as a technician and as a strategist. We are thrilled that he’s joining us,” he said. Dave Aranda has become one of the nation's rising young defensive minds and now the young coordinator has the job of making the LSU defense better in 2016.

If Aranda can do for the Tigers what he did for the Badgers last year then LSU's defense will be much improved.  The Tigers have finished the season with the nation's 25th best defense.

LSU was 17th in rushing offense and 66th in passing offense.  Now when you bounce the numbers that Aranda put up in Madison last season with the Badgers, then one would have to be quite impressed. The Badgers posted a 10-3 record in 15 and they did so behind the play of the nation's second best scoring defense.  Second only to Alabama, Wisconsin allowed their opponents only 13.7 points per game on average in 2015.

The Badgers finished the season 4th in total defense, 4th in rushing defense and 7th in pass defense and allowed only 95.4 rushing yards per game in 2015 and 173.2 passing yards. The Badgers defense also finished the season on a very high note allowing a potent USC Trojan offense only three points in their bowl game.  Wisconsin was also one of the nation's best units when it came to forcing turnovers.

The Badgers forced a total of 21 turnovers in 2015 with nine fumble recoveries and 12 interceptions to finish plus three in the turnover margin last season.  Prior to his stop in Madison, Coach Aranda made a nice showing as the Aggies of Utah State Defensive Coordinator in 2012 and he was with the Rainbow Warriors of Hawaii prior to that.

Coach Les Miles officially made the Tigers new defensive leader les than three days after the Tigers big bowl win over Texas Tech.  Coach Miles continued to praise his new defensive coordinator in a released statement.

"Dave will bring different packages and an attacking style to the field.  Watching his defense play, they are tough to move the ball on and they are sticky in every situation. His defenses do a great job of getting off the field.
“He’s going to be a great fit for our personnel. He’s a players’ coach, and we are really excited that he’s going to be a LSU Tiger.”

Aranda takes over for Kevin Steele who left to take over at Auburn.  
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