LSU Keeps Ciron Black, Charles Scott; Loses... Hatch?

I guess press conference means staying.  Yesterday, LSU got a bit of a boost to its 2009 team with the announcements that left tackle Ciron Black would return to LSU for his senior year and running back Charles Scott would as well.

In an move I did not see coming, apparently Andrew Hatch has left the team and may be returning to Harvard.  I am disappointed he is no longer a Tiger because, honestly, I thought there was a place for him on this team.  He was a steadying influence for Lee and the team until he got hurt, and while I don't think he was ever going to win the starting job again, he could have carved out a nice little career in a Mickey Guidry-like role as a backup.

Good luck to you at Harvard and in the rest of your life's endeavours young man.  I know you gave your all this past year, and I hope it was a fun ride for you.

Let us hope that the rumors that Jarrett Lee is leaving are false.  We will be in a pickle without Lee and Hatch if Jefferson gets an injury.

But let us not dwell on the bad news.  Let us dwell on the good.  

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Greatest LSU offensive lineman ever?

Ciron Black has started 40 games at left tackle for LSU.  40!  He redshirted his first year and has started every game at left tackle that LSU has played since.  He has a chance to break the record for most games started in Division 1A football history, currently held by former Oklahoma defensive back Derrick Strait.  The record is 53.  The LSU record is 52, held by Andrew Whitworth.  If Black stays healthy and LSU makes it to a bowl game, Black will pass Whitworth and tie Strait.  If LSU goes to the SECCG also, Black will surpass the NCAA Division 1A record for games started.

It's especially impressive that every single one of those starts will be at left tackle.  

His return to the team solidifies the offensive line for 2009, and gives us a chance to groom a replacement from among the many young tackles on the team (Greg Shaw, Ernest McCoy, incoming freshman Stavion Lowe, and possibly one or more converts from the defensive line or tight end).  LSU will still have to find replacements for guard Herman Johnson and center Brett Helms, but the majority of the line returns.

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Charles Scott's return is also very significant.  For about half the season, he was our only effective running back, as Keiland Williams struggled to get started and Richard Murphy struggled period.  He slowed down at the end, probably because of an undisclosed injury, but still ran for over 1,100 yards on the season.

In his first two years at LSU, Scott was a threat as a receiver, particularly on middle screens.  We never got that game going with him this year, probably because Jarrett Lee was particularly ineffective on screen passes.  I'd like to see him get back into that type of play next year.  He has really good vision as a runner, and that is very helpful in scooting his way through the second and third levels of a defense.  Plus, at 240 pounds, he's kinda hard for the safeties to tackle.

I wonder if something will give in the depth at running back.  Rumor has it that Keiland Williams may move on, either to the NFL or to a place where he can be a feature back for a year.  Stevan Ridley looks ready to break out as a force running the ball, but seems to fill essentially the same role as Scott.  Richard Murphy needs to figure out why his yards-per-carry dropped by about 1/3 from his freshman to his sophomore year.  Then we have a couple freshman running backs coming in, both of whom look strong.

Scott will get first shot at it next year, of course.

And with Scott staying, LSU still has not had a player leave for the NFL after 3 years during Miles' tenure.  It's really kind of an amazing stat.  With all the talent we've had, we have not had a single player leave LSU for the NFL without staying at least 4 years since Marquis Hill, Michael Clayton, and Matt Mauck left after 2003.

An announcement on Brandon Lafell is apparently coming today.

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