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Better Know An Opponent: Wichita St

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Yup. We’re playing wheat.

LSU is turning back the clock and is going to do the thing which this program was founded upon: beating Wichita St. If you’re not up on your history, then feast your eyes on this early 90s goodness:

Wichita St.

Record: 8-3

RS/RA: 61/48

ISR/RPI: 24/24

It’s still early and the computer rankings are pretty screwy (LSU is 35th in the ISR), but the Shockers are off to a pretty solid start to their season. Sure, they got swept by Louisiana Tech, and we’d hate to get shown up by an in-state school, but they also took a midweek game from Oklahoma a few days ago. They are also 1-3 away from home, which is a pretty good sign for the Tigers, as Alex Box is not a great place for a team that struggles on the road.

Mascot: WuShock

Back in 1904, the team needed a name for its football team, so the coach panicked and called the team the Wheatshockers because a lot of his players held that job in the offseason. Somehow, the name stuck, and the school used a shock of wheat as its mascot until 1948, when someone got the horrifying idea to design an anthropomorphic version of wheat shocks which, and I’m going to quote the school here, “gave a tough impression, with a serious, no-nonsense scowl." You do you, Wu.

The mascot, of course, has gone through some redesigns over the years, but the general design has remained the same. WuShock got a more amped up, meaner look in 1998 because apparently someone was drinking too much Mountain Dew. In 2006, they redesigned the mascot again because, and I am not making this up, the top-heavy design of the costume endangered the human inside the costume. WuShock is literally the reason I have this segment this season because it is the most ridiculous mascot in college athletics that refuses to embrace how ridiculous it is. Go the Big Red route, y’all.

About the School

USNWR Ranking: Rank Not Published

Most Popular Major: Business

You’d think a school with a shock of wheat as its mascot would be an agricultural school, but business is by far the most popular major. There’s a pretty good engineering school there which is also popular among students, but you’re more likely to learn how to balance the books than how to use a turbine. Which, frankly, is sort of disappointing to find out. The national rank isn’t published which isn’t a great sign for its reputation, but nearly fifty percent of its classes have under 20 students, so it does sound like a pretty good place to go to school and not be lost in the shuffle.

About the Team

The Offense

I’m not really sure how they are scoring 6 runs per game. The team hits 267/368/370 and only has 5 home runs on the season. They’ve stolen 10 bases on 13 attempts which shows some speed, but not a scary amount. Also, the steals are pretty well-distributed up and down the order. 3B Alec Bohm is the scariest hitter in the order, hitting 2 homers to go with his 304/393/548 line. 1B/OF Greyson Jenista is the only other hitter in the Shockers order in the same ballpark, hitting 341/408/455. They did struggle to score against better opposition in general, but they did explode for 10 runs on getaway day against La Tech. There is potential there, but they should struggle to score runs.

The Defense

There is a damn solid rotation backed up by a nearly impenetrable bullpen. The Shockers will match the Tigers in a righty-lefty-righty rotation. Willie Schwanke is the Friday starter, and he’s got a 2.08 ERA but just a 9/8 K/BB ratio. Cody Tyler has the unfortunate task of going up against Poche’, but despite his 3.86 ERA, I’d argue he’s the Shockers best pitcher on paper. That 14/5 K/BB ratio is for real, and his higher ERA is mainly due to imploding against La Tech last week. We can only hope for a repeat performance, as he failed to get out of the first inning. The defense turns batted balls in play into outs at a good rate, only allowing a .283 average on balls in play. There shouldn’t be a lot of freebies for LSU this weekend.

Tiger Bait?

After a rough weekend in Houston and a midweek loss, fans are feeling pretty down right now. Mainieri is going to juggle the lineup a bit to try and create a spark. Honestly, don’t panic. If LSU gets a timely hit in the 9th against Texas Tech, LSU takes the weekend and… who cares about midweek games anyway? Besides, beating Wichita St is what this program was founded on. It’s time to get back on the horse and get over the hangover. The Shockers are just what the doctored ordered, a good team that LSU should still take the series from.