LSU ranked fifth in Associated Press pre-season poll

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 24, 2005

BATON ROUGE — For the second consecutive season, LSU will start the football season ranked in the top 10 in the Associated Press poll, as the Tigers are No.5 in the first AP Top 25, which was released on Saturday.

The Tigers, under first-year coach Les Miles, return 16 starters from last year’s 9-3 team. A year ago, the Tigers reached a January bowl game for a record fourth straight season and finished the year ranked No. 16 in the country.

Southern Cal, the defending national champion, received 60 of a possible 65 first place votes and is ranked No. 1 in the nation. Texas got four first place votes and is ranked No. 2 in the nation, followed by Tennessee, Michigan and LSU.

Ohio State starts the bottom half of the top 10, followed by Oklahoma at No. 7, Virginia Tech No. 8, Miami No. 9, and Florida No. 10. Louisville, ranked No. 12 in the nation, received the last first place vote from one of the 65 media voters.

Other Southeastern Conference teams in the AP Top 25 include Georgia at No. 13 and Auburn at No. 16. Arizona State, LSU’s opponent on Sept. 10 in Baton Rouge, is ranked No. 20 in the nation.

In all, LSU faces four teams in the AP Top 25 with all of those contests coming in Tiger Stadium. In addition to the Arizona State game, the Tigers host Tennessee on Sept. 24, followed by Florida on Oct. 15 and Auburn a week later on Oct. 22.

The Tigers, the 2003 BCS National Champion, opened 2004 ranked No. 4 in the nation. LSU has not been ranked in the AP preseason Top 10 in back-to-back years since 1997-’98 when the Tigers were No. 10 and No. 7 respectively.

LSU opens its first year under Miles on Sept. 3, hosting North Texas at 7 p.m. in Tiger Stadium.

Scelfo happy with results of last major scrimmage

NEW ORLEANS – In its last major scrimmage session of the preseason, Tulane’s first team offense and defense again excelled, bringing a smile to the face of head coach Chris Scelfo following the workout. The Green Wave practiced for nearly two hours Saturday morning, with one hour devoted to the scrimmage, which included officials but no kicking or punting.

“Overall I’m very, very pleased,” Scelfo said. “It was hot, and the guys were a little dead-legged today, but the `ones’ on both sides of the ball competed well and competed hard. We had no turnovers today, which is great for the offense, but not for the defense.

“The first [team] defense really flew around. We mixed and matched personnel in the secondary and at linebacker, but the one defense did not give up any big plays.”

Freshman running back Christian Ducr/ ran for 93 yards on eight carries and starting quarterback Lester Ricard completed six-of-seven passes for 82 yards and a pair of touchdowns in limited action to provide the offensive highlights. Junior Preston Brown caught four passes for 86 yards and a pair of scores, including a long reception of 37 yards from back-up signal-caller Nick Cannon.

In all, 10 players, including six true freshmen, caught passes from five different Tulane quarterbacks. Rookies Brian King and Chris Dunn made three catches each while Charles Harris and Cary Koch caught two passes apiece. Dunn’s three catches for 30 yards included a 14-yard touchdown grab.

“I feel good about our young receivers – Brian King, Charles Harris and Chris Dunn all stood out today,” Scelfo said. “Preston Brown has gotten so much better every year he’s been here. He looks like he’s ready to really step up and contribute this year.”

Ducr/, a true freshman from Mandeville, La., also has impressed Scelfo in workouts this week.

“Christian Ducr/ worked hard all summer and has come in here and played well,” Scelfo said. “He’s an extremely talented athlete. He’s got great hands. He makes people miss in the open field. He’s powerful from the waist down, which makes him difficult to tackle. He is pushing all of our running backs except Matt [Fort/] right now and if he keeps running like he has in these two scrimmages this week, he’ll be hard to keep off the field.”

Defensively, the Green Wave recorded seven sacks and six pass break-ups with senior linebacker Anthony Cannon leading the way with eight tackles, a sack and a quarterback pressure. Big defensive tackle Frank Morton recorded six tackles and a pair of sacks, while sophomore Alvin Johnson had two sacks, four stops and swatted down a pass.

“On the defensive line, freshmen Sean Carney stood out before he got tired, and I noticed Craig Morris and Taurean Brown doing some good things,” Scelfo said. “I was very pleased with (Shreveport sophomore) Antonio Harris, he’s picked up where he left off last year. Alvin Johnson and Avery Williams need to fight through [the heat] a little better but they can make some plays. We’re going to need all of those guys to be ready to play on September 4.”

The battle for the back-up quarterback job continued Saturday as redshirt freshman Scott Elliott and junior Nick Cannon took most of the reps on the day. Elliott completed eight-of-14 throws for 77 yards and a touchdown, while Cannon was five-of-12 for 63 yards, but was sacked three times.

Mario Gilbert rushed for 100 yards and a pair of scores in Saturday’s scrimmage

HAMMOND – Senior Trey Willie completed 20-of-29 passes with a pair of touchdowns while Mario Gilbert rushed for 100 yards and a pair of scores to lead Southeastern in its first scrimmage Saturday night at Strawberry Stadium.

Willie, who threw for 203 yards in less than three quarters of action, tossed touchdowns to Jamaal Jackson and Glenn Moore. Jackson finished with 95 yards on four receptions, including a 42-yard strike from Willie on the first play of the second quarter.

The scrimmage was scheduled for four 15-minute quarters, but was halted with 4:31 left after Blake Alfortish’s 1-yard plunge for the second-team.

“We’re glad to get our first scrimmage out of the way and end two-a-days,” first-year Southeastern head coach Dennis Roland said. “The running game showed a great deal of improvement and tonight gave us a chance to play a lot of people. Trey and Seth (Babin) did a good job of leading the offense and Merrick (Lanaux) made some good catches for us.”

Babin, who completed 17-of-32 passes for 145 yards with the second-team offense, hit Krishna Mohammad for a 6-yard touchdown with 4:51 left in the first quarter. Babin directed the second-team to a 14-7 lead as Sam Savoy capped off the drive with a 1-yard TD run with 3:09 left in the half before Willie drove the first-team down the field, hitting Moore in the back of the end zone on a 9-yard strike with 1:07 left.

Gilbert, who also had three receptions for 18 yards, scored on runs of 18 and 15 yards in the third quarter and Auburn transfer Jerald Watson added a 3-yard TD run with 13:42 left in the fourth.

Lanaux, a freshman from Hammond playing with the second-team, caught nine passes for 97 yards to lead all players. Mohammad added five receptions for the reserves while Keylam Davis led the first-teamers with seven catches.

Defensively, David Daniels recorded eight tackles to lead the first-team with Jason Demelo and Ernest Wilkes tallying six. Jeff Guidugli led the second-team with six stops while Kyle LeBlanc and Freddie King combined for five sacks.

The Lions, who open the season Sept. 1 at home against Jacksonville (Fla.) University, will take Sunday off before beginning classes on Monday.

Nicholls State concludes fall camp

THIBODAUX – The Nicholls Colonels football squad concluded fall camp on Saturday with a two-hour practice at the Nicholls practice fields. The Colonels worked out in full pads.

With the veterans “keeping everything at thud tempo, full speed, with out much tackling in the back”, the younger players spent the morning scrimmaging.

“Practice went really well today,” said head coach Jay Thomas. “We had a good scrimmage. Our primary purpose today was to get our younger, incoming guys the opportunity to get some live work in, giving the coaches the chance to evaluate them. Although, we haven’t watched the tape yet, we saw a lot of good things out of a lot of young guys and that is what we wanted to get accomplished today.”

Overall, Thomas was happy with the outcome of fall camp.

“This was a very good and competitive camp,” Thomas commented. “We had a lot of spirit at every practice. The heat was certainly a factor a few days and we had to make some adjustments, but the kids did a great job getting through it and the coaches did a great job teaching and coaching.”

Thomas said that one of the best outcomes of this year’s camp was the fact that some young players have “closed the gap” on some of the veterans.

“We are very excited about the depth that was created over the last two weeks. We needed that to happen. Hopefully this will continue.”

As fall camp came to a close, the coaching staff announced the 2005 team captains, all of whom are seniors. The offensive captains selected were Yale Vannoy (QB) and Thomas Lorio (WR). Henry Johnson (DB) and Bryan Paille (DL) were chosen defensive captains. Defensive back Joe Ogletree was selected as the Senior Academic Captain.

“It was probably one of the most competitive races we’ve had on voting,” noted Thomas. “The fact that so many players received votes shows just how much leadership we have on this year’s team and how much the guys think of these players.”

The Colonels begin their 2005 campaign on September 3 when they travel to play Division I Utah State. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. (MST).