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Report: Former Pitt RB James Conner given clean bill of health

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James Conner will head to next week’s Combine with a clean bill of health, according to a report Thursday from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

“Pitt RB James Conner, who missed most of 2015 with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, received a clean scan today, a week prior to combine, per source,” Schefter tweeted.

Conner led the ACC in rushing in 2014, rushing for 1,765 yards and 5.92 yards per carry with 26 touchdowns in 2014, before a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma diagnosis caused him to miss all but one game of the 2015 campaign. (And in that one game, Conner still rushed for nearly 10 yards per carry and two touchdowns.)

He battled back to return to the field in 2016, again leading the Panthers with 216 carries for 1,092 yards and 16 touchdowns while finishing third on the club with 21 grabs for 302 yards and four touchdowns.

Conner will compete at the Combine for draft positioning with fellow running backs Leonard FournetteDalvin Cook and D'Onta Foreman, among others.

Pair of Oklahoma students arrested for breaking into LSU’s Tiger Stadium

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In your “yeah, what?” news of the day, two Oklahoma students were arrested over the weekend after breaking into LSU’s Tiger Stadium.

According to WBRZ, LSU police responded to a call of two men trespassing inside Tiger Stadium. When police approached them, they both attempted to run away, resulting in their arrests. They were charged with unauthorized entry of a place of business and resisting an officer by flight.

WBRZ reported that the two students didn’t cause any property damage or steal anything, so this wasn’t like some rivalry-fueled defacing spree. In all honestly, I thought most of these big stadiums were open to the public when not in use, given they’re on campus grounds and all.

And since we’re here, Oklahoma and LSU have only played twice in their illustrious football histories, with the Sooners winning the 1950 Sugar Bowl and the Tigers winning the 2004 Sugar Bowl.

 

Jamal Adams makes early leap from LSU to NFL

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One of the top safeties in the country will officially be available to NFL teams this April.

With his current and former LSU head coaches by his side, Jamal Adams announced at a Friday morning press conference that, as expected, he will indeed be leaving the Tigers for early entry into the NFL draft.  Along with Ohio State’s Malik Hooker, himself an early entrant, Adams will be considered one of the top two safeties — of those who have officially declared — in the 2017 draft class heading into the annual February Underwear Olympics in Indianapolis.

Both safeties are projected at the moment to be Top-12 selections, and could be joined by Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers if he decides to leave early as well.

A second-team All-SEC pick in 2015, Adams was a first-teamer this past season.  He was also named second-team All-American by a handful of organizations.

The past two seasons, Adams started every game for the Tigers.

Adams becomes the third Tiger to leave eligibility on the table, joining running back Leonard Fournette (HERE) and defensive lineman Davon Godchaux (HERE).  It’s likely at least two more of that trio’s teammates will declare — wide receivers D.J. Chark and Malachi Dupre.

Eligible players have until Jan. 16 to file their official paperwork and declare themselves for the draft.

LSU sacks Louisville Heisman QB Lamar Jackson eight times in Citrus Bowl romp, 29-9

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It was a long afternoon for Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson and No. 13 Louisville (9-4) in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, as No. 20 LSU (8-4) used its signature defense to sack the Heisman quarterback eight times and limit the once College Football Playoff contenders to just nine points in a 29-9 victory.

Louisville was held to just 220 yards of offense and was an astounding 2-for-17 on third down conversion attempts. Jackson ended his 2016 Heisman season with just 10-of-27 passing for 153 yards without a score. Jackson rushed for a net-gain of 33 yards despite being taken down eight times. Tashawn Bower recorded three of those sacks, and Arden Kelly had two more. And check out how Jamal Adams tracked down Jackson on this play (look where Adams starts the play)…

LSU was playing without running back Leonard Fournette, but Derrius Guice was ready to lead the offense with 138 rushing yards and a touchdown. As a result, Guice ended the season as the SEC’s rushing leader, just nudging his way past Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. Guice will be back for the 2017 season, which means LSU should have one of the top running backs to utilize in its offense, and that is a very good thing.

LSU will now once again ride this wave of optimism and look to build on that in the offseason leading up to the start of the 2017 season. This is now Ed Orgeron‘s program and he will be adding one of the top offensive coordinators to the staff in Matt Canada, to go along with already having one of the top defensive coordinators in Dave Aranda. The addition of Canada should help solve some concerns with the LSU offense, although trusting the running game is a nice luxury to have in 2017. LSU will begin the 2017 season in Houston for a neutral-site game against BYU on Saturday, September 2, 2017. LSU will have a challenging SEC schedule next season with road games at Florida (thanks to the rescheduling development this season), Alabama and Tennessee.

As for Louisville, there is still plenty to be optimistic about with Jackson returning for a follow-up season to his Heisman Trophy season. The luster on the 2016 season will be dulled as a result of how this season ended for the Cardinals, but Louisville will get a terrific opportunity to get started on a fast track to lighting things up on offense next season. The Cardinals begin the 2017 season on September 2, 2017 in Indianapolis against Purdue (with new head coach Jeff Brohm at the helm), followed, potentially, by two ACC contests (the ACC schedule has yet to be confirmed). Louisville will also host Kent State and Murray State in non-conference play, which should be two relatively easy wins with opportunities to pile up big offensive stats. Louisville will get Clemson at home and Florida State on the road in ACC Atlantic play. And, just because it had become a bit of a story lately, Louisville travels to Wake Forest next season.

LSU sacks Lamar Jackson five times to establish first half dominance in Citrus Bowl

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Louisville may have the Heisman Trophy winner playing quarterback, but Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals have found almost nothing on offense through one half against LSU’s stingy defense. The Tigers have out-gained Louisville 230-41 in the first half and held the football for just over 18 minutes while building a 16-6 lead on Louisville.

Louisville has had an absolutely miserable first half on offense. The Cardinals were forced to punt on their first offensive series and settled for a field goal on their second. Then came four straight three-and-outs and then Jackson was taken down in the end zone for a safety late in the first half. The Cardinals were given a gift to tack on a late field goal thanks to an interception by Zykiesis Cannon on a very poorly thrown football by Danny Etling immediately following the LSU safety. Blanton Creque hit his second field goal of the half, this one with plenty of leg from 47 yards out, to cut slightly into the LSU lead.

Aside from the late interception, Etling had a decent first half with 187 passing yards and two touchdowns despite completing just 11 of his 21 pass attempts. With Leonard Fournette opting to sit out of the bowl game to prepare for the NFL, the LSU running game has gone through Derrius Guice, who has rushed for 47 yards on 17 carries to lead all players. Louisville’s Jackson has been sacked five times in the first half, including two by Tashawn Bower.

Louisville’s defense is playing a little short-handed with injuries keeping out cornerbacks Trumaine Washington and Shaq Williams and a hamstring leaving safety Josh Harvey-Clemons questionable, in addition to gunshot wounds leaving linebackers Henry Famurera and James Hearns out of action. The losses in the defensive backfield have shown with LSU being able to find some room to work in the passing game.