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SEC tight ends can’t stand up to Carlson

Mike Gilloon | Tuesday, January 2, 2007

NEW ORLEANS – John Carlson’s hometown of Litchfield, Minn. is almost 1,300 miles from LSU’s Tiger Stadium. So it might be no surprise that Notre Dame’s starting tight end catches passes with an ability that’s as foreign to the LSU defense as a Minnesota winter.

“This is the best group of tight ends we’ve seen all year,” Tiger linebacker and Baton Rouge native Darry Beckwith said Sunday afternoon.

The SEC, Beckwith said, is a conference where the tight end usually remains on the line of scrimmage and run blocks.

As the Tigers have found out, the trend is different outside the South. Tight ends like Carlson and Minnesota’s Matt Speath – who won the John Mackey award this month as the nation’s top tight end – often line up as wideouts. Carlson caught 46 passes in 2006 – fourth on the team – along with four touchdowns. The team’s longest pass of the season came on a 62-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Brady Quinn to Carlson during Notre Dame’s 40-37 victory over Michigan State on Sept. 24.

In fact, of the 30 players named to the preseason Mackey Award watch list this fall, just one – Georgia’s Martrez Milner – plays in the SEC. The Bulldogs did not face the Tigers this fall.

Narrow miss

If LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey opts for the NFL after Wednesday’s Sugar Bowl, the Tigers won’t be the only group who will miss him. The media – in their late season search for fresh stories – enjoyed Dorsey’s jovial, friendly demeanor during LSU’s Sunday afternoon press conference.

The 6-foot-2, 299 pound first-team All-American talked about his love for Jambalaya (his parents make the best), his respect for Notre Dame’s tradition (he grew up watching the Irish) and his development from a quiet freshman into one of the team’s most vocal leaders – and locker room jokesters.

“I came a long way in the teasing game,” he smirked.

All-library team

For the third consecutive semester the Notre Dame football team finished with a GPA above 3.0, the University said in a statement released Sunday.

The team’s average GPA this fall was 3.014 as 17 of the 24 Irish starting players finished with averages above 3.0.

Leading the way was Carlson, who as a history major earned Academic All-America honors with a 3.59 GPA.