LSU's Spadoni pushing feelings aside
By Jim Kleinpeter
Sunday, 09/04, 3:40 p.m.
BATON ROUGE – Fortune was smiling on LSU linebacker Jason Spadoni, if only for a little while.
Last spring he was deep on the running back depth chart so he was moved to linebacker. Two weeks ago the only player in front of him, E.J. Kuale, injured an ankle and Spandoni, with no real background on defense, found himself as the probable starter for the LSU season opener.
Any excitement Spadoni had was washed away when Hurricane Katrina struck. Spadoni is still expected to start at the Will (weakside) linebacker spot when, or if, LSU lines up, against Arizona State on Saturday. School officials are preparing as if there will be a game but a final decision will come sometime this week, perhaps Tuesday.
All Spadoni could do was push those feelings into the background.
“It’s all an Act of God. I can’t control that,” said the junior from Kenner who played at John Curtis. “Everyone is safe. That’s all that matters to me.
“I was scheduled to start. We’ve got a whole bunch of other games I can play in. Hopefully, I’ll start this week. I was excited about the opportunity to start and play, show everybody I have the ability to play. I’ll use the extra week to prepare myself mentally, and sort everything out with my family.”
Spadoni said he’s spends a lot of time thinking about his family, who are all safe in Houston, and his home in Kenner near the Esplanade Mall. “I heard we got four feet of water,” he said. He enjoys the opportunity to practice and forget for a couple of hours.
LSU coaches like the way he’s progressed. Defensive coordinator Bo Pelini said Spadoni’s athletic ability made him a natural fit, but that he has some intangibles that have furthered his development. Sapadoni never played defense in high school and isn’t sure if the last time was in elementary or middle school.
“He’s coming along,” defensive coordinator Bo Pelini said. “He’s got good toughness and instincts. We feel he’s just going to get better and better.”
Spadoni has already showed he can play more than just running back. He played in 11 games as a true freshman, mostly on special teams. He sat out the 2003 season because of academic difficulties but returned to special teams play last season. He made the switch to linebacker during spring practice because Joseph Addai, Alley Broussard, Justin Vincent and Shyrone Carey all figured to get more playing time at running back.
“He had a rocky transition at first, some ups and downs,” middle linebacker Cameron Vaughn said. “Lately he’s been up making huge strides. He’s definitely learning, stepping up and doing a great job.”
Spadoni said having played running back has helped him as a linebacker, especially on running plays. When the play starts, he knows where the back is going, because it’s where he used to try to be.
“It’s exactly the same but flip-flopped,” he said. “I can anticipate where the back is going and try to get there first. The toughest part is picking up things like a backside pass route. It’s tough to see the whole picture.”
Notes: LSU associate athletic director Herb Vincent said officials from Arizona State's athletic department were expected to be in Baton Rouge on Sunday, specifically to examine the team's hotel accommodations. Arizona State sports information director Mark Brand said that those who made the trip would examine the "whole picture."
"I don't know because I'm not with them," Brand said. "But I would think it would be looking at the overall security and welfare of the group that we would bring in there."
Arizona State officials would not issue a statement on their findings, Brand said.
TICKET INFO: Beginning today, the LSU Athletics Ticket Office will begin assisting season-ticket holders who have lost or misplaced LSU football tickets or parking passes due to the result of Hurricane Katrina.
For tickets or parking passes to be replaced, the season-ticket holder of record must go in person to the LSU Athletics Ticket Office and present a valid photo ID. Fans are asked to understand that an ID is necessary to ensure the secure issuance of tickets and passes. Relatives or friends of the season-ticket holder of record may not serve as a representative of the ticket holder of record.
The LSU Athletics Ticket Office will be open today from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the remaining weekdays this week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Staff writer William Kalec contributed to this report.