Miles: New-look LSU remains a contender
National radio host Paul Finebaum said Wednesday few have mentioned Les Miles’ name in the weeks leading up to the college football season.
Despite winning two league titles in the last seven years along with the 2007 BCS National Championship, the SEC’s most underrated coach has flown relatively under the radar coming off his fourth consecutive 10-win season.
Entering his 10th season in Baton Rouge, Miles reminded us all Wednesday at SEC Media Days not to dismiss the Tigers and shared supreme confidence in this year’s team.
“I like us and I like us in every game,” Miles said. “We’re a team on the cusp of winning championships. Don’t bother us, we don’t care, we just want to work, we want to improve, we want to play one game at a time, we want to point at the next opponent.
“We understand that doesn’t mean that we’re in the immediate talk, but if we continue to do the things we’ve done in the past, we’ll earn our way.”
Like several SEC teams projected in the preseason Top 25 facing the same questions, LSU’s replacing a multi-year starting quarterback in Zach Mettenberger and a couple interior defensive linemen with elite-level freshmen and players who have developed within the program anxiously awaiting their turn to step up.
Five-star wideout Malachi Dupre and crown jewel Leonard Fournette, the nation’s top-ranked ballcarrier, should see the field early on offense, but the position battle everyone is watching heading into August is under center between sophomore Anthony Jennings and freshman Brandon Harris — LSU’s only two scholarship quarterbacks on roster.
Harris enrolled in January and looked sharp in the spring game with 270 yards of total offense with three touchdowns. The Parkway High product has worked with George Whitfield on overcoming chaos in the pocket, something he’s sure to see in LSU’s opener against Wisconsin should he win the job in fall practice.
“Offensively, quarterback will be Anthony Jennings or Brandon Harris,” Miles said. “It will be a very competitive event from the start to the finish. Cam Cameron, a guy who’s made a career mentoring quarterbacks, is our offensive coordinator, will do the exactly right things with those guys.
“You’ll see how well a freshman can execute at quarterback.”
More from Miles’ SEC Media Days appearance:
- On Tiger Stadium expansion: “102,000 in Tiger Stadium. If you thought we were loud before, we just got louder. How fortunate it is for us to play in such a great venue.”
- On College Football Playoff: “I think the Playoff system is something that college football nationally wanted. I think it’s a quality attempt. I think the Playoffs will eventually at some point in time expand. I think that the Playoff will be equally kind to the SEC.”
- On facing Wisconsin in the opener: “They play offense, defense, special teams in a very physical manner. We recognize the challenge. Our program has taken these challenges. I mean, it’s an opportunity for us to raise our level of play and really expect that those freshmen that are going to step to the field, those underclassmen that are now being counted on to show that they can play big roles for the Tigers.”
- On losing two starting defensive tackles: “Christian LaCouture we would expect to be a starter for us inside, has had a great spring, played significantly in the fall, and really we would expect that he would be a guy that would step right in there. Quentin Thomas is also a guy that played a lot of ball in the fall. He has really matured, really defined himself as a guy that can give great contribution there.”
- On factors that are key toward staying at LSU as long as he has: “I think, first of all, you have to have a great school. I think the opportunity that we present in recruiting is, it’s a place you’re going to get your degree, you’re going to play championship football, you’re going to play one of the historic venues in college football.”