The last time Les Miles had his team together on the practice field was the week prior to the Tigers’ Nov. 28 win over Arkansas.
So when the Tigers took to the indoor facility on Monday afternoon, there was the expected rust that needed to be shaken away.
“It looked like the first bowl practice,” said Miles on Monday evening. “The tempo was good, a little sloppy. It is about getting our feet underneath us.”
Miles and his staff will fit in six practice sessions over the next week, starting slow before working their way back to full speed.
“We will have three practices, then take a little break to freshen them up about Thursday, which will be a special teams walk-through,” Miles said. “Friday we will go hard, Saturday we will go hard, and then Sunday we will take our little break.”
Over his four full seasons at LSU, Miles is perfect in bowl games. On Jan. 1 against Penn State, he has a chance to move the mark to 5-0.
In terms of preparation, the headman said that nothing changes.
“Virtually identical to the last several years,” said Miles of the plan of attack over the next two weeks. “Each team is different, but we like how it finished.”
For starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson, a first season spent running through weekends in the Southeastern Conference has the approach this December differing from last – a time in which the freshman entered the bowl season with only one start to his credit.
“I was still on a learning basis,” said Jefferson of last season’s bowl preparation for Georgia Tech. “It is basically the same type of practices, but me playing through a whole season and knowing what I know, it is a lot different. I am able to execute on things that I would have problems with throughout the season.”
Though the Tigers have not hit the film room as a team yet, both Miles and Jefferson said that they had been able to see pieces of the Nittany Lions on both sides of the football.
The early word back: use SEC-speed to overcome.
“We are working on some plays to use our speed on their defense,” Jefferson said. “We got receivers and running backs; try and take advantage of something Penn State doesn’t have. Get Trindon [Holliday] and Russell [Shepard] involved in the offense to where we can get some yards and put points on the board.
“We have got two or three weeks to prepare,” he added. “That is a lot of time. That is a lot different from preparing for one week. These three, we are taking advantage of it.”
Another big point of emphasis will be special teams, an area that the Tigers have hit a hot streak at the right time with through the successes of kicker Josh Jasper, punter Derek Helton and return specialist Trindon Holliday.
“We have always emphasized special teams here,” Miles said. “I think our special teams has played better in each ball game, and they look forward to playing the best in the last one.”
“We always work hard on special teams every practice,” Jefferson added. “We depend on Trindon to put us in situations where we don’t have to work an 80-yard drive.”
On Monday, every Tiger that suited up for the Arkansas game was back on the field and working at full speed. Running back Charles Scott, who suffered a broken collarbone against Alabama, practiced in a non-contact setting without pads. His status will likely remain uncertain until game day.