Baker, two more return to practice:
LSU head coach Les Miles said that linebacker Ryan Baker could return as early as this weekend, though he said the junior linebacker would likely not be in the starting lineup. Baker suffered a broken jaw during fall camp and was expected to miss at least the first two weeks of the season.
“He practiced for the most part without contact early in the week,” Miles said. “He has great quickness and fresh legs, so he’s playing tough.”
“He has lost some weight, three to five pounds,” he added. “He ate pretty good.”
In terms of conditioning, Baker hasn’t missed a beat.
“He has run and worked out throughout (the injury),” Miles said.
Miles also expects junior safety Karnell Hatcher and sophomore wide receiver Chris Tolliver back by the weekend.
“It will be interesting to see how they play, but they may well get into the rotation.”
Changes on the offensive line:
The hot topic of the day was the void at right guard.
When starter Will Blackwell was injured on the first LSU possession against North Carolina, Miles thrust backup center T-Bob Hebert – not one of team’s two-deep guards – into the mix.
On Wednesday he called the move the right one, but not necessarily the permanent one.
“More game experience,” Miles said in response to why Hebert took the field over Josh Williford or Matt Branch. “The mental part is much more than the physical part. T-Bob was ready that day even though Williford had taken reps over time.”
Three days before the team opens Southeastern Conference play, the 6-foot-7, 324-pound redshirt freshman is eyeing the starting spot.
“Josh Williford will probably get the first nod,” said Miles. “We need (Hebert) to stay handy at that center spot.”
Miles did not say there would be any shuffle along the line in order to find the new five.
“We have given great thought to it, and we think that is our best five.”
Though Stevan Ridley ran for a respectable average on Saturday, the junior running back put the ball on the ground twice – including once in the game’s final minutes.
In this week’s practice Miles put an extra emphasis on ball security, a lesson that the headman feels his starting running back has learned well.
“I think that he’s wanted to be responsible … he wants to be very much a guy who carries the ball with security,” he said. “I think Ridley will do that. I don’t see that as an issue that he has.”
Asked if Ridley found himself in the doghouse after the performance, Miles said that the decision to move on to the next name in line isn’t one that comes with ease.
“I think it’s a possibility that I have to make difficult decisions based on what is best for our football team, and ball security is one of the key spots for me” Miles said. “That is the first thing.”
Outside of Richard Murphy, Miles mentioned three names as candidates for touches in Nashville.
“Some young guys will get more carries than last weekend,” he said. “Maybe Michael Ford, but maybe Alfred Blue and Spencer Ware.”
On Ridley’s week at practice…
“I think that he’s wanted to be responsible. Every guy that carries the football understands it is not his football it’s ours. He has to return it to the offense. He wants to be very much to be a guy who carries the ball with security.”
On playing time being cut back for fumbles…
“I think it’s a possibility that I have to make difficult decisions on what is best for our football team, and ball security is one of the key spots for me. That is the first thing. I think Ridley will do that. I don’t see that as an issue that he has.”
On the decision to not insert Josh Williford once Will Blackwell went down at guard…
“We think we could have put him in the whole time. In the style of game that it was, T-Bob (Hebert) might well take those snaps. And he was doing good so we didn’t take him out.”