Bowl Preparation Begins
After they ended the regular season with a road loss to Arkansas, the LSU football team took a two-week break as the players went through preparations for final exams.
On Wednesday, the coaches returned from the recruiting trail for a two-hour workout, the first geared towards preparations for Texas A&M. The Tigers meet the Aggies in the 75th Cotton Bowl Classic on Jan. 7 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Though Miles described the practice as too sloppy for his liking, the good news was that the Tigers were as healthy as they have been in months.
Back to the lineup was offensive guard Will Blackwell and tackle Alex Hurst, as was every player that was “nicked on the back end.” Defensive end Sam Montgomery will be sidelined through the spring, while the staff hopes to have Brandon Taylor back by March from a late-season ankle surgery.
“It appears everyone is healthy,” said head coach Les Miles.
As for the road ahead, Miles said that a late bowl date forced them to trim back the practice schedule, which resulted in the team taking Monday and Tuesday of this week off.
“We went from 19 practices to maybe 16,” he said. “It’s very similar to the National Championship.”
Given the layout of the week’s schedule, the opening few practices should get everyone back into a rhythm.
“These first three practices are designed to get the speed of the game back,” Miles said. “We go more LSU vs. LSU than we are against A&M.”
Miles wrapped up Wednesday’s opening session with a look at his younger players, a number of which saw action in their first year with the program this fall.
“We took a 10-minute period and did individual drills and took another 10-minute period and ran our plays,” he said. “If we can get and extra 100 plays in during a bowl season for our young guys, that prepares them for the spring, and it’s a nice start to spring practice.”
The Tigers will go again on Thursday afternoon before taking off on Friday for the school’s graduation. They will then return to the field on Saturday for what Miles called the hardest practice of the week.
“It will be faster paced and much more A&M,” he said. “Then we will take a day off on Sunday. Then we will go Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.”
After Christmas the team will practice from Dec. 27 through Dec. 30, then take a day off on New Year’s Eve before departing for Texas on Jan. 1.
“It looks like four game weeks, and that’s good,” Miles said.
Coaching Carousel Doesn’t Stop in Baton Rouge
With Urban Meyer gone from Florida, Randy Shannon gone from Miami and Will Muschamp out at Texas, the country’s premier programs have kept busy on the coaching trails this bowl season.
Though another rocky offensive finish had fans doubting Miles and calling for coordinator Gary Crowton’s head in the same breath, the staff appears to be set.
“I put a sign out, and there is no jobs available and no jobs needed,” Miles said. “We want these guys to stay.”
Miles has had a reputation as a headman who handles any coaching changes after the bowl season has ended. On Wednesday, he maintained that nothing would happen post-Cotton Bowl.
“I handle it as the interest comes,” he said. “I don’t know if we are getting better as fast as I would like, but I like the nucleus of the people I go to work with every day.”