Miles: Satisfied but eager

After three days of work, LSU's coach evaluated where his team is at but also made a point of saying he's eager for Monday when the Tigers don full pads and get down to business.

After three days of practice and now one with his entire team together, LSU coach Les Miles is satisfied but eager.

Satisfied that there has been some chip-away progress made with a roster chock full or freshmen, redshirt freshmen and sophomores.

Eager for the next day and few hours to roll by so he can see his players the way football coaches all want to see them.

Miles called Saturday's session in the blistering morning sun "sloppy as sin," but conceded that he didn't expect much more than this quickly.

"It takes probably five practices to get the speed of the game where you want and we're a ways away from that," Miles said.

Especially the younger wave of freshmen, many of whom are expected to fill in some important gaps for the Tigers this fall.

Miles said there will reps for the newcomers, although they have plenty to prove before they climb up the pecking order.

With the freshmen blended with the full crew of veterans for the first time, there were some struggles with an increased tempo and ratcheted-up expectations.

Defensive coaches John Chavis and Brick Haley were more vocal than the first two days, a sure sign the honeymoon is over for everybody.

"You bring the intensity to them," Miles said of the accentuated passion. "We'll hit more, we'll be more live drill and then once you institute the procedure around live drills, then suddenly the tempo of the practice is adjusted. We're a ways from that.

"We have on shoulder pads again (Sunday) and then we'll be in pads the following day. That will be more fun."

That will also give Miles and his coaches a chance for a more extended evaluation.

Three days is a nice start, and Miles said there's always a tendency for love-at-first-sight thinking.

He said there's a mental tug-o-war between intuition and reality at times, with both claiming victory while the coaches decide which freshmen are ready to make an immediate impact.

"You have to make the early observation because if you don't, you take the chance of leaving a very talented player on the sideline," he said.

"I give my intuition a chance to work for us. And if I am right, great. And if I'm not, we slow him up because he's going to be a good player anyway. Some of the time the approach for the freshman is ‘I've got time because I'm a freshman.' If they think that way then, frankly, they're not going to be ready to go out there to play."

At times Saturday, Miles seemed to be honed in coaching up his assistants – more so than in the first few days.

He said that's the norm at this time of year and it has nothing to do with the adjustment to offensive staff this week.

"I always feel the need to move into areas where I think I can help," Miles said. "I do it routinely without announcement and have been doing it since I got here."

Some other notes from Miles' session with the media:

-- Anthony "Freak" Johnson is one of the crown jewels of the 2011 recruiting class and it's clear Miles' opinion remains sky-high on the defensive tackle who has practiced with the veterans from day one.

LSU freshman defensive tackle Anthony "Freak" Johnson.
"I think he's unbelievable," Miles said. "He's one of those guys who has a real physical ability and it's marched with a bright mind."

-- Miles was asked why he hired Greg Studrawa five years ago as his new offensive line coach. Studrawa was elevated to the offensive coordinator's spot Thursday, part of the shuffle due to Steve Kragthorpe's diagnosis with Parkinson's disease.

"The experience I had in the Midwest and knowing some of those Midwest line coaches and knowing how they were raised," Miles said.

"I knew we would have (Jordan) Jefferson as a mobile quarterback and kinda felt (Studrawa's) knowledge there would benefit us and it has."

Kragthorpe was hired at $700,000 a year more than triple what Studrawa currently makes.

That will be adjusted, Miles said.

"I don't think that's necessarily a key issue at this point but he will (get a raise)," Miles said. "An adjustment in salary will take place."

-- Junior wide receiver Rueben Randle has been pegged as one of the leaders at that position and said Friday he has made a conscious effort to practice better after struggling in that area his first two seasons.

Miles has noticed.

"There's a point and time when you step into that summer sun and there's an urgency to start your season well," Miles said.

How has Randle been different so far? He appears more focused at practice, is runner crisper routes and has been more aggressive getting to the ball – all areas that had been deficiencies before.

"It's a consistency of habit and hard work," Miles said.

-- For the last several years LSU has been regarded as a factory for top-notch defensive-line talent and that seems to be the case again now, although there isn't a ton of experience up front, especially on the interior.

So far, Miles seems to be impressed with what he's seen from the young batch of d-linemen.

"I see big, strong and athletic (guys) with some depth," he said. "I think there's some youth and there's some speed."

Miles singled out sophomore Michael Brockers, who is the most experienced interior lineman.

"It's about time for him to step forward and be a force," Miles said.

-- At 5-foot-11 and 240 pounds, freshman running back Kenny Hilliard is among the bigger Tigers in the backfield, perhaps a little too big.

"I think he can trim up a little bit and two-a-days will give him a chance to do that," Miles said.

-- Jefferson is almost always the first topic of conversation when LSU's hopes this season are the subject, and there was another question Saturday about Kragthorpe's impact on the senior signal-caller's development.

"I saw several decisions today made quicker and throws made cleaner," Miles said.

-- As Studrawa pointed out Friday in his session with the media, while he is now the offensive coordinator, the game plan will be the product of a group effort.

Miles reaffirmed that Saturday.

"We segment the offensive game plan," he said.

"There are leaders of discussion then we come together and kind of visit about what that area of the field looks to them and then we decide what to do."

That's been the method Miles said he has used since he arrived – a system he developed through years of experience under Bo Schembechler, Bill McCartney, Chan Gailey and then when he was the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State.

"It's the best way to do it if you have a quality staff and you want to use their philosophies, their abilities, to add to the game plan and make their room better," Miles said. "You want to include your staff. If you went and said ‘This is all I want to do,' and told the coaches go out and coach it, what a miserable place to work it would be."

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