Les Miles was at the microphone Monday as usual, part of truncated week for No. 3-ranked LSU as it prepares for a Thursday game at 25th-ranked Mississippi State.
Miles talked about the Tigers’ thorough 49-3 victory against Northwestern State and several other topics in his time with the media.
One big piece of news was Miles confirming for the first time that fifth-year senior offensive lineman Josh Dworaczyk is done for the season with a knee injury that will require surgery.
It would seem that injury would mark the end the career of Dworaczyk, who redshirted as a true freshman in 2007. But Miles verified that the school will likely petition the NCAA for a hardship sixth season.
“We don’t expect Josh to be back,” Miles said. “He’s doing a great job as a student assistant right now. We would like, if at all possible, for the NCAA to consider him as a medical candidate and maybe return him to play next year.”
Fifth-year senior T-Bob Hebert has stepped in and started both games at Dworaczyk’s left guard spot.
Lee 100-percent, will be QB against MSU
A first-quarter sack that left LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee hobbled was a hot topic Monday, but Miles said that his starting quarterback was 100 percent.
“There is not going to be any injury that will stop any of our players from playing, and certainly not Lee,” Miles said. “We expect full practices from him.”
After sophomore transfer Zach Mettenberger went 8-of-11 for 92 yards and one touchdown in the second half of a 49-3 win over Northwestern State, Miles said that he doesn’t expect Mettenberger to get snaps against Mississippi State on Thursday night.
“I would really anticipate playing Lee from start to finish,” Miles said. “I don’t think there is a plan to give (Mettenberger) a specific series.”
No shift at RB
Michael Ford took the opening series against Northwestern State and finished the night with a team-high 72 yards and two touchdowns on 13 touches.
But sophomore Spencer Ware, who finished with 20 yards and a pair of touchdowns on just six carries against Northwestern State, is still the Tigers’ starter at tailback.
“It's very comfortable for us to look at Spencer Ware and see the things he has done,” Miles said. “I think when Michael Ford comes in fresh there is just a little bit more juice and a little different energy level. I think that is good. I think it is good for Alfred Blue and some of the other guys. We like to finish with the fresh back.
“I like the best back for the series and for the plays. I think a hot hand, a hand that is reminiscent of ball security and a guy that is fresh are the best options.”
Depth building, Baker returns vs. MSU
Senior linebacker Ryan Baker missed last Saturday’s game because of a violation of team rules, but Miles said the suspension was for just one game and that Baker would return to action this week.
“There will be no restrictions on Baker,” Miles said.
He would not confirm whether Baker would get the start.
“We’re going to play him as we see fit and how the practice week goes, just like we always have,” Miles said.
Without Baker the LSU defense didn’t miss a beat, holding the Demons to -4 rushing yards and just three points.
Seven linebackers saw action.
“I thought Luke Muncie, Tahj Jones and Lamin Barrow all played really well,” Miles said. “The good news is that it really increased our depth. We will not hesitate to put them in the game again.”
Thursday night in Baton Rouge?
With LSU headed to Starkville, Miss. for a mid-week game, Les Miles was asked about the prospect of playing a home game in Baton Rouge on a Thursday night.
“I think the right Thursday night game here would be great,” Miles said. “I’ve envisioned it for some time, to be honest.”
Of course, with the influx of fans that would make the trip the university would need to cancel classes for two days – for the sake of football.
“That would be a very difficult piece for the academic schedule,” Miles said. “I personally would enjoy it on our schedule, but I don’t think this school can give up two teaching days. When you bring all of the people that come into town for the game, you park and you use the facilities that currently house our student parking, the only way for them to get through the day would not to have school so the students do not have to park on campus.
“We really envisioned this some time ago, but that was really the hurdle.”
Ready for the short week
It’s only the second non-Holiday Thursday night game in LSU’s history, so it’s safe to say that Miles is in foreign territory this week.
A master of preparing his team on an extended schedule, Miles is now faced with the task of turning his team around with just four days of practice.
“We’re trying to do what was Tuesday’s work for Sunday, Wednesday’s work for Monday and so on,” Miles said.
To get ahead, Miles handed out double-duties during last week’s preparation for Northwestern State.
“We had all of our young coaches breaking down the film, and had the film put in there so that when we turned our attention to Mississippi State early on Sunday, we would be prepared to game plan and go from there,” he said. “Considering this day, we’re about a full day ahead. We need to gain another day. We’re going to need to gain another full day in the next two.
“We’ll be in position to do everything we need to do here Wednesday. We’re going to be ready to roll. We might continue to prepare, but the game plan will be done.”
Strong on the inside
The defensive tackle position was a question mark headed into the season, but the consistent play of Michael Brockers combined with the emergence of Bennie Logan has given the position new hope.
Against the Demons, the LSU interior dominated on the ground and in the air, helping hold Northwestern State to 95 total yards with Brockers intercepting a pass.
“I think Michael Brockers is playing better and better,” Miles said. “The play that he made is one of those plays that you will remember for quite some time. It was not an ordinary play. He laid out and made a great ball skill play on an interception.
“I think our defensive line have really come to play. Bennie Logan, Josh Downs and Anthony Johnson are among a number of guys that can step in and make big plays. It is nice to have a rotation that can keep fresh.”
Russell Shepard losing his grip at WR?
Headed into preseason camp, there was no debating that Russell Shepard was the No. 2 wide receiver on the team and that he would line up opposite Rueben Randle in the starting lineup.
But after Shepard violated NCAA protocol and was suspended for three games, freshman Odell Beckham Jr. used a strong fall camp to catapult into the starting lineup – and potentially bump Shepard out for good.
Miles was asked how Shepard would affect Beckham’s workload. Last Saturday, Beckham caught five passes for 40 yards.
“I think Russell will certainly have his niche,” Miles said, not confirming whether Shepard would move back into his starting position. “There are enough touches in a game to have both him and Beckham see the ball plenty.”
No changes on the legal front
After LSU’s quick 2-0 start, chatter of the legal debate that clouded the month of August has quieted.
Quarterback Jordan Jefferson and linebacker Josh Johns both hired new attorneys after being arrested on charges of second-degree battery, a felony in Louisiana.
Miles said there was nothing new to report on the two suspended players, neither of which has practiced with the team since their arrest.
“Everything that I have here is very unofficial and not specific,” Miles said. “There is no legitimate update at this point.”
Not bad for a first-timer
LSU-Miss. State: News & notes
10 for the win