What’s next for Jefferson?
Les Miles made it midway through his weekly Monday press luncheon before the inevitable question was asked.
Back from a four-game suspension, and now with a few rushes and a touchdown under his belt, where does senior quarterback Jefferson go from here?
Miles didn’t go into much detail, but he did make one thing clear.
“I can tell you that Jarrett Lee is our starter and our vision first and foremost takes Lee into mind,” Miles said. “That is how we are approaching it. We’ll get to the other aspects of the offense later down the road.”
That means if Jefferson is going to get involved, it will likely be in the same fashion he was used against Kentucky. He’s situational backup, a running option to counter Lee’s arm.
With Florida coming to Tiger Stadium for 2:30 p.m. kickoff this Saturday, Miles didn’t hint at how many – if any – snaps Jefferson would take.
“We’re so early into the plan that it is difficult to figure,” he said.
What about the other side?
Florida is dealing with a completely different situation at quarterback.
Driskel’s backup is Jacoby Brissett, another true freshman.
No matter if Muschamp goes with one, the other or both, Miles is confident in the result his defense will turn out.
“I think that we’re very comfortable,” Miles said. “We’ve faced a number of offenses to this point. Our defense has been tested against a wide range of attacks and can easily make an adjustment that fits the opponent.”
In two career SEC games, Driskel is a combined 2-of-9 passing for 14 yards and an interception. At 6-foot-4, 235-pounds with a 4.55 40-yard dash, Driskel may become more of a mobile threat this weekend. He picked up 31 yards on a run against the Tide last weekend.
A quick start to the season for Patrick Peterson brought a bit of Heisman Trophy chatter to Baton Rouge.
Now, sophomore Tyrann Mathieu is in the process of garnering the same kind of attention.
Through five weeks, Mathieu leads the LSU defense with 35 tackles, and he has forced four fumbles and recovered three. He’s scored on a fumble recovery and on special teams, and he was taken down at the 1-yard line on an interception return.
A strong candidate for the Lott Trophy, which is awarded annually to college football’s biggest impact player on the defensive side, Mathieu’s name is also being brought up in Heisman Trophy conversations.
When asked about the chatter, Miles seemed a bit hesitant to touch the subject.
“Heisman Trophies are always awarded in the back end of the seasons when the team has accomplished,” Miles said. “I don’t know that there are many Heisman Trophy winners that are on teams that did not accomplish a lot.”
By the time his answer ended, Miles might as well been wearing a ‘Honey Badger for Heisman’ T-shirt.
“I think there are a number of guys with the ability to receive national awards, and I think Tyrann Mathieu is one of those guys,” Miles said. “I think a defensive back that has the skills and the abilities that he has should be considered for a national award, if not the Heisman.”
Welcome Texas A&M, goodbye Florida?
LSU has enjoyed some memorable Saturdays thanks to its annual matchup with Eastern Division rival Florida, but if Miles gets his way, that could soon be history.
With Texas A&M to enter the SEC next season, Miles said he wants to see an SEC East opponent dropped of the schedule.
“The quick answer for a division that had one extra, the one game that would be at risk would be the one game that you play in the Eastern Division year in and year out,” Miles said. “Unless you are going to monopolize the scheduling for non-conference games, if you add another team to the East and you play another league game, you limit the opportunity to play out of conference foes.
“Non-conference foes are beneficial to virtually every school. When you strengthen your conference that much, there should be an opportunity to play non-conference teams because you’re going to get every opportunity at national exposure and quality opponents in the regular season.”
First Ware and Ford, now Blue and Magee
After the win over Kentucky, when Ware didn’t make it past the first drive (hamstring injury) and Ford fumbled (a big no-no for running backs hoping to earn reps from Miles), the talk went deeper into the depth chart.
“I think (Alfred) Blue had his best game thus far,” Miles said. “He continues becoming more efficient and capable. He is getting better at finishing runs.”
“I think that Magee is a guy that can get into a small space and come through the other end … We will have the opportunity to run the ball again with a number of guys.”
Blue led the team against UK with 72 yards on 16 carries, and Magee, a true freshman, finished with 38 yards on 12 touches. Miles said he had little hesitation in burning Magee’s redshirt, and mentioned that the staff had almost played the Franklinton native in games over the past three weeks.
One better, Blue is proving to be of equal impact on special teams, where he has recorded 10 tackles, six of which were solo stops.
“He is challenged to do those things, and he accepts those challenges,” Miles said. “It makes him tougher, more rugged and more capable when he steps in at tailback. That is what he is doing. He is accepting the challenge on special teams and tailback to be the best that he can be and to help his football team.”
Ware, Hebert should be back
This week’s injury watch surrounds the run game.
Starting left guard T-Bob Hebert suffered a knee injury at West Virginia and didn’t play vs. Kentucky, but Miles is confident that at least a half-week’s worth of practice will have the senior ready to step back into the lineup. He said that Hebert would miss Monday’s practice, but likely suit up on Tuesday.
Ware went down on the offense’s first drive of the game and never returned, but Miles said the move was precautionary more than anything else.
“He will be back Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday,” Miles said.
Ware, who has scored three times, leads the team in rushing with 333 yards on 81 attempts.
The Weis effect
First-year offensive coordinator Charlie Weis has established a new identity for Florida, a pro-style attack that utilizes its speedy running backs to set the tone and puts an emphasis in the passing game on screens and short to intermediate passing routes.
“The offense is much more diverse than it was in the previous regime,” Miles said. “With Tebow, that offense was designed for that style of quarterback … it really was one style of offense.
“Here you see the ability to be two-back, one-back, throw it efficiently from both personnel groups and occasionally throw in some wildcat. Charlie Weis has done a great job in coordinating the spectrum of variations in offense.”
All things considered, Miles doesn’t seem convinced that the Gators are forced to do much rebuilding under a new coaching staff, even going as far as calling Florida the best team that the Tigers will have played through six weeks – a stretch that included bouts away from home with Oregon and West Virginia.
“They are as talented as any team we’ve faced thus far, that is a pretty easy thing to say,” Miles said. “They have good players at every position.
“They have great speed and great athleticism, and they are a very physical team.”
Happy and at home
After stops at Michigan, Colorado and Oklahoma State, Miles made the jump to the NFL in 1998, where he was the tight ends coach for the Dallas Cowboys from 1998-2000. By 2001, Miles was back at Oklahoma State – but this time as a head coach. He left for LSU in 2005, where he has remained since.
But the NFL coaching wheel is always turning, and because of success over six full seasons in Baton Rouge, some national media have tabbed Miles as the next college coach to make the move to become an NFL headman.
After he turned down Michigan (twice) and signed a seven-year contract extension, Miles seems content coaching up the nation’s No. 1-ranked college team.
“I am awfully happy where I am at,” Miles said.