Les Miles officially kicked off the 2014 football season Sunday while his players reported for the start of fall camp, which begins Monday.
Miles met with the media to set the stage as the countdown to Wisconsin ticks away.
“I’ve done this 10 times in a row now,” Miles said. “It’s fun. The team actually gets to improve. That’s the call to action. This is that day the new class and the old class reports, and we get to practice.”
Everyone will with the exception of two. Travonte Valentine’s arrival is still on hold as he awaits clearance from the NCAA Eligibility Center. Jalen Mills also must wait for his legal situation to clear before he’s allowed back with the team.
Miles didn’t have much to update on either situation.
“The reality is the high school and the Clearinghouse have to communicate,” Miles said of Valentine. “They’re doing that and they’re trying. Sometimes there are easy answers, and sometimes there’s not. Hopefully this will be an easy answer.”
As for Mills…
“I haven’t tried to nor do I intend to pressure the process in any way,” Miles said. “Mills has a responsibility to handle his business, and this is his business.”
The rest of the LSU roster will begin practices Monday with the veterans (and certain freshmen) going in the morning and the other freshmen (with select veterans) taking the afternoon session. If Sunday’s press conference was any indication, there will be plenty of attention paid to the quarterback battle between Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris.
Miles said he has no deadline as to when he’d like to name a starter. Harris and Jennings will alternate between the two sessions. Miles was adamant that battle is still wide open.
“We’ll have to see how each day they proceed and how things go,” Miles said. “Maturity is the whole deal. It’s the deal for both of them. Both guys have a good solid base premise. It’s just going to be that time in the game where you have an opportunity to make a play and their self interpretation at some point will be the criteria with how you pick the starter.”
Quarterback isn’t the only position battle on the roster. A starting right guard —Evan Washington or Fehoko Fanaika — is still to be determined, and both safety spots are relatively open with Mills’ position still in limbo.
Miles said each practice will include an “emphasis period” at the end of the day that will intend to simulate a game-like atmosphere. While there won’t be contact, that “emphasis period” will help the coaches eventually determine the winners of these position battles.
“We will have competition, and it will be viewed as game-like as possible,” Miles said. “That’ll give those young guys an opportunity to continue to improve and do so with a watchful eye.”
Here are Miles comments on that safety position:
“There are some guys there that are very talented guys that fit in comfortably,” Miles said. “Those guys that have experience and have played back there, have the enjoyment to prove their play. Once you have that you have the opportunity to play a bit more confidently. Hopefully those guys will play confidently.”
At defensive tackle, Christian Lacouture and Quentin Thomas enter camp as the favorite to start. Behind them are a handful of guys that will compete for a spot in the rotation. Miles mentioned the three other signees from the Class of 2013 will have their chances during the next few weeks.
“Frank Herron is a large defensive end with real mobility that has moved inside,” Miles said. “I look forward to having a look at him. [Maquedius] Bain has always been very athletic, and [Greg] Gilmore has lost 20 pounds and it might be the lightest he’s been since he’s been here. He’s always been a real strong brute and now he has the opportunity to move with some quickness.”
LSU reports for Fall Camp
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