FEINSWOG: Hoping things get simpler for Miles

As the keys pound in late June, two months and a week from the LSU football season opener, the Tigers are in the news. Coach Les Miles is in Iraq. Xavier Carter is gone with the wind. A local restaurant has a sign out that marks how many days till the first game.

A Southern University big-timer was lobbying for his Jaguars to get a piece of the non-conference "we'll be the ones to get pummeled for hundreds of thousands of dollars instead of Out of State U."


LSU still doesn't have a baseball coach and we need rain.


Hopefully by the time you read this, Miles will be home safe and sound and breaking down video and conducting all those meetings that football coaches sit in all day long. LSU will have a baseball coach and hopefully the drought will be over.


The speedy Xavier Carter will be making his fortune on the European track circuit, never catching another pass for the Tigers.


And it will almost be football season, a season with a whole lot of questions after one of the more unusual LSU campaigns ever.


Nothing will ever compare to 2005 after Hurricane Katrina. All other ramifications of that tragedy aside, it made for an LSU football season that will remain different, tortured and successful like no other.


After last season's 11-2 finish, you can only praise Miles for his work on and off the field. In many ways, however, this season – should it be more normal – will give a much better barometer of the second-year coach and how he handles things.


Not that it will be any easier.


LSU opens Sept. 2, against Louisiana-Lafayette (see Southern, above).


But then Arizona comes to town, followed by a trip to Auburn. LSU should beat Arizona, an up-and-comer with high hopes to make a splash on the national scene.


Fish-or-cut-bait time comes early this season when the Tigers go to Auburn on Sept. 16. Such is the world of college football when the fate of the free world is decided in game three.


By then, JaMarcus Russell will have either kept or lost his job as starting quarterback, staving off Matt Flynn and Ryan Perrilloux, who might have to patiently wait his turn one more year. But if Russell stumbles …


There's nothing tricky about the schedule – nothing like what happened last season – but there are plenty of tough Saturdays ahead.


Simply put, after the first three weeks there are three games that will make or break the season from then on, at Florida, at Tennessee and at Arkansas. It doesn't help LSU that all of those games are preceded by "at" because it's better to be home than away. There's also a Nov. 11 home game against Alabama.


It's fair to predict that LSU is looking at 8-4 or 9-3, but after last season and all they went through and how they responded, no in their right mind should bet against these Tigers.


But …


LSU has tremendous character people and leaders to replace, such as Andrew Whitworth, Kyle Williams and Skyler Green.


That huge quarterback controversy looms large.


It's not likely that this LSU team will match last year's 11-2 finish, one of the top five in school history. It's also not likely – we hope – we'll deal with a hurricane like Katrina and all that went with it.


Let's just hope that all Miles has to deal with this season are simple things, like deciding on a quarterback and not worrying about Carter, who will be running on a cool night in Europe and making his fortune when the Tigers are sweating through two-a-days.




Lee Feinswog is a Baton Rouge sportswriter and host of the television show Sports Monday. Reach him at (225) 926-3256 or lee@sportsbatonrouge.com.

His book, "HoopDaddy" is available at www.HoopDaddy.net.

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