A good effort

Les Miles met with the media on Tuesday afternoon following his team's final scrimmage of the fall as well as their progress leading up to the final few days of camp.

“Scrimmage was 70 live snaps. With special teams, probably 130 snaps,” Miles said. “I felt the effort was extremely good. I think the team is in really good shape; we ran very hard after and they knocked it out. Was it perfect? No, there are some things that have to be corrected and we certainly understand that. We’re about ten days away from the game and we are down to a small number of mental errors that have to get fixed.”


“As far as who looked good, again it was only 35 snaps for the first team,” he continued. “What that amounts to is Keiland got 5 carries, Scott got 5. Keiland Williams and Charles Scott both had pretty good days.”


Jarrett Lee wanted to take part but was held out of the scrimmage after having back spasms on Monday. In his absence Andrew Hatch and Jordan Jefferson got extensive work under center and the two signal callers combined to complete 16 of 30 passes for 150 yards and a pair of touchdowns.


“The other quarterbacks both played well,” Miles said. “I want to say about 55% completion. Both threw for under 100 yards, but it was still a very productive day for those guys. I like the freshman quarterback. He continues to get better and continues to compete. That’s awfully important as you go forward. If he continues that progress, he’s a guy we can actually look to play at times.”


As for Lee, Miles says he is concerned with him missing so much of camp, but it’s nothing that can’t be made up.


“You’d like to give young guys all the snaps you can get them. We have to make him comfortable in some of situations we know he is going to be in. If we do that then he’ll be fine.”


Besides Lee, there were several other players that missed today’s scrimmage.


“Jacob Cutrera is due back at the very latest Monday, but certainly could be back Thursday,” he Miles. “His injury in the lower extremity, but it’s not a joint. Kirston Pittman was a little gimpy so we decided to freshen him up. Certainly he’s been in enough wars where he didn’t need this last scrimmage.”


Miles also noted that Darry Beckwith and Josh Dworacyzk missed today’s action, but he expects both of them back at practice on Thursday.


Two other players that have missed a substantial amount of camp also missed the workout in Brett Helms and Charles Alexander.


“Yes it (the time Helms and Alexander have missed) concerns me,” Miles said. “I think Helms needs to work less than Charles. I think Charles probably needs more practice time. It really kind of depends on how quickly he gets back. I’m less concerned about the amount of practice Helms has missed. Helms should be back any day, if not Thursday. Charles is probably not far behind, maybe this week, but no later than Monday.”


Despite missing Alexander, the defensive line put up an impressive showing according to the man in charge.


Ricky Jean-Francois had seven tackles, including a pair of sacks while Drake Nevis had four tackles, three for losses. Tyson Jackson, Lazarius Levingston, and Danny McCray each had a sack as well.


“I think the defense is playing awfully well,” Miles said. “The defensive front is really doing well. I like Drake Nevis today in the scrimmage. He’s in great shape and runs hard and just pursues that ball. I think Ricky Jean Francois, Tyson Jackson, Tremaine Johnson, and Rahim Alem are having great camps.”


Naturally, many people will wonder about how the offensive line is progressing with the defensive line having such strong showings.


“I don’t know that they’re exactly where I want them to be, but I like their leadership,” said the headman. “I like the way they are coming together. We still did not play Brett Helms and I think he makes a tremendous difference. And I think Ryan Miller puts us so much further ahead in the ability to play another center. I’m real comfortable with the way Ryan Miller is participating. Are they playing the way we want them to? No, ten or eleven days away they’re not supposed to. They’re going to round into shape.”


Another area that has been a focal point this fall is the cornerback position but things may be better than many expected.


“We are really playing well at corner,” said Miles. “I like the competition. I think you’ll see a lot of guys play and the order may change as the season goes forward.”


One of the players heavily involved in the competition at quarterback is Jai Eugene. The coaches have noticed a definite change in the sophomore cornerback heading into the ‘08 season.


“His realization of his opportunity to play has made him want to pursue excellence,” Miles said of Eugene. “You can see his work ethic, his leadership and how he wants to be on the field. You can see it, it’s obvious.”


Another area of interest is the return game and Tiger fans could see a number of guys returning kicks in the fall.


“We’re working on a number of guys at punt returner,” explained Miles. “Certainly Chad Jones, Patrick Peterson, and Trindon Holliday. At kick returner, we’re looking at Holliday, LaFell, Chad Jones, and Patrick Peterson.”


Given what he saw at today’s scrimmage and the progress of the team at this point in camp, would Miles be comfortable if the Tigers were playing a game this Saturday?


“No, and I may not be comfortable after we play three,” he said. “Comfortable is a word that I don’t recognize as something I’m in.”


Stefoin Francois Update


Someone asked about Stefoin Francois and any updates on his situation.


 “There’s nothing new, he’s still in purgatory,” Miles said.

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