“I’m glad there is a resemblance of routine,” said LSU coach Les Miles.
As North Texas comes to town to grapple with his team, Miles is coping with the second major hurricane of his four-year tenure. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated Louisiana in 2005, just days before Miles was slated to begin his career at LSU.
“I think this is a little different one, too. I think Rita and Katrina, though it really affected our state and us peripherally and our off-the-field issues were dealing with other concerns and others concerns like those people who were more adversely affected than Baton Rouge,” Miles said. “I think this one is dealing with more personal issues like electricity or family’s electricity and those things that surround this school. I think it’s a little more telling, maybe a little more wear on our team than what would be other situations.”
What were once prominent issues in Tigertown, such as the debate between quarterbacks Andrew Hatch and Jarrett Lee and the question of when freshman cornerback Patrick Peterson would nab a starting role, have since taken a bit of a backseat to Gustav. And with just this one game left before the Tigers’ SEC opener against Auburn, LSU will be playing catch-up with the rest of the nation to sort out its 2008 squad.
“Certainly, that would have been the positive about playing last week. I really think that we played, though it was not exactly the same,” Miles said. “We really touched at both quarterbacks in a much extended scrimmage on Thursday. They went through a number of situations including two minute no huddle and all kind of third down and long and third down and medium. They had to deal with specific the issues of a defense. I agree that ideally you would have liked to play, but that was over. We did the next best thing.”
It will be hard to determine whether that scrimmage, or indeed this game does much for the Tigers’ prospects.
Led by talented wide out Casey Fitzgerald, North Texas’s pass-happy offense comes into Saturday’s contest averaging just 173 yards per game. Conversely, the Mean Green are allowing an average of 513 yards per game along with 50.5 points on defense.
“Any time that you have a football team that can recruit in North Texas, a very talented area, and any time that you have a football team that has a tradition of winning and understands what winning is all about. Temporary setbacks are certain issues they can overcome, and I promise you that we will be challenged by this team,” Mile said. “The key is what they’ve done to a very capable Tulsa team. They put 450 yards on Tulsa offensively. I can tell you that that is a very capable offense. What that will do is challenge our offense to be as capable as offenses that have faced them, and that will be the challenge.”
If Aug. 30’s game against Appalachian State is any indicator, Miles will be looking to see where his quarterbacks stand, and will likely be hoping for a similar outing from his ground game. The circumstances surrounding that 10 a.m. kickoff have clouded the details a bit, but the 41-13 trouncing saw a typical swirling LSU defense and the coming out of junior tailback Charles Scott.
“I think it’s going to be the same,” Miles said of the offense. “You might see some differences because there have been some twists with the passing attack, but that happens every week. I think the running game is going to be very similar. I think [Scott] is picking up a lot of different pieces to his game. He’s becoming a pretty good third down back and pretty good tailback.”
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Saturday in Tiger Stadium. Then, the Tigers begin their SEC season on the road against Auburn.