“Up to this point I think the practices have been really productive,” Miles said. “We had pads on for the first time today and got a lot in. I think there are some really good signs. I like the way the defense has performed. They’re really accommodating the installation. I like the way the defense played today.”
“Offensively, I think we made some plays,” Miles continued. “Again I think there are some good young players that are stepping to the front. It was a nice start to the week.”
Miles said that Tuesday’s practice was moved inside because of the soggy fields outside thanks to all the rainfall in the Baton Rouge area the last few days, and indicated he did not feel it was worth risking injury by practicing outside.
Miles’ concern about injuries may be heightened after this past weekend when another Tiger was lost for the rest of spring.
“Stevan Ridley got a knee injury in either the first or second practice outside,” Miles said. “I don’t think he’ll be with us the rest of spring. He’ll be ready for August. We're looking at Drayton Calhoun a little bit at running back. With four tailbacks, we're in pretty good shape. Again, with Richard Dugas stepping in a little bit at fullback and Charles Scott I think we'll be OK in the two-back set." ”
Miles said he is very happy with the progression of the receivers through the first four practices.
The media usually does not get an opportunity to observe special teams during the time they are allowed to observe practice, so Miles offered some insight into what he’s expecting from the unit, especially replacing Colt David.
“Josh Jasper is looking like the guy that’s going to replace Colt David,” Miles said. “He’s pretty capable himself, so I think we’ll be fine there. He’s a guy that would have competed more effectively if we had needed him to. I think he’ll be fine this fall.
“I think we’ll let him kickoff and kick extra points,” he continued. “But if somebody came ahead and won the kickoff job so he could focus on extra points and field goals that would be best.”
No matter who wins the kickoff job, they better be prepared to handle a few different kickoff styles according to Miles.
“I think we’ll use all those things that might give return teams a difficult time returning, including the sky kick,” Miles said. “We want to see how Josh Jasper is progressing. His leg strength may be such that you’d like to leave it three yards deep every time you could, or at the one yard line with tremendous hang time. We’ll look at that more as we get closer to the fall.”
Most are expecting JUCO transfer Derek Helton to handle the punting duties next season. While Miles did not indicate a clear leader at punter yet, he wouldn’t be surprised to see Helton on the field in another capacity.
Miles said he expects both return teams to look very similar to last season’s.
“The kickoff return team on paper looks really good,” the headman said. “I think our kickoff return team will have a lot of speed and include a lot of the same names we saw last fall. We’ll see Trindon Holliday and Keiland Williams in the back. It may even be Holliday and Ron Brooks. Both those guys in my opinion did well at the end of the year. I still think Holliday and Chad Jones are two quality punt returners. There may be another guy we look at.”
With Ridley out for the rest of spring, LSU will now be forced to find bodies to step in at fullback at least until the start of fall practice. Walk-on Richard Dugas has made the switch to fullback, and Miles likes what he’s seen from the former offensive lineman thus far.
“We threw a ball to Richard Dugas today and I thought that was pretty exciting. He’s an ex-offensive lineman that has moved to fullback, and really has done a remarkable job in four practices.”
With the complete overhaul on the defensive side of the ball from last season, the position fans are anticipating change from the most this spring is defensive back. And according to Miles, change is exactly what they’re going to see.
“I want you to know something: there’s more emphasis in one on one in the secondary now,” he said. “I think the guys are more veteran. I think Patrick Peterson is ready to play at a different level. I think the secondary is ready to take some second steps to play more excellent. I think they’re going to be something special.”