When the Tigers take the field this Saturday night in Seattle, the 2008 season will officially be old news. According to LSU head coach Les Miles, the players’ desire to right the ship from last year’s 8-5 finish has been evidenced by a strong fall performance.
“The team has been hungry right on through,” Miles said to a crowded room of reporters on Monday. “Once you get through a season where you did not hit on all cylinders, there is a real want to make strides and improvement. I think the football team has done that.”
The Huskies, who finished 0-12 in 2008, take the field with a healthy quarterback in Jake Locker and a new head coach in Steve Sarkisian. With Washington hoping to rebound from a winless season, Miles said that his team is prepared for the statement the opposition is looking to make.
“Washington did not have success last year, but that was last year,” Miles said. “The truth is that they have talent; they had a great recruiting class and a quarterback back and healthy, and in all likelihood they are a much improved Pac-10 team.
“I know the experience that Locker has had, and when you return a veteran to a team there is so much you can do,” he added. “Sarkisian was a great coordinator at [Southern Cal], and he is thrilled to be at Washington with Locker. I know that they will be prepared.”
After the close of preseason camp last week, the Tigers dove head first into the game plan for the Huskies - from studying Sarkisian’s Southern Cal offense to buckling down on tapes of first year defensive coordinator Nick Holt’s Trojan squads. With new names at the play-calling positions on both sides of the ball, Miles said that the Tigers are in the dark until kickoff.
“We suspect what they are going to play, but we do not have a book on them,” he said. “They haven’t called a play at Washington. When you line up, you don’t know what to expect.”
The game plan from his end, Miles said, is spelled out plain as day.
“We need to play like we play, like LSU has played in the past,” he said. “We need to play efficiently, don’t turn the ball over and get down field.
“We have been in preparation for Washington for a couple of days,” he added. “We are well under way, and we look forward to going to Seattle.”
The time zone change and expected chance of rain have factored into the Tigers’ game preparations as well.
“We consulted many sleep experts,” said Miles of the two-hour time difference. The game is set to kick at 9:30 p.m. CST. “We feel like we have a solid plan there to get the guys plenty of rest and in position to play four quarters of quality football.
“With the outdoor turf now, we are outside even in the heavy rain,” added Miles on the expected showers. “They are getting wet ball opportunities. I know it is supposed to rain, but that is nothing we are not used to.”