Upon first glance, the first few games on the LSU schedule did not give the Tigers reason to take a second look.
Though the season opener was 2,500-plus miles from home, it was against a Washington team that did not win a game in 2008.
While Vanderbilt was coming off their first bowl win this century, the Commodores had not beaten the Tigers since 1990.
And then there is Louisiana-Lafayette.
Though the Ragin’ Cajuns have never beaten the Tigers, they don’t often coming into the contest riding high off a victory like last Saturday’s.
With under a minute to play against Big 12 opponent Kansas State, ULL kicked the game’s go-ahead field goal to take the 17-15 win.
Just down the road, the Tigers kept things simple in a win over the Commodores – one week removed from a defensive breakdown in Seattle where the unit gave up nearly 500 yards to the Husky offense.
During his Monday press luncheon, Miles said that the Ragin’ Cajun offense was better than the Commodore’s. On Wednesday, he said more of the same, adding that the local roots breed even bigger pressure on both sides.
“We understand that our guys know each other, we look forward to those kinds of games,” he said. “This team we are playing is a good football team. It will give a chance for the people to fill the stadium and celebrate two in-state teams.”
Jordan Jefferson, a Destrehan-product, will face an in-state team for the first time in his career. Still without an interception as a starter, Miles praised the sophomore’s cool head when the lights turn on.
“I like how he handles the game,” he said. “His toughness and competitiveness; he is a winner. There are some really good things other than being 6-foot-4, 220.”
While Jefferson’s numbers are ideal, the Tigers have yet to get into a groove with their vertical attack. Miles said that while the gains have not been made, the plays have been called.
“The first throw of the [Vanderbilt] game was from our own end zone, and we threw it incomplete to about the 30-yard line,” he said. “I think that is reminiscent of the playbook being open. You have to recognize, when you throw it downfield, not every one will be complete. The calls were there.
“I like big plays, I like throwing the ball downfield. Sometimes, it is just not there.”
With Richard Murphy lost to injury for the season, Keiland Williams, Charles Scott and Trindon Holliday will carry the workload. Miles said that freshman Michael Ford would be redshirted, while sophomore Stevan Ridley – coming off an ACL injury in the spring – will get more game looks.
“Ridley will play,” he said. “I think he has rehabbed really well. He was ahead going into camp, and has got nothing but better.”
The Tiger headman also noted the play of two former five-star prospects that have seen limited action, freshmen Rueben Randle and Craig Loston.
“[Randle] is still not understanding exactly what we want,” Miles said. “He is working to accomplish what he can do. We want to get him to the field and get him touches.
“I saw [Loston] at practice today taking reps with the second team, so he is developing.”
With two practice days before their third contest of the season, Miles said that the team is still behind the eight ball.
“Today’s practice we improved, but I wish they had been a bit sharper,” he said. “It was not exactly what I wanted.”
Note: Miles said that Pep Levingston, who injured his leg in the Washington game after breaking his hand during the preseason, is on schedule with his rehab and would be ready for the Mississippi State game.