The LSU football team went indoors to scrimmage for the first time this fall, going 100 snaps – 20 special teams and 80 to the first and second team units – of live tackling for the final time.
Less than two weeks in from the kickoff campaign to his sixth season with the program, Miles is confident that everyone – even starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson – remains on track with progress.
“They have really improved,” Miles said. “There was a lot more chemistry in the passing game, and they are understanding the run. We rushed the football for 175 yards and threw for about the same. Defense looked sharp to me. We had a lot of great effort … it was just what we needed.”
Miles pointed to Jefferson, starting running back Stevan Ridley and starting slot man Russell Shepard as the highlight names of the day. He also complimented the play of Richard Murphy and walk-on fullback James Stampley, who has been thrusted into the top spot due to the departure of Dominique Allen.
“Stampley played a lot of football a year ago, but he’s more physical, faster and knows what to do,” Miles said. “He’s clearly the number one guy.”
“(Allen’s) issues were that he needed to follow team rules and guidelines and he did not. We said goodbye not long ago.”
Other names stepping forward on the offensive side were young wide receivers, a breath of fresh air given the injury to Chris Tolliver on a unit that already suffered from depth issues.
Once more, it was James Wright that came through when the lights were on.
“Wright had a couple of big catches again,” Miles said. “I think (Kadron) Boone had a couple, but Wright probably won the day for the younger receivers. I think he’s physical and he expects himself to do well. He’s a fast learner.”
That isn’t the only spot where names from the 2010 signing class are stepping forward.
Coach Ron Cooper has seen his defensive backs – arguably the deepest group of any on the team – hit with an influx of young talent ready to take to the field.
“(Tyrann Mathieu) is still playing well, and we expect he will see the field,” Miles said. “I saw Ronnie Vinson made a heck of a play. Eric Reid; there were a number of young secondary guys that made plays. Tharold Simon made a heck of a play today at corner. We tried to pick on him and he said no.”
The Tigers will take Wednesday off before returning to practice on Thursday afternoon, where the focus for the first time will shift fully to North Carolina. With their bout with the Tar Heels less than two weeks away, Miles said that he has begun to feel the urgency growing around the locker room.
“I think our guys are looking forward to it,” he said. “The Georgia Dome is a place we are comfortable in and look forward to playing in again. They understand who we are playing.”