Miles: LSU Staying Hungry After Championship

All-American defensive tackle and the face of the LSU defense Glen Dorsey is gone. Much-heralded, much-headlined quarterback Ryan Perrilloux is gone, too. And if you talk to head Coach Les Miles, so is LSU's 2007 National Championship team. Many starters from that team may be back, but Miles doesn't want those players thinking they are "defending" anything. Read inside for the full report.

LSU head coach Les Miles and defensive end Tyson Jackson were two of the speakers on the first day of the 2008 SEC Media Days. Miles and Jackson talked extensively about staying hungry after last year's National Title run, replacing Glenn Dorsey and Ryan Perrilloux, and this season's expectations.

"The '08 [season] is where we're at. We're not defending. We're not dealing with rankings," Miles said. "This is a brand-new year. If we're defending, come see the trophy, it's in our trophy case. We're not defending it; it's there. We got a brand-new team."

Taking on the personality of his coach, LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson echoed Coach Miles comments about looking forward to this season rather than looking back at last year's.

"It's out of our system now," Jackson said. "When we got our rings in June, Coach (Les) Miles told us to move on and put it behind us. It's really not hard to move forward if you have a team that is hungry like we are."

Miles took that approach today, downplaying talk about last year, and choosing to talk about the 2007 squad's academic success rather than its on-the-field accomplishments. According to Miles his team saw 100 percent graduation other than the five players who decided to leave the program early for the NFL draft.

Dorsey had that opportunity to leave early a year ago, but instead chose to stay much to the chagrin of SEC offensive coordinators. The explosive interior lineman was the leader of a defense that became one of the nation's best on his way to being the first defensive player taken in the NFL Draft.

Jackson is one of the talented defenders who will have to step up this year in an effort to replace Dorsey on the interior of the LSU defensive line.

"You can't replace a guy like Glenn Dorsey. There's only one of him," Jackson said. "I was fortunate to be around him for four years and I learned a lot from him."

Miles believes with guys like Jackson on his defensive line that the overall the unit can be just as productive as last year's stellar d-line. "I think if you look at our personnel on the defensive side, the defensive line will be one of the strongest in the country," Miles said. "Charles Alexander, who did not play a year ago, coming back off injury, appears to be really in great shape. Ricky Jean Francois, who didn't play much a year ago, two bookends at defensive end, Tyson Jackson with me today and Kirston Pittman. I think our defensive front will be as strong as there is in college football."

As talented as Dorsey is and disruptive as he was, Miles says LSU will have more trouble replacing his leadership abilities than his natural talent.

"He was not only a very talented man, but he was really one of the very strongest defensive leaders that we had," Miles said. "He was a guy that, you know, bumped and bruised or not, he was coming to play. And he insisted that the defense play alongside him."

Dorsey may have been the heart and soul of the LSU defense, but the loss of Ryan Perrilloux, who shared time with Matt Flynn last year and likely would have started this year, could be just as hard on the Tigers. Perrilloux was eventually dismissed by Miles this spring after a host of off-the-field problems throughout his career, though it's not clear what the final offense was that led to his dismissal.

Miles says he did not enjoy any part of making the decisions, but he does stand by it. "First of all, any time you get rid of a student athlete, it's not something that you enjoy," Miles said. "You don't look necessarily at the real positives. I certainly wish him the very best and hope that he takes this lesson and goes on."

Andrew Hatch, Jarrett Lee and Josh Jefferson are the three players with the pressure on their shoulders to step up and play to the potential of the rest of the team.

The sophomore Hatch transferred from Harvard to LSU in 2007 and is the only QB on the roster with any game experience having thrown a grand total of two career passes. Hatch is a dual-threat quarterback who showed a strong command of the LSU offense in the spring.

Competing with Hatch is the redshirt freshman Lee. Lee is a more traditional passer who was highly recruited out of high school and ranked the No. 15 quarterback in the nation by Scout.com.

Despite their lack of playing time Miles says he likes what he has at quarterback and is not worried about their output. He says the player who can show the most consistency will get the first shot at the job, but that eventually you want a player at quarterback who can step up and make the big play.

"I think the ability to make those plays that your team needs to make to win games, when in third down situations, when in big play opportunities when the throw is there, the call, the adjustments made, to me, those are things that you're really waiting to emerge," Miles said.

Until that playmaker does emerge the Tigers will look to the veteran players around the quarterback to lead the team. Miles says even without the leadership of Dorsey and the talent of Perrilloux, he likes his chances.

"I think this team has very significant leadership," Miles said. "I think they have great character. I look forward to what will be the '08 team. [They've] got a great attitude. There's been a hundred percent participation in the summer. I can tell you that I like our opportunities for '08."

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