Offense in Focus on Day 4 at the Cotton Bowl

LSU's Stevan Ridley
LSU's Stevan Ridley
James Smith (@LSUsports) (@LSUsports)
LSU Sports Interactive

On Tuesday, LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton along with Stevan Ridley, Terrence Toliver, P.J. Lonergan, Joseph Barksdale and Richard Murphy, took part in press conferences as the Cotton Bowl focused on the offensive side of the ball for the Tigers. Meanwhile, the rest of the team along with head coach Les Miles visited children at Scottish Rite Hospital.

LSU will have its third practice at Cowboys Stadium starting at 1 p.m. and will return to the Hilton Anatole for a team event before going to the Dallas Mavericks' NBA game against the Portland Trailblazers at 7 p.m.

Written by the Cotton Bowl

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The 11th-ranked LSU Tigers spent a little over two hours on the field in shorts and light pads in their third practice session at Cowboys Stadium, priming for their prime-time matchup against 17th-ranked Texas A&M in the 75th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.

The Tigers (10-2, 6-2 SEC) spent another workout concentrating on situational work in all three aspects of the game, using the first part of practice to focus on special teams and moving on into situational scrimmage work on their offensive and defensive game plans.

"I like our attention to detail at this point in time," said head coach Les Miles. "Anytime you get into the back end of a bowl week, there's a special focus that happens to those teams that are really going to play well. I saw evidence of that today."

LSU received a boost Monday afternoon with the news that junior RB Stevan Ridley was ruled eligible to play in the 2011 edition of the Classic against Texas A&M (9-3, 6-2 Big 12). A first-team All-SEC selection, Ridley rushed for 1,042 and 14 touchdowns this season and has not fumbled in his last 170 carries. Miles said the news of Ridley's eligibility being restored was evident in Tuesday's practice.

"I think our team really enjoyed the news. He was very emotional about it," said Miles. "It really is good. It's the right process. If there is any chance of impropriety, turn it in, go through it and then appeal for your eligibility to be returned. The NCAA came through. It's right for college football, right for Stevan Ridley and certainly for our team."

This evening, members of the LSU contingent will take in some NBA action at the American Airlines Center with the Dallas Mavericks hosting the Portland Trail Blazers. The Tigers return to practice Wednesday afternoon for their fourth and final full practice of the week.

"Tomorrow we will trim another half hour (off practice) and we'll do nothing the day before the day before the game," said Miles.

Practices for the remainder of the week are closed to the media and public.

Offensive Coordinator Gary Crowton

On bowl preparation...
"Our bowl preparation has been very good. After the final game of the regular season we took a week or so off to let everybody heal and really hit the weight room hard. Our preparation before bowl was excellent and everyone was focused on what they needed to accomplish. Since we've been at the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic bowl site, everyone has been a lot more focused than I thought we would be. There are a lot of distractions during bowl week but I am very pleased with how well things are going so far."

On intensity of practice...
"The week before we came to Dallas we had very long, aggressive and physical practices. We also played a mock game to get the guys used to the high-tempo'd offense of Texas A&M. Since we've been here we kind of cut the practice down a little bit and worked more on speed, timing, and rhythm."

On facing the Texas A&M 3-4 defense...
"The 3-4 defense is not something we are used to facing in the SEC. They also run an odd third down defense as well. The Aggies have quite a variety of blitzes and their pass rushing is excellent. We've worked a lot on pass blocking and focused a good amount on Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller."

On having RB Stevan Ridley for the game...
"We were very hopeful from the beginning that we would have him for The Classic. The whole team cheered when Coach Les Miles made the announcement yesterday. Stevan has been working hard during bowl preparation in hopes that there would be a positive outcome for this game. I think now we will be in very good shape."

On blocking abilities of RB Stevan Ridley...
"He is a big running back so he carries a lot of weight for us in pass protection. Also, he is a very physical guy when he needs to block and can play fullback when necessary. As a running back he has a lot of balance and quickness which completes the package of a runner. One thing I will say about him is that he is a phenomenal leader. The team elected Stevan as a captain and rightfully so because on and off the field he is consistently encouraging and leading these guys."

C P.J. Lonergan

On having RB Stevan Ridley for the game...
"Well for one thing this is nice to have the worry out of your mind. Secondly, I enjoy having him in the backfield because he is one of the most difficult guys to bring down in the league. He makes an offensive line look really good."

On uniqueness of the 75th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic...
"The fact that we are playing at Cowboys Stadium is an awesome thing. We also will be playing here on our first game next year so we are very blessed to have this opportunity. Secondly, the hospitality and everything that comes along outside of the game at The Classic has been amazing. This week has far exceeding my expectations."

On the food...
"Last night we had a giant steak and it was about the best I have ever tasted. The only problem I had with it is the fact that our skill players had the same amount the offensive lineman. Unfortunately, I had to order room service last night and ate another hamburger."

On starting last year as a freshman...
"The first game I started last year was Louisiana Tech. I know that was not an SEC game but starting as a freshman for LSU gave me more jitters than anything I have ever experienced. I played in a few games after that but my next start was our bowl game against Penn State last year. The only thing I was really worried about then was the conditions of the field. The field was sloppy and wet and it was a very difficult trying to snap the ball."

LT Joseph Barksdale

On distractions of Cowboys Stadium...
"First of all you have to tell yourself to quit looking at that giant HD screen. Also, the stadium is so big that it makes the field look so much bigger even though I know it is the same size we play on back in Baton Rouge. Really, it's just little things I just mentioned that mess with my mind."

On LSU's offense...
"I think we run a multiple style offense. Sometimes we're in a pro-set and the next play we are running the I formation. We run a spread offense sometimes as well so we definitely run a lot of plays."

On facing Texas A&M's defense...
"The first thing that jumps out is the 3-4 defensive scheme. That is definitely not something that the SEC presents much of at all. Secondly, their pass rushing ability is excellent. We have focused a lot on pass blocking and containment because those guys have a lot of sacks."

On facing Von Miller...
"The coaches have talked a lot about this guy. They really put the emphasis on his pass rushing abilities. He is also has great anticipation and can cover a lot of ground. Of course, they have a lot of those guys on defense."

RB Richard Murphy

On having RB Stevan Ridley back...
"I think this helps us finish out the season. With him in the backfield he gives us a lot of physicality in our running game. He hits the hole quicker than most guys and is very difficult to bring down."

On playing for Head Coach Les Miles...
"He is constantly looking to improve every guy on the field and consistently encourages everybody. A lot of people have asked us if the possibility of him maybe going to Michigan has been a distraction to us and honestly, it hasn't. I was a redshirt freshman when they announced that he would be going to Michigan and I remember how furious he was so that is something that I don't think we need to worry about. I thoroughly enjoy playing for him."

On expectations for the 75th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic...
"Our guys have done an excellent job preparing for this week. Everybody has been focused and we all know the things we need to accomplish before Friday. Hopefully, when those lights turn on Friday night, we will come out and showcase our talents all over the field."

RB Stevan Ridley

On distractions of Cowboys Stadium...
"Of course the stadium is big but we have to put all the distractions aside. This is a business for us and at the end of the day, it's what happens between those white lines. We are student athletes and this is the time when we get to step out on that field and play the game we have played all of our lives. Regardless of the stadium, there are stadium lights and green grass so we have to perform just as well here as anywhere else."

On expectations of next year's LSU team...
"I would say that we are almost a year early. Everybody kind of doubted our abilities this year because we are so young but we came out with ten wins. Right now our focus is to get this 11th win with the solid team we have this year. The one thing I can say about this team is leadership. I know the numbers are few in the senior class but the leadership has been off the charts. Guys like Joseph Barksdale, LB Kelvin Sheppard, and DT Drake Nevis. These three seniors have been more influential than any guys I have been a part of. I almost look at Friday as the beginning of next year's season."

On expectations for the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic...
"I expect to win. That is the whole reason we have been working through the entire month of December. Again, the leaders I mentioned earlier have done a phenomenal job motivating us and our coaches have really pushed us to perfect our game. We are facing a defense that is uncommon to us so we've had to focus a lot more in the film room. Like I said earlier, we have worked hard and I know we are ready to win."

WR Terrence Toliver

On the meaning of Friday Night Lights...
"I think of Texas high school football. It is a religion around here and I can't wait to play under those lights on Friday night. I grew up in Texas so this will be a special thing to play in front of family and friends and hopefully dominate the Aggies. Also, I grew up a huge Cowboys fan so this will be an awesome moment for me playing in their stadium."

On playing in the 75th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic...
"Besides the national championship game, this will be the top on my list. The hospitality has been phenomenal and practicing in Cowboys Stadium has been a blessing. We are playing in a primetime spot on Friday night and nobody else will be playing that day so there is a lot of media attention focused around this game."

On facing Texas A&M's defense...
"They are a very aggressive team that blitzes a lot. We have to keep our eye out for LB Von Miller. They have a very talented group of linebackers and cornerbacks with a lot of speed to the ball. This will be a fun game to be a part of."

On the LSU vs. Texas A&M rivalry...
"I honestly have not thought much about it. We are all very aware of the history between the two teams and are excited about bringing back the rivalry. The Aggies have dominated us during this rivalry so hopefully we can take back our pride."




This Week in LSU Athletics - May 22-27
May. 22
Cannon on Goal-Line Stand vs. Ole Miss
May. 21
'The Tribute' - Celebrating LSU Athletics Graduates
May. 11