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LSU head coach Les Miles at Wednesday's press conference
Photo by:Steve Franz, LSU Athletics Staff Photographer
Miles Previews Spring at Press Conference
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Published: March 13, 2013, 03:30 PM (CT)
by Michael Bonnette (@LSUBonnette), Sr. Assoc. Athletic Director/SID

BATON ROUGE -- LSU football head coach Les Miles addressed the media on Wednesday to preview spring practice, which begins on Thursday.

The Tigers will practice 15 times including the 2013 National L Club Spring Game on April 20 at 2 p.m. CT in Tiger Stadium.

 

TRANSCRIPT OF LSU COACH LES MILES SPRING PRACTICE PRESS CONFERENCE

Opening Statement...
"First of all, I would like to congratulate Nikki Caldwell. In her first two seasons, two NCAA opportunities, again, women's basketball is in good position. It's been a tremendous first year for coach Johnny Jones. He has those guys playing. It is very obvious that they are recruiting well and that the future is very strong in men's basketball. As we go into spring, it is an opportunity to improve our team, but also some young guys for 15 practices will get real strong on fundamentals. The opportunity for us to take a team that has the right mindset and understands that culture of our team room, but frankly a need to develop dominant and elite players. We'll practice as we always have. We will pursue it in a very similar fashion, but we will look to identify those guys that can be elite players. We lost 13 three and outs. It is a really positive thing. I don't think there will be a number like that in the future, but it is a strong statement that the Tigers come in, they get prepared and they have the opportunity in three years to further their football in the NFL. We tried to offset that with eight newcomers in January. With eight new guys already on campus, I think that will give us a very nice group of young guys. We can age our team by giving our freshman class a spring, and we will be in more of a groove in summer. When fall starts, again we will have a much improved group guys.

"Any time that you have a team as young as we have, for quite some time we have expected some young guys to play a prominent role, we are also counting on young guys to lead. I think that we have a group of quality players that have been promoted to that position and we will look forward to their leadership. We will have 15 practices and a Spring Game on April, 20th at 2 p.m. (CT). It will be free to all in attendance. You will have a chance to see the most recent edition of the LSU Tigers. We are having a coaching clinic April 11th and 12th. We are going to feature Jack Harbaugh, who has coached many years at Michigan and Stanford and was the head coach at Western Kentucky. He did a tremendous job with them. He can also provide some quality parenting tips, considering both of his sons were coaches in the Super Bowl. We are also going to have a student appreciation practice like we had a year ago. That will be April 18th. Again, one of those things that we look forward to. Pro Day is on the calendar for March 27th. ESPN3 is going to be there. We expect every NFL staff or scouting group to be represented.

"Looking at the defense, I think we will be real quality defense overall. I think we return some talent up front. I think Danielle Hunter is a guy who played some as a freshman and will be a guy who has great athletic ability. We will train him with the idea that he will play a lot of football. Anthony Johnson is a guy who we think will be a leader inside, and Ego Ferguson as well. Jermauria Rasco will be guys that you look forward to seeing in our front four. We think that our linebacking core, although young, may be one of the more talented group on our team. Lamin Barrow is back and certainly played a lot of snaps. Tahj Jones is a very athletic guy. We have a lot of linebackers that have played a lot of football in our conference and I feel that it will be one of the stronger groups we've had. In the secondary we lose a couple of guys. At safety, I think that Craig Loston and Corey Thompson, if not Ronald Martin, are going to give us a tremendous inside and quality safety group. At corners, with Jalen Collin, Dwayne Thomas and Jalen Mills, we think those guys will develop and have the type of spring that will allow them to compete at a high level. John Chavis at coordinator, (five) years in a row now that he's been the coordinator, and it's become consistent and high quality. We have one of the premiere coordinators in college football. It is nice to have that play call yet again.

"Offensively, we add Cam Cameron at offensive coordinator and he has done a great job already. Just the approach of the offense and how we see ourselves, and in my opinion he will have great affect. Our two deep, I think we will have a lot of quality on the offensive line. We will try La'El Collins out at the left tackle. We will move Josh Williford around and give him some center work. Trai Turner and Vadal Alexander will line up where you saw them in the end of last fall. We have a real quality defense with Jerald Hawkins and Ethan Pocic, one of the newcomers, Elliot Porter and Fehoko Fanaika rounding out that two deep. We look forward to a group of men there that can step out and give us some real physical play. At tight end, we lost a couple of guys, but Dillon Gordon and Logan Stokes, a newcomer, we think you will enjoy him, and Travis Dickson, who knows what to do and will give us a receiving threat. The receivers, the guys that you might recall, Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry and Kadron Boone, but John Diarse and Avery Peterson might get some great looks and have an opportunity to get ahead. At quarterback, we're starting with Zach Mettenberger and have Stephen Rivers behind. We will look at these two newcomers, Anthony Jennings and Hayden Rettig, both have skill and ability. There will be plenty of snaps for the development of that team. At fullback, we bring back J.C. Copeland and Connor Neighbors. That gives us depth there. We may be deeper at tailback than any spot on the team with Jeremy Hill, Kenny Hilliard, Alfred Blue and now Terrence Magee back in that spot. I like the group. I think we will be improved. On special teams, Jamie Keehn, you saw him in the last game, we kind of brought him on with the idea that there might be an early defection to the NFL from our punter. He came in and really accomplished a lot. We think he can be that guy to step forward and compete at this level. James Hairston will be our kicker. We're looking for a field goal and extra point guy, and I think that Colby Delahoussaye and Hairston will really compete there and a decision will be made down the line to who that will be. Our returners, Odell Beckham, Landry and Magee and really a number of guys including some of those young guys that have just joined the team. We'll see how that looks.

"As a team, you make each practice count. It is important to identify those guys that improve and make you better. You want to get them into the flow of the game. Certainly, there is a lot to accomplish. We are by no means in position to predict a grand season. This is the style of team that if they work hard and do the things they are capable of doing, they will like other teams that have gone through here, compete for a title. That is always the mark here, and will certainly always be."

On Spring football...
"Spring is always a time where you have to evolve your talent. Our guys must get better. You have to have a lot of secondary. There is a lot of competition on this team. It is never how you start. It is always how you finish. You want to make sure you are doing all of the things that will make you a good team. You play quality defense. Offensively, you're not turning it over. We're going to give more time to the four minute scenario, where you get the lead with four minutes left in the game, and you get the opportunity to keep it by getting first downs. We are going to focus on that some."

On La'el Collins getting the chance to play left tackle...
"We're going to look at a lot of guys there. It is not just him. He is going to get the first look. I think he is ready to do that. I think that he is lighter than he has been and is a very strong and capable guy. He is a guy that can sit in there and have real good success. We are going to look at Hawkins and maybe even some other guys. To start, we are looking at La'El."

On the middle linebacker spot...
"It is always going to be this way. You know you have Barrow that can play well. He's done that at a number of spots. He continues to improve at mike backer. It is probably his. We are going to be able to fit guys like Kwan Alexander, Tahj Jones, Lamar Louis and Deion Jones on the outside, so let's go find that middle linebacker first. DJ Welter or somebody else inside, then we'll move Barrow outside. Initially, we'll start with Barrow."

On early enrollees...
"Those guys are generally speaking, pretty good students. Those are guys that can get their academics in a good position well in advance. That certainly is a very positive for us as we go to recruit. We encourage guys that want to come in and compete to play early, because when they are here, it gives them the chance to assimilate and get the offense, defense and special teams."

On the quarterbacks...
"The one thing that you are going to do is you are going to want to have competition at the position. You are going to give the majority of the reps to Mettenberger. Those other three guys are going to get reps and some of those will be with the first team. You look and see how they are coming. There may be an athletic component with Anthony Jennings. The priority is Mettenberger, but we are going to have a lot of reps and we are going to have to develop that position."

On QB Rob Bolden...
"He had his knee operated on and will not be ready for spring ball. That is one of the guys that will miss spring due to injury. He and Justin Maclin come to mind."

On OL Fehoko Fanaika...
"He is a big, strong come off the football guy. He will need to get some technique work. He is a junior college kid that really must have played in a run offense because his weight is forward. We'll have to retrain him some. He is very quick for 370 pounds. We would like to get him down to the 330-350 range. I think he is a right side player. You could look at Williford moving to the left side."

On status of RB Alfred Blue...
"I think he will be ready to go. That is some very good news for us."

On DE Jermauria Rasco's development...
"I see him as a dominant player in spurts and bursts. I think he will eventually be as dominant as Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo. I think he needs a quality spring. He is preparing to go into a fall where he will have great success."

On QB Mettenberger's next step...
"I think that anytime you are in the second year as a starter, your concepts are different. You look to the receiving core and you want to make them better. You look to the passing attack and want to make it better. He needs to be more patient with the deep ball. He needs to understand that some of his throws need to be better. We would expect that the leadership component and his ability to play better will show."

On people who may surprise...
"Christian LaCouture gets to come in and play a lot of two-deep football in the spring. He gets to advance his football very quickly. I think Quentin Thomas and Mickey Johnson, who has gone from about 330 to about 310. He is really playing a lot better, stronger and quicker than he was. Jordan Allen is a guy who really will have an opportunity in the spring and needs to make his case for his ability to play."

On Cam Cameron's influence...
"I think we will improve consistently. You can be short sided and feel that you will see the difference tomorrow. That might be a little early. You get to the backend of spring, and we'll see how we are playing. I think that will be something that you see. I'd like to judge us at that point. I think he is personable and the players enjoy him. I can't imagine there being any issues. I think you will find some of his offensive past will be evident as well. I think Cam will take our better players and devise those things that give them the opportunity to have touches. In the NFL, that was the case. He had tight ends that he wanted to see get the ball and running backs. We have a nice receiving core. There will be a quality balance to the attack."

On RB Kenny Hilliard...
"He's had a great offseason. I can't imagine that he is struggling with confidence. He is still by far and away a very talented back. He should have his opportunities."

On the depth of the running back position...
"I think Blue has been through all of the coaching workouts, which is a rigorous workout. Speed, agility and burst style workouts. He really fared well. I think he is way ahead in his own personal time in terms of being ready to play. I can't imagine we won't be deep there. I think that Kenny Hilliard will be a dominant player. Jeremy Hill came off of his freshman year and really achieved a lot. I wouldn't be surprised if he becomes an elite back. I think we will have depth. Terrence Magee is a natural running back. His return there will definitely help us. He has caught a lot of balls at receiver. We'll need all four of them, I guarantee it. When you have quality backs, it doesn't do you any good to just play one if they're all different. If you have that one dominant back, who has the great speed and the ball skills and can run the wide play or the inside back, then you are only talking about fresh legs. You play the best guy you've got, and then it comes down to how are his legs. You would like to have 16 carries and 150 yards as opposed to 35 carries and 150 yards. You don't want to wear any one out and you want to get to the back of the games with fresh legs."

On team leaders...
"We have a pretty long list. We voted for unity council yesterday and put them up. It is a very quality group. Lamin Barrow and Anthony Johnson will give you a view of defensive guys. Josh Williford and Zach Mettenberger among other guys on the offensive side."

 

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