HOOVER, Ala. – A record 1,200 credentialed media members greeted LSU head coach Les Miles, quarterback Zach Mettenberger, safety Craig Loston and wide receiver Jarvis Landry Thursday morning as the Tigers previewed the 2013 season on the final day of Southeastern Conference Football Media Days at the Wynfrey Hotel.
LSU took a one-hour charter flight from Baton Rouge to Hoover at 6:15 a.m. before beginning a three-hour rotation through the various platforms on the floor of the Wynfrey. Miles and the players spoke with television and print media from across the nation and did interviews with ESPN College Football Live, ESPN GameDay, ESPN.com, Fox Sports South, Sirius/XM Satellite Radio and CBS.
Miles stole the show Thursday morning in the main media room with his introduction discussing the summer with his family at the ballpark, rappelling a downtown Baton Rouge building for an adoption charity and the development of his team as he enters his ninth season with the program. He fielded questions from topics ranging from scheduling and social media to the emergence of Mettenberger under new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
“I think the piece we want to play for a championship and graduate, that's very much alive at LSU,” said Miles. “We're in our second year, graduating our players in the 70 percentile. We've won more games in the last eight years, 85 victories, than any other conference team. We’ve put 51 in the NFL. I like the position of the program.
“Offensively, Cam Cameron will come in. Knowing him as a mentor to quarterback play, knowing him as a quality man and friend, knowing what he'll really do for us in a play calling position -- we're looking forward to this offense.”
Mettenberger enters his second year as a starter after throwing for 2,609 yards – the fifth-most in LSU single-season history – a year ago.
“I have six months left in my career at LSU and I am not going to take one moment for granted,” said Mettenberger. “I’m definitely much more comfortable being it’s my second year. Coach Cameron has made a difference. The guy is a football genius when you look at his background and all of the quarterbacks he has developed.”
Mettenberger anticipates finding a familiar target down the field in Landry, who made his first SEC Media Days appearance Thursday.
“His (Zach’s) ability has grown over the last year and it’s shown,” said Landry, who led the Tigers with five receiving touchdowns in 2012. “With him leading us, that’s the way it is supposed to be. We work constantly and have been all summer. What you put in is what you put out.”
Loston elected to come back for his senior year and is a first-team All-SEC recipient and on the watch list for the Thorpe Award. He told reporters Thursday he wanted to come back to improve as a player and graduate in December. Much of the questions surrounded how the LSU defense will respond with a lot of new faces on the field.
“I’m very confident that the younger guys can step up and fill the holes,” he said. “These young guys have played in some big games, and I believe they won’t have a problem stepping up and filling those roles. We recruit well at LSU and that’s what we do here. Guys make a difference right away.”
Several of the interviews on Thursday were gathered for features that will air throughout the season on various national platforms. A constant question posed to the players involved the atmosphere in Tiger Stadium.
“I am still trying to find a word or phrase that sums up what playing in Tiger Stadium is like,” said Mettenberger. “I don’t think loud or crazy best explains how awesome the place is. It’s the best stadium in football.”
LSU reports for pre-season camp on Sunday, Aug. 4 before opening practice on Monday, Aug. 5. Preparations are already underway for one of the nation’s top non-conference match-ups of the season when the Tigers open against TCU in the Cowboys Classic on Aug. 31 at 8 p.m. CT on ESPN.