NEW ORLEANS -- LSU’S bowl week officially started today as the second-ranked Tigers arrived here just before 5 p.m. to a lobby full of Tigers fans at the New Orleans Marriott. The Tigers were also welcomed to their bowl headquarters by a New Orleans Jazz Band as bowl week is now underway for LSU.
LSU (11-2) and top-ranked Ohio State (11-1) will meet for the BCS National Championship at 7 p.m. on Monday in the Louisiana Superdome. The game will be televised nationally by FOX.
The Tigers made the easy 75-mile drive from its LSU campus to New Orleans following a morning that saw the team hold a practice at the indoor football facility followed by a team meeting. LSU will hold its first bowl workout in New Orleans on Thursday morning as the Tigers will conduct a 10 o’clock practice session in the Louisiana Superdome.
“We’re excited to finally be here,” LSU coach Les Miles told a room full of media that also welcomed the Tigers to the Crescent City. “This football team certainly is thrilled to be back in New Orleans. We have a great affinity for the city. We understand how important it is to our school, certainly to our state.
“Of course, we've had some wonderful experiences here and look forward to participating fully in this championship series.”
Senior running back Jacob Hester, who won two Louisiana state championships in the Superdome while in high school, echoed Miles' comments.
“It is a good feeling to know that you are a bus ride away from the national championship game,” Hester said. “New Orleans is a great city. It is always one of my favorite cities to come to. I’ve been here a lot of times, but there is something new I try to do every time. It is going to be a great advantage to have our fans in pregame, but after that it is pretty much going to be football when the clock starts.”
Before the Tigers arrived here in New Orleans, the squad had one final practice on campus. Wednesday’s workout was a ‘Monday-like’ workout. The Tigers will keep a fast pace at practice on Thursday before tapering off on Friday and Saturday. Sunday will be a walk-through.
“Today (Wednesday), it's a Monday in game week if you look at it that way,” Miles said. “We had a strong practice. We'll have another very strong practice tomorrow. We'll taper and do more polish the following two days. I think the preparation, including today's practice, has gone extremely well. I’ve been pleased up to this point.”
In addition to practice on Thursday, the Tiger defense will have their turn with the media as defensive coordinator Bo Pelini along with defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, linebacker Ali Highsmith, safety Craig Steltz, cornerback Chevis Jackson and defensive end Kirston Pittman will take part in a BCS Press Conference.
“It’s exciting to finally have the game right here just a week away,” Hester said. “It really has been a long layoff. It’s hard to really prepare for a game that is a month away when you start practice. We had a lot of injuries, and we got a lot of people healthy. Now the game is finally here. Practice has really picked up and it is really intense. There is not a lot of banging going on out there. It is definitely a good feeling to have the game in grasp.”
LSU OFFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
New Orleans Arrival
January 2, 2008
QB Matt Flynn
On playing in New Orleans ...
“We play where they tell us to play. We just go out there, and it is a 100-yard field. We practice and just let it go when you get on the field. Especially being here an entire week, around the town and everything outside the game, it is definitely comforting to know how many people are really behind us.”
On the long break ...
“It’s meant a lot for us. It’s allowed us some time to rest. It’s allowed us to heal our sorenesses and ailments. It’s been nice to relax and get healthy again.”
On Ohio State’s defense ...
“They’re good. Their front seven is probably one of the best in the country, if not the best. They are big and strong and will hit you in the mouth. They are fast, fly around and disguise a lot of coverages. They disguise a lot of blitz, pressures and it’s tough to see. We, mentally and physically, have to play our best game of the year if we want to win this game.”
On how to beat Ohio State ...
“We have to go out there and execute and see what they are doing defensively. It’s going to be tough so we have to be sharp.”
RB Jacob Hester
On curfew ...
“It’s only five days until the game. It’s just like a game week. One o’clock is pretty generous of him (Coach Miles). Most of the guys are just going to stay in and rest up and really focus on this game. You don’t worry about partying too much when you are playing in the national championship.”
On playing in a national title game ...
“You have to learn from guys. Even Matt (Flynn) not playing (in 2004), but he was still here. You have to talk to him. It is something different that most of us haven’t experienced. You have to learn from those guys, especially Kirston (Pittman). He got a chance to play a lot in that game (in 2004).”
On preparations up to the game ...
“It really is a long layoff. It’s hard to really prepare for a game that is a month away when you start practice. We had a lot of injuries, and we got a lot of people healthy. Now the game is finally here. Practice has really picked up and it is really intense. There is not a lot of banging going on out there. It is definitely a good feeling to have the game in grasp.”
On Ohio State’s defense ...
“Those guys fly around. They are just as fast as any team we have played this year. I guess just because of that one game last year (versus Florida), that perception came around. Those guys are the No. 1 defense in the country for a reason. They’ve only allowed one 100-yard rusher this whole year. He broke a long run and wouldn’t even had 100 yards.”
On Ohio State’s linebackers ...
“That is definitely their strength. Not only are they very talented, they are always where they need to be. They don’t miss a lot of assignments. There are not a lot of missed tackles. It’s going to be a challenge for us to run the football. We just pay attention to who we are playing. They are No. 1. They are the top dog. We are just trying to come in, compete and have a good game.”
On playing in New Orleans ...
“It is a good feeling to know that you are a bus ride away from the national championship game. New Orleans is a great city. It is always one of my favorite cities to come to. I’ve been here a lot of times, but there is something new I try to do everytime. It is going to be a great advantage to have our fans in pregame, but after that it is pretty much going to be football when the clock starts.”