The Tigers had a fourth practice in Orlando
Photo by:Steve Franz, LSU Athletics Staff Photographer
Tigers Continue Bowl Prep, Visit Disney World
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Published: December 29, 2009, 12:00 AM (CT)
Updated: December 30, 2009, 08:10 AM (CT)
by LSUsports.net (@LSUsports), LSU Sports Interactive

ORLANDO – Sunny skies and unseasonably cool temperatures greeted the LSU football team on Tuesday as the Tigers held a two-hour workout here at Dr. Phillips High School as they continue to prepare for Friday’s Capital One Bowl against Penn State.

Tuesday’s workout saw the Tigers scale back as LSU continues to fine tune the game plan. LSU has now gone through a total of 13 practices – nine in Baton Rouge and four here in Orlando – for Friday’s Capital One Bowl.

LSU will practice against on Wednesday with a “Thursday-type” session. LSU will have a walk-through on Thursday. Kickoff on Friday is scheduled for noon CST and the game will be televised nationally on ABC. LSU goes into the game with a 9-3 overall mark, while Penn State is 10-2. It will be the first meeting between the two teams since the 1974 Orange Bowl when the Nittany Lions posted a 16-9 victory over the Tigers.

“The hard work is really in,” LSU coach Les Miles said after the practice. “We have had a good week. This practice was one where it was a little shorter, but frankly we got in a lot of work and went over a great deal of the game plan. We looked pretty sharp.

“Tomorrow will be a finishing, look at the different personnel on and off the field, and we will practice all the different situations that we would normally practice on a Thursday. I like our preparation and where we are. We just have to finish.”

LSU goes into Friday’s game with a 4-0 mark in bowl contests under Miles, with all four wins coming against top 20 opponents. Last year, LSU trounced 14th-ranked Georgia Tech, 38-3, in a game that was said to set the tone for this year’s team. LSU also has bowl wins over No. 1 Ohio State, No. 9 Miami and No. 11 Notre Dame under Miles.

“You don’t get beyond yourself,” Miles said of the game against Penn State. “This is the key, the focus and what we have to be. I pointed that out to our team that we need to understand that there is no more important victory than the next one. It is going to take a great effort, and it is going to be a New Year’s Day Bowl versus a great opponent. Our focus has got to be that.”

Miles also announced that the team got some good news recently as senior wide receiver R.J. Jackson has returned to practice and will play against Penn State. Jackson broke a bone in his foot the Monday after the Louisiana Tech contest and missed LSU’s final two regular season games.

“R.J.’s playing and we are excited to have him back on the field with us,” Miles said. “His rehab went well and it went quick. We expect him to take snaps on Friday.”

In 10 games this year, Jackson ranked fourth on the team in receptions with 11 for 141 yards. He had a career-best six catches for 55 yards in the win over Vanderbilt.

Wednesday’s schedule calls for a morning workout for the Tigers followed by trip to Universal Studios for the team during the afternoon. LSU’s coordinators – Gary Crowton on offense and John Chavis on defense – along with offensive tackle Ciron Black and linebacker Kelvin Sheppard will meet with members of the media in what is the first formal press conference of the week.

Miles will join Penn State coach Joe Paterno at the head coaches press conference on Thursday afternoon.

LSU Bowl Notebook

Miles announced on Tuesday that running back Richard Murphy will wear No. 18 next year, taking over for senior tight end Richard Dickson, who has worn the number for the past two years. The wearing of the No. 18 has become an unofficial tradition at LSU in recent years, going to a player who represents the true spirit – both on and off the field – about what it means to be an LSU football player. The tradition started with quarterback Matt Mauck, who guided the Tigers to the 2003 national title. Mauck then hand-picked Jacob Hester to take over the number, then Hester selected Dickson. Murphy is currently wearing No. 26, but he will give up that number and don the number 18 during spring practice.

Cornerback Jai Eugene made the trip to Orlando on his own after his missed the team flight from Baton Rouge on Saturday morning. Miles said that Eugene was on an “in-house suspension. He is locked down. His travel expenses were his own. We’ll see how much playing time he gets.”

LSU Interviews
December 29, 2009

HEAD COACH LES MILES QUOTES
 
Opening Statement
“The hard work is really in. We have had a good week. This practice was one where it was a little shorter, but frankly a lot of work and a lot of the game plan was practiced. We looked pretty sharp. Tomorrow will be a finishing, look at the different personnel on and off the field, and we will practice all the different situations that we would normally practice on a Thursday. I like our preparation and where we are. We just have to finish.”
 
On taking advantage of the team’s speed against Penn State ...
“We think we have some advantages in certain matchups, and the want to get that done is the game. If we can get in front, we feel like we are faster. It’s getting in front that is the key.”
 
On what he expects Penn State to try to take away ...
“I think they are a very sound, solid team with the ability to bring blitz. They have all the ways to attack an offense with their defense. They are very well-personneled. It will be a great challenge. We will like that matchup.”
 
On if Billy Gonzales working with receivers has helped Jordan Jefferson recognize blitzes better ...
“We have focused on it in each bowl practice. It is something we needed to get better at, and I think he is focused on it. I don’t think there is any question that he is better.”
 
On Jai Eugene’s status ...
“He is in in-house suspension. He is locked down. His travel expenses were his own. We’ll study how much playing time he gets.”
 
On if Eugene missed the team plane ...
“He missed the team plane.”
 
On if Eugene will play but it is a question of how much ...
“Correct.”
 
On the biggest aspect of Jordan Jefferson’s progression this season ...
“I think with each game he gets a little bit better. His ability to run the offense and understand what we are going to do is the right thing. He is coming with each contest that he plays in. The back end of his career will be marked with how really well he commands the offense because he makes the throws and he understands the plays. It is just making the guys around him better.”
 
On if he has discussed the opening at Georgia with John Chavis ...
“We have not discussed Georgia in any way. There is word out that Georgia has interest. I have not heard from Georgia. I don’t really want to talk about that. I really want to go on. It is a distraction to a game.”
 
On balancing contact and non-contact in practice leading up to the game ...
“Yesterday we went probably 25 minutes against good versus good. Today we went eight or 10 minutes good versus good. Tomorrow we will go none.”
 
On if the guys like to swap jerseys in practice ...
“It started earlier. It started as soon as we got here. The coaches had a difficult time calling the names. There are some guys whose body types look the same. I can tell you that No. 8 (Trindon Holliday) has looked taller. There have been some guys wearing No. 8’s jersey who look slower.”
 
On the No. 1 jersey being on the defensive line at practice ...
“It is an unusual place for Brandon LaFell to show up.”
 
On him calling the team the bowl champions ...
“I don’t call them. They call them. That’s the winner. The winner is the bowl champion.”
 
On how important bowl games are for the following season ...
“You don’t get beyond yourself. This is the key, the focus and what we have to be. I pointed that out to our team that we need to understand that there is no more important victory than the next one. It is going to take a great effort, and it is going to be a New Year’s Day Bowl versus a great opponent. Our focus has got to be that.”
 
On the significance of this victory marking 100 total in this decade ...
“With any success that is had at LSU I think our team enjoys being a part of it. It is a responsibility to continue it. It is a great tradition that needs to be built upon. It needs to be built upon by each team that we are fortunate enough to coach and be a part of. I think our guys don’t really count the numbers but understand that they are responsible to continue the traditions.”
 
On if he was surprised that Harry Coleman or others were not named to All-SEC teams ...
“I don’t know that the All-SEC team is exactly a true measure. I think there are some guys who are easy picks – (Tim) Tebow, the great tailback at Alabama (Mark Ingram), some of the offensive linemen, some of the great defensive linemen – who stand out. There is a difficult measure at times with some other spots, and I certainly don’t disagree with anyone who was picked in front of him but I certainly like Harry Coleman for us.”
 
On if he will ride any amusement park rides ...
“I talked to my family about Tower of Terror at Disney and the other one that had to do with a mountain, and they were just singing its praise talking about how scary it was. I’m glad I wasn’t on it. I don’t know if my body is ready for that.”
 
On if his team will go to the bowl game tonight in Orlando between Miami and Wisconsin ...
“No. We will be locked up in here and doing the things that we need to do for our own game.”
 
On curfew for this week ...
“We have reeled in curfew already. We started it late at 2 a.m. We have shortened it from that point forward. Tonight is 12.”
 
On how the families are enjoying Orlando ...
“The families have had some big time football games in the lobby here. We are lucky the hotel management has not thrown half of our kids under 13 out of the hotel.”
 
On if the high school is working out for the team ...
“Yeah, it’s a practice facility that is imperfect, but it is a great field. It is not home, but it is not supposed to be. We are in Orlando.”
 
On if R.J. Jackson will play in the game ...
“R.J.’s playing. R.J. is in the game. He has kind of returned to health since we have been back to Orlando, and we expect him to play and take snaps.”
 
On whom Richard Dickson is giving No. 18 to ...
“That seems to be a pretty neat tradition. (Jacob) Hester picked (Richard) Dickson. There is great responsibility when you turn and pass a jersey down to a guy. You were a 1,000-yard back, and you were a very key player on several great teams, one of which was a national championship team with Jacob Hester. You turn and hand it to an underclass tight end who says ‘OK’ and sets the all-time receiving record at tight end and has had a strong career in his own right. When those two guys say we want to hand it back to Richard Murphy, the responsibility that Murphy has is enormous. He is accepting and looks forward to it. I think it is a great tradition. It would be nice if we could do it with each position. I don’t know if that would work though.”
 
On if they will seek a sixth year for Richard Murphy or wait until after next season ...
“I think it will come after next year. We will have to see.”

 

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