Tigers Get Out of Rut, Enjoy Atlanta; Russell Out for Peach

Defensive lineman Kyle Williams at the ESPN Zone.
Defensive lineman Kyle Williams at the ESPN Zone.
LSUsports.net (@LSUsports)
LSUsports.net (@LSUsports)
LSU Sports Interactive

ATLANTA -- LSU finally got into a normal routine here on Monday as the 10th-ranked Tigers went through their first workout here at the Georgia Dome in preparation for Friday's Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl contest against ninth-ranked Miami.

LSU's practice on Monday came the day after the Tigers' trip to Atlanta was delayed nearly six hours due to a mishap at the Baton Rouge Metro Airport. On Christmas Day, the Tigers were all prepared to depart Baton Rouge when the 767 carrying the 201 passengers to Atlanta ran off the run way and got stuck in the mud.

The were no injuries on the plane, but the incident forced the Tigers to wait in the terminal at the Baton Rouge Airport for nearly four hours waiting on another plane to arrive to transport the team to Atlanta.

"It was really unbelievable" LSU coach Les Miles said. "The truth of the matter is that pilot made a routine right turn and just kind of misjudged the turn and the right wheels of the plane ended up in the mud and we were stuck. It was really insignificant as far as the incident itself. No one was in any danger; it was just an unfortunate mistake that the pilot made."

Instead of arriving early Sunday afternoon, the Tigers didn't make it to Atlanta until after 11 p.m. local time. The late arrival didn't change Monday's schedule as the Tigers went through a two hour-plus practice in full pads. Monday also had the Tigers taking the annual team bowl picture as well as taking part in outings at the ESPN Zone and the brand new Georgia Aquarium.

LSU coach Miles also announced on Monday that JaMarcus Russell's shoulder hasn't progressed like he had hoped and that quarterback will not join the team for the bowl game. Instead, Russell will remain in Baton Rouge for treatment and rehab on his injured left shoulder.

"We had every reason to be sluggish today, a late night and an early start, but the guys came out with a lot of enthusiasm and really enjoyed the practice," Miles said. "It was a great start to our week of preparation for Friday's game against Miami.

"JaMarcus' shoulder has not come around and we decided to leave him at home rather than bring him here to Atlanta. We're going to have him stay back and rest the shoulder and let him to continue to go through rehab there in Baton Rouge."

With Russell out of the picture, the Tigers will now go with sophomore Matt Flynn at quarterback. Flynn will make his first start in an LSU uniform against the Hurricanes.

"I think Matt will play well," Miles said. "I think we'll be fine at quarterback. Quarterback won't be the issue. It will be a matter of how we play on the offensive line, at running back, on defense and on special teams. We have a quarterback in Matt who can win for us."

Miles said that walk-on Jimmy Welker will serve as Flynn's backup at quarterback against Miami. Welker, who has served as the LSU's scout team quarterback all season, hasn't seen any game action during his career.

Against Miami, Miles said the Tigers will face a squad who is good in all phases of the game.

"They have a really good team. They can run the football, they can throw it and they have some tremendous receivers. They are also are outstanding on defense as well as special teams."

The Tigers will practice again on Tuesday morning at the Georgia Dome followed by an afternoon trip to a local children's hospital.



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