After suffering a historic level of underclassmen defections to the NFL Draft following another double-digit win season in 2012, a bit of disorganization or sloppy play to start the season is to be expected. That doesn’t mean LSU Tigers head coach Les Miles has to like it, however.
On Wednesday, his team held its first 56-play scrimmage of the season, and Miles did not mince words when asked for his observations, according to NOLA.com.
“We were sloppy, we had penalties, we’re not playing exactly how we’d like,” Miles said. “What we can do is run the football and throw it with some understanding, and that first defense is very difficult to handle.
“I like where we’re at. We’re not ready to play a football game but we certainly will be.”
As a player, the last thing you want to hear your coach call you is sloppy. In a game of inches, every player must be performing at peak capacity in order to be successful. That holds especially true in the rough-and-tumble SEC, where a few extra yards here and there could mean the difference in playing for the national title or the Outback Bowl trophy (sorry for that dig there, Georgia fans, but the point had to be made).
That being said, Miles does admit that he likes where his team is at, and he attributes a solid offensive showing to first year offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
“We’re throwing the ball better,” he said. “We’re still pounding the rush. That’s the difficult issue for defenses. We ran the ball more than we threw it but when we threw it, we got completions. We still enjoy handing the ball off and that’s what’s making our passing game difficult to deal with. Cam (Cameron) is giving us expertise in that end of the game that we really needed.”
The success in the running game can probably be attributed to some shuffling along the offensive line, as well as the players taking handoffs from quarterback Zach Mettenberger. After starting guard Josh Williford suffered a concussion, Vadal Alexander was moved from his starting right tackle spot to left guard. Jerald Hawkins was moved to right tackle to replace Alexander there.
Miles confirmed that the “big uglies” up front did do some blocking for Jeremy Hill. Hill spent the offseason unsure as to whether he’d be on the team following an elite true freshman campaign in which he lead the team in rushing yards (755) and touchdowns (12). However, after he was merely sentenced to probation on simple battery charges, his teammates elected to vote him back onto the squad.
Highly-rated freshman Jeryl Brazil also got the chance to show off his speed, both at the running back and cornerback positions.
Miles and Co. head to Dallas to take on TCU in The House That Jerry Built on Aug. 31. He understands that his LSU team is not ready to take on the Horned Frogs yet, but with another two weeks of practice, things should be different.
If Miles is talking about sloppy play on Sept. 1, we could all be talking about an 0-1 team.