HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) — Every year the Southeastern Conference holds its football media days in Hoover, and each time LSU head coach Les Miles shows up, he doesn’t disappoint. Miles met with reporters Wednesday to discuss the upcoming season as the Tigers look to rebound from a 2013 campaign that left many Tigers fans with a sour taste in their mouth.
Miles spent the much of his opening statement, as he usually does, detailing what he did during the offseason, which included a family trip to Austin, Texas, to visit his daughter.
“I took a vacation, I went to Austin, took my three children with me, so we had six, two parents and four children on that campus. It was miserable,” Miles said. “I hated it but it was great fun.”
But the talk of the day wasn’t entirely centered upon Miles’ offseason fun. The Tigers are focused on improving on their 2013 season, but despite returning 16 starters and the LSU offense is set to unleash its prize recruit from its incoming class — Leonard Fournette.
Fournette, a five-star recruit and widely considered to be the top prospect from the 2014 recruiting class, has been on campus preparing, and his performance in workouts has already left an impression on his teammates and head coach.
“Leonard Fournette is doing exactly what he should be doing. He’s getting in the weight room, running, getting in great shape,” Miles said. “Pursuing the classroom. Got great grades. He’s quiet. He’s not assuming He’s humble in his approach.”
Miles believes Fournette, who won’t be the only talented running back utilized by the Tigers, has all the talent to be successful this season.
“I think it’s exactly where he needs to be. He expects to be something very special,” Miles said. “I think if you look at Michael Jordan, he could not have been coached to be Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan accepted the role of expecting him to be better than any.”
In order for the Tigers to excel, the pressure will not be solely on the tailbacks. Rather, most eyes will be firmly planted on the quarterback position as the season draws near. Pitted with the job of replacing Zach Mettenberger, Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris are poised to battle for the starting spot in fall camp.
“It will be a very competitive event from the start to the finish,” Miles said. “Cam Cameron, a guy who’s made a career mentoring quarterbacks, is our offensive coordinator, will do exactly the right things with those guys.”
The Tigers are expected to compete for an SEC West title and could find themselves in the hunt for the new four-team playoff. Miles and senior linebacker D.J. Walter are looking forward to the added challenge this season.
“I feel like it’s a great opportunity for college football to be able to have four possible teams win the national championship, and it’s also an excellent opportunity for everyone playing college football, especially LSU,” Welter said.
“I think that the playoff will be equally kind to the SEC. The reason I say that is because there’s just such quality competition here,” Miles added. “The teams week in and week out are so prepared, so capable and talented.”
Vacation in Austin?
Miles, who joked about his summer trips in his opening statement, was pressed further about what made the trip so unenjoyable.
“Oh, no, no, no. It was just not vacation. I love it. My daughter’s doing wonderfully there. I enjoy the experience she’s having, okay? But it was not a beach. There was no hotel that I walked out and jumped into the surf.”
Breaking in the young guys
Senior running back Terrence Magee has been around the LSU program for a good while. Magee knows what the offense was capable of doing with Zach Mettenberger behind center, but this season the Tigers will be breaking in a new quarterback. But the quarterback position is only one of a few positions that lost many key players.
“It’s going to be hard to replace guys like Zach Mettenberger, Jarvis [Landry], and Odell [Beckham Jr.] but we have a sign in our team room that says “Young guys be prepared to play early and play big roles,” Magee said. “I think those guys understand that and as the seniors and leaders on the team, we are doing a good job making sure they understand we are counting on them this year.”
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