Miles updates team heading into spring
LSU coach discusses Kragthorpe hire, position changes, much more
Les Miles, pictured right, hired a new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Thursday in Steve Kragthorpe. Will Jordan Jefferson, pictured left, be the primary beneficiary of Kragthorpe’s tutelage in year one? (Photo by Maggie Bowles)
By BEN LOVE
Tiger Rag Editor
LSU head coach Les Miles sat down with a select group of reporters Friday afternoon to put a bow on the 2010 season and preview what’s to come in spring football and beyond.
While nothing terribly revealing came from the sit-down, Miles did confirm many things which help frame the near future of LSU football.
In the process, he touched on the hiring of Steve Kragthorpe as offensive coordinator and Spencer Ware deciding to play baseball. Miles also gave some insight into the strength of the 2011 recruiting class and talked about which current players might be moving to different positions for the ‘11 season.
Tiger Rag was in attendance at the meeting, and today I’ve provided for you, in list format, the key points Miles addressed.
- Miles raved about Kragthorpe, whose Tulsa teams Miles vividly remembers scouting while at Oklahoma State. On Tulsa then, Miles recalled they were “very efficient throwing the ball vs. Oklahoma” and went on to say the display was “something different than I’ve been around.”
- Here are the three primary attributes which ultimately won Kragthorpe the job, according to Miles: 1. He can have a “fundamental affect on our quarterbacks’ abilities to throw better.” 2. He has experience in the passing game. 3. He is an experienced play caller.
- Continuing on what distinguished Kragthorpe, Miles lauded “his view of the passing game and the decision-making … He (Kragthorpe) could shortcut some of the elaborate thought processes going on.” Read between the lines, and things were too complicated under former offensive coordinator Gary Crowton. Schemes, terminology, whatever. With a new O.C., Miles is craving actual quarterback development, stressing mechanics first. “I have to have a fundamental quarterback coach.”
- Speaking of the quarterback position, who will be the guy for the purple and gold in ‘11? Asked Friday, Miles said it’s too early to tell and that it’s impossible to “place us” yet. He said there will absolutely be competition for the starting job, and continued that he’d be remissed to not at least recognize Jordan Jefferson’s experience. But he didn’t necessarily eschew the notion that Kragthorpe’s scheme in ‘11 could involve two quarterbacks. In the end, Miles said 15 spring practices and two-a-days in the fall will ultimately decide who lines up under center.
- The other quarterback who figures to be in the race, Zach Mettenberger, is on-campus and in classes now. So, too, is former O.P. Walker defensive tackle Anthony Johnson. Kenny Hilliard, running back from Patterson, was supposed to join them in early-enrollment, but as of this printing, is still sorting matters out with the NCAA Clearinghouse.
- On Johnson, Miles said he expects the DT to “compete with advantage” as far as playing time right away and added, “I think Anthony is to me one of those guys who has a really strong upside.” Several times during the meeting, Miles hinted at great incoming strength on both sides of the line with this upcoming recruiting class. The implicit message is that Johnson and Redemptorist offensive tackle La’El Collins will push for minutes right away (this immediate impact list would include Timmy Jernigan if LSU lands the Florida DT on National Signing Day, Feb. 2).
Onto position updates for the ‘11 team:
- Drew Alleman will likely be the placekicker of the future, handling field goal/extra point duties as well as kickoffs. He could also be the team’s punter, but will be pushed at this position by Brad Wing.
- Ego Ferguson, according to Miles, is going to work out at defensive end, not inside at tackle. The redshirt freshman-to-be may be making the move outside to help scarce numbers there (particularly while Sam Montgomery rehabs).
- J.C. Copeland will definitely be staying at fullback going forward, and Miles indicated there’s no intention of moving the Georgia native back to the defensive line, where Copeland made his name in high school.
- Ryan Baker can play the middle linebacker position, Miles confirmed. He didn’t go as far as to say Baker would be moved inside, but didn’t deny it either. Looking at the LB corps, either Kevin Minter takes over at Mike or Baker does and there are other options (Stefoin Francois, Lamin Barrow, Tahj Jones, Luke Muncie) to flank him at Sam and Will ‘backer spots.
- Even more interesting, Miles strongly hinted at the fact that someone from the secondary ranks could be coming down to play some linebacker. He wouldn’t budge on a name, but if I’m a betting man, I’m taking Karnell Hatcher. Other guys who, size-wise, fit the mold are Eric Reid and Craig Loston. I doubt Loston will be making the move down, but according to Miles, somebody will.
- As for the rest of the secondary, it appears the team will readily go into its nickel package in ‘11, and the nickelback will be none other than 2010 terror Tyrann Mathieu. Miles went on and on about Mathieu’s tremendous natural instincts and agreed that the team has designs for him on the inside next year, not just out on an island at corner. When Mathieu’s inside, Miles quickly tabbed Tharold Simon as a guy who could play the corner opposite Mo Claiborne. The main point: Miles knows he has more talent in the secondary than he can put on the field at once when the team has four DB’s in. So, look for LSU to find ways to get five in whenever down and distance dictates as much.
- Alfred Blue is a versatile player Miles acknowledged, but he wouldn’t say whether or not Blue will be moved to linebacker or any other position this upcoming season. Blue saw a lot of early action in ‘10 at running back. Interestingly, Miles added on Blue that the Hahnville product “will play in the NFL one day.”
- Spencer Ware “factors significantly” into the running back race, said Miles, who also confirmed the 2010 five-star athlete will play for the baseball team. It is possible, according to Miles, that Ware could participate in spring practices for football, then re-join the baseball team for the stretch run. Miles said more details will come, but he plans on sitting down with Ware and Paul Mainieri soon to discuss the Cleveland native’s future on the diamond.
Editor Ben Love reports on LSU football and men’s basketball for Tiger Rag. Reach him at email@example.com.