SEC TELECONFERENCE: Les Miles
Headman addresses Mettenberger’s development and NFL Draft
Following the conclusion of spring football practices across the Southeastern Conference, LSU head coach Les Miles joined the league’s other 13 headmen on the SEC Coaches Teleconference Tuesday morning.
Leadership was a major theme of spring - at least in respect to what he conveyed to the media over the phone.
The coach mentioned Zach Mettenberger’s emergence as a leader offensively before fielding several questions regarding the first year starting quarterback. Eric Reid’s name was brought up as a defensive leader.
“We need to have leadership, and a quality quarterback emerged,” Miles said. “I really like Zach Mettenberger, really enjoyed the pressure of the starter. He’s taken a leadership role more naturally.”
The coach attributed Mettenberger’s maturity as a signal caller to quarterbacks coach Steve Kragthorpe and their work together this spring.
“I think Steve has really gotten his attention to what it takes to be a quarterback,” said the eighth-year coach. “It’s not just a guy who takes the snap and makes the throw. It’s a guy who understands the significance of the play caller and the guy who stands in the huddle and directs the offensive team.”
Miles also mentioned the chemistry that Mettenbereger is developing with several of his receivers, mentioning Odell Beckham Jr., James Wright and Jarvis Landry as “young” receivers he is developing a rapport with. Miles did not mention Kadron Boone, who missed the conclusion of spring drills with a shoulder injury.
The Tigers threw deep quite a bit in their spring game, and Miles acknowledged that they will likely throw the ball more often this year than they did last season, but the headman downplayed any great change within the passing game in 2012 - just reshaping it to what Mettenberger does well.
“I don’t think there’s a retool necessary,” Miles said. “I think we’ve always had the opportunity to throw balls and understand how to throw it. It’s just that now this offense may turn to those weapons more readily because we feel like this quarterback, it fits his style of play even more pointedly.”
Shifting gears, Miles talked about the upcoming NFL Draft that will take place Thursday through Saturday, as LSU expects to be well represented once again.
“We’ve been fortunate to have eight first rounders in the short time that we’ve been here, and we’ve averaged six players in the NFL Draft each year since 2006,” Miles said. “We’re going to put, it appears, three underclassmen early into the draft in Mo Claiborne, Michael Brockers and Rueben Randle. Considering that we’re second in the conference in graduation rate, we really feel like we’re doing some good things that our young men here are achieving greatly, and I’m proud of them.”
Finally, Miles was given an opportunity to address the head coaching situation at Arkansas with John L. Smith taking over from the dismissed and disgraced Bobby Petrino, and LSU’s coach kept it classy when he could have taken a shot at his former colleague who disrespected him in LSU’s regular-season finale.
“I’m certain that John L. Smith will provide them with the direction and the leadership that Arkansas needs,” Miles said. “Certainly, they’re a very fine school, a very capable football team. There’s a great future there at Arkansas. I know it’s a difficult situation there, and I hope like heck that this gets behind all very quickly.”