By JAMES MORAN
Tiger Rag Associate Editor
With Travonte Valentine officially part of the football program again, Miles was able to field questions about the oft-discussed ‘Mister 105’ for the first time since he dismissed the hulking defensive tackle.
“Very quality defensive player. A guy who, in my opinion, gives us reason to trust him,” Miles said Thursday. “We’re very optimistic that it’s exactly the right thing to do.”
Valentine practiced for the first time Wednesday, though he won’t be able to put on pads or participate fully until he completes the NCAA-mandated acclimation period. Still, Miles has already seen cause for excitement who he says routinely beat double teams in practice during his first go-round as a Tiger.
For one, Miles says there’s much less of Valentine than he saw back in 2014.
“He was really in pretty good shape when he showed up,” Miles said. “Last time he was here he was just under 400 pounds. He’s 330, maybe 336 now. We watched him run today, and he ran pretty well. We’re a couple weeks away, so we will see how it plays out.
“Sometimes big men defy what he should weigh … His body density, if you will, allows him to play a little heavier and still play quick and use his strength to his advantage. Could be pretty special.”
If Miles’ prediction comes true, LSU’s defensive front could be special, as well.
Injuries have dominated the news cycle around LSU of late, but it turns out Valentine wasn’t the only large-bodied individual to re-join practice this week.
Sophomore Maea Teuhema has returned to practice after missing the first week of fall camp with an ankle sprain, Les Miles said at his post-practice presser Thursday afternoon.
However, he wasn’t simply handed the reins for the starting left tackle spot many penciled him into before the start of camp. Miles said Teuhema worked at both left and right tackle during practice Thursday — he mentioned last week Teuhema could also wind up playing left guard.
The comments illustrate what’s been the buzz throughout camp: Miles and Jeff Grimes have been impressed with how K.J. Malone looked at left tackle during Teuhema’s absence.
Asked point blank if he could envision Teuhema and Malone being his starting tackles heading into the season, Miles said “absolutely.”
Les Miles: Slapboxer Extraordinaire
Miles acknowledged the video posted by TMZ yesterday purporting to be Leonard Fournette and Garrett Brumfield “fighting” in the parking lot behind Football Ops.
Miles, like the two players and most who’ve seen the tape, characterized it as two college kids shadowboxing. Miles also revealed that he used to “slapbox” back during his youth before adding “We’re finding out, now, that it can be not so cool.”
Nonetheless, Miles said he addressed the team in regards to such horseplay – -“let’s not be at risk for injury” — as well as how the video found its way to TMZ. For what it’s worth, Miles attributed the possible leak to Snapchat, which led to a freewheeling discussion of the coach’s feelings about the app.
And no, Miles himself doesn’t have Snapchat. Though it’s fun to imagine the possibilities.
NEWS + NOTES
– Miles confirmed that Davon Godchaux has moved from nose tackle to defensive end in light of Christian LaCouture’s season-ending knee injury. In addition to Valentine, the coach expressed his confidence in Greg Gilmore and true freshmen Ed Alexander and Rashard Lawrence to man the position. Going by what’s listed on the official roster, those four men add up to 1,298 pounds of beef. “We ought to be able to field a really quality nose tackle,” Miles said.
– While on the subject of injuries, Miles on LaCouture’s torn ACL: “That’s the tragedy of the game.” Miles also seemed to hint that the senior defensive lineman hadn’t made up his mind yet if he’d go to the NFL Draft next year or take a redshirt and return to LSU.
– Miles was asked if the rash of injuries are a ‘glass half full’ situation in that they occurred early enough in camp for coaches to get younger players additional reps before asking them to fill in. The always-colorful coach’s response: “It’s the only glass you can partake of.”
– Along those same lines, Miles named true freshmen outside linebackers Sci Martin, Michael Divinity and Ray Thornton as guys he expected to play right away — the position sustained injuries to senior Corey Thompson and sophomore Isaiah Washington this week — adding them to a list that already included inside linebacker Devin White. Miles also mentioned he had “no idea” if senior outside linebacker Tashawn Bower practiced Thursday.
– Miles said he plans to shave the little bit of a beard he’s allowed to grow in this week prior to Sunday’s Media/Fan Day. Or, as Les put it, “expose the underskin.”