Miles: ‘Our football team can achieve greatly’

By Chandler Rome

The Daily Reveille, Louisiana State U. via UWIRE

HOOVER, Ala. — Tiger sons, Stony Brook and Twitter fights; it’s all in a day’s work for LSU head coach Les Miles.

Concluding the second day of Southeastern Conference Media Days, the eight-year LSU veteran fielded questions with topics ranging from head injuries to junior cornerback Tyrann Mathieu’s Twitter account and that fateful January night earlier this year in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

As only he could, Miles forecasted immense success for the national runners-up.

“It’s fair to say that in all three phases we’ll have an opportunity to play very well,” Miles said. “Our football team can achieve greatly.”

Replacing two top-15 NFL Draft picks on defense, a second-round pick at wide receiver and two veteran quarterbacks who anchored a sometimes stagnant offense, Miles said the team has transitioned seamlessly to junior quarterback Zach Mettenberger – adding that the Tigers have reloaded a “consistent” defensive scheme lead by fourth year defensive coordinator John Chavis.

With Mettenberger stepping into the starting role, Miles acknowledged the deep-ball threat he possesses and said the past days of a running quarterback are over.

“You’ll naturally get more throws, and I think we’ll get a little bit deeper ball thrown,” Miles said. “I think there’s enjoyment with the idea that Zach can make that deep ball throw very comfortably.”

Mettenberger – a Butler Junior College transfer – steps in as a strong-armed, pro-style quarterback who Miles said has a very direct approach in his leadership of the team.

The Watkinsville, Ga. native said his journey as a Tiger has been “day-to-day,” and he’s ready to fill Jordan Jefferson’s shoes as the Tiger starter.

“Being the starter is something I’ve been looking forward to all my life,” Mettenberger said. “I’m just trying to give it my all every day.”

With a bevy of returning running backs, including juniors Spencer Ware and Alfred Blue and sophomores Michael Ford and Kenny Hilliard, Miles said he’d like to see two runners “take the lead.”

“I’d like to have two guys step forward and take the lead and really keep one in a position to keep his legs fresh,” Miles said. “[Then] we can put fresh backs in the game or should someone get hurt.”

Miles lauded junior defensive linemen Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo and senior Lavar Edwards as players who could give opposing offenses fits all season.

“They are the kind of guys that can step forward and make it difficult on an offense to move the football,” Miles said.

Anchoring the secondary are “big-game” veterans Mathieu, senior safety Eric Reid and junior cornerback Tharold Simon, all of whom Miles said would be called upon to make big plays.

Reid, a Geismar native, will be the seasoned pro in the secondary, along with junior linebacker Kevin Minter – who was recently named to the Lombardi Award watch-list .

“I’m just ready to put some shoulder pads on again,” Reid said. “It’s strange not putting those shoulder pads on in the summer.”

With a noticeably easier non-conference schedule than the gauntlet the Tigers faced last season – a gauntlet that Miles said included “everybody but the Green Bay Packers” – reporters wondered whether he would use the Stony Brook baseball squad who ended LSU’s baseball season as a teaching point.

“I recognize, and I think our team does too, that anybody can beat you,” Miles said. “It’s not about our opponent so much, it’s about how we play.”

Peppered with more questions about the newly-approved four-team playoff and one reporter’s perceived “blandness” of Chavis, Miles was finally pressed on Mathieu’s recent Twitter battle with Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron.

After recognizing that a “verbal squabble” takes place from time to time, Miles dismissed the rant.

“I can tell you that no game is won on a Twitter page,” Miles said.

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