“Good strides. Good steps”

Les Miles is as determined as he’s ever been. PHOTO COURTESY BLOGUIN.COM

The mood was a little different in the LSU media room on Tuesday than it was last Friday. Coach Les Miles even joked with a media member about having a tie on for the noon time press conference.

Still, the Tyrann Mathieu situation that has rocked the LSU program and made national news these last few days is still in the air. Some media members were insistent on asking questions about the situation, while Miles tried to remain patient while stating the simple truth.

“I certainly am rooting for Tyrann and whatever his future is. But I’m not focused on that. I’ve got games to play and I’ve got 104 guys I have to be ready for. I know that this is a very key time in his life and I hope the decisions that he makes are in his best interest for the long-term. So we’ll help in any way we can.”

When asked about Mathieu’s future, Miles didn’t exactly close the door, but he is choosing to look at the immediate future and where his focus needs to be.

“I am not in any way speculating. He will not be on this football team this year – I guarantee that’s a fact. So I have no idea beyond that.”

Miles continued to praise one of Mathieu’s possible replacements, freshman Jalen Mills. He also compared freshman Kavahra Holmes to Morris Claiborne, as he is being looked at at both cornerback and wide receiver.

As the heat of fall camp continues to bear down on the Tiger practices, Miles said they changed it up a bit today, focusing on the victory aspect of gamedays.

“It was a nice little go. We focused on the last 26 plays of the game. It was the kind of practice with attention to detail and focus on the back end of a game.

“There’s always a piece of every game where you decide to win. Generally it’s in the second half. Usually at a time when your opponent is generally not a part of that.”

Miles is especially happy with his depth. It is during this part of fall camp that the players behind the front-line players really start to develop, and Miles credits that to how serious they are about scrimmaging.

“It’s tremendously useful for all of our team. We get a lot of special teams reps. A backup quarterback certainly is important for the team, as is a backup safety or a backup gunner or a backup punter, for that matter. So we’re really practicing, and that’s why our scrimmages are long. It’s not just the first team that gets the reps; we’re really building depth as we get going. The scrimmage length and the ability to put your seconds in a spot that maybe they have not seen up to this point is key.”

According to Miles, newly converted running back Terrance Magee will still get snaps in the backfield, but his presence as a wide receiver will be felt.

“Magee is one of the brighter football players I’ve been around. I went up to him and asked him to try it (playing wide receiver). Two days later he’s in it and knows what he’s doing. He is getting it from the coach pretty quickly. He has an instinct that’s pretty strong.”

When asked if he thought Magee could get in the mix, Miles was emphatic: “I think he plays on Saturdays.”

Miles is also pleased with his quarterback play, and apparently it is a two-man race for the backup quarterback position behind Zach Mettenberger.

“I like (Stephen) Rivers and I like (Rob) Bolden. Both guys give us really good competition at the position. Both are improving.”

Overall, Miles seemed pleased with his team’s progress and generally in a light mood with the media.

“Hot day, middle of camp, and it’s a live go. Kind of we needed. Not perfect in any way. We’re not ready to play. But good strides, good steps.”

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