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LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE
August 8, 2008
COACH MILES: Welcome to all you media folks that don't cover us every after practice. But it's a great day, it's a nice time to reflect on where we've been, really, since last spring maybe and the summer, for you guys that don't get to see us.
I think we came into camp in really good shape. We've really taxed them, we've run hard and I think that they're really up to speed and ready to, at this point, to hit it pretty hard.
I like the direction that the camp is going. We came into camp looking just -- really just five practices looking for a quarterback that might step out, and I think we're in the same position that we've been. I think that really all three quarterbacks have ability, and I can tell ya that certainly Lee and Hatch are guys that have been through it a little longer and understand it a little bit better, but I think Jordan Jefferson also has ability and is one of those guys that will take snaps yet this fall.
I think the offensive line is a strength. It's, certainly, a very capable group. There again, they're just getting their legs underneath them. This was our first day in pads, but I like how it's going. I think the -- you know, it's interesting, we lose a quality running back from a year ago, and I feel like we have plenty of talent there, but I want to see the leadership emerge. I want to see who it's going to be.
And it's still very much running back by committee, kind of as it's been, but, you know, I -- it will be interesting. I kinda think Charles Scott may have a great year, maybe Richard Murphy. I even like Stevan Ridley. Stevan Ridley had a nice, early camp. And Keiland Williams is unmentioned but certainly very talented.
So I like our position at running back. I think Quinn Johnson at full back is a big horse, man. I can tell ya right now that I look forward to those things that we can do with him. He's a receiver out of the backfield, good ball carrier and certainly a powerful, powerful blocker. Wide receivers are veteran, they look veteran, we're really in good shape there with Byrd and LaFell and Toliver and some of the newcomers that have emerged so -- and some of the old guys, the Mitchells, both Chris and Jared that are certainly very capable.
I like the position that the offense is in. We may make changes there with Gary Crowton, and he's done a great job with us in the time that he's been here, and I think we're benefitting by the fact that we're multiple enough in formation and in scheme that we can use all the guys that we have. Trindon Holliday will probably take the most snaps he has in the last five practices than he did through all the two-a-days a year ago, so offensively I think we're in great shape.
As I say that, I know there are a number of LSU Olympians that are off representing our country, and several times quietly I have said to Trindon, "We wish that you were there, but we're glad that you are here," and I think that's honest, and I think that he enjoyed the pursuit.
Defensively the guys that we thought that might challenge from the underclass appear to me have had really early camps that show you that they have all the ability that you hoped. I think Patrick Peterson and Brandon Taylor are both guys that really have had exceptional early camps, but we're a ways out from making any determination there, but I can tell you that the competition will be the deciding factor.
Defensive line, I think anytime that you start practice in helmets and not shoulder pads and full gear it's just difficult to see, you know, where your defensive line and your offensive lines are. Well, we've just now in the last three days had two practices in shoulder pads and this was our first day in pads, and I enjoyed the way the defensive line and the offensive line kinda went after it.
So I like where we're at in the defensive line. I think the group as a whole are coming to the line of scrimmage well and will be difficult to move the football against. I like our linebackers. I think Darry Beckwith has had a very good camp to start. There is a lot of the season -- a lot of challenges that the season offers a linebacker or a defense, and if you look at the number of formations, the number of offenses and what we ask of our guys.
You have to have speed and skill, and you have to be a bright player and a physical player and play well in space, and I think that we have that at linebacker, and I think Jerry Beckwith has certainly provided good leadership and, again, is, you know, having a great camp. We would look forward to him this fall.
The defensive coordinators and the defensive side are doing a good job. I think there is a very short, not a very small learning curve between the two, but they work extremely well together. I think the defense is benefitting from the fact that the calls are the same, that the attack is the same, that the strategy and the view and virtually the defense is the same. I think our guys, I think our players enjoy that.
They're comfortable with, you know, the direction that the defense is going, I certainly am. Special teams, Colt David got himself a little bit of a tweak, is not doing a lot of kicking right now, but Josh Jasper stepped in there and is certainly providing us with some kicking, and hopefully we'll get Colt back in short order.
I think we've made some improvement, and I enjoy the fact that Joe Robinson has jumped into teams and really, you know, his touch and his feel is making a difference, I think, to our kickers and our punters, and a little bit in scheme. So I think we're off to a good start on teams.
We'll punt like we have, we'll kick field goals like we have, and occasionally if the situation presents itself we'll fake it, so just the way it goes. Today's practice was a big practice. You know, we got -- had two in shells and shoulders, and that told you a little bit about your team.
What was a standard work ethic on our football field when we have pads on, that appeared today, you saw it today. We had a nice long goal, we were very physical, it was a lot of full line, a lot of -- we installed short yardage today, and at the end of the practice in the heat of the day we ran, and we ran hard.
The defense thrived in the heat, and in my opinion had a great day and thrived in the running, and the offense fought through it, which is what they're supposed to do. So, you know, we're not ready to play a game, there is no way we're ready to play a game, but if we work like we did today, we will be ready to play and certainly have the opportunity to play well as the season goes forward.
Injuries, real quick. I mentioned Colt David, again, it's a short-term issue, all these are, really, Brett Helms has himself a calf contusion, and Charles Alexander has a soft tissue injury, but nothing that should keep us out. So I like the position we're in. Any questions?
Q. Coach, the quarterback situation, does there have to be a clear-cut winner or is there a possibility of going to a two-quarterback system?
COACH MILES: I really think that it might well -- it's difficult for a young guy like Jefferson to come in here and accommodate the offense and, I don't know that I see them exactly the same. I think that he's improved. He's much more seasoned, ready to play in games.
Q. Yes, Coach, the national championship last year, do you think there are still things you need to improve on?
COACH MILES: '07 was last year. And the issue is the things we have been doing since we've gotten here, how we practice, the work ethic, who we are, how our game week unfolds, how we pursue teams, defense, and offense, that's what to me is going to sustain our program. Not the look in outcomes, but necessarily what is our process.
And I think this team understands. I've got to be honest with you, I may have questioned whether they understood it until today. I liked today. Today was one damn good practice, and, again, it was not what I wanted. We threw some incompletions.
For this program to have success, certainly, we will pursue excellence and take 'em one game at a time. That App State team is awfully good, and I promise you when I go to -- I get up in the morning and I think about today and I think about things that need to get fixed, I think about our opponents, that certainly is the first one.
Q. Les, I know you've never been shy about tackling in camp and really in any practices, but particularly when you have a team like Appalachian State that has a dangerous quarterback as they have and some teams need to play their way into good, live tackling, maybe two or three games into the season, is there more of an angle on live contact knowing that you're going to see the kind of offense that is going to make you game-ready out of the shoot?
COACH MILES: I think our live contact happens every day. I think live tackling certainly is really looking -- we're looking at five opportunities of actual live tackling and really only three, you know, scrimmage events that will involve live tackling. It's an athletic tackle on their guys, certainly the quarterback. I think you're right, we start every practice with a pursuit drill.
We start every practice with tackling drills, and it's a circuit that we go through. Again, that will not change, but there is greater view on that quarterback if he were to scramble out there and to be able to hem him in.
Q. Les, were you lucky or good last year? In that same vein, if you were lucky, do you feel you will be gambling as much this year without as many seniors as you had last year?
COACH MILES: I think the things you do as a coach is you make calls based on the talent and the situation, and it's tough sometimes. And then I'll leave the rest to the guy upstairs. But I don't -- I can't tell you right now that I have in me any calls. We might go for things more this year, and likely less. Like the way I answered that? You guys could all write that differently, couldn't you?
Q. Les, talk about the punting game and the status of the punter and your punt receivers.
COACH MILES: We have great competition there, Brady Dalfrey has come in, he has the liveliest leg, he knocks the tar out of it. Thus far in camp we're pleased with the progress that he's making, but I think Josh Jasper is a guy that can come in there and compete as well, and I look forward to our -- I think we may have more fast guys to run down underneath that punt maybe with some of these freshmen and red shirt sophomores or freshmen that are ready to get on the field a little bit more.
I look forward to both punters, and I look forward to seeing a fast, physical coverage team, you know, heading down the field.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH MILES: Punt returners? Oh, I'm really -- I think Patrick Peterson is a guy that's caught some balls for us. I think that Chad Jones is going to be better than he's been and there are some other guys that we're looking at. We put Holliday back there and certainly with his opportunities, and one look at him and one of these days he'll feel real comfortable, and we'll be as excited as we can be to have our -- to have him as our punt returner as our kick returner, so same guys.
Q. When you started the conference you were talking about leadership and you didn't mention any names. Are there any names that you would like to mention at this time, as far as team leaders?
COACH MILES: I think Tyson Jackson and Darry Beckwith on defense, Pittman, some of our veterans are stepping up, and in a day like today where it was a taxing practice, you could see they had that. I liked Tremaine Johnson on the offense today. He was vocal, and he played hard. You know, he -- I liked Charles Scott. I think he's a guy who comes to practice every day and is not necessarily a vocal leader but a physical kinda -- watch-me-I'm-going-to-practice-hard kind of guy.
I think that kind of leadership is key. But Brady Dalfrey certainly has been awfully good on teams, Colt David has not missed a thing. I think we've got a pretty widespread leadership to be honest with you. That's the way it's got to be, for us to understand, you know, the pitfalls of a long season and the ability to pick one another up, you need, really, deep leadership.
Q. Les, you glanced over the running backs. I guess Keiland's name you didn't mention. Are you and the staff waiting for him to have that attitude adjustment where he fills into the player that everybody thinks he can be?
COACH MILES: Keiland has a tremendous up side and hopefully it will be brought out in this year, or more plays in this year you'll see it. But I don't know if anybody is waiting. I think there is a lot of competition going on there, and I think it's a position that will bring out the best in that group, and certainly Keiland has as much talent or more as any.
Q. Coach, you mentioned a few young guys at the defensive back position and you mentioned Patrick Peterson. What have you been seeing not just from the young guys but all the defensive backs as far as their strengths?
COACH MILES: Jai Eugene has had a nice camp thus far, Chris Hawkins, would be the two veterans that would be key. I think Phelon Jones, another incoming freshman, Ryan St. Julien, another guy, Ron Brooks, so we'll have plenty at corner. We just need to make sure we get the best guys to the field fast.
Q. Coach, you have 4 out of 5 offensive linemen returning this year, starters. Talk about the importance of having continuity at the offensive line position, especially when the quarterback position has inexperience.
COACH MILES: Anytime you bring a new starter to the mix, it's imperative that the strength of the offense help that quarterback. One of the strengths certainly is the offensive line. I like the idea that the running backs are veteran, the tight end is veteran, the full back, and the receivers are veteran. If you want to look at it, I think it's probably a great position for a newcomer at quarterback to get comfortable and understand that the guys that are around him are all capable.
Q. Coach, who do you look to fill or how do you fill the shoes left by Glenn Dorsey from last year?
COACH MILES: You know, you don't necessarily fill the shoes. If you had a guy as good as Glenn Dorsey, he would have played last year. But what happens is the veterans that played around him, and the Charles Alexander that steps in, the rookie, Ricky Jean-Francois that steps in, really you expect that maybe that defensive line would be more productive as a group than Glenn.
Glenn led defensive line. If you take Kirston Pittman, he should play better, Tyson Jackson will have a better year. I think the two guys inside, you know, Marlon Favorite, Charles Alexander, Jean-Francois, I think those guys have the ability to be very, very good inside. So that's what you do. Glenn Dorsey was a great person and an outstanding player. He didn't play in the second half of the championship game in the SEC.
He gave us everything he had all year long as a person; he had a great game in the championship. How do you fill those shoes? I don't know what you do.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH MILES: Honestly, hey! What I said goes, I swear! I mean, honestly.
Q. Coach, after winning the national title last year, obviously that's what every program strives for. After that have you talked to other coaches that have won a national title and how they come back the next year?
COACH MILES: I've watched lots of NFL teams and NBA teams, talked to some coaches, and I've found a common thread there that will benefit us, and it's basically doing what you do.
Process who we are, making sure that you don't change the recipe on a team that's had success not only in one year but in many years. That's where we're at. Today's practice, I saw more of that. Today's practice, this day, I saw more of that. I think that has to be, as we pursue the season there have to be all days that really remind us of who we are.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH MILES: I didn't. I left that one out. I thought you might steer me in the wrong direction. Curveball.
Q. Coach, a lot of people say that it's impossible for a true freshman to play quarterback in the SEC, game is too fast, teams are too good, even Peyton Manning split time. What's your assessment?
COACH MILES: Peyton Manning? He was a starter. Split time? I mean, so half the time he was a starter? So when he went onto the field he was not the starter? There isn't any question that you would love to red shirt your freshmen class. Today's football doesn't allow you to do that.
The ability to put your best team on the field may now involve a guy that comes in from high school. You have to get him ready, be smart, can't give him too much, can't overload him, but, you know, let's see what they got.
Q. Coach, I remember speaking to a player a few years ago, and he went through the same thing, that his offensive line had a lot of input and check-off and things like that. How much are you going to count on Brett Helms, Tremaine Johnson to help the quarterback make that transition with check-offs and such?
COACH MILES: You know, I've been fortunate in my time to have offensive line guys that were so bright that they really knew the checks, protection and/or run checks as well any. Brett Helms is that guy, and he'll turn around and cue in the line and the quarterback and help tremendously.
So there's -- you know, being in sync with that group up front, if you have a very confident veteran line, it makes playing quarterback a lot easier. I mean, even just going to the practice snap, where, you know, the center basically if you make the check you're heading the wrong direction, he's going to stop the play and head you in the right direction.
Then the correction becomes immediate. It's not even 30 seconds later after you've run the wrong play, it's before you ran the wrong play, it's a tremendous advantage to have a veteran group.
THE MODERATOR: We have time for one final question.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH MILES: Well, he's -- in my opinion he throws the football well, you know, he doesn't quite know where he's throwing it just yet, but he's got an aggressive mind, he wants to learn. He is a good quarterback, has a good quarterback demeanor. He's not going to judge himself too quickly, he's going to allow himself the opportunity to learn it, and he's going to pursue excellence, it appears to me.
I like his athleticism, he certainly has good speed and solid instincts, so I think it's too early for me to say that I can remove the field or that opportunity from him.
I am fortunate to have two veterans on our staff that are very capable on the defensive side of the ball, and they were in on every strategic meeting that took place in our defense a year ago, and I'm going to bring 'em up. They'll both be here, split time, you divide the time, but very comfortable with their shared responsibilities.
They're doing a really good job, they work hard and they're players' coaches. Doug Mallory will have responsibility of the calling of the defense, and really most responsibilities will be shared thereafter. Doug, why don't you come up first and Brad, you're next.
COACH MALLORY: Thanks, Coach. First of all, again, it's a great honor and privilege to have this opportunity to be named as one of the co-defensive coordinators, along with Bradley Dale Peveto, and thanks to Coach Miles for having the confidence in us and being able to hire from within, and to have the confidence of taking on this position of being a coordinator, it's a great honor and privilege, and we're anxious to get this season underway.
Q. Coach, LSU has an attacking-style defense, perhaps they drop off a little bit last year. What is your philosophy?
COACH MALLORY: Similar to the past. I think if you look at what we did defensively, we got off to a great start at the beginning of the year. You can't down play the loss of Charles Alexander. I think he was playing extremely well at the beginning of the year and unfortunately we didn't have Ricky throughout the whole season, but we took a hit on the defensive line and forced guys to play for the first time.
That hurt us, and I don't know if a lot of people understand the significance of losing those two players up front, but -- I don't know how much our game plan changed throughout the year, the style of offenses that we started to face in a little better competition may have had something to do with that. I think the one thing is "Pete" and I share the same philosophy when it comes to defense, and we plan on getting after people's butts.
Q. Coach, two new coordinators. Have you got a feel for what kind of pressure defense you're going to be able to play with Hawkins in the new corners? And also talk about you and Bradley Dale, the jobs and functions that you both will perform.
COACH MALLORY: Going to the corners, losing Jackson and others made it a significant loss there. We're young but I think we're talented at the corner spot. I think the guys that were waiting in the wings, Hawkins and Eugene, as we went through spring football and summer conditioning, and thus far in two-a-days, have made tremendous strides, and Ron Brooks and Phelon Jones, two men we red shirted last year are ready to play, and the incoming freshmen, and even as we got into recruiting this past year, having lost those corners, we knew that was going to be a priority in recruiting, and we feel good about the freshmen we signed this past year.
In regards to Bradley Dale and I, we share the same philosophy, we've been together for the last three years and his and my background are very similar. We want to be a pressure-attacking defense, but we want to be sound. We're not going to hang those -- we're going to try to do the best we can to not put our kids in bad position. Put 'em in a position where they can be successful and still apply the pressure to the offense.
Q. Coach, can you expand on what you're looking for from Ricky?
COACH MALLORY: The thing about Ricky Jean is he's physical enough and dominating enough that he can play well for us. He played in the national championship, and I think he's shown people what he's capable of doing. Ricky Jean needs to do is he needs to continue to improve from that point.
Ricky Jean I think is a positive football player, he's a man of few words, but when he speaks, like that E.F. Hutton commercial, people are going to shut up and listen, so he's very well respected on our team.
Q. Coach, I was wondering, do you see Patrick playing the corner position?
COACH MILES: We're young and inexperienced at the corner position, and Patrick Peterson, we've worked with him this past week, and he is a man who has an awful lot of talent. Again, he still has to learn our style and our system and our scheme and we've yet to really bring that all together this early.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH MALLORY: Whether we want to bring coverage, what we want to do, it will all be making adjustments. But we have a great working relationship, I don't see there being a problem, like I said, I think our philosophies are similar, and we're going to get after people and I think you're going to see that this fall.
THE MODERATOR: We'll bring up Bradley Dale-Peveto.
COACH PEVETO: I will second what Doug is saying. It's an honor first of all to coach at LSU and have a chance to be named co-defensive coordinator was an honor. Coach Miles is a terrific leader, great man to work for. It's a great state, love the country, love the food, love the people. It's been a lot of fun! I'm looking forward to the opportunity and the challenge of keeping this defense where it's been for many years.
Q. Coach, how comfortable are you with the depth you have at linebacker?
COACH PEVETO: You know when I got here in 2005 we had starters, and last year we lost two good football players in Highsmith and Sanders. This season reminds me of the '06 season going in. We were young, had a lot of talent. It's as talented of a group as we've had. The four guys that have played a lot of football, Beckwith starting in the middle, great leader, been here all four years with us, does a tremendous job, looking for great things out of him, not only on the field but off the field.
Stepping up will be Shepard. He's an extremely solid player, probably our most improved linebacker, has had a great five days so far and keeps getting better and better. Perry Riley at his position, another athletic player, he came in and played for us as a true freshman, I looked up in one of the games that year, Ole Miss, and he and Jacob were in there playing side-by-side.
We had some injury, and Jacob Cutrera has played since he's been here, so those four guys are our core guys. Jacob, we're going to move him around, he can back up any of the three positions, so I consider Jacob a starter as well. We have to bring on depth to back those guys up, four backers in a 4-3 scheme is not enough. But guys that played very well this spring, one being Kellen Theriot who came in and is a true freshmen, and Clemens, who was red shirted last year as a freshmen, are playing well.
Both those guys have learned our defense and are coming along, Ryan Baker is playing well, he showed up, he can run, he's explosive, reminds you of Beckwith when he was a freshman. Kyle Prater, he's doing well. I feel good about the athletic ability of our linebackers; we can run. I feel good about the recruiting job we've done there and expect good things out of those guys.
They're going to have to step up and help us; they're looking forward to it and doing well.
Q. I assume you and Doug are in the same roles as was announced before, him in the press box and you on the sidelines?
COACH PEVETO: That's correct.
Q. Does that fit your personalities? You're known as being more excitable, and he is more laid back up there where he can sit in the quiet for a little bit?
COACH PEVETO: See, y'all have not been on the head phones with Doug during a game. He gets pretty wound up on game day; don't let him fool you, okay? (Chuckles.)
I think it does. Doug has been in the press box and does a great job of calling the game and seeing things and has good vision up there, and I think that fits him well. I get to be on the sideline where I'm more comfortable, you know, as a coach. Some people are more comfortable being you know, some down, I've always liked the feel of the game. I like making the adjustments on the field, and it's going to work well.
We've all been together, minus Bo, and to echo what Doug said, there is not a better defensive mind in the country than Bo, and we're fortunate to have been with him, and we've kept the system intact. That was the beauty of Coach Miles making us coordinators. We're in the same system. There is no learning curve for anybody except Joe, who is a special teams guy who came in, so we're keeping everything intact and moving forward.
Q. Speaking of Joe Robinson, special teams, does it free you up to get back to what you're more passionate about? I don't think anybody could accuse you of not putting intensity into the special teams but in some ways is it a new start for you to let him take that over?
COACH PEVETO: Very much so. You love your responsibility you're given in this business, period. You're fortunate to have it. I was fortunate to come here. And it was by way of special teams and coaching linebackers, and you see that combination -- most of the time you have a tight end in special teams or they're delegated out.
Coach Miles doesn't delegate them out; one guy does it. The responsibility was fun, I enjoyed it, and it's great to get back into the defense full-time. I'm excited about that. To do that at a place like LSU is something every young coach dreams of. I'm exited about the challenge and the new role, and I know that's about eight times a game I won't have to worry quite as much anymore.
That's what I was going to say. You all asked Doug about the pressure, and I would have told you when they throw deep balls at you, and you can't punt, you darn right you feel the pressure.
Q. Coach, for the first time in my memory LSU will face a schedule that uses some sort of spread, wide-open offense, wide receivers, what challenge does that pose to you starting in week one?
COACH PEVETO: We have three linebackers on the field, we match up -- our 4-3 matches up with big linebackers on the football field. When they take out one back, we take another linebacker out and get other DB on the field. So the thing we do a great job of is matching up with what they have on the field.
I looked out there one game and we got -- we had four receivers on the football field and they had three linebackers, and those linebackers were working. You have to defend the run and the pass, and we'll get our personnel packages matched up nickel and dime ask we're looking forward to it. The beautiful thing our first four opponents are those style of offenses, and they're tough to get ready for. So getting all the work that we had in spring and through the camp helped us with that.
You would hate to face one of those teams in the middle of a season and have a week to get ready for it, so that's an advantage to us.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH PEVETO: You'll see that quite a bit out of us, yes. That's what I'm talking about with the match-ups right there. Quite a bit.
Q. Coach, when you lose a guy like Glenn from your defensive line, do you feel that the perception is the line takes a step down and is that a motivating factor for your team?
COACH PEVETO: We've had great defensive linemen here. Charles Alexander was out the whole year, and Glenn was beat up part of the year, so we had to play with other guys, and I think you saw Ricky Jean was M.V.P. of several of the games.
You don't replace him. He's a great player, but we feel good about our depth, talent, and the way our guys are playing, and we will take up the slack and get it done at that position.
Q. Coach, at the strong safety position you have a lot of guys, and it was mentioned about the talent earlier, who do you see as the front runner for the strong safety position?
COACH PEVETO: You know that's a good question. Craig Steltz was a fantastic football player, we all know that, and I'll be honest with ya. In the national championship game, we countered their offense very well, played good, and he'll be a three-year starter, Berg, and he played a lot for us, he wasn't red shirted.
And that's about how we recruit, and you coach the way we coach 'em, and Coach Miles does a great job with our unit. After practice, they was in the classroom, and when they step up and bring a leadership to the team it will bring a tear to your eye. We're proud of him, he's doing a great job! He'll be one of our top leaders on our -- not only on our defense but on the football team as a whole.
I've been fortunate like a lot of coaches to have coached with some fantastic offensive coordinators, and Gary Crowton is one of the all-time great minds in the game. The thing -- I don't know if y'all know this or not, but he's even a better person. He's a great coach, he's a fantastic person and a lot of times -- we talk about the pressure, I mean, sometimes we all get greedy on our side of the ball, we want this and they want that.
There has never been a time when we've gone, Douglas and I, to ask for something he doesn't give us. They do a great job of helping our defense get ready by the looks they're giving us and we appreciate him. Great coach, great person, Gary Crowton, our offensive coordinator. Thanks.
GARY CROWTON: It's an honor to be here, and it's exciting this time of year getting ready for this upcoming season and being around the team again. All the time we're practicing, and meeting, summer was nice, but it's time for football and I'm excited about it. You know, it's been fun this last week seeing all the new faces of our new kids, our freshmen, I guess we call 'em. They're doing a great job, and it speaks a lot for the future of the program.
I'm excited to work around all of the other great coaches that are here and all those wonderful things and looking forward to the next season. I'm just going to open it up for questions. I know you got a lot of 'em.
Q. Gary, Les talked about the things Jordan possesses to make you guys comfortable on the field right away.
GARY CROWTON: Jordan is athletic, a great young man, does a lot of good things from the quarterback position and won a state championship and all those things, so, you know, winning like we did, it was fun getting some top recruits, and he's one of them.
And he's going to battle, and we're going to give him some opportunities and see how it goes.
Q. Gary, you seem as relaxed as usual. Are you aware of the stress level out there among the LSU fans about the quarterback situation? Do you know something everybody else doesn't?
GARY CROWTON: Well, I just enjoy the game so much, I'm so excited about football! I feel like we got a lot of good guys coming back, a pretty veteran group coming back, even though we lost some good players. We wish them the best. We've got a lot of good guys coming back, and we've had time to prepare, and I think good things are going to happen. I'm not stressed yet, but I am anxious, and I know as the game gets closer, as we prepare I want to make sure all those little things are done and the dots are -- the I's are dotted and the T's are crossed.
And there will be some unknown situations just because of -- there is a little bit of youth on offense, not to mention any specific positions or not, but the quarterback is something I know you guys are wondering about, but it's going pretty good.
Q. Gary, perhaps you've heard that there is a school of thought out there because of your relationship with Andrew Hatch which goes back before your time at LSU that maybe that gives him a foot in the door that the other guys don't have. I'm sure that is a benefit to the two of you.
Could you maybe address the pro's and con's of, yes, there are benefits but it doesn't necessarily mean he's ticketed to be the guy that takes the first snap.
GARY CROWTON: I haven't known Andrew that well. He was at two camps I was at as a youth, I knew his father and met the young man a couple of times. I've been in this business and coaching long enough to know that the whole object of this is to win, and to win you've got to play the best players, and to play the best players what you have to do is prepare them and let them compete, and there is always a time of growth from that quarterback position as you grow and you -- first you learn your offense, and then you get mechanically sound, and then you get strong and learn how to attack defenses.
And all those things -- manage the game and make it special for that quarterback position, and there is a lot of players that I loved throughout the years that never knew me before they came here.
And they adapt to college, and fortunately I had an opportunity to coach at that level, and, you know, the offenses consistently have the numbers that they had in the previous years, or even in last year, and what happens is you get behind, it's harder to come back, so you have to be efficient in your 2-minute offense, efficient in learning how to conserve time. And at the same time, if you're efficient in wasting time, it will shorten the game.
Q. Coach, Andrew Hatch, what made you recruit him out of high school when you were at BYU, and how has he improved since you've seen him here?
GARY CROWTON: Andrew transferred high schools from his junior to his senior year, and he came to the camp -- our camp at BYU at that time, and he was very competitive as a person. I think the thing that stands out about him is he'll race you to the drinking fountains, as one of our trainers told us. He's so competitive to the details of things. I like that and I saw that at the camp.
Athletically he had quick feet, he was strong and he was still growing. I actually followed him when he changed schools and went and watched him play a game, and they didn't throw the ball very much, so they didn't have a lot of numbers that quarterbacks -- you know how you look at quarterbacks, they're all on Rivals, you can see all the clips of them and they all look so wonderful on Rivals, but he wasn't in an offense that was highlighting the quarterback.
At the same time, he took over the game I watched. It was a close game, he scrambled well, he executed the offense well, he took hits well. He directed traffic, he did all those intangibles that quarterbacks do. I watched that. He didn't throw for a lot of yards, he had decent completion percentage but he won, and he won in a manner that let me believe at that time that there was upside and potential for him to grow.
At the same time I got a chance in that recruiting process to meet his mother and father, both pretty tall people, big people. I think his mom is 5-10, his dad is 6-2. I thought there was potential for him to grow out of high school he was 6-1 and a half and then he -- I left and didn't hear from him for a while. He went to Harvard, I went to Oregon, and when he came -- he went on a church mission for the LDS church, and when he came home off that mission he was trying to get into the Manning Camp to be a counselor, and that was at the same time we had issues with some of our other quarterbacks, and so he elected to transfer and come here.
And we told him he would have to walk on and earn the scholarship, and he did, and he came and he was now 6-4, almost, and instead of 190, he was 220 pounds, so immediately there was a kid that I liked with a bigger frame and all that, so I was impressed with that. You know, he's been able to develop ever since he's been here, and hopefully he will continue to develop and be ready to go.
Q. Coach, considering the college game inexperience that the quarterbacks have is this one of more difficult assignments you're having in your career as a coordinator?
GARY CROWTON: Well, I've had this similar situation before, I've learned from it. You lose -- I lost a couple of veteran quarterbacks before, and had younger guys, actually two or three times through my career. They're all different. You know, you've got to learn to figure out what they can do best and it's hard to know exactly in practice.
You can see a lot of things in practice, but they're not getting tackled, and the one thing that happens when game time comes is you want to see how a quarterback can get hit, get up, and shake it off and then see if they're extremely aggressive still or if all of the sudden they're complacent or if they're -- it shows some mental toughness and some guys it takes a lot of hits before they get it, and other guys can take those hits early but the toughness that they have in the game day you can only learn -- you can only tell that on game day.
And it's not only getting hits -- but people make errors, and those quarterbacks when they make errors, everybody sees those errors. And when you see those errors, you know there is going to be something written about them, here or there and a criticism, and those guys have to be tough in handling those things. And the best ones that can handle it -- it's not always easy, it's not easy for anybody to take criticism, believe me, I know that, and my children know at that from when I talk to them. (Chuckles.)
But the ones that are tough they can handle the hits and the criticism -- and they might not always be the most polished or the prettiest, but they're the ones that lead the team. It's a team sport. The greatest team sport that there is.
Q. Coach, one position that hasn't been brought up that is rather thin for experience, and the guy there should be All SEC, Richard Dickson should be the top in the league, but you have a lot of talent behind him. How do you see the talent stacking up behind Richard?
GARY CROWTON: Obviously we're excited about Richard. Behind him they're battling for spots, like the quarterback position, they're battling for spots. That position is different because you can change personnel, you can go from a tight end to two tight end to three tight ends to no tight end, and we'll do that a lot, change your personnel. It's a battle right there.
We've got about three, four guys battling in that spot. You know, everybody that you read on the depth chart, they're all battling for those spots. From the freshman in Branch to Caleb who is a senior to Mitch and Alex, those guys are all battling for that spot. That will be determined right to game week, I'm sure, they'll just keep fighting. They do a good job, they're all pretty good, they've got to get physical and strong and block well. They're learning routes and those things so it's coming.
Q. Coach, on your left here. Coach Miles discussed that he didn't want to commit to whether there would be one starting quarterback or a multiple quarterback system, and I wanted to get your take on the benefits or negatives and what the different guys who are competing for that spot are, their strengths and why you see that working or not working and the other thing is that -- second question is Andrew told me when he left Harvard it was his intent to go back. What do you say to talk a guy out of going back to Harvard?
GARY CROWTON: Right now, just coming out of spring, we saw some good things in the spring from Lee and Andrew. Both of those guys worked hard and I saw nice things, very positive things that made me believe with continued work and effort those guys would be good quarterbacks with the guys around them. At a young age I think they'll do that.
Obviously with Jordan Jefferson coming in, I've said some good things about him, because we believe in him, that's why we recruited him. As far as the commitment to make right now it's too early. It's too early in camp. Right now we're letting them compete and in competing they push here other to make each other better and we want the guy at the end of camp to be great. Because that's the expectation that we have on our football team is to have a great football team. So for us to do that, we have to push that expectation and make everybody compete and that's what we're doing at the quarterback position.
As far as using more than one quarterback, I've done that in the past, it depends on the team and it depends on the skills, why you're doing it, and there could be reason to do that. There may end up being one guy -- it's hard to tell right now because of that competition. And every day we think about it, talk about it as a coaching staff. We're going to let it just play itself outright up to the end, I think. We haven't had any scrimmages yet so when we -- at those scrimmages, we'll learn a lot, also.
As far as going back to Harvard, Harvard is an outstanding school. There are a lot of guys that make a lot of money that come out of Harvard. I know that it's hard to get into that school, and that was something that Andrew did a good job as a student athlete in high school preparing to go to a good school like Harvard. But LSU is an outstanding school, too. And there are a lot of great football players that have come here and played and they leave here and making a lot of money, also.
And when you get to play for the best school -- and I think we are the best school, and you're a competitive person, you have to weigh your options, and apparently he weighed those options and there are a lot of things that he wanted in both schools, and this time he wanted to be a football player, and he's always going to be a student athlete because he's that type of person, but he wanted to be a football player at the highest level.
Q. Because Ryan wasn't here in the spring those two got the majority of all the snaps and benefited from it. In talking to them recently they talked about that. Can you share your thoughts on that?
GARY CROWTON: I think from a perspective the quarterback doesn't have to get everybody lined up, like Matt Flynn would get Demetrius Byrd lined up sometimes. So all of the things in mind, this is a good opportunity for -- a very good situation for a young quarterback to come into because of the veterans around them. It takes a lot of pressure off them.
Q. (No microphone.)
GARY CROWTON: All of these guys have been great in my meeting rooms, I'll tell ya from A to Z. Jared Mitchell has been working hard, he's a kid that can catch the ball, he knows the ball is coming and he's working have you ever had an experience in your.
Q. Have you ever a coaching experience where you have four running backs coming bag with they all average over 6 yards per carry?
GARY CROWTON: No, I have not. I'm hoping they carry those numbers throughout the season. I know when you start getting close to that goal line and you're pounding in, you can take a beating, so having all of those guys there is great and they're doing a great job.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH MILES: What Demetrius did -- when guys were beat up -- and there was a time when Brandon LaFell was finding himself, too, being his first year as a starter, when we finally got some -- it helps the tight ends, they double over, they single up on Richard Dickson, they have to soften up, it just causes -- when you can score with several different players because you have so many good guys, it makes our job easier.
End of FastScripts