Tigers plan to make the most of bye week
Miles says he'll try to mix rest with some fine tuning
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
By James Varney
BATON ROUGE -- A bye week can be a mixed blessing, LSU Coach Les Miles hinted Tuesday, but there is no question the Tigers needed one badly.
Banged up after three bruising weeks and a typically physical game against Auburn, LSU (7-1, 4-1 SEC) held a few players out of practice Tuesday, which was held in shells rather than complete pads.
Among the missing was senior defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, victimized by a pin-and-chop block against Auburn -- a play along the line of scrimmage that Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville apologized for, and Miles said he believes Tuberville is sincere.
"He wanted to go but we told him to take the day off," Miles joked about Dorsey, an acknowledged team leader who was chosen as a captain for the Auburn game and whom Miles said made a particularly moving speech to the players Friday night before the critical game.
Other LSU senior mainstays who can use the extra week before playing Alabama on Nov. 3 are cornerback Chevis Jackson, whose eyesight is still bothered after his helmet smashed the bridge of his nose against Kentucky; defensive end Kirston Pittman, who left the Kentucky game with an assortment of maladies; and wide receiver Early Doucet, who, though still coping with a reported groin injury, returned to the lineup against Auburn in dramatic fashion, hauling in seven passes for 93 yards.
"It's a real advantage to have the opportunity to get some guys healed and fresh," Miles said. "We're taking that part of this week very seriously. It was perfect for us, just what we needed."
Of the wounded Tigers, only Dorsey appears questionable for the Alabama game. Miles said the team remains "optimistic" that what has been diagnosed as a knee sprain is just that and that Dorsey will be able to play. Dorsey's situation is expected to be clarified in the next couple of days, Miles said.
On the other hand, the rhythm of the bye can seem awkward. Miles said the coaching staff will use the extra time to fine tune the game plan for the Crimson Tide.
"I think bye weeks, if taken properly and enjoyed and proper preparation is given to, are great," he said. "I think every team comes off a bye week with a little bit more energy, and with the extra time on the opponent maybe a little bit more prepared."
Miles has always referred to LSU's ground game this season as a "running back by committee," but there's not much question about who chairs that committee. Senior tailback Jacob Hester has more attempts than the next two highest carriers -- Keiland Williams and Ryan Perrilloux -- combined, and his 544 net yards are almost double Williams' 283.
Yet while Hester has a respectable 4.8 yards-per-carry average, other runners have been even more explosive. Charles Scott leads the team with 7.2 yards per carry, Williams is close behind at 6.9 yards, and flanker Trindon Holliday averages 6.5.
Miles said the decision on who will play in any situation is usually based on feel.
Against Kentucky, for example, Scott ran roughshod over the Wildcats in the first half and scored two touchdowns, but he virtually disappeared in the second half.
Similarly, Holliday, despite a nifty 17-yard gain on one play, did not figure prominently against Auburn.
Miles conceded that, after watching the game tapes, he wished he could have used Scott more here or Holliday more there, and that there have been times Williams could also have gotten more touches.
"It is nice to be able to call a curveball at times," Miles said. "You can put a guy in at times who is a little more shifty and quicker."
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