Miles faces questions about latest Alabama joke

Published 10:13 pm Wednesday, July 23, 2008

HOOVER – LSU coach Les Miles found a way to take some of the onus off his players before coming into this state.

Defending a national title? Finding a quarterback?

Those were all hot topics during the Tigers’ visit to Southeastern Conference media days on Wednesday, but so was Miles’ playful poke at the University of Alabama — coached, of course, by his LSU predecessor Nick Saban.

Miles told fans at an LSU booster club meeting in New Orleans last weekend “not to make too much of that (Alabama) game, as it seems like a lot of teams in Louisiana beat that team.” It was a reference to the Crimson Tide’s embarrassing loss to Louisiana-Monroe last season. Or maybe to LSU’s own win in Tuscaloosa.

The crack wasn’t brought up until the second question Wednesday, after a national title defense query and well before anything was asked about the quarterbacks. How would Alabama fare against the 12 colleges in Louisiana? This time Miles didn’t bite.

“I have great respect for the University of Alabama, the history they have presented to college football, the competition they put on every time they hit the field. I promise you that any fun and entertainment that I have with (LSU) supporters is very respectful.”

LSU defensive tackle Tyson Jackson just laughed and shrugged off Miles’ quotes.

“It’s just coach Miles being coach Miles,” Jackson said. “I don’t think he means anything bad about it. He likes to have fun about it. Knowing him personally, I don’t think he was disrespecting an opponent because he has respect for everybody.”

Besides, it gave media days attendees something to ask about besides the national championship the Tigers are trying not to talk about ad nauseam. Ditto for the quarterback battle that became more unsettled with the dismissal of Matt Flynn’s heir apparent, Ryan Perrilloux.

Regarding the former, Miles quickly said he didn’t “want to spend a lot of time talking about that.”

“We’re not defending. We’re not dealing with rankings,” he said. “This is a brand new year. If we’re defending, come see the trophy, it’s in our trophy case. We’re not defending it; it’s there.”

Then there’s the quarterback situation. Redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee, Harvard transfer Andrew Hatch and possibly freshman Jordan Jefferson are left battling for the job. Only Hatch has taken a collegiate snap, completing one pass in a game two years ago before transferring.

None of this seems to bother Miles & Co. all that much. He touts the offensive line as one of the nation’s most physical and the defensive front as “one of the strongest in the country.”

That doesn’t even count the skill guys.

“Whoever starts has just got to go out and make smart decisions and manage the game wisely,” center Brett Helms said. “The fact that you have an offensive line returning four starters, a receiving corps with Brandon LaFell and Demetrius Byrd, and the running backs. They’re surrounding themselves with good guys so they don’t have to do too much.”

Miles said consistency will be the key for who wins the starting job. Hatch and Lee also had the benefit of going through spring drills with Perrilloux gone.

“I think the ability to make those plays that your team needs to make to win games … those are things that you’re really waiting to emerge,” he said. “But I think there’s skill. I think there’s development at throwing it, development of running. I think we have that. They just need to get comfortable and get ready to play.”