Tigers put '07 BCS title in rearview mirror, look toward '08
LSU head football coach Les Miles is moving forward, as are his Tiger football players.
While Miles acknowledged the team's SEC Championship and BCS National Championship season last year in the opening of his press conference during SEC Media Days Wednesday, he quickly turned the focus to the upcoming season's possibilities.
Miles, entering his fourth year at the helm of the Tiger football team, said that the goal of his squad is not to defend its title, but simply to achieve similar success this season.
"We're not defending," Miles said. "We're not dealing with rankings. 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. We've got a brand new team."
Despite the loss of numerous standout players from last year's team to the NFL, including Gonzales native and All-American defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, the Tigers are still returning 13 starters this season. They include center Brett Helms and defensive end Tyson Jackson, both of whom Miles brought with him to Media Days as player representatives.
Jackson told reporters that Miles urged the team to put last season's success to rest and to focus their attention on the 2008 campaign.
"It's really not hard to move forward if you have a team that is hungry like we are," Jackson said. "We know what we have to do."
Miles said that while Dorsey has moved on to the professional ranks, the defense is still strong.
"He was not only a very talented man, but he was really one of the very strongest defensive leaders that we had," Miles said of the former East Ascension standout. "He was a guy that, you know, bumped and bruised or not, he was coming to play. And he insisted that the defense play alongside him. He was a great leader.
"I think our front is awfully talented and I think that as a group they may well play as well statistically as that defensive front did a year ago."
Miles also addressed the quarterback situation the Tigers face going into the season, as the starting job contest looks to be between Jarrett Lee and Andrew Hatch after the dismissal of Ryan Perrilloux.
"Both guys had good springs," Miles said of the signal callers. "Both guys are learning the offense. They had an entire summer of study where the receiving core, gathered them, ran the passing that we run, really helped identify to our quarterbacks where they're gonna be. I think they've made good progress through the summer."
The Tigers open their 2008 regular season at home against Appalachian State Aug. 30 in Tiger Stadium. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m., with the game being televised on ESPN and broadcast on radio through the LSU Sports Radio Network.