Last Modified: Friday, September 13, 2013 9:01 PM
First things first, LSU head coach Les Miles says.
Yes, he’d like to get a look at even more young players tonight when the No. 8-ranked Tigers host heavy underdog Kent State, particularly on defense where eight true freshmen have played through the first two games.
But he also said “It’s an afterthought.”
First, “We’re going to give that opponent our respect and our preparation. We recognize that we’re playing a quality opponent.
“It’s difficult for me to go beyond that. I recognize the fastest way to improve is to prepare well for the opponent that you’re about to play and then show that by playing that way.
“And then if something else happens and you can evaluate talent thereafter, that’s fine.”
Kent State is 1-1 after coming within an eyelash of reaching the Orange Bowl last season while going 11-1 in the regular season and winning the MAC East Division with an 8-0 record. But the Golden Flashes lost the MAC championship game in double overtime, 44-37, to Northern Illinois, allowing the Huskies to go to the Miami bowl instead.
Kent State returns 15 starters from that team, including Heisman hopeful dual threat Dri Archer.
Archer, a shifty running back who also lines up at wide receiver, and is a dangerous kick returner, hasn’t played since suffering an ankle injury in the Golden Flashes’ season-opening win over Liberty.
But Archer is expected to play tonight against the Tigers.
“They’ve got a good scheme,” Miles said. “They have good personnel. They’ve got a nice defensive line that is real active and shows real speed to the ball.”
That said, all signs point to little more than a tune-up for the Tigers, who have been impressive in their opening two victories with an offense energized by improved quarterback play from Zach Mettenberger with the input of new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
The Tigers open Southeastern Conference play next week at home against Auburn.
Expect more young players getting experience, perhaps adding to the 14 true freshmen who have seen action.
“That’s good,” Miles said. “We’re going to need them down the road. You get these guys snaps in our stadium you get them against quality opponents, live, let the bullets fly, and then when we get later in the season, they’ll be able to make the plays in the kind of games we’re going to need them so we can win championships.”
Three true freshmen have played in the secondary, including Rashard Robinson, who didn’t start practicing until two weeks ago while awaiting for clearance from the NCAA regarding his academic eligibility. Rickey Jefferson and Tre’Davious White had also been in the defensive backfield.
“I watched Tre’Davious in that game,” Miles said. “Saw him make a couple of nice tackles, saw that he covered well. I think he’s a guy we could look to put in a game when it’s important. And I think Robinson has the same ability.
“With each game there come clarity,” Miles said of getting younger players more snaps. “But that’s never really something that I’m pushing for over the first goal, victory.”