LSU coach Les Miles stands on the sidelines during the second half against Towson. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Monday, October 01, 2012 10:01 PM
BATON ROUGE — Whether or not the “real” LSU stands up this week or not is yet to be determined.
But, the Tigers will have a lot more of the real starters on hand when they face their first major challenge with a trip to Florida on Saturday.
Head coach Les Miles is notoriously coy — often downright deceiving — when commenting on his team’s injuries. But he said Monday he expects a host of starters back after they either sat out or saw limited snaps in the lackluster victory over Towson last week.
“The guys who have been nicked are going to return very quickly,” Miles said.
A host of younger players started or saw considerably more playing time last week in an attempt to get regulars healthier as the Tigers now get into the meat of the schedule which, after Florida, includes games against South Carolina and at Texas A&M then an open date before the Alabama game.
“When you play a number of young guys, it takes them a game or so to get themselves squared away,” Miles said delicately. “I think we played a number of young guys ... but guys that are not necessarily going to see a lot of action when we get into the heat of conference.”
The news was even encouraging for fullback J.C. Copeland, although he won’t play this week.
It was feared, however, that Copeland, who couldn’t put any weight on his left leg when he was helped off the field Saturday, might be lost for the year.
“We’ve heard some very encouraging things, and we’re hopeful for a quick recovery,” Miles said. “We hopeful that rehabilitation is all that it will take, just a little bit of time.”
Miles confirmed that Josh Dworaczyk, who was already a backup filling in for preseason All-American Chris Faulk at left tackle, was not “benched” Saturday. He was held out of the game to rest a severe calf contusion.
“I think Dworaczyk will be in a better position to play,” Miles said of this week.
Dworaczyk, who suffered his injury against Idaho, tried to play in the Auburn game but struggled while allowing two sacks.
LSU tried a re-shuffled offensive line against Towson, with right tackle Alex Hurst moving over to Dworaczyk’s spot and true freshman Vadal Alexander getting a shot at right tackle.
The results apparently were mixed, although Miles tried to be kind to the true freshman.
After praising the play of true freshman Kwon Alexander at outside linebacker, he was asked about the other Alexander in the offensive line.
“(Vadal) Alexander is a guy that has ability that will come,” Miles said. “I don’t know that his immediate play was the same as Kwon’s was.”
The two Alexanders gave LSU three true freshmen starting last week, along with regular starter Jalen Mills at cornerback.
Kwon Alexander was playing in place of senior Luke Muncie, who was suffering from flu-like symptoms last week and sat out the game.
“I think Luke’s getting better and I think he will play more significant snaps this Saturday,” Miles said.
Defensive end KeKe Mingo also was limited last week, but benefited from rest and should be ready this week.
Miles also discounted the notion that tailback Spencer Ware, who sat out the second half last week after being in a big first-half collision, wouldn’t be ready this week.
“Spencer came out off the game with little bumps and bruises, no different than any number of guys that play in a quality football game.”
But Copeland, a massive 275-pounder in the backfield, has been a key factor while blocking for the running game.
Tailback Kenny Hilliard has played some at fullback, and might line up there some this week.
“(True freshman tailback) Jeremy Hill has also taken some snaps there,” Miles said. “But (sophomore) Connor Neighbors is probably a great way to go. He’s really developed and I think he’s very deserving of snaps.”
“I fully expect Connor Neighbors to have a great week of practice and play his tail off this week,” said quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who is Neighbors’ roommate. “I know he can get the job done. I’m for sure looking for a great week from him.”