Last Modified: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 10:07 AM
BATON ROUGE — Now less than a week before LSU opens the season against TCU, head coach Les Miles continued to play a cat-and-mouse game with the Horned Frogs.
Monday, Miles was typically coy and mostly vague about the status of running back Jeremy Hill as the Tigers put the game plan in for the opener Saturday in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“Jeremy Hill is going to sustain discipline,” Miles said. “We said earlier that we would be withholding, that he would be withheld from play. That’s going to take place.”
But in a follow-up question Miles said in his next breath that “I wouldn’t be surprised that he would be on our trip.”
Hill, the Tigers’ leading rusher last season, missed the team’s voluntary summer workouts. But he returned to the team the afternoon of LSU’s first August practice after clearing up his legal tangles that morning.
His return was cleared when a district judge decided against any jail time in a follow-up meeting with Hill after he had pleaded guilty in July to misdemeanor simple battery over an incident in which he sucker-punched a man in the head early one morning in a bar parking lot in late April.
Miles has come under criticism for allowing Hill’s quick return, including the misconception, Miles said, that he let the team vote on whether Hill could return.
TCU coach Gary Patterson said at the time that “I’m sure if it was some opponent they’d beat by 100 points (the players) wouldn’t have had a vote.”
Patterson also pointed out that his best defensive player, defensive end Devonte Fields, will be suspended for the LSU game and the next one for a violation of team rules in the spring.
Miles later said that the team vote could only have eliminated any chance of Hill’s return and the ultimate decision was his. Patterson later said he wasn’t criticizing Miles or LSU but responding to a direct question about whether or not he’d let the team vote to overturn Fields’ suspension.
But Patterson will be left guessing about whether he needs to prepare for Hill.
“I don’t think we have much further to say,” Miles said. “We’re not going to comment on that any more.”
Miles did confirm that guard Josh Williford’s LSU career is over. Williford, a starter last year before missing the final seven games with a concussion, suffered another concussion early in August practice.
“Disappointment,” Miles said. “Certainly his personal disappointment (and) his teammates that he can’t continue.
He said Williford will still be involved with the team as a student coach.
“We’ll enjoy his participation greatly.”
Miles had better news about incoming freshman defensive back Rashard Robinson, who’s been held out of practice while waiting for the NCAA Clearinghouse to confirm his academic eligibility.
“We anticipate that there will be positive news as go forward here, really any day,” Miles said.
One thing seems certain for an LSU team that normally used three of four running backs anyway.
Alfred Blue, who started at running back last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury, will start the TCU game. On the depth chart (which doesn’t mean much) Kenny Hilliard is listed as second team with Hill third.
“I hope he gets to play,” said Blue. “He’s my teammate.”
The depth chart Miles released had few surprises, although it confirmed that true freshman Anthony Jennings has apparently beaten out Stephen Rivers and is listed as the backup to quarterback Zach Mettenberger.
Jennings, more of a dual-threat quarterback, is one of seven true freshmen to crack the two-deep chart.
The others, all backups, were Josh Boutte at left tackle, Ethan Pocic at center, Tashawn Bower at defensive end, Christian LaCouture at defensive tackle and Rickey Jefferson at both safeties.