LSU Tigers head football coach Les Miles. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 6:38 PMNever mind why Les Miles never got around to playing Jarrett Lee at quarterback in LSU’s BCS championship game debacle against Alabama.
On Thursday, Miles told the large throng at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala., that Zach Mettenberger might have been a viable option if a hand injury early in bowl practices hadn’t slowed him down.
“Maybe he could have taken some snaps in that national championship game should he have not gotten hurt early in bowl practice,” Miles said.
Of course, he added, “Coming off of the national game, I would like to have given thought to a lot of other things.”
Wednesday’s trip before the media horde signals the beginning of football season to some, and for LSU it was another chance to put in the rearview mirror that 21-0 loss to Alabama that spoiled a 13-0 regular season.
Miles said he didn’t spend a lot of time analyzing the game film.
“There weren’t that many plays for us on offense for me to spend that much time,” he said.
“Our team had a great year and played 13 straight very, very good, quality opponents and won. We didn’t play our best in the last one. We understand that. That was last year.
“They recognize the things that they accomplished and (understand) what they left on the table. The (desire) to play their best and finish is certainly something we’ll take away from that game.”
The BCS loss has done little to quell expectations for LSU. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Tigers open this upcoming season like they finished the last regular season — ranked No. 1 in the nation. Certainly they will be in the top five and, though still battling Alabama for SEC West supremacy, expected to be in the thick of the national title hunt.
“As long as we take things one at a time and try not to get too far in front of ourselves, I think our football team can achieve greatly,” Miles said. “They’re looking forward to it, coming off last year.”
A lot of the optimism revolves around Mettenberger, the junior who enters the season as the unquestioned starter at quarterback after four years of the back-and-forth struggles of Jordan Jefferson and Lee.
“The reality is he throws the ball extremely well,” Miles said. “He makes all the throws.”
LSU also returns a veteran offensive line and Miles is trying to divvy up running back carries among five SEC-quality backs.
But, he stressed he didn’t expect LSU to be a run-first, ball-control team that relies on what should be another first-rate defense.
“I like to throw the football,” Miles said. “I’m a balanced (offense) guy. I want to have the ability to throw the ball deep, throw the ball efficiently.
“If we can do that ... and continue to have balance in the running game ... we’re going to take advantage of some of those secondaries that want to come up and crowd the front and really try to stop the run.
“We suspect we’ll see some more pass coverage and then be able to run the ball a little more.
“I think our quarterback can throw it.”