Let’s get one thing out of the way right now: LSU wide receiver Russell Shepard, scheduled to join the Tigers’ delegation to Media Days, didn’t end up making the trip. When asked whether this was because of a compliance issue related to off-campus housing arrangements — as the rumor goes — Miles didn’t say much: “I don’t know the specifics of that. I only know that this was an issue where there were some things he had to handle in his personal life that needed an immediate resolution, so that’s why he’s not with us.”
OK, yeah, I know — borrrr-rinnnggg. What about the video of coach Les Miles totally posterizing his 7-year-old daughter in a pickup basketball game? Yeah, let’s talk about that. Let ’er rip, Hat!
“I did not make that video for anyone else but [ESPN’s Scott] Van Pelt,” Miles told a laughing crowd, “based on the fact that he’s been knocking my gameday shoes.” He swore to the authenticity of the video: "I made the shots that I shot, the slam was my slam, and I defended my 7-year-old, Macy Miles, very well.
“I didn’t think this was gonna be that big a deal, kind of like eating grass,” he continued. “At the end of the day, everybody laughed, which was just what we wanted. My wife said, ‘Les, there is no one who watched that video who will ever think you can play basketball.’”
Yes, Miles did discuss actual football, naming a number of specific players who he said stepped into leadership roles on defense (LB Ryan Baker, S Eric Reid, and DEs Kendrick Adams and Sam Montgomery). The name Zach Mettenberger came up, and though Miles had praise for the former UGA quarterback, he quickly shifted the subject to Jarrett Lee (“The Tennessee, Florida, Alabama games, he had very significant contributions in those games”).
But the QB who got the most attention, naturally, was starter Jordan Jefferson, who’s been the subject of quite a bit of criticism of late. Both Miles and offensive lineman T-Bob Hebert, who subbed in for the absent Russell Shepard, vocally defended their QB. “Jordan’s taken so much [criticism], and instead of folding under it, he’s risen above it,” Hebert said. “He truly does seem to be flourishing under coach Kragthorpe’s tutelage. . . . Jordan’s become more vocal, he’s taken his leadership to the next level.”
Miles echoed his lineman’s sentiments to the point where you almost wondered if they’d compared notes beforehand. “The addition of Steve Kragthorpe has really helped Jordan Jefferson,” he said. Jefferson “is in the best position he has been in in listening and taking coaching. He also has a want to make this his team and show leadership. . . . I don’t think that he lets who’s looking over his shoulder impact anything that he’s doing.”
Miles, too, recognized that his QB had been taking some hits from both the media and the fan base. “I’ve never been to a message board, and I tell our team to stay away from those,” he said. “Those people who sign their name ‘Slick Willie’ don’t necessarily have legitimate opinions.” A funny comment that got some laughs, sure, but knowing Les Miles there’s an actual guy who posts as Slick Willie on one of the LSU message boards. And that guy is sitting in front of his computer right now, somewhere in the wilds of Louisiana, having absolutely no idea how badly he’s fixing to get dunked on when Les gets home.