Les Miles’ catchphrase since 2007, “Have a great day!” was so memorable LSU had it stamped on the back door of the 18-wheeler it uses to haul team equipment to road games.
But this season Miles has a new catchphrase, something that manifested itself into a surprise gift Saturday for his No. 1-ranked Tigers after they beat No. 2 Alabama 9-6 in overtime.
Miles has been encouraging his players to “bring the wood” when they play this season, a phrase symbolizing intensity and hard work.
Saturday, they apparently brought it effectively enough against the Crimson Tide that waiting for them in each of their lockers was a small souvenir bat made by athletic trainer Jack Marucci.
Marucci started making bats at his home several years ago, a hobby that has bloomed into a major Baton Rouge-based business, Marucci Sports, with major league customers like Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.
“Mine is really nice,” defensive tackle Michael Brockers said. “It has my number (90) on it. Those bats are sweet.”
LSU quarterbacks Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson are off limits to the media this week per a decision by Miles.
Miles has yet to publicly name a starter for Saturday’s homecoming game between No. 1-ranked LSU and Western Kentucky (6 p.m., ESPNU) in the wake of Saturday’s 9-6 overtime victory at Alabama.
Lee started against the No. 2 Crimson Tide but was just 3-of-7 passing for 24 yards with two interceptions. They were his first two picks since he threw one Sept. 15 at Mississippi State.
Jefferson played the balance of the game, going 6-of-10 passing for 67 yards and rushing 11 times for 43 yards. It was his most extensive action this season.
Jefferson missed LSU’s first four games while he was facing a felony battery charge. That was later reduced to a second-degree battery charge, a misdemeanor.
LSU commitment Torshiro Davis of Woodlawn-Shreveport and Louisiana’s top prospect, Dutchtown safety Landon Collins, were among the recruits taking in Saturday’s LSU-Alabama game.
Davis (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) has been a longtime commitment to LSU but said he will take official visits to Texas as well as Alabama again in January.
“Man, it was so loud I couldn’t hear myself think,” Davis told ESPN.com. “The atmosphere was just crazy. I loved it. While I am an LSU commitment, I have to admit that Alabama should have won the game. They missed too many opportunities, too many field goals. It should have never gone to overtime.”
Davis, ranked No. 70 on the ESPNU 150 and No. 2 in Louisiana behind Collins (6-0, 210), said his official visits will be to Texas on Dec. 9, Alabama on Jan. 13, and LSU on Jan. 20.
Collins, No. 7 on the ESPNU 150, is expected to choose between LSU and Alabama. His official visit to Alabama was this past weekend, and his official to LSU was in October.
LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne said he expects to be back returning kickoffs Saturday after being slowed by a nagging unspecified injury against Alabama.
Claiborne didn’t line up to return a kickoff against Bama — teammate Ron Brooks handled all three LSU returns for 49 total return yards. Claiborne did nab an interception in the third quarter, returning it 33 yards to set up Drew Alleman’s second field goal.
Claiborne had a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown Sept. 24 against West Virginia. He ranks second in the SEC with a 29.5-yard return average behind Arkansas’ Marquel Wade (29.6).
LSU free safety Eric Reid was named Tuesday as the Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week, a day after being named Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Week.
Reid made six tackles and had a huge interception, wrenching the ball away from Alabama tight end Michael Williams at the 1 on a Wildcat pass by wide receiver Marquis Maze.
Reid also forced a fumble from Trent Richardson, returned a blocked field goal and had six tackles.
Alleman has also been named a Lou Groza Star of the Week for his efforts against the Crimson Tide. Alleman was 3-for-3 kicking field goals, including the 25-yard game winner in overtime.
Saturday’s LSU-Alabama game was the second most-watched TV program last week, according to LSU.
The game drew 20.01 million viewers, trailing only The NFL Sunday Night Game on NBC (22.01 million). The game was the second-most-watched college football game ever on CBS, dating to 1987.
LSU was named the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl National Team of the Week in voting by members of the Football Writers Association of America. … This will be LSU’s first game against Western Kentucky. The Tigers are 34-0 all time against Sun Belt Conference teams. … LSU remains No. 1 in the SEC and No. 2 in the nation with a plus-15 turnover margin.
Copyright © 2016, Capital City Press LLC • 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810 • All Rights Reserved