Tigers hang banners, then get to business as camp opens
By LES EAST
August 06, 2012
LSU began its preparations for the 2012 season by reflecting on the 2011 season. The team gathered for a meeting in the Tigers’ indoor practice facility Wednesday night on the eve of the start of preseason practice.
Coach Les Miles and four returning leaders — safety Eric Reid, cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, offensive tackle Alex Hurst and place-kicker Drew Alleman — addressed the team about the accomplishments of last season, which included the Southeastern Conference West Division and overall titles, as well as the unfinished business of not winning the BCS title.
Four players — defensive end Barkevious Mingo, linebacker Kevin Minter, tight end Chase Clement and running back Alfred Blue — helped unfurl the West Division title banner, and the assistant coaches unfurled the conference title banner, which now hang from the rafters. The other banners in the rafters were redone to fit in with the new ones.
“Coach Miles said the work was great, but we didn’t get accomplished what we wanted to accomplish,” Mingo said, “and (Thursday) starts getting that done. We have work to do.”
Mingo said it was important that the Tigers appreciate the school-record 13-0 regular season and the two championships and not let them got lost amid the disappointment of the 21-0 loss to Alabama in the BCS title game.
“Last year was a really good season,” Mingo said. “It was hard work to be 13-1 and win the SEC, the hardest conference in America. It got kind of overshadowed by the loss. We know what happened and we know we need to get better to finish the way we want to, and we’re going to do that.”
Miles said it was important to demonstrate how last season’s accomplishments fit in with the history of the program.
“It’s what this program is designed to do — play for championships, hang banners in that indoor (facility),” Miles said. “We hung banners in a place where teams that wear our colors hung banners in the past and we joined this team with those teams.”
‘It’s great praise for me’
Bennie Logan might look out of place wearing No. 18 as a defensive tackle, but he said he will wear the coveted number with great pride this season. The No. 18 usually belongs to players at skill positions, but it has become an LSU tradition to give the number to a player, regardless of position, deemed to best exemplify what it means to be an LSU Tiger on and off the field.
“I never dreamed of being able to wear No. 18, so now that I’m wearing it, it’s great praise for me,” Logan said. “I’m going to make sure that I honor it in memory of those guys that wore it before me (Matt Mauck, Jacob Hester, Richard Dickson, Richard Murphy and Brandon Taylor) — all the history that’s behind it, all the leadership they showed on and off the field. I’m going to be the leader that my coach called me to be, and the leader that my teammates look to me to be.”
Mathieu on another list
LSU cornerback/punt returner Tyrann Mathieu was among 49 players named to the watch list for the Paul Hornung Award on Thursday. The award is in its third season and is given annually to the most versatile player in major college football.
It’s presented by the Louisville (Ky.) Sports Commission Hornung, the former Notre Dame and Green Bay Packers multi-talented star and native of Louisville.
Mathieu, a junior from New Orleans who was a Heisman Trophy finalist last season, had two interceptions, six forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and scored two touchdowns on fumble returns and two more on punt returns.
‘Honey Badger’ hibernates
Thursday was the first day that LSU players were available for interviews, and 18 Tigers met with media, but Mathieu was not among them. Mathieu, who became a national phenomenon with his play and his catchy “Honey Badger” nickname last season, has been off limits for interviews this summer to allow him to concentrate on football.
LSU sports information director Michael Bonnette said Mathieu will eventually be available for interviews, perhaps as soon as next Tuesday during Media Day when traditionally all Tigers players and coaches are available.
First day good, but limited
Miles said he “enjoyed the first day” of practice Thursday, which consisted of an outdoor workout for veterans and selected freshmen in the morning and an afternoon session for newcomers in the indoor practice facility.
“It was a good first day,” Miles said, “but in terms of being an optimal practice, it was not. Anytime you practice with just helmets you are really limited.”
The Tigers, who will repeat the same routine Friday, will wear pads for the first time Monday.
Bolden’s experience shows
Former Penn State quarterback Rob Bolden, a junior who was a last-minute transfer, hit the field in the afternoon.
“It’s obvious that he’s had some experience and kind of knows how to handle the huddle and what to expect,” Miles said. “I thought he did a really good job.”