Miles: Freshman Mills takes Mathieu’s spot at cornerback
“When the game plans start coming, you know it’s time to start playing.” Josh dworaczyk, LSU guard
The plans of former LSU star cornerback/punt returner Tyrann Mathieu continue to draw varying reports.
ESPN’s Joe Schad reported Thursday that Mathieu’s adoptive father, Tyrone, said Mathieu will not play football this season as he continues to get counseling at the Right Step recovery center, which is run by former NBA player and coach John Lucas, in Houston.
Then later Thursday, the Times-Picayune quoted two LSU players, who asked to remain anonymous, who said Mathieu is planning to enroll at LSU as early as Thursday.
LSU has said all along that there is nothing to keep Mathieu, who was kicked off the team Aug. 10 for violating team and university policy and is ineligible to play this season, from enrolling at the school this semester. School officials have also said they would not speculate on Mathieu’s future plans.
Tyrone Mathieu told ESPN his son is focused on working out his personal problems.
Tyrone Mathieu told ESPN on Thursday that “Tyrann is working on discipline, maturity and character. He’s making life adjustments.”
The Advocate attempted to contact Tyrone Mathieu on Thursday, but calls were not returned.
Tyrann Mathieu, a Heisman Trophy finalist last season, was kicked off the team at LSU two weeks ago, reportedly for failed drug tests, and considered transferring. But with the season a week away, it now seems likely he would not be able to enroll in a new school in time to play.
Mathieu, in his Twitter posts in the past few days, has repeatedly mentioned working out and then going to counseling.
The Times-Picayune reported that LSU students have until Wednesday to register for the fall semester.
Previous news reports have said Mathieu intends to return to LSU, but Mathieu has not been interviewed since before being kicked off the team earlier this month.
Mathieu has two seasons of eligibility remaining.
Mills replacing Mathieu
Coach Les Miles said true freshman Jalen Mills will take over for Mathieu. Redshirt freshman Jalen Collins is next in line.
“They’re both stepping up,” said Tharold Simon, who became the No. 1 corner when Mathieu left. “Mills is stepping up real good. Collins has a little more work to do, but he’s stepped up, too. Right now, Jalen Mills is probably the best option.”
Simon said that when the Tigers go to their nickel defense, Mills slides into the nickelback post Mathieu played, and Collins enters the lineup at cornerback.
Tigers prep for UNT
LSU is just eight days away from playing its first football game of the season, a time when players can’t wait to get on the field and hit somebody other than their teammates whom they’ve been hitting day after day.
The anticipation of last year’s opener was heightened by the opponent — preseason No. 3 Oregon — and the stage — a national telecast from palatial Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“Definitely, last year we were amped up for that game, and we got the chance to finally hit somebody else and I think everybody enjoyed that,” Tigers defensive end Barkevious Mingo said.
And, Mingo said, even though this year’s first opponent — North Texas — isn’t as big an attention grabber as the Ducks were, after three weeks of preseason practice in the stifling heat, including three scrimmages, the players are fired up to play somebody — anybody.
“We’re tired of hitting each other,” Mingo said. “We want to hit somebody else for a change. I think that’s how it is every year.”
Offensive lineman Josh Dworaczyk said he got excited earlier this week when the Tigers started implementing a game plan for the first time this season.
“When the game plans start coming, you know it’s time to start playing,” Dworaczyk said with a smile.
A sixth-year senior, Dworaczyk said he’s always looked forward to game plans and gained a more in-depth appreciation for them last season when he acted as a de facto assistant coach while sidelined by a knee injury.
“I got to see it from a different side and started to pick it up faster,” he said. “Hopefully, if I pick it up faster, I can help other guys out. On the offensive line and me as a leader, it’s our job to go in and look at extra film and find out what that defensive line is going to do or what their fronts are going to look like.
“It’s something I really took a lot of passion in the first two years I was playing. Each and every week, we put in a game plan and the coaches work their tails off staying up here late trying to put a game plan in that the next day at practice we take all the plays you put in, and we take some out. We do different things where you start to see what the defense is going to do.”
Brockers ‘feels pretty good’
Junior defensive tackle Bennie Logan is trying to follow the example set last season by Michael Brockers, who emerged as a star and ultimately was drafted in the first round by the St. Louis Rams.
LSU is expecting Logan to emerge as Brockers did last season, and Logan said he keeps in touch with his former teammate and watched his first preseason game.
“Brockers is doing pretty good,” Logan said. “He had a couple of tackles while I was watching. He said he feels pretty good. He said he needs to work on his pass rush, because the guards in the league are very good and they’re smarter, so it’s not as easy to get a sack as it was in college.
“So he’s working on his pass rush, but he feels pretty good and he’s confident going into the season.”
Miles heads to beach
Miles, Alabama coach Nick Saban and Auburn coach Gene Chizik will participate in the inaugural SEC BeachFest that takes place Friday through Monday in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Ala., to celebrate the start of the college football season.
Several former SEC coaches and players will also attend the event. The former coaches are Vince Dooley (Georgia), Gene Stallings (Alabama), Frank Broyles (Arkansas), Pat Dye (Auburn), Billy Brewer (Ole Miss), Phillip Fulmer (Tennessee) and R.C. Slocum (Texas A&M).
The former players are Tommy Casanova (LSU), Deuce McAllister (Ole Miss), Condredge Holloway (Tennessee) and Verron Haynes (Georgia).
Ticket and other information is available at www.secbeachfest.com.
Advocate executive sports
editor Joseph Schiefelbein and The Associated Press
contributed to this report.