Les Miles says LSU is ready to compete in bowl

Advocate file photo by BILL FEIGLSU running back Spencer Ware, coach Les Miles, cornerback Morris Claiborne and others sing the alma mater after the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 7, 2011 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. LSU beat Texas A&M 41-24. The Tigers are in the running for a Cotton Bowl bid again this season. Show caption
Advocate file photo by BILL FEIGLSU running back Spencer Ware, coach Les Miles, cornerback Morris Claiborne and others sing the alma mater after the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 7, 2011 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. LSU beat Texas A&M 41-24. The Tigers are in the running for a Cotton Bowl bid again this season.

Miles says Tigers will look forward to ‘quality bowl game’

LSU coach Les Miles spent the early part of his news conference Wednesday talking about his new seven-year contract.

Then he turned his attention to the original purpose of the get-together — to address his team’s regular season and bowl prospects.

The Tigers will learn their postseason destination — most likely the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas, or the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta — some time Sunday.

“We’re looking forward to playing in a quality bowl game,” Miles said. “I think our fans will look forward to playing. I think we will fill a bowl arena.”

The Cotton Bowl is the more prestigious of the two bowls, and the Tigers have had two significant victories recently in Cowboys Stadium. They beat Texas A&M 41-24 in the Cotton Bowl after the 2010 season, then beat preseason No. 3 Oregon 40-27 there less than nine months later in the 2011 season opener.

LSU was well represented in the stands in both of those games.

“I can tell you this: That the great many LSU faithful will find that stadium and will camp out and be a part and participate very avidly in that event,” Miles said. “That would be a great place for us. We would enjoy playing there. It’s the style of venue this team looks forward to playing in.”

The Tigers open next season in Cowboys Stadium against TCU in the Cowboys Classic on Aug. 31.

Miles said LSU will be excited for its bowl game regardless of the opponent and venue.

“They want to play a very quality opponent,” he said. “I think you just give us a bowl site and a quality opponent and this team will look very much forward to competing.

“There is still a championship at stake. Any time you have an opportunity to stand on a podium, there’s a chance to represent a championship there. I don’t think we will have any problem getting our team ready to play in that type of environment.”

It’s still possible that the Tigers could wind up in either the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla., or the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla., possibly pitted against Michigan, Miles’ alma mater.

“Absolutely, it would be difficult, because those helmets are helmets I have worn,” Miles said. “We would have great respect for the matchup. That would be a difficult one for the head coach. Our players would recognize it as a traditional powerhouse and enjoy the challenge.”

No staff changes expected

Miles said he “would not anticipate any changes” to his coaching staff and that no school has sought permission to interview anyone on his staff.

He did say, however, that defensive coordinator John Chavis would be a very qualified candidate — especially if his alma mater, Tennessee, wanted to fill its vacancy with him.

“I would think that John Chavis would make a tremendous head football coach,” Miles said. “I don’t think there’s any question that he’s a guy that has a good overview of a program, that understands the players, is a players coach. I think there’s no question that if Tennessee was looking for a very quality candidate, John Chavis should be that.”

Chavis was an assistant coach with the Volunteers from 1989-2008.

NFL draft looming

Miles said he will likely have individual visits with each underclassman considering entering the NFL draft.

“The decision is theirs, but we want to give them all the information that we can,” Miles said. “The thing we don’t want to do is give the NFL any kind of deal. We want to make sure that they go out with a good market value and are best positioned for the draft.”

Defensive ends Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery, safety Eric Reid, defensive tackle Bennie Logan, linebacker Kevin Minter, cornerback Tharold Simon, running back Spencer Ware and punter Brad Wing are potential early entrants for the draft.

Alexander, Williford due back

Miles said he expects linebacker Kwon Alexander and guard Josh Williford — both of whom have been sidelined since being injured against Florida on Oct. 6 — to be healthy for the bowl game.

Alexander, who had a broken ankle, dressed for the regular-season finale at Arkansas last week. Miles wouldn’t say if Williford, who was sidelined by a concussion, would regain his starting position or compete with Trai Turner.

“We have to see how he does and how he comes on,” Miles said. “Those things all play out.”