Miles and the Tigers ready to move on without Mathieu
Jeff Palermo Reporting
One day after delivering stunning news that LSU cornerback and punt returner Tyrann Mathieu was dismissed from the team, Head Coach Les Miles was back into his regular routine, as he informed the media about a just completed scrimmage.
"It was what we needed as a team," Miles said following a lengthy scrimmage that saw starting quarterback Zack Mettenberger (above) complete 15-of-30 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns.
But the main topic in the post-scrimmage press conference was the Honey Badger.
Miles said they'll miss Mathieu, but it's important to focus on the upcoming season.
"We don't need open wounds," Miles said. "We need to heal, get it right and go play."
Mettenberger can sympathize with Mathieu. He was kicked off the Georgia football team in 2010, after an incident with a female at a nightclub. The Tigers leader on offense says Mathieu's departure is like losing a brother. Mettenberger said it will be difficult to replace Mathieu, who worked hard to become a better lock down corner, but there are several young guys ready to step up.
Miles said true freshman Jalen Mills from DeSoto, Texas, was the starting corner opposite Tharold Simon in Saturday's scrimmage. But redshirt freshman Jalen Collins will also be expected to pick up the slack, along with young safeties Micah Eugene and Ronald Martin.
The head coach said they are not going to count on just one player to fill the void of the Honey Badger, who could cover wide receivers, play in zone coverage and rush the passer. Instead, they'll look for players who excel at one area and ask them to fill that role.
Miles and the players said all the right things following Mathieu's sudden departure. Only time will tell how much they'll miss the Honey Badger. But his loss will definitely be felt.
Mathieu wasn't just a great player, he was a difference maker. To think the Tigers will be just fine without him is a silly statement. LSU scored six touchdowns while trailing last season, and three of them were by Mathieu, who didn't play a single snap on offense.
He was the team's emotional leader and the team's spark plug. While LSU's offense is definitely expected to be better, the defense lost its playmaker.
Saints fans know how important a playmaker on defense can be. Darren Sharper was amazing during the team's Super Bowl season. You can argue the Saints offense has gotten better since the 09 team, but the Saints haven't been back to NFC title game.
That might be a good example on why it will be difficult for LSU to get back to the BCS National Championship game this season.