On Sunday afternoon, Les Miles picked up the phone and called his son, like any concerned parent would.
LSU’s football coach didn’t contact Manny, now in his first year as a preferred walk-on at North Carolina, to ask about his grades or classes. Miles called because of the torrential rain and widespread flooding in the area.
“I just checked with him, made sure he was OK,” Miles said Monday during his weekly press luncheon. “He said, ‘It’s fine here, Dad; just raining all the time.’ ”
Record rainfall and flooding forced South Carolina officials to declare a state of emergency, and the disaster has killed nine, according to reports.
Despite the weather, the No. 7 Tigers (4-0, 2-0 Southeastern) are scheduled to travel to Columbia for an 11 a.m. CDT kickoff against the Gamecocks (2-3, 0-3) on Saturday.
Both schools announced Monday that they plan to play the game as scheduled but will continue to monitor the situation. Miles said LSU’s practice and travel schedules will be similar to what they were the week it played Syracuse on Sept. 26. That game, which the Tigers won 34-24, also started at noon EDT.
“It seemed to be the right recipe,” Miles said.
LSU started slow — leading only 7-3 at halftime — and never managed to pull away from the Orange. But junior tight end Colin Jeter said the Tigers’ “absolutely” had a good week of practice and preparation before the game.
LSU running back Leonard Fournette has set a bevy of rushing records through his stunning four-game start. Now he’s setting new marks for Heisman Trophy odds.
Fournette, the Tigers’ sophomore sensation, is now a 1-to-2 favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, according to gambling site Bovada. The site said Fournette is the biggest Heisman favorite this early in a season in at least seven years. (It only has records back to 2008.)
Ex-Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and former Georgia running back Todd Gurley were 8-to-5 favorites heading into the sixth week of the season in 2013 for Mariota and 2014 for Gurley. Neither won the award. Former Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston won the Heisman in 2013, and Mariota won it in 2014.
Heading into the sixth week this year, Fournette’s 1-to-2 odds mean a bettor must place a $2 bet to win $1, making it an upset if the player doesn’t win the Heisman. The next-best Heisman odds this week belong to Baylor quarterback Seth Russell at 8-to-1.
LSU will have to play the waiting game a little longer.
Miles said defensive back Jalen Mills and tight end Dillon Gordon remain day-to-day. Mills suffered an ankle injury during preseason camp that required surgery, and Gordon injured his Achilles against Auburn on Sept. 19.
“(Mills) and Dillon, I’m gonna see where they’re at today and see if we can mark a day on the calendar for these guys,” Miles said.
Miles has said several times in the past few weeks that Mills is recovering faster than expected, and the senior recently ditched his crutches and walking boot. A source told The Advocate in August that Mills would be out at least six weeks following the surgery, making his earliest return date this Saturday.
Even if Mills and Gordon can’t go this week, Miles anticipates two other injured players to return. Junior defensive end Tashawn Bower should be back after missing the Tigers’ 44-22 win against Eastern Michigan on Saturday. Miles classified the injury, which Bower suffered against Syracuse, as “a minor nick” and said the junior could have played against the Eagles.
Senior linebacker Lamar Louis, who didn’t play in the second half against Eastern Michigan, will be “fine for game day,” Miles said. Louis tweeted Sunday morning that he suffered a concussion.
“It’s not as serious as him missing the half might seem,” Miles said. “We think he’ll return to play very quickly.”
Florida game set for 6 p.m. kickoff
Tigers fans’ prayers were answered: LSU’s showdown with No. 11 Florida on Oct. 17 will kick off at 6 p.m. on ESPN.
CBS passed on the LSU-Florida game for its 2:30 p.m. time slot, picking No. 8 Alabama at No. 9 Texas A&M for the afternoon kickoff.
LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva said last week that he requested the home game be played at night. The Tigers already have played two day games this season — a 2:30 p.m. kick on CBS against Auburn and the 11 a.m. start against Syracuse — with another 11 a.m. kickoff looming this weekend at South Carolina.