Wednesdays With Les is a weekly post bringing you comments from LSU coach Les Miles during his three media opportunities each Wednesday during football season. (Miles did not speak three times this Wednesday as the season doesn't begin until next week, but he did participate in his first radio show).
Les Miles continued his praise for freshman kicker Connor Culp during his first radio show of the season Wednesday night at TJ Ribs.
Culp, a 2016 signee from Arizona, appears to have the lead for the kickoff job and is pushing senior Colby Delahoussaye for the place-kicker role. Culp booted a kickoff through the end zone during LSU’s scrimmage Saturday in Tiger Stadium, kicking the ball through rain and wind, Miles said.
"A gully washer," the coach said of the storm.
"It was into the rain. Rain was blowing sideways," Miles said. "You had no chance to have success kicking a ball. He kicked off and kicked it out of the end zone three rows deep. He knocked it out."
In a news conference last week, Miles indicated that Delahoussaye had the lead to kick field goals, but the coach suggested that Culp could snatch either position.
“I don’t know that Connor Culp might not be that guy (at place-kicker),” Miles said. “I don’t know that Culp might not be a field goal guy. He’s going to step in there and compete. We’ll have to see how Cam Gamble does.”
This isn’t anything new. Miles has praised Culp, literally, since the player signed. On national signing day in February, the coach heralded Culp as the signee most likely to receive early playing time as a rookie.
LSU’s struggles on kickoffs have been well-documented. The Tigers were 113th last year in kickoffs averaging 58.04 yards a boot. Four were kicked out of bounds, a penalty, and the Tigers had 12 touchbacks. That ranked 110th nationally.
Cameron Gamble, who kicked the majority of kickoffs last year, said earlier this month that the competition between him and Culp was an intense one.
"He’s very good on kickoffs, very strong leg. That’s coming from me," Gamble said. "I’m known for a strong leg. He has a very strong leg."
More Leonard; not less
Will backup running back Derrius Guice see more carries than the 51 he had last season?
Miles isn't ready to say for sure, and he's certainly not planning on giving Fournette fewer carries than the 300 he toted in 2015, the coach said.
"I'm not ready to say we're going to give Leonard Fournette the ball less, Miles said. "That's hard for me to come up with that one."
Freshman Michael Divinity is moving up the depth chart, according to Miles.
Asked about his linebacking corps, the coach said Divinity “or” Tashawn Bower will start at outside linebacker opposite Arden Key. That’s the position Corey Thompson manned before suffering a lower leg injury in preseason camp on Aug. 10.
The injury is expected to keep him out at least six weeks.
Miles declined to compare nose tackle Travonte Valentine to any other player he has coached in his career, but he did mention at least four former Tigers in giving that answer.
“We’ve had some great guys here. Drake Nevis, Tyson Jackson, Glenn Dorsey, Keke Mingo,” he said. “(Valentine) has the ability to move quickly for a big man.”
Valentine joined the team two weeks ago and is expected to play significantly at a key position in LSU’s new 3-4 defense. Coaches and players have raved about the 358-pounder from Miami.
Greg Gilmore is here to stay, he says.