Like a lot of other people, LSU coach Les Miles can’t wait to see heralded freshman basketball player Ben Simmons in a purple and gold uniform.
In a football uniform, that is, down on the goal line in Tiger Stadium.
“If he’s interested in taking some snaps for us, he could come over — very honestly — and I can give him a goal-line position where I would throw it to him,” Miles said of the 6-foot-10 Simmons. “All he’s got to prove to me is one thing: That he can catch.
“If he can catch, which certainly we would all predict in this room that he could, he would set the NCAA record for touchdowns.”
Miles said he’d line Simmons up in the red zone and if the other team put three defenders on him, they would run the ball. With only two defenders on Simmons, he’d throw it to him.
Miles said he was dead serious, adding, “All you have to do is get me anywhere 6-9 and above, very athletic with ball skills, I guarantee it. Why would we run the ball? We could just throw it over there to him.”
Asked if LSU basketball coach Johnny Jones would be OK with his plan, Miles chuckled and said, “I think Johnny would have a fit.”
Miles said junior defensive end Tashawn Bower, who came out of the spring as the top candidate to replace Danielle Hunter, participated in the Tigers’ single practice Thursday morning.
Bower wasn’t at practice Sunday because of an unspecified ailment, and Miles said he didn’t work Monday, the last time the coach met with media prior to Thursday’s news conference.
Miles noted that linebacker Lamar Louis remains in a green, noncontact jersey as he has been since the Tigers began practice Aug. 6. Louis said he has a strained pectoral muscle, which he suffered during a weightlifting session.
Part of Thursday’s practice was spent scrimmaging on first-and-10 plays, which consisted of about 30 or 35 snaps, Miles said.
“I think both quarterbacks (Brandon Harris and Anthony Jennings) hit a couple of nice throws and Leonard (Fournette) and some of those guys had some nice runs,” Miles said in offering few details. “It was a good practice.
“I like the improvement of this team. I think the defense is really off to a fast start, but the offense came to compete today and really played well. Again, it was a very short go.”
The Tigers will have their first official scrimmage Saturday night in Tiger Stadium, another shortened version with about 50 snaps.
“We’re still not going a full day of scrimmage,” Miles said, noting it will be similar to Thursday’s work but longer. “It’s be specific situations. As we get a little bit closer to game week, we will have two major scrimmages that we look forward to running.”
LSU’s preseason plan called for scrimmages on Aug. 15, 22 and 25 leading up to the Sept. 5 opener against McNeese State.
Kicking battle ongoing
With three weeks to go before the opener, Miles said the three-way competition between Colby Delahoussaye, Trent Domingue and Cameron Gamble for the kicking job is tight.
“Colby is having a very good fall camp, but the key thing is the competition is really great,” Miles said. “Trent is doing a really good job in pressing.
“It’s still Colby’s job, but Trent is competing well,” he added. “Gamble has the strongest leg, but he’s working on his consistency. Trent has the lead in kickoffs, but all that will be decided here quickly.”
A courtroom sketch from the Tom Brady “Deflategate” hearing in New York on Wednesday included a man wearing a purple shirt and white cap — similar to Miles’ game day attire.
After the sketch went viral, Miles took to Twitter with a tongue-in-cheek message to assure the world it wasn’t him.
“That was hilarious — especially with the idea they put that guy right in the middle of the stinking drawing,” a smiling Miles said. “I want to repeat — I’ve been in this town working on LSU football the entire time.
“I do like his color scheme though, purple. That’s one of my favorites.”
Advocate sportswriter Scott Rabalais contributed to this report.