The LSU football players began fall classes Monday and one of their first assignments was to put last week’s bar fight behind them.
Players spoke with reporters after practice for the first time since the altercation happened early Friday morning in the parking lot of a bar near campus.
Four players - most notably starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson - are scheduled to be interviewed by Baton Rouge police on Tuesday in relation to their alleged role in the altercation.
Additionally, Tigers head coach Les Miles said Saturday that “a relatively large group” of players was at the scene after breaking curfew.
On Monday, LSU tried to focus on the start of classes and ongoing preparation for the season opener against Oregon on Sept. 3 in Arlington, Texas.
“Everybody was pretty much focused on what was going to happen to certain players, but we’ve got to push through it as a team and look forward to our season,” junior wide receiver Rueben Randle said. “We’re still a team, and we’ve still got goals to reach, and we’ve got that to look forward to.
“(Miles) just told us to stay focused on our goals. We can’t let the things that happened in the outside world affect us. Stuff is going to happen, people are going to make mistakes, but we’ve got to put it in the past and move forward.”
The other players scheduled to be interviewed by police are freshman wide receiver Jarvis Landry, sophomore offensive tackle Chris Davenport and sophomore linebacker Josh Johns. Jefferson was the only one of the four for whom an interview request was placed Monday, but the school did not make him available.
Jefferson and senior Jarrett Lee both took snaps with the first-team offense, which has been the norm throughout preseason practice.
“I’ve been around Jordan for three years, and he’s a great guy and a great friend,” Lee said. “I haven’t really seen anything different from him these last couple of days. He’s still working hard, still practicing hard. He’s still laughing in the film room.”
The players who were interviewed were instructed not to discuss the altercation specifically, but they did address how the team was attempting to prevent it from interfering with their preparations.
“Of course when something like this happens, the best thing for us to do is what we do best, and what we do best is play football,” senior long snapper Joey Crappell said. “So right now what the team needs is to get back on track and get back to working on a national championship.
“We came together as a team, and the leaders of the team said whatever happened, happened. We don’t know what happened. We moved on - done.”
Team leaders got together over the weekend and decided that the entire team would accept punishment for the incident, though most of the team was not involved.
“We’ve got each other’s back no matter what,” junior cornerback Morris Claiborne said. “We’re not going to bash anyone whether they were there or they weren’t there, saying I wasn’t there. We’re a team. If one messes up, we all mess up. It’s like that in a game. If somebody blows a coverage, we all have to pay for that.”
Lee said, “I didn’t really see anything different with the vibe around campus” as he attended his first classes.
The Tigers’ opener against the No. 3 Ducks is one of the most eagerly anticipated in recent memory.
“Everybody was still excited, it’s still going to be a fun game, it’s still going to be in Cowboys Stadium against a great football team,” Lee said. “We’re a great football team, so I think everybody is still looking forward to it and it’s going to be a fun game.”
Oregon’s offensive and defensive schemes will be incorporated into LSU’s scrimmage Tuesday afternoon as the Tigers ramp up their game preparations.
“That will be good for us,” Lee said. “We have two weeks to prepare for them, and we’re going to use these next two weeks as an advantage and work hard.”
Senior cornerback Ron Brooks said, “Our work ethic has kind of picked up over the last couple of days.”
Lee said the team has done “quite a bit” of extra running after practice as punishment.
“It’s unfortunate what happened,” Lee said. “But we’re going to move forward. We know that’s what great football teams do. All the great ones have had their ups and downs, but it’s all about how you bounce back. We’ve done a great job. We’ve had a great mentality these last couple of days.”
Crappell said he has spent more time with his teammates in his five years at LSU than he has with his family during the same time.
“So obviously anyone who steps through the door, I consider a brother or a family member,” he said. “Of course I’m concerned about their future, and I hope they get the best future possible. I understand there are some consequences, but we’ll get to that when it gets to us.”