LSU is getting healthy at just the right time — at least according to coach Les Miles.
Miles said he expects three injured Tigers — defensive tackle Christian LaCouture, defensive back Tre’Davious White and fullback J.D. Moore — to play in the top-10 showdown at Alabama on Saturday night.
“I would expect that all of the guys that we mentioned will play in the game,” Miles said Monday. “There’s going to be a guy or two that we might not practice today, but we would expect to have a full slate when we come to Saturday.”
The No. 4 Tigers (7-0, 4-0 Southeastern) and No. 7 Crimson Tide (7-1, 4-1) clash at 7 p.m. in Tuscaloosa.
All three injured players have filled crucial roles for LSU this season and may return for a game with serious SEC and College Football Playoff implications.
Moore has not played since injuring his knee against South Carolina on Oct. 10, but Miles said he “kind of went through every rep” in the past few practices. Sophomore running back Leonard Fournette refers to the former walk-on as his “flashlight,” and Moore has excelled as the Heisman Trophy frontrunner’s lead blocker.
“He makes a tremendous difference to us,” Miles said.
True freshman Bry’Kiethon Mouton replaced Moore in the past three games, struggling at times. Moore’s return would bolster the Tigers’ running game against the Tide’s third-ranked rushing defense.
LaCouture (foot) and White (knee) suffered injuries before LSU’s win against Western Kentucky on Oct. 24. Neither played in that game, and LaCouture had minor surgery shortly after his injury, tackle Davon Godchaux said.
Senior defensive back Jalen Mills, who missed the first five games with an ankle injury suffered in preseason practice, said he’s 100 percent after exiting the WKU game.
Miles said after the game that Mills had a “soft tissue issue,” which the senior specified was in his calf muscle and not his previously injured ankle. The senior’s health looms large for a secondary that has struggled with communication and surrendered big passing plays in recent weeks.
‘He had so much spirit’
Miles counts himself lucky to have met Sid Ortis.
The 16-year-old Mountain Brook, Alabama, native, an LSU fan, died Saturday following a battle with bone cancer. The coach first contacted Ortis in March when he made a surprise phone call to pray with him.
Miles then invited Ortis and his family to meet with him on the field before LSU played Auburn on Sept. 19, and the family watched the 45-21 win from the coaches’ box.
He called the cancer-stricken teen again after he went home under hospice care two weeks ago and reportedly promised to help Ortis attend this weekend’s LSU-Alabama game.
“He had so much spirit and excitement and loves his Tigers,” Miles said. “And I was really impressed by the representation that Alabama had back there. They supported him in every way. We all will have our day, and he was with his mother and father and is in a better place.”
ESPNU will air a replay of the 2014 LSU-Alabama game at 11 p.m. Tuesday. The Crimson Tide put together a late scoring drive to force overtime and eventually won 20-13. ... Fournette is one of 20 semifinalists for the Maxwell Award, given to the college player of the year. ... Linebacker Kendell Beckwith is one of 20 semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award, given to college football’s top defensive player.