Baton Rouge, La. - LSU's football team is done with final exams and hits the practice field Thursday to begin preparing for the Chick-Fil-A Bowl on December 31 against Clemson.
Head coach Les Miles addressed the media Wednesday, the following is a copy of the session, as transcribed by LSU Athletics:
Opening statement …
"(Chick-fil-A Senior VP) Steve Robinson and (Chick-fil-A Bowl CEO) Gary Stokan, thanks. We're very excited to participate fully in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. We've had experience there, and we recognize the venue. It's a great place for us to play. We love the dome. Atlanta is a city where the players certainly come from and like visiting. I can tell you that Kevin Minter, our defensive standout, and Zach Mettenberger are looking forward to coming down the street to play.
"Our football team really is anxious for a quality game. We're looking for a bowl game that's a great matchup, and certainly those Clemson Tigers are a very, very talented football team. I think that our matchup is likely one that will be one of the more exciting games in college football during the bowl season and very likely better than some of the BCS games. We're very familiar with what Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers have accomplished. They're a very talented football team and we look forward to that matchup.
"Every time we've ever walked into that dome, we've had a tremendously loyal following. The Tiger Nation fills that dome, and we're excited to participate in that venue again with those people that wear purple and gold. I can tell you too that if I was looking for a New Year's Eve event, and I was really trying to impress the Mrs., I think taking her to Atlanta, getting a game in with my favorite team and finding a way to celebrate New Year's is great. Let's say the game is over by about 10:30 p.m., we can freshen up a little bit, and go find a place I can twirl my sweetheart. At midnight, I'd get a kiss. To me, it will be a great weekend highlighted with a tremendous game. In our time here, every time we pull up to a stadium, we see purple and gold, every time. It's one of those things that we play to and feel very passionate about."
On finishing the season …
"I think our football team wants to be seen as one of the best teams in college football. The goal there is not so much the finishing number, but how we can play and what we can accomplish on the field. We're playing a very quality opponent. There's a challenge there, and it's all motivation of playing and matching yourself up against a very quality football team. We're really looking forward to that competition and a quality finish to a year of achievement."
On injured players …
"We would have back, I would say, with practice, (Josh) Williford and Tahj Jones, Evan Washington, and D.J. Welter. I think some of the other injuries are still pending rehabilitation."
On this being the last game for seniors and underclassmen entering the draft …
"A team that has a close bond and some real feelings for one another have that need to play well for a teammate, and I think this football team has it. There's a quality group of seniors and certainly some underclassmen that will certainly consider the NFL draft. This may well be a, for this team, a last opportunity to play best. I think they're looking forward to it."
On Clemson …
"To me, it's a piece that you see in virtually every game. I thought they played extremely well against Florida State. I thought there were a number of spots where this team really stepped up and made plays. I think you can see it in virtually every game."
On the starting lineup …
"I don't think that we'll change the starting lineup at this point. Practice at bowl week will determine how that all goes and what we'll expect. Certain guys come back with a lot of experience, and we don't want to disregard that. There's a point where we're resting on a game when everyone else is tuned up. It's a good measuring stick for a bowl practice. We'll have to see who the best is."
On LB Kevin Minter …
"I think he continues to improve. I think it comes second nature for him to play at linebacker. He's always been very physical. He's now taken all the right angles, anticipates the cuts when the ball comes out and recognizes coverage best. His body of work's been very good, and I would expect it to continue."
On having common opponents with Clemson …
"We're really not necessarily reaching out to those people. We're watching game film and really seeing their talent and their abilities and how their matchups might fit against us. I don't know that common opponents are any more of an indication. The only thing you do recognize is that we played South Carolina, and certainly we know what their offensive and defensive lines are capable of. We recognize that Clemson played them awfully well to a point. There's the Auburn team, and I really thought they played well against them. Auburn, early on in this season, was a force to be reckoned with. They have talent, and they certainly can be a quality team."
On Tajh Boyd …
"I think he's a very talented quarterback with a very strong arm. They have a very capable receiving core, and there are big plays in that receiving core. He has the ability to move his feet, run and extend plays. He was named All-American for a reason, and it's certainly evident when you watch his film."
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