LSU should be counted on to play good defense this season. The running game should still be strong as well. The one constant weakness in any team coached by Les Miles appears to come at the most important position there is in football; quarterback. Despite a rough opener on the road against Wisconsin, LSU head coach Les Miles is still giving off a public showing of support for his starting quarterback Brandon Harris.
That’s important too. When a quarterback struggles, it is stressful for the team. The quarterbacks shoulders much of the blame for a loss. It comes with the territory, no matter how skilled you are. Harris has taken his lumps from time to time as LSU’s quarterback, and this week has been no different after tossing an interception to help seal a Wisconsin victory in Lambeau Field over the weekend. Asked about his quarterback, Miles came to his defense.
“He’s talented and capable [of] decision making and really relaxing and letting the game come to him,” Miles said Wednesday. “At times he struggles there.”
Harris has a knack for getting off to a slow start and never really catching up. Slow starts have been a problem for Harris and LSU, and it may have helped contribute to a loss in Wisconsin over the weekend. Miles knows Harris has trouble at times, but he is not ready to put him on the sideline just yet, because he feels Harris can still get on track. Miles also isn’t putting all of the blame on his quarterback.
“It was at least early in the game, and I said, ‘OK, now relax and just realize it’s the same throw that you’ve been making. Just calm down.’ I recognize that he’s got to still come,” Miles said. “We all do. And he doesn’t have a lifetime to do it, and there are other quarterbacks to go to.”
As Harris has struggled, LSU fans have clamored for Miles to make a switch and go with former Purdue quarterback Danny Etling. Etling has plenty of starting experience at Purdue and may be a breath of fresh air for the Tigers should it come to that point for Miles. The question is how long is the leash Miles has Harris attached to. Would a sloppy performance against FCS Jacksonville State be enough to make a switch and see what Etling can do? There is no guarantee the offense will run better with Etling at quarterback, of course. LSU’s offensive line struggled against the Badgers and this unit will be tested in division play with Ole Miss and Alabama and Texas A&M. It might not matter who is under center for LSU because of that.
But like any top-paid coach, Miles has to figure out what to do at quarterback if LSU is going to rebound and still have a chance of making a run at the SEC title and perhaps a spot in the playoff before it is too late.
An off-field incident involving alcohol has unofficially cost an assistant coach a job.
It had been reported that Gerad Parker, who served as Purdue’s interim head coach last season, decided to leave his new job at Cincinnati to take another at East Carolina. That reported move was complicated after reports surfaced that, following a going-away party in West Lafayette early Tuesday morning, the coach was pulled over and charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.
Parker had been expected to take over the wide receivers coach job at ECU; Wednesday, multiple reports indicated that the Pirates are moving on from the coach in light of the recent development.
In a tweet that has since been deleted from his Twitter account, Parker apologized. “I’m sorry to all my friends and family,” the coach wrote. “Thanks to all that have reached out and shown support.”
Parker would’ve replaced Phil McGeoghan, who left ECU in late January for a job with the Buffalo Bills. ECU’s search for a replacement will continue.
After making some changes to the coaching staff this offseason, Kentucky is locking in offensive coordinator Eddie Gran for the next few seasons. Kentucky has signed Gran to a contract extension good through the 2019 season, according to The Courier-Journal.
According to the reported contract extension, Gran will be paid $825,000 in the 2017 season and will be given a $25,000 raise each of the next two seasons. A buyout cost of $150,000 per years is also added to the contract should he leave for another job during that span. Gran was originally under contract through the 2018 season, so his new deal tacks on an extra year in Lexington. The extended contract also bumps Gran’s pay by $175,000 compared to his previous contract.
Kentucky may have finished the 2017 season ranked 9th in the SEC in total scoring, but the Wildcats bumped up their average points per game by roughly six points in 2016 compared to the 2015 season. Kentucky also had the SEC’s third-most productive rushing attack with an average of 234.15 rushing yards per game and 30 rushing touchdowns. Only Auburn and Alabama had better averages and touchdown totals (and Alabama had two more games to pad the stats).
Kentucky has room to improve in the passing game after finishing the 2016 season ranked 13th in passing offense in the 14-team SEC. Kentucky also had an SEC-high 28 turnovers lost in 2016, with 16 fumbles and 12 interceptions thrown.
Gran joined the Kentucky program last year after a three-year stint at Cincinnati as offensive coordinator. Gran has previously been an assistant at Florida State, Tennessee, Auburn, and Ole Miss as well.
Nebraska wide receivers coach Keith Williams pled no contest to charges from a DUI incident last August. On Wednesday, he received his sentence from a county judge and learned he would be sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years of probation.
According to The Lincoln Journal-Star, Williams was also fined $1,000 for his latest DUI charge. Williams has until March 3 to apply for house arrest, although prosecutors made a push for Williams to serve his time behind bars after not being locked up for two prior DUI charges.
Nebraska opens spring football practices on March 4. If he is ruled eligible for house arrest, that would allow Williams to continue coaching in the spring. Otherwise, he could have to miss at least some of Nebraska’s spring practices depending on when his jail sentence would begin.
Williams was pulled over for driving under the influence last August with a BAC above .15. Further complicating things was the fact Williams also had two previous convictions for DUI. Nebraska head coach Mike Riley suspended Williams without pay through the end of August and was prohibited from coaching in Nebraska’s first four games of the 2016 season.
Former Hawaii defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa has landed in Ann arbor with a new job. Michigan announced Lempa has joined the staff as a senior defensive analyst under Jim Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Don Brown.
“Kevin is a great addition to our football program and defensive staff,” said Harbaugh in a released statement. “He adds a wealth of experience and knowledge on the defensive side of the ball, and Kevin’s working relationship with Coach (Don) Brown will be a big asset for our team.”
“I am very excited and honored to become part of Coach Harbaugh’s staff,” Lempa said in his released statement. “I am also fired up to be working with Coach Brown again.”
Lempa resigned from his position with the Hawaii program following the 2016 season. He previously served as a defensive backs coach at Boston College from 2013 through 2015, when Brown was the defensive coordinator of the Eagles.
As a defensive analyst, Lempa will not have any hands-on instruction with the Michigan roster but will assist in film breakdown and other orders of business in preparing Michigan’s game plan.