Page 10

THE DAILY REVEILLE

PAGE 10 ILLINOIS, from page 7

MILES, from page 7

said. “We know things won’t always be easy.” The Fighting Illini come into Baton Rouge having won five of their first six games to start the season. The Tigers left-handed heavy offense will be challenged on Friday by Illini sophomore southpaw Phil Haig, who is 2-0 and has pitched 12-straight scoreless innings to start the season. Illinois’ pitching staff has been the strength of their team early in the season and has 2.72 team ERA. Gibbs said LSU’s ability to manufacture runs off the Fighting Illini’s pitching staff will be key to the weekend. “Their pitchers are going to hit their spots, and they’re going to nibble on us,” Gibbs said. “They’re going to be ready to play.” One hitter Haig and the Illini will have to contain is LSU junior first baseman Sean Ochinko. Ochinko has been arguably the hottest player in college baseball the past week and has 20 RBI in LSU’s last five games. Ochinko said LSU’s hitters will need to be zeroed in if they want to continue their torrid offensive pace. The Tigers have scored 10 or

quality receivers. [Molton’s] first opportunity making plays in a live business have been good.” At fullback, Miles said Quinn Johnson was a force in LSU’s tworunning back system, and the team has a few options for a new fullback, including freshman tight end Tyler Edwards or “a mobile offensive lineman.” Miles also addressed the team’s defensive changes under its new defensive staff. LSU hired John Chavis as its new defensive coordinator and Ron Cooper as defensive backs coach in January. “We will simplify some of the things we did, get some of our better players on the field more often and make them more productive,” he said. Junior safety Chad Jones is currently playing outfield on the LSU baseball team, and Miles said Jones’ positive experience as a baseball player also benefits the football team. “Chad is more committed to holding his end of the deal,” Miles

BENJAMIN OLIVER HICKS / The Daily Reveille

LSU junior outfielder Jared Mitchell steals third base in the bottom of the second inning Feb. 27 against Central Florida at Alex Box Stadium. The Tigers went undefeated against the Knights in the three-game series.

more runs in eight of their first nine games. “Illinois is a solid club,” Ochinko said. “We’ll have to stand in there and focus only on the next pitch we see. That’s when good things happen for our club.” Sophomores pitchers Anthony Ranaudo, Daniel Bradshaw and Austin Ross are expected to start on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, respectively, for the second straight weekend for the Tigers. The LSU trio will face an

Illinois offense that has struggled this season and only has two home runs all year. “There’s not a lot of pop in their lineup,” Mainieri said. “But they’re very, very pesky. We know that we’ll have to play our best if we want to continue building momentum here to start the season.”

night. But Johnson said the Tigers is going down it hides a little bit of can’t let a bad night affect the what’s going on at the other end of game plan. the floor.” “Offensively I’m always goJohnson isn’t the only one ing to give guys freedom when the to notice. Senior guard Garrett ball is going down,” Johnson said. Temple, LSU’s 2009 “All-Glue” “I’m not changing that — I’m not defender, said the worried about that Tigers’ defense end of the floor ... has been slipping We need to really since Auburn left ratchet it up a notch town. defensively and “We’ve been not have as many able to get a coubreakdowns.” ple of wins, but A win Saturyou can look back day and a respectat those games that able appearance Trent Johnson could have been in next weekend’s LSU men’s basketball coach losses ... [WednesSEC tournament day] we just didn’t could do wonders do what we needed to do to win for Auburn’s postseason hopes, algames,” Temple said. though it’s far from a sure thing. Auburn is the SEC’s new hot “Every game from here on out, team. Auburn has won seven of its last eight games — their only loss coming to LSU — and could finish the regular season as high as second in the conference standings. “We have to go down there and get back to what we’ve been doing to get to this point,” said senior guard Marcus Thornton. “The loss against Vanderbilt opened a lot of eyes around this team ... we hated to lose on senior night, but going into these games we have something to work on and something to practice on.” Thornton is likely hoping to get back to his usual scoring self. His 18 points against Vanderbilt could be considered an off night. LSU’s top scorer shot just 36.8 percent from the field in the loss and made just 1-of-6 shots from the three-point arc. The timely shots that have fueled the Tigers’ championship season didn’t fall for the team as a whole against the Commdores. LSU shot 15 percent from long range with the exception of sophomore guard Bo Spencer’s 4-of-9

we have a target on our backs,” Thornton said. “Teams would like to beat us because that will probably increase their tournament hopes. We have to match that intensity.” As the SEC regular season champion, LSU has a No. 1 seed and a first-round bye secured in the SEC tournament. But Temple said there’s plenty to play for in the regular season’s final 40 minutes. “Auburn is a one-game season. They’re playing well. We don’t have any reason not to be up for them,” he said. “We’re trying to prove to ourselves that we can play, and we want to go out with a bang.”

DEFENSE, from page 7

‘‘

‘Our defensive rotations and our sense of urgency were lacking on certain possessions.’

Contact Casey Gisclair at cgisclair@lsureveille.com

Contact David Helman at dhelman@lsureveille.com

FRIDAY, MARCH 6, 2009 said. “Certainly I think he’s doing better work in the classroom. He’ll be coming to football pretty quickly.” Miles said sixth-year senior defensive tackle Charles Alexander is “ahead of schedule” recovering from injuries that hindered his playing time last season, and senior linebacker Jacob Cutrera, who filled in occasionally for Darry Beckwith at middle linebacker last season, has also improved in his health after being plagued by a hamstring injury. Miles said he is excited about the entire level of play the team will bring to its 15 spring practices beginning March 12. “Competition will be keen this spring,” Miles said. “That will be a reason this team will develop greater. We have built great momentum beyond the bowl game, and this year’s recruiting class is reflective of that. Our team right now is working as hard as any team we’ve had here, which is the key piece.”

Contact Rachel Whittaker at rwhittaker@lsureveille.com

The Daily Reveille — March 6, 2009  

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