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LSU coach not fretting over likely early entries

Published Dec. 30, 2013

TAMPA — LSU coach Les Miles understands that there's a strong possibility some key underclassmen will depart early for the NFL draft after Wednesday's Outback Bowl against Iowa, but he isn't dwelling on it.

Last season, the 14th-ranked Tigers lost 11 underclassmen to the draft, including six starters on defense. This year, several juniors, including DT Ego Ferguson and WRs Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., are reportedly leaning toward declaring.

"You put out the information that will be accurate to their specific situation and the decision is certainly going to be theirs," Miles said Sunday. "I think there's a number of guys that are looking forward to staying, and there's a number of guys that it pays for them to leave.

"That being said, the key piece is to come into this last contest and play your best football and really to give to your teammates — and your team — one great, last game."

FAMILY REUNION: Iowa sophomore QB Jake Rudock will have many familiar faces in the stands Wednesday.

Rudock, a South Florida native, said his family is planning to make the four-hour drive from Weston to Tampa to see him play for the first time since he led St. Thomas Aquinas High to the Class 5A state title in 2010 with a 29-7 win against Plant at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

"It's good, because my family doesn't have to fly," Rudock said. "It's just kind of one of those things where after the game I can jump in the car with my family and go home. I like being in my home state."

RIVERS READY: In case of another unexpected injury, Miles said sophomore backup QB Stephen Rivers is ready to step in.

Rivers, a sophomore, is the younger brother of San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers. He was moved from third string to No. 2 on LSU's depth chart behind freshman Anthony Jennings following the season-ending leg injury to starter Zach Mettenberger against Arkansas on Nov. 29.

"We have a great comfort in the room in terms of everybody preparing, and Stephen Rivers has had real quality work," Miles said. "He's a guy that came in, competing against Anthony right from the start. … We operate with him as well as Anthony."

THIS AND THAT: Both teams will spend today at Clearwater Beach, participating in various activities. Bowl officials are expecting more than 6,000 people in attendance. … NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick will perform the opening coin toss before the game. Harvick drives the Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing.