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|Miles talks to media at weekly news conference|
BATON ROUGE -- LSU head coach Les Miles spoke to the media on Monday, as his 18th-ranked football team begins preparation for this Saturday's contest against Ole Miss. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. CST on CBS in Tiger Stadium. Watch the press conference on-demand now in the Geaux Zone.
LSU HEAD COACH LES MILES
"Good afternoon. I can tell you that once you play a very emotional game the week before with a record crowd and the position of our team is giving maximum effort, and we fall short. We look forward to the next game, but the next game is against an opponent (Troy) whose name just doesn't ring a bell and fire you up, and your coaches do a poor job and that this is a very good football team and that they're very capable. Really, they had just gotten their best quarterback (Brown) in position to play against us. We take the field. It's cold. It's certainly a good crowd, but the crowd dwindles, and it becomes one where you are playing less inspired than you should. Our coaches and myself set out to control the quarterback and play a game that really falls into the hands and plays into the hands of our opponent, and for 30-plus minutes, it's a game that doesn't look much like our Tigers.
"I can tell you that when our quarterback (Jarrett Lee) came to life, and our offense put together a great drive, and the defense, which we asked them to do at halftime, they were the chance we had while we got things fixed on offense, that they would come out and play. In the second half, we gained 280 yards. Our opponent gained 120 yards, and we got turnovers, and that's the reason that we came back. That's the reason that it was a historical turnaround by numbers. I've been around those games, basketball games and really in every sport – football, baseball – a team makes a great run at you, and they can't quite get over the hump. That wasn't the case. There was only one way. I can tell you that the enjoyment of that victory certainly was strong, that the sweet taste of victory was very significant. I felt like their quarterback (Brown) played lights out. They played as strong a game as they could play. We took their best shot and found a way in a day where we were less than inspired to come back and win. That to me is the key.
"I liked the momentum of the finish. I like the position of our team. I think our quarterback comes off that game with great confidence and what he did in the second half when he threw for 220 yards or just under that. I like the position of our team now. I think we are looking forward. I think we'll be very focused on our next opponent. I can tell you this. The stadium, those of you who stayed heard as loud a crowd for however few there was. I thought that stadium was just as live and fired up as any big game in any large crowd in the backend of that game. Those of you who braved the cold and a poor start by the Tigers in the first half, I want to say thanks. I really enjoyed that crowd. That crowd got into it. You heard them. They were part of that night.
"As we go into this week, I think our team is ready to play improved. I think we're ready to look at a really strong finish. It's also senior day. We have 20 seniors who are going to graduate. Of the 20, I should say at this point, 14 will have their degrees before January comes. Certainly, we would expect that the graduation of the other six will follow there after. Guys that have really contributed to this program with some great leadership, guys that revere this school and have played really great football for quite sometime, so we're going to miss them. I want that crowd to come out and say good bye to them. There are some pretty special men there. I also recognize the fact that we are honoring the 1958 national champions. I've met some of those men. Certainly coach Dietzel is a friend of mine, and I look forward to honoring that team.
"I know who we are playing this week. We're playing Ole Miss, and I understand that rivalry. It became very apparent to me last year that this is a very talented team. They are 6-4 overall, and their losses were really attributed to turnovers and quite not getting their team together early on in the year. They're very talented and move the football. They play good defense and special teams. They are the team that beat Florida in Gainesville. Our football team understands what that means. Their offense averages 29 points and 390-plus yards a game. Their offense is anchored by Michael Oher, a great player and a guy who has had a great career for Ole Miss.
"Jevan Snead, the quarterback is a big, tall quarterback, a very capable man. They can run the football. They have three tailbacks that have 400-plus yards rushing the ball. They run a little wildcat formation, which we're familiar with and certainly a test for us. Their defense is only allowing 20 points a game, and they're third in the conference. They're a very talented defense, only allowing 103 yards rushing, so we know, and it's going to be a great game. They're a very good football team. Our football team understands that. We'll have to play well. We're looking forward to that challenge."
On how difficult it is for QB Jarrett Lee to deal with the crowd's negative reactions...
"I think we have to understand that when we step into this stadium, we aren't just playing for mom and dad, that there are some folks who come into this stadium who support this football team. I'm really not focused on those fans that might belittle our efforts or his efforts. I've only really said to them that frankly he needs to improve. I like what he's done lately."
On Houston Nutt's use of the wildcat formation at Ole Miss...
"He's used the wildcat formation in a very life manner like he did at Arkansas. I think they have a little bit better quarterback in Jevan Snead. I think they enjoy him throwing the football. I think he makes plays there. They are really caught between which is the two positives there. I think there are a lot of similarities to what they've done at Arkansas."
On what positives QB Jordan Jefferson brings...
"I like his energy. He (Jefferson) went out there and scrambled pretty good and made a couple of plays for us down on the goal line. He really contributed to the day, and I think he enjoyed that, seeing some live action in the games. I think that will continue. That's something that we would like to see him have, the position and pieces in the games."
On the senior class and DE Kirston Pittman...
"You're looking at guys like Kirston Pittman who has been a part of two national championship teams. He really suffered severe injury and overcame that injury for this football team and played extremely well and gave us great leadership. (DE) Tyson Jackson is another one that just really comes to mind as a quality person and just every time he steps on the practice field or goes on the football field for us, he's everything that is reported. He's just a quality player and a quality person and a leader on our football team. There are a number of guys. It's a quality group of men. Football is a hard game. It's not easy. You go out there and it's contact. It's heat. It's cold. It's the elements, and it's an aggressive sport and to do so and do so well, representing our school. Senior day certainly is the day that we honor them at home in every season. When you get into the backend of every season and you play your last game with some quality guys and guys you turned to and relied on snap after snap, it's tough to say good bye to some good men."
On what makes the wildcat formation so difficult...
"The quarterback carry is certainly the best carry and one that we have an opportunity that if you play coverage on the remaining players, the numbers are best to run the football. There's plenty of deception. They bring the wide receiver in motion. They start the flow to one side and can come back across the grain. They have any number of reverses and perimeter issues. Then, they can attack you right straight up the gut with a quality ground game, so it's a very capable formation. I thought it would catch on. There's a piece to football where that factors in."
On what contributed to the lackluster start against Troy...
"The enjoyment of winning and victory is plenty enough for this football team. I do realize that the opportunity to win the (SEC) West or play for a championship game is certainly something that this program aspires to each year. Football is a great game, and to determine achievement by one venue or championship probably isn't fair. Each Saturday, certainly victory is something that is ultimately important to play for. We found that out yet again this Saturday. The fact that you play and don't play well and you can end up on the wrong side of the score. I think our football team understands it maybe more fully based on the experience against Troy."
On where he wants his safeties when playing against a spread offense...
"It really kind of depends on the coverage that we are matching up with and the down and distance. What happens is we try to determine the down and distance and only give them so much cushion. Certainly, we don't want to give them opportunities at completions for first downs. Certainly, the opportunity to use combo coverages with deep safeties and inside linebackers as well as nickels and dimes really varies the depth of the safeties. It's not just as easy as saying it's 12 yards. It takes down and distance, formation and the coverage we are going to play."
On if there is a situation where the safeties will be aligned 15 yards deep...
"Absolutely. They can play on a variety of balls over the top."
On if the lights came on for Lee in the second half...
"Again, he's getting better. He's getting better in the game week. He's getting better in the games. He did some things on Saturday that he hasn't done to this point. He's managing the position better and better. Whether the light switch is on in every room or not, I'm not certain, but I can tell you that most of the house is lit. I like what's going on."
On his philosophy of a two-quarterback system...
"I think what we try to do is add skills and abilities to our team. Matt Flynn had really everything. He could do everything that you asked him to do until he got nicked. He was struggling through an ankle, and it gave way to using the second quarterback. If you're fortunate and you can keep those things healthy for the entire year and you can run him and throw him, one quarterback is plenty. If you can add to your team the characteristics of the second quarterback or for that matter any substitution, certainly you must give way to the advantage."
On the improvement of Ole Miss this season...
"I think their offensive line is veteran. Michael Oher, one of which is providing great line of scrimmage play, and they are calling the run more. They are pounding the line of scrimmage and have the ability to run the football with quality tailbacks and a nice scheme. Defensively, they add guys to the box. They challenge your ability to throw it, and they are willing to stunt and blitz and gain great difficulty to the line of scrimmage. They obviously give away some opportunities on the perimeter, but that's their plan."
On fullback Quinn Johnson...
"I've got to be honest with you. A hundred years ago I had this conversation, and I figured out quick that seven points was seven points whether you ran it in or threw it in, but there is a piece of every game where you impose your will. Quinn Johnson definitely imposes our will when he's carrying the ball at fullback and for that matter, when he's blocking. I definitely enjoy the fullback, and that piece of our offense."
On if the reality of being down by 28 points to Troy ever hit him...
"I've been around those kind of games. I have enjoyed the memory of that game and have said wow to myself many times. Great teams find ways to win, and if you looked at it in the backend, special teams got us a ball. One of their guys is not alert, and it hits one of their guys and our team is all over it. Chad Jones rushes the passer, gets blocked, bounces off a tackle, alertly gets a pick and nearly runs it in himself. With the way the momentum of the game turned, I just wanted to make sure we finished. I felt like we were going to be in position to win it. I just wanted to make sure we finished and we had time. When that happened, really with eight minutes to go, I kind of felt like this was where we wanted to be. Prior to that, the magnitude of the score is what hit me."
On if he'll get on his team for playing so poorly in the first half or commend them for the comeback...
"I think the issue is the matchup against our next opponent and the want to improve. Certainly, in the first half, there was a lot of improvement needed, and we're not going by that. That team that played in the second half, how they executed, how they went down the field and the momentum they gained, I don't want them to lose that. I want to keep that. I want our team to see it."
On how Jarrett Lee benefitted from being off the field when Jefferson was in...
"I think it allows players to kind of reconcile their last series and the ways they might be able to improve or really what's kind of going on. I think he's done that, and I think he's the style of guy who always puts his mind in it. In other words, he didn't come to the sideline to rest. He was thinking it through, what's going on, how's the team's playing and how are our opponents deploying certain formations, and I think he stayed in it the whole time. I think that was a benefit to him when we asked him to return to the field and play."
On what he remembers about the last time Ole Miss was in Tiger Stadium...
"I remember the last time they were in this stadium, and we had to win in overtime against a very quality Ole Miss team. I remember last year when we played at Ole Miss, and they took a reserve quarterback and put him in the game in one back, and he rushed for a pile of yards against a defensive line that was trying to get to him. I understand the view of this game. I think our players do as well."
On parts of the crowd leaving early during the Troy game...
"People who sit in the stands, it's based on their want and desire. I'm not going to question the motives of those people who had to get up and go. That's their call. The only thing I know is that the guys who stayed, we enjoyed them. That was one heck of a game. We had a lot of folks who wanted to see the television replay."
On the amount of interceptions Jarrett Lee has thrown that have been returned for touchdowns...
"I watched that play again, and I looked at every angle. I challenged myself to see if there was great effort to get to the ball, and there was. The defender made a great cut, got right in there, and picked his blocking. There were some guys who got blocked on the return. Yes, it's uncanny. I think it's time for that to end. I think they've had enough."
On fullback Quinn Johnson's contributions over the years...
"He came in. He was playing linebacker, and he was a very big, strong talented linebacker, and the opportunity for him to see the field, it appeared to us he was best at fullback. I don't know if he was all that fired up about changing, and yet, when this team needed him to, he did. He stepped in there and really pursued it and worked hard and gave to his team. He's an old-school football player. 'What's the team need? I can do it.' He plays special teams. He plays all the rough and rugged positions. Contact is a part of his game. He's the type of person who has never said much but how can I help? He's always demonstrated with his play that he's deserving of every accolade and every opportunity. He's been fun for us. We certainly needed him to make that position change, and this team has used him and enjoyed him this year."
On Jordan Jefferson's role for the rest of the season...
"I think he'll give us a piece of the game plan and a piece of our offense, and I think it's run and pass and bits and pieces of first and 10, whatever it is. I think he's improving. I think we want to stay with his improvement and develop him. Certainly, at this point he is our second quarterback, and we want him to get a lot of reps."
On Ole Miss RB Brandon Bolden...
"I certainly understand and recognize that for a true freshman to play in the Southeastern Conference he has to be pretty talented. I'm not really familiar with all that he's done, but he's playing a lot as a true freshman."
(Report courtesy of lsusports.net)