Two days removed from LSU’s biggest clock management blunder to date, Miles spent the majority of his Monday press conference fielding questions on why the same issues continue to hamstring the team’s late-game efforts, which in turn has slanted the program’s national perception.
Looking for someone to blame?
The play calling remains solely on the shoulders of offensive coordinator Gary Crowton, that much Miles has made clear.
But just like in the inexplicable loss to the Rebels last November, the onus is on Miles to prove that LSU can survive the clock in crunch time.
On Monday, just as he had the week after the Ole Miss debacle, Miles shouldered the blame.
“I understand the responsibility of the way we managed the back end of the game is mine,” Miles said. “I can tell you that the issue was trying to use and have utility in an extra down. We used way too much time in substitution.
“Ultimately it's my responsibility, period.”
The underlying issue from Tennessee: the 32 seconds that ticked off the clock between a second down run by Jordan Jefferson and the final snap of regulation, which backup center T-Bob Hebert got off with just seconds left in the game.
“The thing that easily would have been said was, 'Let's clock it,' and it needed to be said well before,” Miles said.
Despite standing with Jefferson on the sidelines before sending the junior quarterback in for the second-down keeper play, the conversation on how to operate if the run came up short was never had.
“That discussion should have taken place as soon as it becomes first-and-goal at the two (yard line),” Miles said.
Johnny on the Spot
P.J. Lonergan won the starting center job over T-Bob Hebert during the offseason, but that hasn’t stopped Hebert from getting to the field in every game this season – whether it be at center or guard.
During the final drive against Tennessee, Hebert found himself in the middle of live action once more, this time snapping the ball to quarterbacks Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson.
“P.J. got dinged on his non-snapping hand and T-Bob went in,” Miles said. “He could have snapped it; his play would have just been difficult with the issue he had.”
His biggest moment of the night came on the final play of regulation, likely the only mistimed snap that Hebert will ever be happy with.
When 32 seconds turned into three seconds, Hebert snapped the ball out of instinct – not because Jefferson called for it.
“I didn’t want the clock to run out on us, so I just let it go when I saw that it was about to expire,” Hebert said.
The hurried snap went by Jefferson and resulted in a big loss for the Tigers, but more importantly the play resulted in Tennessee being flagged for 13 men on the field.
“We are very fortunate that he comes in and plays that position and plays it comfortably,” Miles said.
Montgomery Scheduled for MRI
LSU lost starting defensive end Sam Montgomery to a torn ligament early in the game against the Volunteers. After he called the play dirty during Saturday night’s postgame press conference, Miles used Monday's press luncheon to retract the statement.
“I don't know that I could recommend that a flag be thrown, to be honest with you,” Miles said. “I think the opportunity to be injured was certainly there, but I don't know how you can throw a flag on a tackle who had intent to contact but didn't.”
Miles said that Montgomery is scheduled for an MRI on Monday. Through five games the redshirt freshman has recorded 18 tackles (sixth on the team) and a team-high six tackles for losses.
As for the status of the starter on the opposite side, Miles expects to have Junior College transfer Ken Adams back in the fold when the team travels to Gainesville this weekend. The first-year Tiger missed the Tennessee game with injury, where he was replaced by Lavar Edwards.
“I think Ken Adams is very probable for this game.”