From postgame interviews to media sessions four days after the fact, Les Miles hasn’t yet hesitated about his decision to go for the fake field goal on Saturday against Florida – a call that ultimately won the game for the Tigers.
On Wednesday, the talk was on speed. In other words, how quickly can kicker Josh Jasper cover 40 yards (about the same distance that he would have had to run had he scored on the pitch from holder Derek Helton)?
“4.55 to just under 4.6 would be (Jasper’s) kind of speed,” said Miles of his kicker’s 40-yard dash time. “He has very good speed. He made a very competitive run into a defense that has some legitimate tacklers.”
While his quick kicker might have bailed Miles out of this situation, the reality is that tougher tests are ahead, and LSU will need to be much crisper offensively if they want to stay unbeaten through the back half.
“We are a team that needs to improve and that’s a valid observation,” Miles said. “Our team understands that and is working to accomplish it. The great way about our league is that no matter who you are, you’ll have the opportunity to earn your way.”
No different than any other year, earning the trip to Atlanta for the title game won’t come without its tests.
LSU faces Auburn in two weeks, a team that currently sits tied atop the SEC West with an unblemished record. Just below the two Tigers are one-loss Alabama and Arkansas.
As for earning their way, Miles and Co. have all three teams left on their schedule.
“There is a lot of really quality football teams in the West,” Miles said. “I don’t know if it has been as competitive as this. Each week you look forward to a great challenge and a different challenge, and it is there. There are quality teams, and they are all playing better.”
While the road ahead is rough, the road traveled likely prepared the Tigers for what’s in store. With close call after close call, the feeling around the LSU locker room is that the team, now battle tested, is stronger than ever.
“We line up against good football teams and get their best shot,” Miles said. “Our guys have grown accustomed to playing in a very competitive game and in tight quarters. It does not seem to be taking a toll. I think our team is responding to some tight games and look forward to improving. We have enjoyed playing a tough schedule, and look forward to the rest.”
Headed into LSU’s first-ever meeting with McNeese State, the increased play of Jarrett Lee means that the junior quarterback will step out of conference for action for the first time since Louisiana Tech in 2009 – a night where he stumbled to the tune of 7-of-22 passing for 105 yards and a touchdown.
Playing arguably better than ever, Miles doesn’t think that Lee has 2009 – or 2008, for that matter – on his mind.
“I really believe it has nothing to do with looking back to last year,” Miles said. “It’s about playing our best and improving and I see that focus that he has had. There are lessons learned from a variety of games, and he’s trying to continue to avoid those mistakes.”