After 24 hours of rest following the 24-17 loss at Auburn this weekend, the LSU football team packed into the film room on Monday morning for a day full of analyzing and reflecting.
In the team’s first loss in eight games, Cam Newton vaulted himself into the Heisman race and Auburn into the top spot in the BCS standings, a one-man wrecking show that piled up 217 of Auburn’s 440 yards on the ground.
The 6-foot-6, 250-pound quarterback was certainly on his A-game, though after reviewing the tape, Miles is confident that Newton got a dose of the Southeastern Conference’s top-ranked rush defense on a night where they were far from theirs.
“There were a number of missed tackles,” said Miles when asked what stood out most from the loss. “I made the point early in the week that with a guy like Newton, you don’t tackle him high and don’t go for a pass fake. You have to tackle him low. That would have helped a lot.”
The most glaring example was the touchdown run that will replay on highlight reels from now until the Heisman Trophy presentation on Dec. 13, a 49-yard scamper that saw five of LSU’s six defenders get a hand on the quarterback. The final body, Patrick Peterson, was dragged by Newton across the goalline for the score.
“There were probably three plays that gave up 130 yards where we were out of position and missed tackles,” Miles said. “We just need to be positioned in the right spots. For our football team to be better, we have to make those adjustments this week.”
Work began at Monday’s film session and continued through to Tuesday, where the team took to the practice fields for a light workout. Running back Stevan Ridley was in a green jersey as many of the starting names continued to get rest.
“We had the young guys go after it, and I think we’ll have an opportunity to get some guys healthy in this open week,” Miles said. “(Tuesday) was fundamentals and situational work, and (Wednesday) we will look at new stuff we might put in.”
Though the total offense ranks 100 out of 120 FBS teams, don’t expect any changes in philosophy – or quarterbacks. When pressed about the lack of development in Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson, both juniors, Miles didn’t bite.
“That’s a tough question, and the only thing I can tell you is they have been coached and coached and coached, and they have been drilled," he said. "The passing attack hasn’t changed so significantly that it’s not comfortable.
“We’re throwing it, I can tell you that. We are working at it. The players and coaches are taking the time. I just expect at some point this thing is going to take off.”
While Lee’s initial impact was felt to the tune of back-to-back final-minute wins over Tennessee and Florida, he hasn’t gone over 100 yards or thrown a touchdown in the two games since.
For Miles, the struggles have been more widespread than just Lee.
“There were a couple of dropped balls, and pass protection was not as good as it has been,” he said. “It was a situation that didn’t favor him.”
As for injuries, Miles pointed to starting defensive tackle Pep Levingston as the name to watch closely over the next week. Levingston went down against Auburn and did not return, and he’s currently listed as day-to-day. Redshirt freshman Mike Brockers would step in alongside Drake Nevis if Levingston was unable to play, and Miles would then search for another body to add depth to the rotation.
“We will move up some guys, and guys that play defensive end might move inside,” he said. “Bennie Logan and those guys could step in there, and (Lavar) Edwards is obviously one of the ends we would consider playing.”
The team will practice Wednesday and Thursday afternoon before taking off on Friday.