Monday Q&A session with Miles

LSU's upbeat leader covers all the bases after impressive season-opening victory over Oregon

With the euphoria starting to wear off and the political correctness of playing an overmatched opponent on the menu, LSU coach Les Miles spoke about his team's season-opening triumph Tuesday.

The Tigers delivered one of the most impressive victories of the season's opening weekend with a 40-27 triumph against Oregon at Cowboys Stadium.

That earned LSU the No. 2 spot in the new Associated Press poll released Tuesday, behind only Oklahoma.

But Miles made it clear he has turned the page and he expects his team to as well.

The Tigers (1-0) face Northwestern State (1-0) at 7 p.m. Saturday, the only home game on LSU's slate in the first month of the season.

And while that looms as a mismatch, Miles wants his team focused on the Demons and not an SEC season-opening road trip to Mississippi State for a Thursday night showdown on Sept. 15.

"I'm ready to move on," Miles said. "It just counts one. My wife says that I wish it counted for more than one, but it doesn't. Forty-eight hours later and we have moved on."

"The Northwestern State Demons are very talented. I have a lot of respect for Bradley Dale Peveto. He has them flying around and well organized. He has a confident scheme and they play solid football. I expect for them to give us their best shot."

"I think it's too early in the year to feel like we have accomplished anything. There is a necessity to improve. I think our team understands that. We are going to Tiger Stadium for the first time this year. I don't think there will be anyone not wanting to play extremely well, fast and competitive. We want to play our style of football. Do I anticipate overlooking our opponents? No, but I will point it out. We do need to improve. I think our team will want to play well."

There figures to be an emotional letdown no matter how much Miles and the coaches hammer home the point of not taking the Demons lightly.

The fact remains that LSU is going from playing the No. 3-ranked team in the country to one that had to rally in the second half to beat the No. 2-ranked team in Division II (Delta State).

Here is a breakdown of the other topics Miles touched on during his weekly Q&A session with the media.

• Sophomore defensive back Tyrann Mathieu has drawn national attention after his dominant performance against Oregon, which included 10 tackles, a special teams strip and touchdown and stingy pass coverage.

His coach isn't surprised by anything Mathieu does any more.

"His size is 6-6, 300 and he's the strongest man on the field and the fastest and when he looks in the mirror that's what he sees," Miles said. "And there's not a play he can't make. He has a great vision for making a great play."

"There's not a play that he's out of. That thought process is infectious. A lot of our guys are involving themselves more and believing they can make similar plays."

• After back-to-back wins at Cowboys Stadium, Miles wasn't shy about his feelings for the venue.

"I'd like to see us play a Dallas game on an annual basis," he said. I don't know how that would work, but I think that would be fun for our fan base and fun for our team."

• Miles spent a few minutes assessing the victory against the Ducks and started with the unit that set the tone from the start.

"I thought we played well in all three phases," Miles said. "We talk about the need for all three phases to contribute significantly and I felt like they did that.

"To me, the defense put the first piece together in victory. They took a front to that very talented offense that Oregon runs and played it very well. They made it a point to be physical and to tackle the ball in bunches, and they did. That was the first piece we need to occur for victory."

"Offensively we did a nice job. We ran well. There were a couple of drops that very well could've added 75, 100 yards to our passing statistics. I thought the quarterback managed the situations well."

• Junior wide receiver Rueben Randle caught a touchdown pass and drew a pair of pass interference calls, but was otherwise not a huge part of the offensive game plan against Oregon.

Randle said Tuesday a sore knee was bothering him, making it hard to get explosion off the line of scrimmage and separation from defensive backs.

Miles didn't acknowledge the injury.

"We would have liked to have used him a little bit more," Miles said. "Some of the coverage that they played kind of crowded Rueben at times."

• Sophomore defensive end Sam Montgomery drew some attention for an interview when he said the SEC rules the NCAA.

While Miles seemed amused at the affable Montgomery's words, he also said he hopes he tones it down.

"Sam got a little juiced on the Gatorade that day and we need to quiet Sam down a little bit and he needs not to speak for anybody," Miles said. "The enjoyment that I get from Sam is that he is an untendered spirit and he loves playing.

"My kids watched his pound that turf in that Cowboys Stadium and said ‘Dad, I'm telling you, when Sam pounded the turf it just scared them.' "

"He's a very emotional guy that plays with great passion and I want him to stay that way. He does not necessarily to make statements to anybody about the SEC just yet."

• LSU's offense got into a rhythm late in the first half with a faster-paced style, churning out a 75-yard touchdown drive after lurching through most of the first two quarters.

"(Offensive coordinator Greg Studrawa) did a great job changing the tempo there and stepping in and deciding the style of play that we needed to make our point there," Miles said. "It's really just what we needed as a change of pace. It's not something we use every game, but we used it in this one. We enjoy the change of pace. Not necessarily the fast tempo the whole time, but we like to throw a curveball now and then."

• Oregon seemed intent to throw the ball at Tharold Simon quite a bit Saturday and paid the price when he picked off Ducks quarterback Darron Thomas' only downfield throw.

"Everybody just kind of wants to test him a little bit," Miles said. "What they don't realize is he's unbelievably competitive and has great ball skills. He understands how to play out there with that big strong body and has surprising speed. With him and (Morris Claiborne) at corner … we feel like can line up with anybody's top two receivers and compete very well."

• With Simon already a factor and Mathieu a fixture on the field, it makes sense that LSU would shift its base defense to a 4-2-5 scheme to feature the three talented corners.

Miles didn't discount that notion, but he also didn't commit to it.

"Certainly with some spread offenses where that personnel matches up with wide rush and quarterback carry and simple one-back run, I think that that personnel group deserves to be on the field," Miles said. "But I think as we go forward, you'll find that we'll have to involve that next linebacker or to and maybe get a little bit of a thicker group."

• Fullback James Stampley was an unsung hero against Oregon with a handful of devastating lead blocks.

For those efforts, the senior and former walk-on was named an offensive MVP and was also awarded a role as a captain for Saturday's game against Northwestern State.

"Let me tell you what Stampley accomplished in that game," Miles said. "He blocked a five-technique, defensive tackles, defensive ends, both linebackers and both safeties. I know that he hit at least one corner. There may have been one other corner that he did not meet in that game. I can tell you post game Oregon was talking about a number of things, but they were talking about that little fullback that kept hitting them and hitting them. We've really enjoyed Stampley.

"He's a leader. He's exactly what college football is about. He's great student. He's a guy that walked on. He's tough, loves his school and is very loyal. He is exactly what we want here."


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