LSU coach Les Miles met with the media Monday afternoon to discuss Saturday's critical game at Tennessee.
"The open date was very productive.
As a coaching staff, we recruited. We reviewed some of our strategy -- offense,
defense and special teams. We got some of our players healthy. All in all I
liked what we got accomplished. We had a Thursday scrimmage where we took a
couple of Tennessee looks and had about an 80-play go on
offense, defense and special teams. It was sharp and kind of the end of the week
football wise. I like the attitude and mindset of this team. They look forward
to November. It's not inconceivable that somebody would beat Auburn. Certainly, they
had a scare this week. Arkansas might have a loss when we meet them
at their place. If we take care of business and do the things that we are
capable of, we might be playing for more than just the win at Arkansas. The key at this
point is to play ourselves into contention and to face some quality opponents
and win. Certainly, that would mean Tennessee first and foremost. We have won 11
straight games in the month of November. We'd like to continue that tradition.
We take the No. 1 offense in scoring and total offense in the SEC. We take the
No. 1 (SEC) defense and total defense to Knoxville with us. It is going to be a great
"The Tennessee Vols have lost only
one game. They lost at home to Florida, a very quality team. They have the
offense, defense and special teams that appears to be quality and characteristic
of a strong, highly ranked team. Offensively, Erik Ainge throws for about 270
(yards) a game. They have running backs who are hard and tough. Anybody that has
played them has had a difficult time getting to the passer because they have a
bunch of out-of-your-hand, fast offensive plays. They have a great screen
package. They run a lot of misdirection passing. I think they have only given up
six sacks this year."
"Defensively, they have three
quality linebackers that make a lot of plays for them. Up front they are very
physical. They have a very mobile and quality secondary. They are giving up
260-280 yards or right in that area. They are third in the SEC in total defense.
On special teams, they have a really strong return man in (Jonathan) Hefney. The
last two games -- Alabama and South Carolina -- had
turnaround returns for them that led them to victory. They have a quality punter
in (Britton) Colquitt. He hits it at a good distance, which I think he is
averaging 46 yards a punt. They have a good field goal man in (James) Wilhoit
that can hit long field goals. They have quality teams. What we have to do is go
in there and play well -- offense, defense and special teams. We have to play
smart, play tough, play together and play for four quarters. It's not going to
be easy, but it's not going to be easy for them either."
On playing on the road again …
"Anytime that you play at home
there are advantages, but I always enjoy taking a group of men and going into an
opponent's stadium with an us versus them mentality. Some of the most satisfying
Saturday afternoons and evenings can be had on the road. Distraction and noise
is one thing with players it's another. We will focus on the guys on the field."
On playing at Neyland Stadium …
"I was an offensive coordinator at
State at the time. We came
in there undermanned. It was a close game at half, and then it got away from us
at the back end. Peyton Manning was the quarterback at the time."
On Tennessee's offense with David Cutcliffe as
"They are throwing the football
much more regularly. They are not really pursuing the run as adamantly as they
could. They are getting the ball out of the quarterback's hands. He does a great
job. They have a great scheme, and they have quality running backs. Their
offensive line is really big and physical. They are throwing it to (Robert)
Meachem, being their go-to guy. Ainge really understands what he's doing with
On what is at stake …
"It's not just another Saturday.
With a victory against Tennessee, we have a place to stand in this
conference. The key is to play ourselves into contention. This game is a very
important game for us. More importantly, it is an opportunity to play well on
the road. Take is one at a time. This is a team that got us last year at home.
This game is awfully important for this team. We need to establish who we are in
the (SEC) West, and again play ourselves into contention."
On last year's LSU-Tennessee game …
"It's not revenge. They certainly
played well against us. Anytime that you finish second on the scoreboard, you
remember. Our football team does."
On playing in a hostile environment
on the road …
"As long as we don't make mistakes
and we play our style of football, we can play anywhere. (In) the Auburn game I would have liked to have run the football a
little bit better. I would like to not have the mistakes and miscues in the
If we do those things, we'll be fine at Tennessee."
On the team's health status …
"I think the team is pretty healthy
with the possible exception of Keith Zinger, our tight end. We'll have to talk
to him this week about whether he continues with us or we may have to redshirt
him. Will Arnold
is improving. I don't know if we will get him back for this game. Most everybody
else who has missed time will return to us."