Miles comments on Bama win, La. Tech game

The following is a transcript of Les Miles' weekly press luncheon.

Opening statement…

"I look forward to Homecoming. I think it is a special time on any campus, certainly this campus where our friends and supporters come back and spend time here. I think it is a great excuse to visit your alma mater. It is important that we maintain ties with traditions of the past. Homecoming has always been a pretty special weekend for me."

"I certainly enjoyed the finish of the Alabama game. I feel that our team has a very special component and a competitive spirit, and if you had to have a characteristic of a championship team, that is it. I certainly enjoyed it. We started that game ahead 17-3, and on 3rd and 12 they threw an incomplete pass and if we get the ball right there it might be 24-3. The feel of the game would have changed distinctly. Instead, there was a personal foul that gave our opponent the opportunity to get a first down where they would not normally have the ball. On the ensuing play we bust coverage and it was a 67-yard touchdown pass. The change of events there are very significant. Our team has to understand that. That play gave our opponent life and got a loud stadium in the game. We have to recognize that we control that. We control a lot about Saturdays that we play and certainly we had the opportunity there to get our defense off the field. There was a focus on that this morning at 6:45 with the team. It was a nice lengthy meeting that went through some of those issues."

"On the positive end, with Matt Flynn, another characteristic of a quality team is a team that when they make mistakes, still find a way to win. In other words, if the opponent has 12 opportunities to beat you and we make the 13th and 14th opportunity to win, that is the key. Matt Flynn has that. He came out and played well to start the game. He tried to make plays, which he will get better at once he sees the film fully. There are some throws that he could have done without that game and he will not make those again. There was a stretch in the second quarter where we had three turnovers and eight penalties. As we come out in the second half, Matt Flynn makes no more mistakes and plays an excellent second half. That is what we needed from him. I enjoyed that. I think it is a sign of a quality quarterback to start slowly but finish well. That speaks for the future of our quarterback position."

On the play of Jacob Hester and Early Doucet

"Jacob Hester and Early Doucet had spectacular plays. If you look at Hester's plays, particularly with his tackle on the intercepted ball, he showed great effort. The last play of the game, where he comes up in the air to score, was a dynamic goal-line run. That is Jacob Hester. Early Doucet's contributions were highlighted by the two touchdown passes. The screen going in on his first touchdown and then the 4th and five plays where he needs to pick up a first down and gets in space and beats two guys to score. Those two plays and those players were certainly spectacular."

On how the defense played against Alabama

"I looked at the film and watched our defense, and considering we had three turnovers that led to points and a punt return for a touchdown, I think it is safe to say that our defense played pretty well all day. They gave up one mistake for 67 yards. There was a drive of three points where our opponent had to go to third down every conversion. There was a drive that maybe culminated from a blitz where they hit a wide-open guy. Maybe if our defense, with our offense playing a little error less, would have allowed the opponents only 10 points. I felt like the defense played well. There were a number of nice performances there."

On the M.V.P.s of the game…

"The M.V.P. on offense was Demetrius Byrd with 144 receiving yards and certainly the big-deep touchdown reception that changed the feel of the game from that point forward. On defense it was Kirston Pittman. It's interesting, the guy doesn't play for two years and you bring him back and hope like heck that his body can hang in there. He has dealt with two pretty significant injuries. You wonder if and fact he can make it. Not only does he make it but he plays extremely well and practices every down. He has given a lot to this football team. On special teams, we gave two M.V.P.s. We felt like R.J. Jackson is making quiet a presence on special teams. He is a guy that has given this football team a lot. Colt David had a career-best 49-yard kick. He really shows the calmness and demeanor you need to have in some of those pressure kicks. Glenn Dorsey was the SEC Defensive Player of the Week and I don't want to miss that."

On the amount of penalties in the Alabama game…

"We understand that we have to eliminate mistakes and our football team made that point this morning. Our football team understands that. If you just look at the position that we are in: we are 8-1 with every goal to play for, Louisiana Tech on the horizon and an opportunity to get better with purpose. I had a meeting of length with our football team about that and I feel our team will respond. When we have the opportunity to play our best, I would be surprised if our best wasn't good enough. We just need to play better and do it for four quarters. They have to understand that the penalties or mistakes that occur change the situation of the game. You need to make your opponent make those plays. You don't want to give any gifts and nothing easy. If we do that, our best should be good enough."

On the Louisiana Tech game…

"I look forward to Louisiana Tech. It's an in-state school that will come in and play an emotional game and play well. They have had some really strong performances this year. They have made real progress and it appears to me that they are playing much better football then they have in the past. I think Derek Dooley has done a good job there as a coach. Certainly he has a family with a rich tradition of coaching. Their kids play hard and you can see it on film. We understand they are a competitive football team. They played Hawaii close and are getting better each week. The scores that see you, whether they won or lost, is not really reminiscent of how good they can be. They fly around the ball and are capable. We are going to have to be prepared for their best shot."

"Their offense is averaging 22 points and 368 yards a game. They have great balance. They average 176 rushing yards and 191 passing yards. Anytime you defend a team that has balance, it becomes a little more difficult then that team relies on one or the other. There quarterback, Zac Champion, is a real quality guy. He has 1,600 yards passing along with nine touchdowns. They have a good runner in Patrick. Jackson. He has just fewer than 800 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. It is a quality offensive group."

"Their defense is very much like the defense they have had for years. They are willing to step up, play in your face and challenge you. They held Ole Miss to 65 yards rushing and their back (Ben-Jarvis) Green-Ellis to just 54 yards rushing. We understand that they are a quality football team and that we have to be ready for their best shot."

"We look forward to the preparation. This team improves. They have shown improvement. I watched our defensive and offensive line in our open week and saw them make strides in several areas. The defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage and there wasn't a rushing attack to have success against us at Alabama. Our offensive line protected our quarterback. Alabama's (Wallace) Gillberry is one of the best defensive ends in the conference. There is real strong improvement, if we can just factor a component that allows avoiding mistakes. I like our position."

On if he is worried about "style points" having to do with rankings…

"I don't know that we will be coaching for style points as much as we will be coaching for improvement. If they (voters) count on me to run the score up or to do anything but ensuring victory then they need to vote for someone else. Football is a quality game that is played by 11 quality guys on the other team and I am going to give that opponent respect. We will do everything we can to ensure victory and beyond that we will see when we get there."

On the play of Demetrius Byrd…

"Any player that steps up and makes big plays in games, seems to always do it the same way. They do everything they can to get the information during game week. They understand their responsibility. Demetrius Byrd practices extremely hard. So when he steps on to the field, he is improved. He continues to improve and does have strong natural talent. That combination has allowed him to step forward and make big plays. I don't know of many guys that make plays when the game is on the line that don't approach it the exact same way he does. Terrence Tolliver is the same kind of guy. We are fortunate to have young guys that have stepped up and with their work ethic and who they are as people, they are really contributing."

On what he feels his team has accomplished at this point…

"We are in position. That's it. We control our destiny in the (SEC) West. Certainly we are a capable football team with eight victories. We look forward to the remainder of the schedule. What we have accomplished is that we have shown ourselves that we are capable. We certainly enjoy a game when the game is on the line. This team enjoys playing when it is crunch time. We also know that we can improve. We still haven't played our best football. That is the goal. The goal is to play your best football against the best opponents."

On the housing rules for his players…

"Our underclassmen stay in a general area. Yet, part of college and growing up is the ability to monitor yourself, handle your freedom and to display the ability to be held accountable. Certainly here, we hold them accountable and have rules and regulations. We expect them to grow up and be men. The great majority of our football team responds extremely well. Some guys need some guidance and we are giving them that. Some guys that are no longer on our team, we wish them well. We hope that this is just a bump in the road and not a serious hurdle for them. Those guys that wear our helmets have to hold themselves to a higher standard."

On the status of Darry Beckwith…

"He is probably in the worst shape of the injured players. They are going to review him and see what the best way to go with him. I think it is likely that he will be back for the Ole Miss game but still possible he could be out. I really don't want to discuss the length of his departure or the nature of the injury."


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