Keeping the faith

When LSU went into the lockerroom at halftime on Saturday night the LSU fans who made the trip to Auburn were not as loud as they had been for the first two quarters of play. Jarrett Lee had just thrown an interception that Gabe McKenzie returned for a touchdown that put Auburn up 14-3.

Many of the fans decked in their purple and gold were quiet and some even had a blank face but in the LSU lockerrom it was a different story.


There were some words of encouragement from the coaches letting the players know that there was still 30 minutes to play and then there was a halftime pep talk or tirade as Les Miles put it by Ricky Jean-Francois.


Then, of course, there was the comments by senior defensive end Tyson Jackson that was a prelude of things to come.


“I enjoyed Tyson Jackson’s comment to Holly Rowe going onto the field of we’re just getting started,” Miles said during his Sunday briefing with the media at the Football Operations building.


“I enjoyed the number of young players that spoke up and said it’s time to get going and then the plays they were about to make,” Miles added. “Most important about that day was a fighting spirit; a competitiveness that is in this program; the poise on the road and the confidence that whatever the test might be they’d be there to answer the call. As long as we get some scores we’d be a heck of a team.”


The deck was stacked against the Tigers playing on the road and going up against the No. 9 ranked team in the country.


However, regardless of what the team had to overcome and being two scores down, Miles felt all along that things could get rolling in the second half and his players did as well.


“The truth is there is a great tradition here and a very competitive outlook that is there,” he said. “You knew they were going to compete but until they do and they affirm that. Is this team’s resolve the same as the teams that have gone before? It appears to me the answer is that it is.


“During the game, young players like Kelvin Sheppard, and veterans like Brandon LaFell, Tyson Jackson…….There was a common thread to it and there was never any question that they were going to fight like heck.”


One player that went out and took all of the advice and words of wisdom was Lee, who was called back into action midway through the third quarter when Andrew Hatch was knocked out with what some called a concussion but Miles would not confirm that.


He did not complete a pass in five attempts in the first half but the second half was quite different as Lee tossed two touchdown passes and hit 11 of 17 passes for 186 yards.


The biggest completion of all was an 18-yard touchdown pass to LaFell with 1:03 showing on the clock.


Miles knew that he would be asked if Lee did enough to earn the starting job but anyone expecting a decision on that is going to be disappointed.


“We haven’t made any of those decisions at this point,” Miles said. “I certainly liked how Hatch played at times and how Lee played at times. He (Lee) had a great second half and showed leadership and did some good things.”


Some coaches have a stance on players not losing their starting job due to an injury but Miles has his own stance.


“I think the responsibility is to pick the best player and if you feel that that is the key then the player that gives you the best opportunity for victory will play,” said the headman. “So I suspect that is how we will go and I can’t imagine it being any different.”


Miles went on to say that the two signal callers will be competing for the job but when asked if he thought Lee would get more snaps, he replied, “I absolutely would.”


One thing that Miles does want to see from Hatch is avoiding some hits like the one he took from Jerraud Powers.


“Heck yea. He’s not a fullback, he’s a quarterback,” Miles said with a laugh.


The training staff is still unsure if the full injury occurred when Powers hit Hatch because he got his neck twisted around earlier in the contest.


Along with teaching Hatch to slide, fixing substitution issues is something that the coaches are going to work on this week along with the breakdowns in pass coverage. Auburn threw for 250 yards and hit five passes that were longer than 29 yards.


The defensive backs used bad judgment on some of those plays and so did Trindon Holliday, who muffed two punts, including one inside the 10-yard line which marked the second time in as many games that he has fumbled that close to the goal line.


“I think he made a mistake in judgment and not necessarily his ability to catch the ball,” Miles said. “I think the issue is a lot of those punts he’s not supposed to catch. And that’s what we’d like to get accomplished with him.”


Aside from Hatch’s injury, Miles said that the team came out in good shape with no significant injuries.


He even said that there is time frame for senior linebacker Darry Beckwith to get back on the field.


“Rehabilitation is going well and I think Florida is the time,” said Miles.

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