In Miles’ four years at LSU, his teams have won 38 of their 45 contests, so coming up on the short end of the stick hasn’t happened often for Miles and the Tigers.
When LSU has come off of a loss under Miles though, the Tigers have won all six times, but only once have they had to go into an opponent’s home stadium to get back on track.
LSU did so successfully when Miles took his team into Starkville following the loss to Tennessee in his first year at the helm, and he will be looking for those same results when he brings this cast of characters to Columbia on Saturday.
Miles will need his leaders on both sides of the ball to help the younger players regroup and refocus after such a heartbreaking loss. One of the guys he will be counting on is senior middle linebacker Darry Beckwith.
Beckwith, who made his return to the starting lineup against the Gators, was part of Miles’ first signing class at LSU. He came from a very rich high school program at Parkview Baptist, so he isn’t used to losing games on the gridiron.
“Every loss is tough to deal with,” Beckwith said. “LSU has such high expectations for this program and for this school and the tradition that we have. Any loss is tough because we’re not used to losing.”
The high expectations become the norm for a program that has gone 82-22 this decade, and has won two national championships in the last five years.
LSU has not lost consecutive games since 2002, and Beckwith thinks this group can put the Florida lost behind them just like teams have done in the past.
“A one-loss season for other teams is probably a great year, but we don’t like to lose a game,” Beckwith said. “Around here, when we do lose a game, we do a pretty good job of regrouping, and getting our head back on right to go play ball.”
For older players such as Beckwith, it may be easier to shift their attention to the next opponent after a defeat because they have been through it before, albeit only a handful of times.
For the younger guys such as redshirt freshman quarterback Jarrett Lee, one would expect that to be a little more difficult to do.
However, from listening to Lee, it sounds as if he already has acquired that skill of turning the page.
“I know how these guys are going to respond,” Lee said. “We have that fire in our eyes, not that we didn’t have it before. We realize now that coming into the South Carolina game that we have the fire in our eyes and want to come back with a big win.”
For Lee, especially, putting the past behind him is going to be vital to his success. As a quarterback he can’t dwell on what could have been or what should have been, but at the same time he doesn’t want to forget about his first trip to the Swamp.
“You never want to lose like that but you always have to move forward,” Lee said. “It’s about how you bounce back. I’m just looking forward to this week. I put all of that behind me. You have to keep it in the back of your mind because you never want to let it happen again, but we’re moving forward with a positive mindset.”
Lee said that felt many different emotions on Saturday night as he watched the Gators cruise to the 30-point victory.
Many players were angry, and nearly all of them looked miserable, but the most common feeling of all was probably best described by Richard Dickson.
“A mix of shocked and pissed off,” Dickson said of how he felt after the game. “Nobody likes to lose and everybody is upset that we lost the game. In our minds we are the best team on the field every time we play. When you go out there and get beat it really hurts you, and we don’t like feeling like that.”
Some of the shock effect had to do with the way Florida jumped out to a 20-0 lead. Dickson and the Tigers knew they were going to pose a big challenge, but on that night the Gators were as good as any team that the junior tight end has faced on the college level.
“You can’t take anything away from them,” he said. “On that given day that was probably one of the better college teams I’ve played in my career. They played a great game where they were doing things and things were just going their way.”
LSU could potentially get a rematch with the Gators if both teams make it to the SEC championship game. For that reason alone, sophomore linebacker Kelvin Sheppard wants to keep his most recent trip to the Sunshine State tucked away where he can relive it when the time is right.
“It’s still in the back of my mind a little because there’s a chance we could meet them in the Georgia Dome and I’m very much looking forward to that,” said Sheppard.
There is a lot of time between now and December where the Tigers can either go up or down in the race for the SEC crown.
But if you ask junior running back Charles Scott, there is only one way for this LSU team to go.
“We go up,” he said. “That’s the only way we can go. We have our backs against the wall and all we’re going to do is fight to get better and look ahead to South Carolina.”