“I think our football team gets excited for big games,” Miles said at his weekly press conference on Monday. “This is certainly one. Nationally-ranked teams, teams that play in games that are very significant. This is going to be a significant game for both of our teams.”
Before shifting the focus to Georgia, Miles took a little time to talk about LSU’s win over South Carolina on Saturday.
Last week was a big one for the Tigers as the coaches and players took a good look at things they had done in the early going of the season. And the week after losing 51-21 to Florida was as good a time as any to add some new wrinkles and try some different looks that the Gamecocks had not seen much of.
“I think anytime you play and you don’t play as well as you’re capable there is a lot of review,” Miles said. “I think some of those things were in response to that [Florida loss] and some of those things were in response to it matching the game plan against South Carolina.”
Included among the new formations and looks at different personnel was playing Charles Scott and Keiland Williams in the same backfield. Scott lined up some at fullback and finished with 61 yards and two touchdowns on the night, while Williams ran 15 times for 72 yards and added four catches for 23 yards.
Don’t expect to see any wholesale changes as Miles made it clear that Scott was still running with the first team, but the performance by Williams, particularly in the fourth quarter when he ran for 59 yards on 11 carries, was the kind of outing that Miles had been waiting to see.
“We went a little bit more with Keiland Williams because it appeared to us that he had the hot hand and was freshest, and I think that’s what we need to do,” said Miles. “I think we need to put the most ready back on the field. I don’t think there is any question that Charles Scott is still our starter and still has the opportunity to go in there and get the lion’s share of the work.”
Another package that LSU's opponents had to contend with was what the coaches referred to as their Express package.
LSU went to four defensive ends at the same time with Rahim Alem, Kirston Pittman, Tyson Jackson and Tremaine Johnson lined up on the front.
Some felt that the coaches may have looked at that as a way to offset the shortage of defensive tackles since Ricky Jean-Francois didn’t make the trip, combined with Drake Nevis and Charles Alexander being dinged up.
However, Miles said that injuries had nothing to do with the new set.
“It wasn’t because of injury. It was for advantage,” Miles said. “Those four guys give us great quickness and get to the passer and work well together in terms of orchestrating coordinated pass rush.
“I think we look forward to all four of those guys going into the game at the same time,” Miles added.
LSU may turn to that package again this weekend in dealing with Georgia’s potent offense that is led by Matthew Stafford, who is one of the top quarterbacks in the country, and running back Knowshon Moreno.
Stafford has been starting for the Bulldogs since he was a true freshman and there are some parallels that can be drawn between the junior signal caller and LSU’s redshirt freshman quarterback Jarrett Lee.
But Miles is only worried about his guy and is not in to making comparisons between the two.
“I’m obviously not as familiar with the progress that Matthew Stafford has had to endure, but I like how our guy (Lee) has come through this position,” Miles said. “I like the fact that he’s had two games in a row in very hostile stadiums.
“He played significant football at home, and now, we’re ready to take on one of the better opponents in our stadium,” added Miles.
A couple of other youngsters who have impressed the coaches are true freshman Patrick Peterson and sophomore safety Chad Jones. Last Saturday, Peterson saw his most significant playing time of the year and Jones got some work at the nickel position.
Is that a sign of things to come?
“I think it was in response to play, and I think Peterson is getting better and better,” said Miles. “I think the opportunity to get him, again, fresh and onto the field late in the game to provide great coverage and play was just a quality decision.
“Chad Jones is, again, we’re looking for spots for him to play in and increase his snaps. He’s as talented as anybody on our team and for him to take some advantaged snaps would be in response to how well Chad plays. Obviously, we want to put our best players on the field.”
It’s not often that Les Miles talks about recruiting at his press conference but the subject came up a few times on Monday.
Miles talked about the benefit of recruiting Louisiana players and how LSU will always look in-state first while he is at the helm.
“The recruiting in the state of Louisiana is an advantage for us because the opportunity to offer the in-state athlete the opportunity to play at a place where he gets a great degree, has all the advantages of being loyal and rewarded for staying consistent to the people in this state allows his mother and father to watch him play,” Miles said.
“That advantage when you’re a team that provides great opportunities and also an opportunity to play for a national championship is, in this state, a tremendous advantage for us. We think there’s enough talent in this state that will allow us to compete nationally. The best players in Louisiana are as good as any players in America.”