It's not about the coaches

LSU fans have had Nov. 8, 2008 circled on their calendar ever since Nick Saban took over in Tuscaloosa. With game week finally here and with Crimson Tide sitting at No. 1 in all of the college football polls, the game has reached even higher heights for some, but not all.

“I do understand that the team that is coming in here is ranked No. 1,” Miles said at his Monday press luncheon. “I do understand who coaches that team. It’s not about either of those issues. It’s about LSU and Alabama. We’re going to play well and focus on just those things.

“They are a Western Division rival,” added Miles. “This is a team that you have to go through to sit atop the conference. They have the same issue. It’s something we look at with great importance, but it has nothing to do with who coaches there or who coaches here, at least it doesn’t by me.”


After sleepwalking their way through a 35-10 victory over Tulane on Saturday, Miles and his players met at 6:45 a.m. on Monday to look at the film. This was not their typical meeting though as the headman cranked up the intensity to get his players’ attention.


One of the topics discussed in Monday’s meeting was to make sure that no one bought into the hype and hoopla that is surrounding Saban’s return to Baton Rouge.


“I can tell you that I enjoy the fact that ESPN is on campus. I enjoy ‘Gameday’, Miles said. “I enjoy big crowds. Certainly, we will appreciate the national media that will surround this game. I can tell you that I really don’t care. In fact, we have to perform and play better, and my instruction to my team this morning is to put everything on the perimeter there and leave it on the perimeter.


One of the topics that will not be discussed anywhere inside the LSU Football Operations Building is the “Miles vs. Saban Bowl” as some national outlets are billing this as.


“I promise you that it’s not (in the locker room) for us,” said Miles. “It really is, very honestly, about our football team, what we want to accomplish, the things we are capable of and just playing to our capabilities and playing as well as we can.”


The Crimson Tide are going to present some problems for an LSU squad that has struggled to put together four quarters of football thus far this season. However, that’s the point of emphasis for Miles and LSU this week.


“The key for us is that we play four quarters of football, from start to finish and without lapses on offense, defense and special teams,” Miles said. “That’s what our push is, to play our best game versus arguably the best opponent that we’ll face.”


LSU needs to worry about itself, but there is plenty for the Tigers to be concerned with when it comes to Alabama.


The Crimson Tide have trailed for only 1:15 in the last 10 outings and have outscored their opponents 108-6 in the first quarter, and 90-20 in the second frame.


“They have a nice start. They start very quickly. I have to be real honest with you,” said Miles. “The key is that we start well. Our offense, defense and special teams come on the field and play well and that we match their start with our own. That’s going to be our approach.”


Alabama has the SEC’s leading rushing attack which has helped the offense get off to a quick start, but it also has a big-time playmaker in the passing game in true freshman wide receiver Julio Jones.


“I don’t know if we’ll just man up one guy,” Miles said. “I like Chris Hawkins. I like (Patrick) Peterson and (Jai) Eugene at corner. I think we’ll play it straight.”


Saban is known for applying a lot of pressure to opposing quarterbacks and redshirt freshman quarterback Jarrett Lee can expect to see a lot of different looks from the Crimson Tide’s defense and their three-man front.


“We’ve seen it enough and prepared for it enough,” Miles said of the odd-man front. “I don’t think that will be an issue for us, and I think our guys are pretty comfortable with that front. It’s not something you see every week, but there are enough weeks and enough teams that employ it that we get enough work, so I think we’ll be fine.”


Lee has had some tough outings in the 2008 campaign, but Miles sees a young man that is very resilient.


“I think he understands athletics. He’s been competitive his entire life, so it’s one where he understands the process, and he’s going to get through it,” said Miles. “I think he understands that it’s important for his team and important for him. I like his approach. He works hard.”



Quarterback Rotation


Miles had hoped to get Jordan Jefferson a little more time under center against Tulane, and although he plans to play the true freshman against Alabama he made it clear that Lee is the guy.


“We’re going to stay with Jarrett Lee,” said Miles. “We are going to count on him to give us strength. I do think that Jordan Jefferson performed well in that game. I think that he’s a guy that we will play in this game. We look to play him in this game in certain situations, maybe the first half, maybe not the second half, but in any event, we’re preparing him to play.”


Playing the Spoiler


After winning the national championship last season, LSU has had a target on its back in 2008.


Now, the Tigers get to play the role of the spoiler come Saturday.


“I’m certain that being No. 1-ranked is an issue for them, but the issue for us is not our opponent,” said Miles. “It’s playing well and within the scheme, offense, defense and special teams and focusing on your role and making sure you are doing everything you can to allow your team to compete.”



Injury Update


Several players got “nicked up” against Tulane, most notably Curtis Taylor, Charles Scott and Richard Dickson.


Miles said Scott and Dickson will be ready to play on Saturday.


Taylor’s injury may be a little more significant and if he can’t play as much as he has then look for Danny McCray to see more time at free safety.


“I think Danny McCray did a great job with Curtis Taylor being limited,” Miles said. “I hope that Curtis gets back. I suspect that he will.”

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