Miles may not have gotten the gift he was looking for in the form of a victory, but he did get the type of effort he had been looking for.
“We asked the team to improve. They did,” Miles said at his Monday press luncheon. “I asked my team to work hard, play with intensity and fight, and they did. Certainly overall, I’m proud of their performance. I like my team. They gave great effort, played with passion, showed the emotion of a big game and played it.
“It’s how it’s supposed to be,” added Miles. “The score didn’t work out the way we would have liked, but how the game was played, the competitive feel, that’s how it was supposed to be.”
The play and decision-making of Jarrett Lee was a hot topic of discussion on Monday after the four interceptions he tossed, including the one big one in overtime that cost the Tigers a chance at a Colt David field goal.”
The throw by Lee in overtime was one of two plays that Miles mentioned when he singled out two plays as a positive and negative.
“You go into the overtime and the mistake that was made on the last play where we had the ball was a young guy (Lee) who has two difficult decisions,” Miles said. “One is a semi-covered boundary throw that could have gone out-of-bounds and incomplete or to us or an over-the-top where Brandon LaFell would have had to make the catch, and we find a way to win the game. Certainly, he gets it, and we’re going to teach him, but that certainly was what he was doing.”
Obviously, that was the negative and the blocked field goal by Ricky Jean-Francois was the other.
“I would say the block and the field goal really represented who we were, and that in fact, we fought like heck to stay in that game right on through regulation,” Miles said. “I thought the effort on that block was very strong.”
During his Sunday briefing with reporters, Miles commented on how Jordan Jefferson would probably get more of a look going forward which he feels would benefit Lee as well as the offense.
“I think that like Lee performed probably best when it was (Andrew) Hatch and him, and he was spelled for a pretty routine basis,” said Miles. “It gave him a chance to clear his head and go back on the field and play. That might be the recipe we are looking for, and we are going to try that.”
Jefferson brings something to the table that Lee doesn’t offer in his ability to scramble and make something happen with his feet.
One issue though is that the true freshman didn’t get a lot of reps in practice until Hatch went down with his injury.
Even with Jefferson in the mix though, Miles knows that Lee’s experience gives him a decisive edge over the true freshman.
“We are going to coach him, believe in him, and he is truly at this point in the season one of two guys and the guy who has had the most work,” Miles said of Lee. “Certainly he has a very talented arm and has made a lot of big plays for us. Again, we are going to eliminate some calls, but we have to develop him and believe in him, and we are going to.”
As the Tigers move forward and with three games remaining during the regular season, Miles hopes that he will see other areas of the offense help out his young quarterbacks.
“On offense, there are a number of ways where if you catch a couple of balls – we had a couple of dropped balls – you have great opportunities for big plays and suddenly the quarterback doesn’t have to make one more play,” Miles said. “Suddenly, the offensive line doesn’t jump offsides, so there isn’t the pressure on the quarterback to make one more play.”
Miles said that the team met at 6:45 a.m. on Monday to look at film from the Alabama game and they will address some issues at practice today.
After Monday night they will turn the page and put all of the focus and energy into playing Troy on Saturday.
“We understand that we have to be able to play this Saturday, and the 48-hour rule is in effect,” Miles said. “Monday night, we’re done talking about this last one. We let a big fish off the hook. Certainly, we couldn’t quite get a handle on it, but there is a lot to play for. I look forward to improving and playing well against Troy and continuing that effort as we move forward.”
It’s not out of the question that Andrew Hatch could return for the Ole Miss game, but Miles said that the season finale at Arkansas is a more realistic projection.
Miles also said that he expects Brett Helms to be able to play this weekend, but the status of Curtis Taylor remains up in the air.
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