Miles speaks on a variety of topics

Les Miles met with the media on Monday following his team's 31-13 loss to Ole Miss. The Tigers have a short week to prepare for Arkansas and here is a Q&A from Monday's press conference where the headman touched on a variety of topics.

LSU HEAD COACH LES MILES

 

Opening statement...

 

“Happy Thanksgiving. There are some things out there to be thankful for. I can tell you that the Miles family is thankful. I recapped the Ole Miss game. It looked like it did on Saturday. We got beat in all three phases. I think there are opportunities for us to play better. I think there is opportunity for us to give us some advantages during the game. That fake punt, in my opinion, really got us, and it was a simple mistake that cost us seven points. It’s one that we covered. We covered the formation. We didn’t run the exact play. If we would have known it was the exact play, we would have practiced that one, but we practiced the formation and certainly identified responsibilities. It should well have been covered.

 

“I think if you look at the defense and how they played and you remove a fake punt, a couple of long passes and their first drive, a mistake versus cover-2, the defense played pretty well. The defensive line, in my opinion, was physical and stopped it up front. The linebackers played, in my opinion, their best game. Kelvin Sheppard had 17 tackles and played extremely well, and we still struggled at quarterback. Our offensive line did not play their best game. I think the Ole Miss defensive line got after them. It’s unlike them. I question if we should have been playing that order. I think you’ll see some changes there. We just have to count on our guys to play like they played, or if in fact they need a rest, we need to get them off the field. I’m not certain that all those guys are all healthy at this minute, but when they play this Friday, they will.

 

“I understand that there are some good things that are happening in this program that you guys don’t necessarily see. I think there’s some improvement that is being made certainly at the linebacker spot and the defensive line. If you watch Rahim Alem play, he plays awfully well. I think there are some really bright spots there. Along those lines, I think our special teams minus the gaffe on the fake punt, had (a good game). We netted 41.7 yards in the punt, and I think Brady Dalfrey has been very consistent. Colt David was named Special Teams Player of the Week in the SEC with again, tying his career-long with a 52-yard field goal and a 46-yarder to go along with that.

 

“The want to get this team playing well really revolves around the understanding of doing your job and relaxing, having fun and enjoying yourself. We need to play like LSU has always played instead of anticipating that a mistake would be made and play that aggressive style of football that we play offensively, defensively and special teams and play it to their health and enjoy it. I think that’s what our team is missing right now. I talked to our team on Sunday, and I challenged them. I challenged them very personally in their own meeting room, and I challenged them as a team. The opportunity for us to play in a good bowl game certainly is there. The opportunity to enjoy the outcome of victory against our last opponent certainly is there, but for me and hopefully our team, I think our desire to put together for those 20 seniors, the want to have and be very ambitious for the 2008 team. The ’08 team to say, ‘This ain’t right.’ It’s right as hard as we worked. It’s right as well as we’re prepared. It’s right for us to win and have success, so I’ve challenged them to do it and to put all three phases together for four quarters. Let’s find out how good we are, and that’s kind of how I see it.

 

“I think the Arkansas team is extremely good. They’re getting better on offense. Their running back, Michael Smith, is averaging 107 yards per game. Their quarterback, Casey Dick, is averaging 238 yards per game. He was replaced by his brother, Nathan Dick, and he passed for 333 yards and three touchdowns in his first start. They have real weapons. They have five receivers who have at least 24 receptions. Their defense continues to improve every week. They have a very deep, competitive scheme, and it’s good that we’re playing, and it’s good they are a good football team because we desperately need victory and look forward to playing well against a quality opponent.” 

 

On if he’s assessed the job he and his coaching staff have done this season…

“I must not have prepared us as well as I could have; there’s no question. Don’t pretend for a minute that I’m not looking at me and our coaching staff in a very critical way. If our guys don’t understand it, why don’t they understand it? I asked that question, and sometimes the answers are a little bit harder to explain. You just don’t understand at times why the points are not made. How are we doing? We have seven victories, and that’s too few.”

 

On if he sees any letdown going into this Arkansas game…

“I can’t imagine that there will be a letdown. I hope that they’ll have the pent-up frustration and the want to play very strongly. I can’t imagine that there will be a letdown. I think this team needs victory.”

 

On if he saw tremendous effort in the Ole Miss game…

“With exception, I’d have to say that guys who were out of position, it’s difficult to challenge their effort because they’re not in position to make a play. That’s the exception. That’s a place where I grade us down, but when you see our overall hustle to get after it. I watched every snap. I’m talking about special teams, offense and defense, and seldom can I mark down a guy for effort.”

 

On what he says to critics that say his team is playing less inspired…

“I can’t really qualify that. The only thing I can tell you is that I know the specifics of what’s going on. We’re playing with our third quarterback (Jordan Jefferson) who is a true freshman. I think he’s going to give us a real lift. I look forward to every time he steps on the field. I think he gives us some throws and some things that he does with his feet that will give this offense a lift, but right now, coming off a loss to Ole Miss, people should be critical. That happens. What I’m worried about is getting my team to play, and I want them to play more inspired.”

 

On the team coming out and playing four quarters…

“You would be darned to see how many times that happens in a complete year. Coaches say it virtually every game. The need to have that happen is acute for teams with 10 wins or 11 wins or 12 wins. It doesn’t make any difference. That is always the key, and frankly, we’re trying to put it together.”

 

On if he can clarify what the team might not understand with regards to the coaching…

“Reviewing the coaches, I think that they are getting it coached. I really do. I have to say that to pinpoint a mistake is still a very significant issue to me. I can’t go by that. It has to be made better. I think the familiarity of call and some of those things we’ve benefited from, but obviously, in all three phases we have to improve.”

 

On what’s changed from QB Jordan Jefferson since two weeks ago…

“Two weeks is a long time for a true freshman. A true freshman is getting a little bit more 7-on-7 (drills), a little bit more snaps. A true freshman who once (Andrew) Hatch exited, started getting more reps. During practice, two weeks can really improve a guy, and I think he has talent. I think he always has. It’s getting him comfortable in the game as well. If you watch how he played when he was in and out versus Troy, he didn’t play as well as he did last game. He’s improving, and hopefully, that improvement will be there again as we take the field in Arkansas.”

 

On what kind of effort he expects from a Razorback team with no postseason to play for…

“They’ve played well in their last games, and I think they’re very talented. They have some young guys on the defensive line who are playing well. They’ve done some good things in their offense, so I think it can be a very competitive game. I’m not worried about their effort. I’m worried about ours.”

 

On the status of his QBs Jarrett Lee and Andrew Hatch…

“Lee is possible for this game. I think we’ll know more today. I think Hatch is also possible for this game, but again, we’ll know more today.”

 

On who his center will be next year…

“I think T-Bob Hebert will certainly be a guy who factors in there. I think P.J. Lonergan will also factor in there, and I think our football team will be fine. I think our football team is going to find itself, compete like heck and understand that victory is just not guaranteed. It’s something that is earned, and it’s earned in every practice and in everything that you do. I think our guys understand that. I think they’re in position to play well, to play improved, and that’s all we need. If we get that done and get victory, we’ll have a nice opportunity at our ninth victory in a bowl game. Certainly, that’s what we’d all like to see happen.”

 

On falling behind early in the past few games…

“I can tell you that in this last game, we get to third down and 17, and there’s a blown coverage, and it’s a touchdown instead of being off the field in that first drive or giving them three. Now, it’s our first issue. Then, we take the field, and we don’t get first downs. Anytime that happens, you take the pressure right off your opponent, and that’s something we’ve been trying to avoid since the beginning of the season. We need to start fast both offensively and defensively.”

 

On center Brett Helms…

“He’s been a tremendous leader for us. He’s a quality man and a hard worker. He’s our quality-control guy up front. He knows every call. He knows every adjustment. He knows the check before the check is repeated, and he’s a very talented man. I hope he gets the opportunity to play in the next league. I think he’s one of those undersized, bright offensive linemen that can do that.”

 

On what’s the best case scenario with the bowl game…

“Certainly, winning this game gives you every opportunity to improve your bowl status. We’ve been to the Peach Bowl here. I certainly understand that. They say that there are outside shots of other bowl destinations that we could go, and they are all conversation. Again, I hope our team enjoys the feeling of victory. I hope our team wants to play and make plays and have fun. I hope that our team goes to Arkansas with that in mind and not necessarily our bowl destination.”

 

On why teams that win the national title one year tend to struggle in the next year…

“It’s interesting. I think you asked a great question. I review me, I view my offseason and my view of opponents, and I check my box. We did exactly what we were supposed to do. We worked hard. We’ve pursued it. I think our team, our football players have done the same. I think they’ve had strong springs and summers. They’ve put themselves in position to win. I think there’s a very small margin of error, and therein lies the difference of victory. I’m trying to get that back. I’m trying to say, ‘OK guys, just play like we play, do like we do, like you have, how you’ve prepared, who you are, how hard you work, enjoy your play.’ That’s really what we’re looking to do. I don’t know if it’s a comfortable generality that we’re not hungry. It still grates at me when we finish second. It certainly hurts our players. It’s something that they’re going to want. It’s comfortable to say that it’s this week that we are going to work hard. For coaches, it’s a want to improve at every step. I have to be honest with you. I think those teams that have won it all are most challenged the next year.”

 

On if fans don’t realize how suffocating it can be for players to play under such high expectations…

“I don’t want to identify it. I don’t want to talk about it. You want to allow for growth. You want guys like Patrick Peterson to enjoy getting better. You want guys like Rahim Alem to get on the field wide-eyed and play like he plays. That’s really got to be the focus. The view of air of negativity, I don’t want to define it too well.”

 

On if the seniors haven’t shown as much leadership as they should have…

“If I was very critical there, I would tell you. Well I can’t. I really can’t. Quinn Johnson, Tyson Jackson, the guys who have stepped up like Brett Helms who have played hard and wanted victory. No, I’d like to tell you that was the reason, but it’s not. Our guys are good players. I think we’re working hard. We’re not necessarily as productive as we’ve been.”

 

On why Tyson Jackson and Darry Beckwith have been non-existent the past few games…

“At certain times, it’s the flow of the game. If I was playing against Tyson Jackson, I would give him special consideration. I think it’s the same for Darry Beckwith. I think Darry was nicked early in the year, and there’s some wear and tear on him right now late in the year. We’re trying to spell him a bit more, but he played pretty well in this last game. Maybe his statistics didn’t bare that out to your liking, but in my opinion, he played pretty well in this last game.”

 

On turning it over more this year and not getting as many turnovers…

“I think anytime you turn the ball over like we have and not put pressure on the quarterbacks that we play to give us a similar opportunity. When you’re ahead and without pressure, it’s just a little bit easier to make those throws and those situations to hit the back underneath as opposed to when you’re behind wanting to force the ball down the field and needing a big play. I think that’s indicative of the position we’re in. Hopefully, we get that turned around this weekend.”


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