More involved with the defense

Wednesday wrapped up the fourth day of the Tigers' preparation for Georgia Tech and thus far Les Miles is pleased with his team's progress.

“The awareness of the option is getting better,” Miles said after practice on Wednesday. “I like our defensive practice. I think the speed of practice is starting to come. We wore them pretty good today, and the speed and tempo of the practice is kind of what we expect. We’re getting better and working at it and enjoying our preparation.”


As for the team’s approach to defending the triple option, Miles started the week having the defense go through much of practice without using a ball to ensure players are focused primarily on their assignments. As the players become more comfortable with the game plan, a ball is inserted into drills more and more.


“We’re using a ball to simulate snaps,” he said. “The quarterback has the ball at times. There are pieces of the drill where he has the ball. It’s really interesting. You have to be really disciplined. You have to understand the calls and understand what your responsibilities are. We’re certainly not there now, but we sure are a lot farther ahead than we were a few days ago.”

One of the keys to stopping the triple option will be getting solid, disciplined play out of middle linebacker Darry Beckwith. Beckwith injured his knee early in the season and was never really the same after. Miles thinks Beckwith’s drop off in play was a result of him not getting back to full health.


“That guy is a competitive man,” Miles said of Beckwith. “He’s a guy that had a dislocated shoulder, and they popped it back in and he played the rest of the game. He understands playing with a little bit of pain. I don’t think he was 100 percent when he came. He said, we thought, but he wasn’t. He did not play like he was capable. I think he’s playing much more like he’s capable now than he has in a while.”


Beckwith will be getting assistance in the game from his fellow linebackers Perry Riley and Kelvin Sheppard. Miles is pleased overall with the progression of the two first-year starters.


“I think for young guys, playing their first significant ball, for the year they’ve really come,” he said. “Both guys have certainly matured and understand their position better. Both have plenty of athletic ability to play well. I like how they’ve come.”


With their fourth day of practice completed, Miles laid out the rest of the schedule up until the team arrives in Atlanta later this month.


“We got a good workout in on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday,” Miles said. “We’ll probably bring it down a little bit tomorrow and get their legs back. Hit hard through the weekend and culminate with a scrimmage situation on Monday morning. They will be given the afternoon of the 22nd, 23rd, 24th, and 25th off, and we’ll meet up in Atlanta and practice on the 26th.”


As for the coaching situation, Miles says both Bradley Dale Peveto and Doug Mallory have recently interviewed with other schools.


“We had a coach interview for a coaching job today, Peveto,” Miles said. “We wish him the best. Coach Mallory also visited with New Mexico. One of which is a great friend of Coach Mallory’s and one of which is an opportunity for a head coaching job, and I can’t say no to either of those things. We have good coaches, our coaches are sought after. That happens.”


With Peveto missing today’s practice, Miles was forced to step in along with a grad assistant to run the linebacker drills. But he has been taking a more active role in the defensive practices all week.


“I have some option experience, so I’ve been over there (on the defensive side),” Miles said. “I don’t know that I’ve been tremendously helpful, but I’m making sure there’s attention to detail and certain aspects of the defensive game plan.”


Miles noted that there is nothing new to report with either Peveto or Mallory at this time, and both will coach the bowl game regardless of any coaching changes that are made. He also noted that no other coaches have notified him of any interest for looking into other jobs.

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