Miles Addresses Media Prior to Auburn Game

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Miles Addresses Media Prior to Auburn Game

BATON ROUGE — Coming off consecutive home victories to open the 2008 season, LSU head coach Les Miles looked forward to the Tigers’ Southestern Conference road opener on Saturday against Auburn. The game will be televised by ESPN with a 6:45 p.m. kickoff.

Check back for details.

Les Miles Press Luncheon
September 15, 2008

LSU Head Coach Les Miles

Opening statement…

“Good afternoon. It’s nice to have a normal game week. I enjoy the time not watching the Weather Channel to find out how things are going to go. Obviously, Trindon Holliday had a wonderful game last week. He had 92-yard touchdown punt return, and I think his total yardage was 163. I think that’s the highest total in the SEC since 1983. I think he’s tied for second for the longest return, and I think he’s also second at LSU for a game total in punt returns. He’s also the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week. He is certainly deserving, but more importantly, he’s worked awfully hard at returning these punts, something that he’s wanted to master, and he’s much more comfortable and really fielded some very difficult punts on Saturday. We look forward to allowing that to continue and getting him some more punt returns.

“I looked at the film. It was important to me that I saw progress. I asked my team if we could get five quarters out of four quarters. That’s what we’d like to do, and I think we really did accomplish a lot. Our quarterbacks had to manage different situations like the two-minute (drill). It certainly was not perfect with the mistakes that were made that we’ll need to get corrected like Hatch’s interception. I told him this morning, ?The good news is you tried to make that play, and that’s not a play you can make.’ When you recognize that you’re trying to make a play you can’t, you need to throw it out of bounds, but again, I think that’s all with a little bit of time. I’m really pleased with the development of the two quarterbacks that we plan to play a lot. Again, the running backs played well in that game. Scott, obviously had another 100-yard day, and it appears to me that he’s really preparing himself to have a great year, but I like Murphy, and I like Keiland Williams and Ridley. I think you’ll find there will be some time for those guys to go in, take some snaps and keep those guys fresh.

“I felt like the defense played awfully hard. The key, and we asked them to do this, was to play with great intensity for four quarters, and I think they did. There’s a piece of this upcoming game where a no huddle offense really tests your on-the-field communications, and I think we’re better against a team that’s more up tempo, and it requires us to communicate more effectively and efficiently. I think this will be, again, a good change from the tempo of last week.

“I really think that with what was going on in the perimeter and the backdrop of this game that the people of this state that turned out and watched this game, and I mean this very honestly, great thanks. You had to go by a lot of personal issues, in my opinion, to find time to see that game, and I know your team certainly appreciated. Certainly, we did as well. It was definitely Saturday night in Tiger Stadium, and it was a wonderful event.

“The Southeastern Conference play for the Tigers starts this week, and certainly playing at Jordan-Hare Stadium and having been there one time before this, I can tell you our guys are looking forward to one of the great venues in college football. I think the game day atmosphere is tremendous, not unlike other conference sites, but it’s going to be fun, and I look forward to taking my team down there. Auburn is 3-0 and coming off a big win against Mississippi State. Mississippi State was a bowl team a year ago and a very talented team and figures to be the same style of team this year. They held a very talented offense to about 116 yards or some ridiculous amount of yardage, so again, what has been a strength through time for Auburn is their defense. It is also a strength of theirs. They are very physical, very fast to the ball, play a quality scheme and play zone and man. We would expect them to be very challenging to us on Saturday.

“They play two quarterbacks. Chris Todd, the lefty, throws the ball really well and in my opinion, manages the game well for them. They bring in another guy who can also throw it but primarily is a very talented running quarterback, so a dual-threat there and certainly something we’re going to have to be aware of and play accordingly.

“That defense is third in the league, so when you line up against them, there’s where the real challenge is going to be. Obviously, we’re going to have to match our big guys with their big guys up front. Then, in my opinion, we need to slow those quarterbacks and those running backs down on the offensive side. That’s going to be the challenge anytime you play Auburn. I can tell you this, our football team understands that this is just one game. It just counts as one, but we’re going to look forward to preparing. We’re looking forward to getting on the road as a group and playing well at Jordan-Hare Stadium.”

On how important it will be for the LSU offense to keep the Auburn defense on the field …
“I think we will be balanced in both sides of our game. Our football team is best when we can do both and that’s certainly what we are going to do. It’s a great defense, very talented scheme. We are going to be tested very significantly. We feel like we will be up to that challenge.”

On the Auburn game vs. Miss State …
“I think just listening to coach Tuberville he feels pretty comfortable after he got three points. He felt that Miss State would not have an opportunity to score again. So I think he probably held down some of the options he had. He really prepared to use the clock of the game and take victory.”

On the rotation plan of the defense …
“We have a package that we like certain players in. Fatigue defiantly has an effect when we rotate. I think you will find that the rotation will change based on performance in the game. Guys that you see playing well will of course get more time on the field. We enjoy the opportunity to play a number of guys and we feel our team gets better playing many guys. We look forward to this again when we play on Saturday.”

On Jacob Cutrera stepping in for Darry Beckwith
“I think Jacob Cutrera is a veteran player. I don’t think there will be any real issue with him stepping in to communicate with the defense. I think he has earned the respect of this team and I don’t think there will be a problem with them joining to make calls. I will certainly miss Darry till we get him back.  But, our guys will save him a spot. Certainly I think Jacob will do a great job in his absence.”

On the wisdom he passes on to the quarterbacks about staying calm…
“You can always equate a big game in your past with the environment you are walking into [at Auburn]. I just tell them to enjoy taking our team on the road and look forward to competing. That is the feel I give them.”

On if it is a low scoring game, the importance of punting…
“Anytime you are in a key contest, special teams are very important. I think a week ago we punted two or three inside the 20 yard mark. We had one punt that went 46 yards without a return. We punted efficiently, but I think we can be better than we were last Saturday. That will be the push this week.”

On if facing two quarterbacks gives LSU an advantage…
“I think that the advantage is that we have seen spreads like this one. It is not exactly like us though. They do different things. They are more talented in different places and there are different ways that they use the formation, but I think the advantages are that we have lined up in the formation since two a days against our own team. There will be some comfort in the defensive call.”

On the importance of the Auburn game for LSU…
“Any time you play a Western Division opponent it has very significant consequence. Then again, we approach it with the idea that it will be fun to prepare and its definitely an important game. Honestly though, it only counts as one. Certainly we will approach it will every effort. Again, I think we will enjoy going on the road and playing, but it just counts one.”

On if Byrd will be limited in practice this week…
“We talked about him this morning, and I don’t think he’ll be limited much. Obviously, today is a very short practice anyway, and we’re not going to do a lot, but he’ll be back and get every rep starting Tuesday.”

On if the quarterbacks concern him with each possession being potentially so vital…
“I think efficiency is the whole issue and the want to be able to pick up third downs, which we did pretty effectively a week ago. The comfort of call for those quarterbacks and understanding what we want to get accomplished and then, having the ability to run the football always puts you in a situation with a manageable third down. Whether we throw it on first down or run it on first, we feel like we should be in a manageable third down.”

On if he is expecting a similar outcome to the last two Auburn games…
“I think it’s going to be awfully competitive. My expectations are that we will have to play our best game to date, and it will be a great test.”

On Chris Mitchell’s performance against North Texas…
“His development has really come on. He’s very competitive. He has great ball skills and is very effective run after catch. He’s a guy that maybe deserves to be on the field third and certainly in any four-wide list that we would put out there. I enjoy where he’s coming, and he’s right on time as far as we’re concerned. We look forward to getting him on the field.”

On his interaction with Director of Athletics Joe Alleva…
“I promise you, the storm is much more difficult to deal with than the new athletics director. He’s opened a lot of communications. What you see is what you get, and to me, he is very helpful. I expect that I’ll enjoy working for him for quite some time.”

On Auburn’s schemes…
“They look very similar to be honest with you. I think Coach Tuberville said that he has an impact on the defensive scheme.
There are maybe little differences from last year, but I think they’re still very much a 4-3 and play a little low key. They’ll play man and zone, which they did in the past.”

On Quinn Johnson and his touchdown…
“It’s nice to have a big, punishing, physical fullback, and Quinn is that. He’s probably 260 plus (pounds). He has the ability to run the football and certainly will block for you, and when you get in a game like this, it’s nice to have those kinds of players.”

On the fact that the LSU-Auburn game at Jordan-Hare Stadium is always early in the season…
“I don’t know quite how that’s come about. I suspect it’s just the variance that’s not explainable other than it’s the schedule.”

On the LSU-Auburn officiating over the years…
“Frankly, we just look forward to playing. We’re not putting any presumption, and we’re not expecting. We just want to go play hard, and we expect we’ll be dealt with very fairly.”

On if he bought a copy of Tony Franklin’s DVD on the spread offense…
“Do you have an extra copy? He is more significantly at Auburn because that’s where the personnel is. Tony does a great job coordinating. It’s my opinion that it’s all based on the personnel you have and the best clue, in my opinion, to how they play is the film.”

On not tipping his hand with Jordan Jefferson
“I always tip my hand. That really has no interplay in that call. We wanted to get him some snaps and prepare him for the future. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jordan Jefferson played in this game to be very frank with you. I don’t know what the parallel is there. Only thing I can tell you is that I was only reading what he (Tuberville) said, and I know that the other quarterback apparently could have played, and he didn’t. I don’t know if I’m really giving you any information. What is perception?”

“I want our offense to go down there and play like we’re capable, period. I don’t want to compare it with theirs. I want them to compete against their defense, and I want our defense to see and prepare for Auburn’s offense, and that’s really the matchup I’m looking at. I can tell you this, Mississippi State has a very fine defense. Both teams deserved a hard-fought defensive battle.”

On if the two teams are mirror images of one another…
“I don’t necessarily know that’s something I see. I can only tell you that I look at it from our venue and what we want to do and our team’s needs.”

On the flexibility of his game plan…
“We have the ability to do those things. It’s not like it’s all scripted and preordained. What we’re trying to do is get a feel for what is working or who might have the hot hand or the style of play that might feature one back or the other. The key piece to that is that the backs that you hand the ball off to are fresh and ready to play in a very physical game. I think more often than not, it benefits Scott. It benefits all of our players and certainly, benefits our game plan. If you get into the fourth quarter and you hand the ball to a back that’s in shape and fresh and ready to run hard, it might well be Scott, and that’s the advantage. Certain things punish defenses differently. Bludgeoning the ball up the middle or a physical back also wears a defense down when a defense has to run side by side or he has to make a defense miss. It’s kind of like a pitcher. If he’s just a fastball pitcher, and you’re ready to hit that, you time that sucker up pretty good. If it’s a curve ball, knuckleball and fastball pitcher, I think it’s difficult to deal with, and I think that speaks to wearing a defense down as the game goes on as well.”

On if he is aware of where players are on the field so he doesn’t sustain an injury like Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis…
“I have to plead guilty that I did not see it and wondered what happen. When I saw it, I was so humbled that it could happen to any coach in America. I hope I have a sixth sense or a manager will tug on my belt and get me the heck out of the way.”

On the improvement he’s seen in Charles Scott
“I think he is seeing the cuts a little bit better. I think he’s had the kind of summer where he is really pointed to having this kind of fall. I think there’s a mental approach and an awareness that is benefitting him. I don’t know if he’s much stronger or much faster than he’s been, but I think he’s trained himself to expect to see things, and it’s working out for him.”

On reiterating post-touchdown etiquette…
“We had a team conversation that involved that example (BYU-Washington game). Trindon (Holliday) was wonderful to remember it in my opinion. He put it on the ground at first, but he said, ?Nope, I’m going to hand it to the official,’ and he went to find it. In any event, I want to make sure he gets it in the end zone.”

On his laid back mentality lately…
“There’s no change in me. I can hardly wait for the game. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I do approach game significance and call them that, but it only counts one. It’s still a lot of fun to prepare for. If you love a competitive environment and if you like taking to the field and seeing what you got, then you’ll love big games. I have enjoyed them in the past and will continue to.”