Miles, Tigers Expecting Bulldogs' Best

by LSUsports.net (@LSUsports)
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Miles, Tigers Expecting Bulldogs' Best

BATON ROUGE — Les Miles and the rest of his LSU football team aren’t putting much stock in Mississippi State’s lopsided loss to Georgia Tech last week. Instead, the Tigers are preparing for the Mississippi State team that battled top 10-ranked Auburn to the very end in a 3-2 loss to the Tigers two weeks ago. 

LSU continued its preparations for Saturday’s Southeastern Conference home opener against the Bulldogs with another productive workout here at the Charles McClendon Practice Facility.

“I liked practice,” Miles said following Wednesday’s workout. “I think the team’s attitude is right. I think they understand they’re playing a very quality opponent in Mississippi State.

“We all understand that Mississippi State can be a very dangerous team and we know they’re getting better. There is a respect for Mississippi State that has nothing to do with some of the teams that they’ve already played. We anticipate that we’ll get Mississippi State’s best shot.”

Last year, LSU opened its national championship season with a 45-0 win over Mississippi State in Starkville in a game that saw the Tigers intercept six Bulldog passes and force another fumble. LSU scored 38 of its 45 points off of Mississippi State turnovers in that season-opening win.

This year, LSU goes into the game with a 3-0 overall mark and a 1-0 league record after last week’s thrilling 26-21 road win over ninth-ranked Auburn. Mississippi State is 1-3 overall and 0-1 in conference action. The Bulldogs have road losses to Louisiana Tech and Georgia Tech, while splitting at home with Southeastern Louisiana and Auburn.

Miles said that quarterback Andrew Hatch didn’t take any practice snaps on Wednesday but is expected to see some action on Thursday. Hatch missed most of the second half against Auburn after getting “nicked” midway through the third quarter.

“(Andrew Hatch) took some throws early on in the week and we decided to cool him down and rest him and not practice him today,” Miles said of the sophomore quarterback. “The good news is that he’s rounding into health. I expect him to play Saturday.”

Hatch has started all three games at quarterback for the Tigers. Quarterback Jarrett Lee came off the bench and rallied LSU to the 26-21 win over Auburn last Saturday. Miles said Lee is having another good week of practice.

“He’s (Lee) had a good week of practice,” Miles said. “It’s not really different, to be honest with you. We’ve seen him be like this before.”

LSU is expected to play both quarterbacks against Mississippi State.

The Tigers will practice again on Thursday followed by a walk-through on Friday afternoon. Kickoff for Saturday’s contest is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in Tiger Stadium. The game will be televised to a national audience by ESPN2.

The game will also serve as the annual Gold Game for LSU and fans are encouraged to wear gold shirts to the contest.

Wednesday Practice Press Conference
September 24, 2008

LSU HEAD COACH LES MILES

Opening Statement…
“I liked practice. I think the team’s attitude is right. I think they understand they’re playing a very quality opponent. We all understand that Mississippi State can be a very dangerous team. We know they’re getting better. I think practice was good today.

“I know you guys are interested in the quarterbacks. (QB Andrew) hatch didn’t take any practice snaps. He’ll probably take some practice snaps and be ready to go tomorrow.  He’s rounding into shape and rounding into health. That’s good news.

“We’re looking forward to playing. It’s still Wednesday, so we’re not so sharp that I’m willing to give up working for the week. Thursday will be an important practice and certainly we have to follow our regiment, but I like where we’re at.”

On if QB Andrew hatch practiced at all this week…
“He took some throws early on in the week and we decided to cool him down and rest him and not practice him today. I expect him to play Saturday.”

On what the veterans have told the younger players to keep them focused after the big win at Auburn…
“I don’t know that there have been any older guys that have pressed to make an example of coming off a big game. I believe the example is made every day we go to practice. Hopefully, that’s enough. I don’t know that there’s been a guy that’s gone out of his way to do that. We got that last game and we’re fully focused on Mississippi State.”

On if the defensive line is playing at the level he would like to see…
“I am very happy that (DT) Charles Alexander played as much as he did against Auburn and is ready to play some significant snaps. I like the way our defensive line is coming, I really do. (DT) Drake Nevis practices so hard and those ends are playing awfully well; Rahim Alem, (Kirston) Pittman and (Tyson) Jackson are playing very well. I like where this line is at, but every week is an issue. And the issue is will they come to play and are they going to be dominant against the team they play. It’s a weekly challenge and it’s something that this defensive line takes seriously.”

On if QB Jordan Jefferson has seen more first-team snaps with Andrew Hatch out of practice and if he envisions a bigger role for him against Mississippi State…
“Jordan’s been taking first-team snaps since he’s been here in preparation for some things he might do when he plays in a game. He’s taking more first-team snaps now. I envision him getting on the field in the heat of the game.”

On the status of LB Darry Beckwith
“He’s getting better. I think he’s out for this game, but we look forward to him as we go forward.”

On if any of the younger players have told him if they noticed a difference playing in their first SEC game…
“It’s night and day. I don’t think that there’s any question that the level of intensity is raised and everybody understands that the significance of the play is much more important considering that it is in conference. I like the way our young guys played. They anticipated it and played right with it.”

On how the defensive backs played against Auburn…
“There were some mistakes made. Those things are being worked to be corrected. I think they’ll play better.”

On which Mississippi State team he thinks will show up on Saturday after a close game against Auburn and a blowout loss to Georgia Tech…
“Well, the Georgia Tech team is a totally different animal. They’re running wishbone reads, and it’s four yards and play action and it’s a completely different game. We anticipate that we’ll get Mississippi State’s best shot.”

On if it’s easier to prepare a team for an opponent they don’t know as to a team they beat consistently year after year…
“Well, if you look at last year, our defense got seven turnovers with six interceptions. Our offense had a game with one of its fewest yards gained and didn’t play very well, in my opinion. 38 points came off turnovers. In my opinion, the defense has to play better than they played and the offense has got to be better than they were the last time they played this team. I think there is a respect for Mississippi State that has nothing to do with some of the teams that they’ve already played.”

On if he’s seen any changes in QB Jarrett Lee‘s play this week…
“He’s had a good week of practice. It’s not really different, to be honest with you. We’ve seen him be like this before.”

On if, with the new clock rule, he finds himself wishing he would have had more plays to work with…
“I don’t think there’s any question that that is true. I see some other teams get 80 plays and I wonder how they’re getting them. They weren’t no-huddle, they were routine and I wonder how that happens. I just haven’t seen it. There’s much less time to determine who the best team is.”

On how he feels his offense matches up against Mississippi State’s defense…
“I think the matchup is an offense that will give any defense trouble. We can throw it and run it and have a big, powerful offensive line. I think Mississippi State’s front is certainly big and strong and would be pretty much like any SEC defensive front. I think the match up is good, but I think it’s good every week.”

On the status of DB Danny McCray
“He’s practicing and I think he’ll play. He’s getting better and healthier each week.”