Miles Addresses Media Prior to Home Opener

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Miles Addresses Media Prior to Home Opener

BATON ROUGE — LSU head coach Les Miles spoke to the media on Monday during his weekly “Lunch with Les” press conference from the fifth floor of the Athletics Administration Building.

Watch the on-demand video of the press conference now.

 

LSU HEAD COACH LES MILES

Opening Statement…
“I don’t want to go by this opportunity. Our team is so indebted to the people that traveled to Vanderbilt. It is so wonderful to go into an away stadium and feel like it is like a home game. I have to thank the very loyal and faithful LSU fans that showed up to that game. That was a wonderful place to play football. But as we all know, that was two on the road, and we are fortunate to have the opportunity to come home and be in Tiger Stadium. I can tell you that our coaching staff, our players, everybody is looking forward to coming into the finest gameday environment that there is — and home.”

“As far as the Vanderbilt game, I challenged our team to play four quarters. I challenged our team to finish. And it appeared to me that on defense, minus two plays or thereabouts — a square end and an option that we overran — that the defense played start to finish. And it appears to me that defensive front is getting better and better. Offensively, I think we started slow and not as well as we could have played, but when it came to the point of the game where we had to finish, certainly they did that as well. The quarterback play, we have to get better at it. I think everybody knows that, certainly our quarterbacks do. I think Jordan Jefferson has run this team and can run this team, and whatever we can do to make him more aggressive playing quarterback for us is what we are going to do. We also like the improvements that Jarrett Lee has made, and certainly he is a very strong consideration, but first I want you to know that I want to see if we can get Jordan on track. I enjoy him and I enjoy his leadership, so we are going to work to that eventuality. I can tell you that Ridley did what he was supposed to do. When you show up in the team room and you are responsible to the team and things don’t quite work out, you take in on the chin and you fight like heck and you get it fixed. And it appeared to me that he ran with a real want and desire and great purpose, and we turned to hand him the ball late in the game and certainly he was a very strong factor in that game and ran well and physical and it is nice to have him back on track.”

“We play a much better football team in a Mississippi State team that is 1-1, and we understand that the challenge is much more significant. It is an SEC western division team and a home game. We recognize that they are going to do a number of things on offense, as they have any number of options. They play two quarterbacks and they have a nice receiving core. Chad Bumphis is a very talented receiver who is explosive and dangerous, and we have to be smart in how we handle him. We recognize that they are very talented on offense. Defensively, they give up about 12 points a game and are a team that is really sticky against the run and can bring it in the pass, and they gave fits to a very talented Auburn offense. They are averaging 12 points and 292 yards-per-game, and it is just a very good defense. Their middle linebacker, number 50 Chris White, is their leading tackler. He is a great college linebacker and I have enjoyed watching him play to this point. So, I am glad to be back in Tiger Stadium, looking forward to the start of the season at home, and looking forward to a very competitive Mississippi State team.”

On struggling to run the ball against Mississippi State last year and the importance of getting good quarterback play this week…
“I think both things, good quarterback play and the ability to run the football, will add to a great offensive plan. Obviously if the running game is clicking, it takes a lot of pressure off the quarterback, and if the quarterback is playing well, then it gives us the opportunity to run the football more, so both things go hand in hand. We recognize that Mississippi State’s defense was very sticky against the run a year ago.”

On wanting QB Jordan Jefferson to be more aggressive…
“Well, we just want him to play, have some fun, smile and maybe do some things that he’s more comfortable with. Maybe it’s simplifying the game plan, or maybe it’s giving him the checks that he’s most comfortable with and really let him have some input on it. We know he can run the team. We know he has leadership ability. We just want to make him most productive. I just think we need to let him play.”

On what point RB Alfred Blue passed Michael Ford on the depth chart…
“It’s one of those things that we think Blue maybe does some things differently better than Ford, but I’m not ready to say that anybody has passed Michael Ford. In fact, he played well in that game, and we’ve enjoyed how he’s come. It’s just that certain calls may favor Blue.”

On what has made the defensive front four so much more disruptive this year as opposed to last year…
“I think that Drake Nevis, first of all, has improved. He’s always played with a great motor. He realizes that this is the back end of a very good career, and he wants to make every game count.  Therefore, his play by play has stepped up. I like Pep Levingston inside. I think the guys that we put in there are really coming to the line of scrimmage and are tough guys. I think the speed at the end really gives some offenses fits, and I think when you look at KeKe (Mingo), Sam Montgomery and Kendrick Adams, those guys can get up the field against anybody, so there is some productivity in that front seven.”

On Mississippi State’s quarterback duo of Chris Relf and Tyler Russell…
“They have a guy who is a runner and a passer, and then, they have a really strong passer. They use the duality to benefit their offense, and it seems to be working.”

On if QB Jarrett Lee has played well enough to warrant game snaps…
“I think Jarrett Lee is really competing, and he has earned the right to play. It’s always viewed as what is the best opportunity to win makes that call. He’s competing. I have no problem putting him in the game, and I look forward to those opportunities. I can only tell you that it is a game feel and not something that we are envisioning at this point.”

On his style of getting on quarterbacks when they struggle…
“You have to coach your quarterbacks at practice. It’s just that simple. It’s something they have to understand. I think our guys are getting that on a daily basis. I think you handle quarterbacks differently on game day. Certainly there is a sense of urgency that they have to have, but I think game day is time for them to show what they’ve got, not necessarily the time to take a hard coaching (lesson). I think each coach handles it in a different way. I think our offensive line coach handles his offensive linemen in a somewhat different way than (Gary) Crowton handles the quarterback, but I think both of them are getting the correction and the need to be better in the right way.”

On if he is doing more situational substitutions on the defensive line and the advantages of that…
“I think there are some similarities in skills, and I don’t know if the situation is as readily evident. We put a bunch of guys in and play well. We put a big group in that we think is very, very good against the run. We put a speed group in that we think is good against the pass. I have to be honest with you; there are so many interchangeable parts, you really can just fit it together because our ends our fast, and our bigger guys, they’re fast too. It’s a very interesting scenario. As much as anything, the ability to rest and freshen those guys is as important as anything. Obviously the big guys might be Chancey Aghayere and Lavar Edwards at ends, and Michael Brockers and Drake Nevis would certainly also be a big inside. I think at times you can find that those guys play in interchangeable ways. It’s not necessarily just the big group in.”

On the young running backs in the SEC…
“The running back spot is a place where a young player can play. If they understand and have the skill and ability to play in a physical game and understand ball security and have the ball skills in terms of the ability to catch it, if they are an elusive or physical runner, both those styles of guys can play. In the same vein, you have to make sure that the freshman understands the scheme. I think the two guys that we are playing significantly – Spencer Ware and Alfred Blue – are guys that really have similarities to the guys I’m talking about, guys that can step onto the field and play in very competitive games. Now, as I say that, there is always a timeframe where they have to shake out those first-game jitters and they have to get comfortable on the field, and that happens, to me, with every young player no matter how talented they are.”

On Jordan Jefferson playing “comfortably” and Jefferson running the option…
“More aggressive, not necessarily more comfortable. I just want him to play and have some fun. I don’t know that, that is necessarily comfortable. I have not seen that (Jefferson’s discomfort with the option), so that observation that you make is not necessarily born out in vision. The 26-yard loss on the pitch that was mishandled by the back, if you look that, that was handled extremely well by Jordan Jefferson and was going to go down the boundary. It could well have been as significant a play as their option, so we are going to stay with that. It’s an opportunity to affect the defense and make them line up with width, and we enjoy it. We think Jordan Jefferson does have the ability to run the option. I think it gives him the opportunity to play aggressively.”

On the return of LB Ryan Baker from injury…
“There’s a guy who healed quickly from a broken jaw and is so glad to be back and played extremely well. It’s an amazing thing to me. You have a veteran, and you work a bunch of young guys, and when that veteran comes back, you realize what veteran means because he just understands instinctively where he is supposed to be and the things he is supposed to do. Not that he played perfect, but he stepped onto the field with real advantages on the defense. With Stefoin Francois, Kelvin Sheppard and him, that’s a pretty good linebacking crew.”

On opening the home part of the schedule…
“First of all, it’s home. It’s friends and family and people that you care about with you at the game. I think friends and family, first and foremost, is one of the fun things that I look forward to when I get done at the end of the day. When you take the field at Tiger Stadium, there is no place like it. It’s fundamental to the experience our players have and our coaches have. It’s the best. The people, passion and the atmosphere, the intimate nature of the fan, knowing the players, it’s wonderful.”  

On if he has any regrets not putting Ryan Baker or Sam Montgomery into the starting lineup last year considering how well they’ve played thus far…
“Sam was redshirted, and he’ll have the opportunity to play the next four (years). I don’t know that we were ready to say that he was going to be one of the best that we had. I think that guys who start young mature sometimes at different rates than some of the other guys. A guy like Sam Montgomery steps forward and gets better faster than some of the veterans that were at the position and understood and certainly were at the position longer. I don’t think we sat there and said he was going to be the starter next year. I think he earned it with his play in the spring and how he’s really approached football. Certain young guys expect to be young. They expect to be freshmen, and they expect to have time to learn. When Sam Montgomery had the opportunity to be coached, he really took it to heart and worked awfully hard at it. I think Baker was always in the position where he was counted on to play and really was learning the position and not far away from being a starter in any way.”

On how Drake Nevis has improved over the years…
“It’s a great lesson to a coach. When you watch a young man who takes it sincerely and works hard on a daily basis to improve, the factor of improvement, not just play, ‘I’m returning,’ as opposed to, ‘No, I’m coming back to play my best year.’ There’s really a difference.  Some guys you look back and say, ‘Oh, yeah, he just played. He was just a part of the team,’ or, ‘He had the best year that he was capable of having.’ I think that those guys who have that motivation, they continue to get better and better, really without regard of the year. In their fifth year, for instance – now, Drake played as a freshman – but in his fifth year, he’ll play better yet. To me, his approach is what is making him a better player and the opportunity to improve and learn, he does it every day at practice.”

On if Stevan Ridley‘s performance was redemption for his fumbles against North Carolina…
“I don’t know if redemption is the word. We really count on our tailbacks to perform like Stevan Ridley. The idea that it was Stevan Ridley was good. We expect him or that guy that would carry the ball for us to have days like he had, and we were pleased that it was Stevan Ridley based on the day that he had to start the season. I think he’s looking forward to putting together a string of quality games together, and he’s due. He’s a good person. He worked hard at it, and it bothered him. I’m glad that things are going in the right direction, and they need to stay that way.”

On RB Richard Murphy‘s status going into this week…
“I know that he’s a little nicked. I think he’ll be with us. I don’t think that we’ll miss him.”

On LSU’s history of success when the team rushes for over 100 yards…
“I don’t know if getting to the 100-yard mark is necessarily the issue. I think always being able to run the football makes a difference. The idea that you are not predictable, that you can run the football in any down and distance or in most down and distances and that defense now then has to question whether to load the box or play coverage. Yes, when we are running the football, we all know it. We understand that, that is a great indication of victory.”

On if he expects to have TE Deangelo Peterson back this week and T-Bob Hebert and Josh Williford rotating at right guard…
“I hope Deangelo Peterson is with it. I know that he is doing much better. I know that he’ll run today or thereabouts. I don’t know the likelihood that he’ll be with us this Saturday. T-Bob and Josh Williford played well in that game, and we need both to play well. Both will be counted on to give us snaps as we go forward, both at guard and at center. I think both guys performed well, and both guys are going to play a lot of football.”

On Mississippi State being the best team they will play thus far…
“I agree. I think they are better on defense. They are better on offense. We will look forward to playing better against them.”

On Patrick Peterson on special teams against Mississippi State…
“We were a block away from hitting a big one on a kick-off return, and I think we changed up some personnel in the punt return, and I think we didn’t give him the opportunity to get loose like he had in the past. He’s still getting comfortable back there as well, but I think he’ll be fine, and I think he’ll do great. We need to make some adjustments and see if we can get him back on track. We felt like that day really provided him with no hydration issues.”

On if they are making a concerted effort to get both Tyrann Mathieu and Morris Claiborne playing time early in games…
“I think we are fortunate to have several guys that can play the corners. Tyrann Mathieu is earning those reps, and the ability to keep people fresh in the secondary is also important. I think you’ll find that he’s a very physical player, so the opportunity to get a physical player on the field in any number of situations is something that we’re looking to do.”

On playing with pro-style formations with the quarterback under center…
“I think it’s always been us. It’s something that we have, and I think you’ll find that it will play significant roles in some games and not so significant roles in other games. It’s really based on what we do best versus the opponent, but we like that. We enjoy two backs, and we enjoy the fact that we can put a fullback in front of that ball carrier.”

On what RBs Alfred Blue and Michael Ford do well…
Michael Ford ran extremely hard in that game, and his cuts, his ability to make people miss, in my opinion, is one of his real strengths. I think Blue also has great vision and is a very deceptive runner, but when he hits the hole at 6-foot-2 and some significant weight may hit it a little bit harder. Both have really good ball skills, and both are guys that can catch it out of the backfield. I’m not certain at this time that we will be looking to replace Murphy (due to injury) in any way, but I think both of those guys have the ability to do that.”

On an overall evaluation of the team’s injuries…
Karnell Hatcher played in the last game. Deangelo is going to return. We had Ryan Baker return. Richard Murphy, in my opinion, is going to play on Saturday. I think we are pretty healthy. I would have to say that Deangelo Peterson and Ryan Baker, two starters that were out, they’re back, or it appears that they are very soon to getting back with Deangelo. We are going to miss Will Blackwell, but we need to continue to build depth with the Williford-T-Bob scenario. If we do that, we should be pretty good there as well. I don’t think our health will be an issue going into the season-opener. We just need to improve, and our football team understands that. They look forward to the opportunity to do that and did so, in my opinion, in this morning’s meeting. We are looking forward to playing better at home.”

On if there has been a sense of urgency with the Will Blackwell injury to get the backup offensive linemen ready…
“The guys that are in position are getting some snaps, and that’s good news. If you watched our young tackles, both Chris Faulk and Greg Shaw got onto the field and played significant football in the last game, and well, they should have. We took Alex Hurst and Joe Barksdale out and let some of that depth develop. That’s always something that we go through on a yearly basis, and lord willing, we’ll avoid any significant injury from this point forward.”

Player Interviews
Sept. 13, 2010

DT Drake Nevis

On why he and the defensive line production the first two games has improved since last season…
“It’s the same scheme. It’s all about feeling comfortable and being in the right spot at the right time. It’s about having discipline.  We want to be productive, and as a defensive lineman, one thing you dream of is having sacks. Sacking the quarterbacks is going along with what the coaches are telling us. We’ve been in the right position at the right time and it is an honor to have the sacks that we have.”

On the depth of the defensive line…
“I’m pretty comfortable with it. Depth is something that is good for the team. The coaches do a good job of setting the rotation. In 2007 I was third string and I came in whenever I was called on, and the guys said they appreciated when I would come in to give them a blow. I like the rotation. The coaches are doing a good job of keeping our bodies fresh.”

On the play of his defensive ends…
“They’re coming along. They’re coming to practice every day trying to get better. It takes a lot of pressure away from the inside, and as a unit I feel that we are growing closer.”

CB Patrick Peterson

On coming home to play in Tiger Stadium after two road games…
“We haven’t been here in a long time. It’s going to be fun to get back in front of the crowd, throw the ball around the yard a little bit and maybe force a couple of turnovers. We want the crowd in the game. Its’ going to be fun to get back home, make some plays and hopefully win the game on Saturday. Everybody’s enjoying where the season is right now. We’re doing things we need to win games and getting home at our current position is an accomplishment after the two road games we just played.”

On the impact Drake Nevis has had on the defense…
“Drake has started creating double teams. A lot of other guys are going to have to open up a bit and make plays to replace him. Drake has done a lot for this defense as a unit. On the back end, we’re having the quarterback holding onto the ball a little longer. He is doing a tremendous job in these first two games and I can’t wait to see what his stats will be at the end of the season.”

RB Stevan Ridley

On his big game against Vanderbilt …
“I definitely felt I needed to come out and have a big game. Last week (North Carolina) was not me at all. I know that my performance wasn’t the greatest and this week I really just came in and focused on holding onto the football. There is no secret about it. Last week if I would’ve held onto the football I would have had a pretty good outing. The offensive line is working hard for me. They’re doing some big things up front and I’m just running the football. As long as I can keep the ball to myself and not drop, I think we’ll be ok.”

WR Russell Shepard

On the success of the running game against Vanderbilt…
“We ran the ball. I think we had 50 attempts in the running game. Stevan Ridley had a career night. I had a long run. Alfred Blue was able to show that he is able to step in and be that back that we need in certain situations.”

On Jefferson’s leadership…
“The one trait that Jordan possesses that great quarterbacks have is that he is a mild mannered person. He doesn’t get to hot or too cold no matter the situation. He is very vocal in the locker room and in practice. If a receiver drops the ball, he’s like ‘come one man.’ Amongst his peers he is a vocal leader and someone we look up to.”

On his explosiveness…
“I think I can score every time I touch the ball. I feel like if I didn’t feel like that something would be wrong. (Stevan) Ridley thinks like that and (Patrick) Peterson feels the same way. I feel like when I touch the ball I need to help this team. I owe this to the team to make something happen.”