Miles Addresses Media Prior to South Carolina Game

LSU head coach Les Miles
LSU head coach Les Miles
Chris Parent (@chrisparent)
Todd Politz (@tpolitz)
Todd Politz (@tpolitz)
Director of Digital Media

BATON ROUGE -- For the first time since the last week of the 2009 regular season, LSU football head coach Les Miles addressed the media at his weekly "Lunch with Les" press conference following a loss.

Miles, 80-19 in his eighth season at LSU, recapped his team's 14-6 loss at then-No. 10 Florida on Saturday and previewed this weekend's contest against No. 3 South Carolina.

Kickoff between LSU (5-1, 1-1 SEC) and South Carolina (6-0, 4-0 SEC) is set for 7 p.m. CT on ESPN.

Watch video of the press conference here.


Opening statement ...

"Our football team is certainly stunned a little about the outcome. I think that is right. I think that they are looking forward to playing in Tiger Stadium. I think that they are looking forward to playing well in front of their friends and family in Tiger Stadium. We are going to play a very good football team. I want Tiger Stadium to be a loud and very difficult place to play for our opponent. Our football team is going through some changes. We need to play better in a number of ways. It is not an effort thing. I enjoyed my team's effort. We have to play smarter and with a wisdom that allows us to use the advantages that we were given in that game. In our view we have to run it and throw it better. The combination of the two is what makes it so difficult for us to be defended. If they have to supply extra men to the field or if they have to move guys to the perimeter, then obviously it makes that running game easier to dial up. That is exactly what we are about in our point to improve this week.

"Certainly we had some new guys in different spots. We're playing some young players. That is no excuse. We enjoy the fact that there are some young guys being trained and playing key football early in this season so that we can be the best later in the season. We have to get guys like Spencer Ware more touches on offense. He is a guy that in my opinion is a pretty dangerous weapon and someone that we have to use more frequently. I thought the defense played a tremendous game and gave us every opportunity at victory. We're not a team that puts our defense on the field for as long as we put them on the field in that game. That is what we did. We have to execute better just in the fact that we are going to have a great defense. With them on the field stopping most offense that we play, we need to control the ball more on the offensive side of the game.

"Kevin Minter had a great game and a career number of tackles. He had two sacks, 20 tackles and one forced fumble. He was the SEC Player of the Week. If he had not missed a series or two, he might have set an LSU record for most tackles. I thought the defensive line got the quarterback. I thought that they made plays and gave us every opportunity at victory. Offense came out and again went down the field on the first drive. Frankly, if we had gotten down there, I wish we would have dialed up some different plays just before the half when we got the ball on the seven yard line. I certainly think that we could have picked some better things. By strategy, you put us in a position to throw the ball, and even down there if we can show balance and the ability to throw it, it doesn't allow them to sit on our run. We went to the pass twice in that series that if I could recall it, I would have done different.

"South Carolina is a tremendous team. They have a good defense to go with a quality offense. They have a mobile quarterback. They have a very good running back in Marcus Lattimore. Again, they are a very quality team and it is going to take a great effort from us to play well. We look forward to playing in Tiger Stadium. I think that you will find that our team will play their best in Tiger Stadium. It is an interesting thing too because for the first time in a year and a half we are talking about a regular season loss, and it is miserable for us. Our football team is not enjoying it and certainly our coaching staff as well. I can't imagine you are as well."

On the predictability of plays ...
"We certainly understand self-scouting and recognize it. The interesting piece is we are a predictable bunch - we're going to run it or we're going to pass. We run things that I think are specifically different and give different choices for the defense. If they're heavy in the box, then certainly we like throwing it. If they're a team that's backed off, then we like running it. I think there's a pretty constant theme there, but I think that's throughout college football. I think that when we're in certain sets we are predictable. All that predictability doesn't allow them to defend us any differently. We're putting some new guys on the field, and I really think that given some time, we'll be a pretty strong defense and offense as we get going."

On quarterback Zach Mettenberger ...
"Ideally, you'd like to have that quarterback in the game that gives a great advantage with him in the game and the ball in his hand as he dispenses it in the pass as well. We really think Zach (Mettenberger) is that guy. We're not so prone to discard him for a mobile quarterback. We just need to make sure we get the ball to the guy that has it coming, who by strategy the defense has left not as well covered. We need to catch it and advance the ball. If we do those things, we'll be fine."

On coaching ...
"In the coaching, we're all doing the same things we've done for the last couple of years.  There's no reason to change responsibilities in my mind."

On the offense ...
"I don't think we've gotten there yet. I'm not ready to say that we're not going to be a really good football team here in the future. It's just that we need to do the things that we can do and do them extremely well. We need to execute them at a high level and make our opponents deal with it. It's about us and about what we want to do, not necessarily about our opponent."

On the slow development of the team ...
"I don't think there's an easy answer there. I have to tell you that I don't have the flexibility to speculate about this or that, or if this guy was here or that guy was here. The flexibility that I have is to have the team that I have coached as best as I can. To sit on the sidelines and speculate about why this or that happened doesn't necessarily benefit me when I know the answers. So what we're about to do is just continue to work on efficiency, executing and doing the right things. We're setting out to fix them. That's certainly what we're about."

On linebackers ...
"The good news is Luke (Muncie) is back. Kwon (Alexander) will probably be gone for the remainder of the regular season. He may make it back for the bowl game. That's a shame, because he was really, really playing well. We enjoyed his participation in that game. The time of Luke Muncie's return is the opportunity to get some of the younger guys ready. They'll have to be where we're at."

On changes made after the first regular season loss in a year and a half ...
"The good news is that our football team has always really responded personally. They recognize that it's not he feeling we're used to having. They recognize that we work too hard to finish second. They're going to look forward to preparing for this opponent that's certainly it's a quality opponent and one that our team will be challenged to prepare for. I think they'll look forward to preparing for it as well."

On the team's predictability ...
"It's something that you deal with every practice snap. Every practice snap, you're coaching excellence, and it's something that you need to have done. I think we're not that far off. I think we're in a position where we ask you to do things that we're calling and doing things we're capable of doing. We have to get there, and it takes work. There isn't any question there. We get to know our personnel even better with each week. That being said, that puts us in a position to get our answers and make it work. That's where our football team is. I think (quarterback Zach Mettenberger) plays in the shotgun in certain sets, and in other sets not. Frankly, I think he handles the ball out of the underneath center in a really effective way."

On missing players ...
There are a number of guys that are not there. What we've always tried to do is instill the responsibility to that guy when he takes the place of a quality player, so that he plays that position with the responsibility and to the level of the guy that had it. We're counting on our guys to play the position well, period, when they step in and they're no longer a backup, they're a starter. The good news is that we have recruited well. I think that given some time, there are some young guys that will be in a position to play at a very high level. That's important.

On team leadership ...
"I think Sam Montgomery gives us great leadership, and I think he's the guy that really is and will always be a part of this team in that facet. In other words, not only is he going to play a great defensive end, but he is a guy that when he speaks in a locker room, everybody listens. I hear Sam all the time, so I always know what Sam might say. He's a wonderful team player and a wonderful guy, so he's going to step right up and say, 'Me first.' He says, 'I want to work harder, I want to be most prepared and I want to play best.' Then he says things like 'follow me' and 'play like me.'

On expecting too much from quarterback Zach Mettenberger ...
We're teaching every day. We have a 20-hours-a-week rule. It's something where you stand by, and we coach them. We're coaching hard. I can tell you that Mettenberger, I think a lot was expected of him. I think that he's trying to give us that. I saw improvement in the last game. There's one throw I'd like to have back, but there are a lot of those throws that were really, really close. I think that there's a chance that if we handle field position best and if we catch a ball on the 20-yard line and get the play from there, that game might have been a little different. I like Mettenberger. I think he's going to improve with snaps, and I think he's improved."

On plays called in games ...
"We really settle on those plays long before we get there. When we got there, we felt like they weren't the best plays. We felt that those were warped and prepared and encouraged. Now, anytime there's a play that doesn't work, hindsight being 20/20, of course I'd like to do some things differently. There are maybe some better calls, and we review that on Monday and we go through it. In terms of game plan, (quarterback Zach Mettenberger) called the game plan and I was right with it."

On developing a strong wide receiver ...
"We're developing that guy we hope. We're looking forward to him stepping up and showing who he is. I think there are a couple guys that touched balls that could have brought them in. It's coaching, it's preparing and it's allowing them to mature. I think that our receiving core is improving. I like some of the performances. Obviously we caught some balls, and again, it could have easily been a different game. Until that time, we're going to improve them and coach them."

On the offensive line ...
"We generally try to offer those things that our guys can do, not what they can't do. There are pieces of the game plan that we expect that a very talented offensive lineman can accomplish. There are those things that he might need some help with. We're trying to maneuver that part of the game plan as best as we can."

On Josh Dworaczyk ...
"The good news is that Dworaczyk has age and he can fit in to any spot there. Certainly he figures without question. I think Josh is a little bit nicked, and hopefully he'll be able to return this Saturday. If he doesn't, we'll have an able-bodied guy ready to step in."




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