LSU head coach Les Miles at Monday's press conference.
Photo by:Steve Franz, LSU Athletics Staff Photographer
Miles, Tigers Address Media Prior to Tennessee
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Published: September 27, 2010, 01:38 PM (CT)
Updated: September 28, 2010, 11:48 AM (CT)
by LSUsports.net (@LSUsports), LSU Sports Interactive

BATON ROUGE -- LSU head coach Les Miles spoke to the media on Monday, as his 12th-ranked football team begins preparation to face Tennessee (2-2) on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. CT in Tiger Stadium. Watch on-demand video of the "Lunch with Les presented by Subway" press conference now for free in the Geaux Zone.

Prior to the press luncheon, LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson was again named the SEC's Special Teams Player of the Week, and the SEC announced that start time for the Oct. 9 matchup between LSU and Florida would not be announced until Sunday.

 

Les Miles Press Conference

Opening Statement
"We enjoyed again another wonderful evening in Tiger Stadium. Our players really play to the environment. The West Virginia team was a very capable football team. They had a quality defense, a very explosive offense and they were very good in special teams. We were in control of that game the entire time. Ultimately, any time a team has a differing opponent, they are going to have to show different characteristics, and an ability to curtail great speed out of the backfield was something I really needed to see. There were several times in the game where guys jumped to an open space, and I very quickly made note to see how that open space would affect our defense. That open space then became a 10-yard gain, where in other film I had seen I saw that open space turn into touchdowns for their very fast backs. When I saw that I realized our defense would do a great job in the night. We put pressure on that quarterback. Even though we didn't get a sack, the quarterback was pressured the whole night. Again in special teams, I think our average starting field position was the 37-yard line and theirs was the 25-yard line. We controlled every special teams snap. Our coverage units were very crisp with their tackling and our return units got yardage. We are doing what we need to do certainly in special teams. Again, congratulations to Patrick Peterson for his second Special Teams Player of the Week in the SEC award with that great return.

"I can tell you offensively nobody is satisfied in our buildings. We put ourselves in position to have a fast start to a night, and we get the ball on the short field after a nice return. Early on we had an 11-yard gain with (Jordan) Jefferson around the left end and a new first down. Then we turn and throw a ball to a receiver, and it went right through his hands for a pick. It was certainly not the start that we wanted. I can tell you that anytime you are in a game where you are penalized as often as we were, that quarterback has a very difficult situation. Instead of going back there second and two, he is going back there at third and 12. A good majority of our third down conversions had to do with what was the penalty and the situation in front of him rather than the quarterback play. I can tell you when you are third and long and you rush three and drop all the underneath coverage to take away those routes, it is not the ideal time to throw a football. I would say any quarterback in that position minus Brett Favre might have a real issue. We had a coverage sack, and we had three protection issues that were serious. Those things do not benefit an offense nor does it benefit a quarterback. I can also immediately tell you the answer to your next question, and that is the new guy. Whoever the new guy is, we are going to send the new guy in, and he would have had a miserable night. At third down and eight and you rush three and drop the rest of them or you break down in the protection, that is a tough day to play quarterback. Our quarterback didn't throw three balls well at all. He threw one right at them and two that were bad and need to be fixed. I can tell you that is wasn't a great night to be a quarterback in our offense, no matter who the quarterback was.

"I was very pleased with the running game. Our running backs are coming to life and our line is understanding the commitment to the rush. If that characteristic maintains itself over time, we will be a very good offense. We understand that there is still work to be done. There is no one in that rooms that I met with this morning that recognizes that we have it all done. We don't. To be honest with you, Lamin Barrow had a 15-yard penalty and is as sick as he can be because he goes to the sideline and makes a tackle, and just because the back steps out one step, it is a 15-yard penalty. It is one we have to be smarter in and one that as an example as a room we have to be better and understand that we can't make those mistakes. Obviously Patrick Peterson doesn't want to celebrate in excess after a touchdown. There are some things we need to fix, and I think our team understands that.

"We are looking forward to the next test, Tennessee. They are 2-2 overall and obviously Derek Dooley, certainly we are very familiar with him. He was on our staff and was the head coach at Louisiana Tech. His guys were always well prepared, and his guys will be ready to play. Tennessee is a very physical team with good speed. I watched them on field, and they are a very capable team, and they were ahead virtually in every game. We understand our work is going to be cut out for us. It is going to be a great test for us. Our football team must focus on that opponent and get ready to play. Again, it is different. It is not the speed of West Virginia nor the ability of the teams they have seen in the past. It is a little more physical brand of football that we are going to have to be prepared for. I look forward to the challenge and enjoy the fact that we are undefeated, and I want to stay that way."

On how much urgency he sees with trying to get the offense clicking...
"I think our team understands it. I'm going to make that point again and again. It's one that we're going to turn around and work on again today. You just think about it. If you avoid a penalty here and a penalty there and you put us in a neutral down and distance, then it's just a little bit easier. We threw a couple of nice, deep balls. We would've liked to have thrown a couple more, but when you're in long-yardage situations, it's just difficult to do. It hamstrings the style of play, and it hamstrings the plays that are run based on the situation. We're fixing that, and we have to throw better. We have to be better at quarterback. Some of the things that Jordan Jefferson did were exactly what we needed, yet we can improve his play as we can improve the play of a number of guys on that offensive side."

On the criteria for calling an option play successful...
"We picked up first downs in several opportunities during the game. I guess you just go back there and see. Any play that is three or four yards is certainly a positive. Anything in excess of three or four yards would have to be based on the criteria or need of the first down. If you picked up two yards on an option on a first down, it's probably a very efficient play. What people are not seeing is that it changes the defense's call in the majority of the day because if you load the interior of the front, all of those runs that Ridley gets are not necessarily as ready. If you have to play a perimeter defense that takes a guy or a responsibility out of the interior of that defense, it makes those inside runs just a little bit more productive. I guess the criteria is how we are rushing the football overall."

On addressing the penalties on Saturday...
"You talk about every one of them very specifically and why. Frankly, you point it out. The one thing about our guys is they have been coached against it. There was a very specific issue that we had in Saturday night's game that we coached that specific technique, and it was not used based on loss of focus on that play. We are doing that in all of those. For instance, and interesting point is our center didn't hear the snap count once, and it had to do with loudness in our own stadium. Frankly, that stadium was as loud Saturday night as some of our away venues. We're going to have to play with some sound piped in even in our preparation for our home games."

On his preference of game times...
"I think there are times that your mental energy is a little greased and ready to roll. What we're trying to do is set that up with when we feed them and when we get them up. The good news about a 2:30 (p.m.) start should be the fact that we'll have a good four-hour window for food prior to, and they ought to be able to sleep in good, so I would have to guess that they would not be any worse for wear at 2:30 in the afternoon. I do have to say that I think there is some magic in that stadium at night that we all enjoy. I don't know that, that will be a criteria that I will be able to really put a finger on, but I think our guys will look forward to playing early. I'm always a guy who wants to schedule a set that I look forward to. There is no way I'm going to be anywhere but pretty excited and finding positives at 2:30. That time will get us done and hopefully in the right fashion and enjoy maybe some family time thereafter. I think we have a couple of prospects that may come in on a visitation, and it will allow the head coach to see them after the game more than 12:30 at night after last Saturday night's game."

On if he has received any negative feedback on his comments about the booing after the game Saturday...
"Not really. I don't necessarily spend a lot of time with my ear to the phone. I'm not necessarily looking for reviews. I think those things are personal choices, and I guess I'm stuck this way. I'm a purest when it comes to sports. I always felt like when you step in between those white lines, it was without regard to race, creed or color, that any obvious advantages of station and life were lost and that those people who stepped in between those white lines played for score and competition, and any time you stepped onto the field with an opponent, you stepped onto the field his equal and not more than, and in fact your greatest accomplishment to your opponent would be the great effort that you would use to prepare and play that team. I've never in my life seen the reason to root negatively. I root strong for the team that I support.

"I was raised in Ohio. I went to the Cleveland Browns' games. I was an old Cleveland Browns fan. I did not know how to root against Dallas. I did not know how to root against St. Louis. I just didn't know how to do that because I was rooting so strongly for the Browns. When you see great effort and you see risk of injury, it's serious. It's not a pretend. There are guys out there fighting. I kind of respect that."

On if there has been a reluctance to put QB Jarrett Lee in the game during a passing sequence...
"You have to use the strengths of the players that are on the field. I think we look at the opportunities to play Jarrett Lee. I think he's worked very hard at it. He's more mature. There is a very fine line with that field and the boundary, and making sure that he's ready to step onto the field and do the things that we've expected him to do is kind of my push. Frankly, it's getting closer and closer, and we like him. It's never going to be necessarily the fact that the other guy is just doing poorly. It's with the compliment of the efforts that Jarrett Lee has. He's worked hard at it. He has continued to compete and continues to improve, so my view is looking for opportunities to get him on the field. It's really a game plan going into each week to be honest with you but this week as well."

On if he has seen the influence of coach Billy Gonzales as Passing Game Coordinator...
"I think what we're doing there is extremely good. It's interesting; sometimes we don't get to see all the passes that we have ready to roll. Sometimes the game plan necessitates a different call, and so many times last Saturday it was very long yardage. I think there are opportunities for us to continue to use the things that we are preparing well and to get them on the field with success. We have not. His (Gonzales) influence is very strong, and it's very good."

On how well the defense is playing affects his game plan during the game...
"The key, first and foremost, is to win. If the defense is stifling an opponent, and it looks like a day where you can play great special teams, you can play a quality offense - not necessarily too risky - and let that defense get the ball back sometimes in short fields, that's a great recipe for victory. That's ultimately what we are trying to accomplish first and foremost. Now, I'm the first one that wants to tell you that I want a dominant defense just like we are preparing, a dominant special teams, which it appears to me we are seeing unfold week after week, but I want a dominant offense, one that has the ability to run it and throw it and the ability to attack every situation, and that's not going to change. The scenarios that we've seen in the last four games, that defense has played so dominantly that the offense did not necessarily need to exhibit every ability it has."

On if he thought back in August this is how the season would unfold...
"I felt like the defense had great speed. I felt like the defense was going to play very, very well. I think there are a number of guys who have come to the fore that have played and have become every down players. Tyrann Mathieu, who was given the MVP (award) by the team today, has become a regular player in that defensive secondary, which allows us to move guys around. It allows us to use different personnel. I think 'KeKe' (Mingo), Kendrick Adams, Sam Montgomery and their play has been very, very good. I think we all expected Drake Nevis to have the kind of year that he's having. Pep Levingston, in my opinion, is playing bigger and better. They are playing better than they did in the spring of the year, and to me, that's what is happening. They really came to speed during two-a-days, and we saw it, and with each game, that defense continues to play better. It's interesting; Kelvin Sheppard is a tremendous piece to that defense in terms of adjustments and keeping it squared away. I have to give him great confidence in his leadership because the things he is doing on the field are very strong."

On tight end Mitch Joseph's injury...
"I think Mitch Joseph will be back, and I think he'll go to run pretty quick. We are not expecting Mitch to be gone any length of time. I would certainly question this Saturday, but I would think he'd be available for the week after."

On the injury statuses of Josh Williford, Stefoin Francois and Kendrick Adams...
"I think we are in good shape with all of those guys."

On how surprised he is with Tyrann Mathieu's play...
"First of all, I think he was really trained well in high school. I think he is an unusual player. So many freshmen have a couple of good practices, maybe a week or so during two-a-days, and then they kind of go into a lull, but he's got a real self-confidence and a belief that he can make a play, and ultimately that's the one thing that a freshman generally takes a little bit of time to develop, and he's got it. The last guy that played this well as a freshman was Patrick Peterson. He came in and ended up starting the last seven games of his freshman year, and I think Tyrann Mathieu has certainly exhibited a lot of those same characteristics."

On if he feels doing a Heisman pose after a touchdown constitutes an excessive celebration penalty...
"The last time that Heisman pose was demonstrated, I was in the press box, and if I'm not mistaken, it was a Michigan-Ohio State game in which Michigan was sealing up a conference championship and preparing to play in a Rose Bowl, and Desmond Howard very, very accurately portrayed the Heisman Trophy, and he had the ball in his hand. It appeared to me that the difference was Patrick Peterson put the ball down and did it without the ball. I have to be honest with you; I am for excessive celebration as a penalty. I am for not taunting an opponent, and I don't know if that really fits what happened here in either category, but if the official thought so, then I stand by him, and I coach my guy not to do it anymore. I thought that the last time that I saw it live, I had a wide smile on my face and hoped very frankly that that man won the Heisman, and I feel the same way. I can tell you one thing. Patrick Peterson is a good person, and it's so much fun to root for a guy that is a team player. It made him sick that the team kicked off from the 15 (yard line). I promise you it did, but I'm for him."

On how encouraging it is that UAB threw for more than 400 passing yards against Tennessee last week...
"It's very encouraging. I'm encouraged. The reality of it is I thought UAB had a very talented receiving corps and threw the ball a lot. I would look forward to hopefully attacking an opponent in a like fashion."

On if he has ever had a situation where the quarterback play was so "inefficient"...
"I don't think that is necessarily the case. I have had quarterbacks that weren't nearly as talented as either one of these two guys. We've had guys on my team throw for 200 yards eight or nine times in their career. We just need to get on track, not necessarily pitch one and run. It's an offensive issue. It's one where we have to make sure that we correct collectively, not just at a position, and then at every position, including the quarterback position. I've had quarterbacks that have not played well, but they seem to play better, and they seem to get better. I suspect that will happen yet again."

On if Jordan Jefferson will start Saturday...
"Yes."

Player Interviews
September 27, 2010

RB Stevan Ridley

On the play of the offensive line...
"Offensive line is a position that takes a lot of heart and desire because they don't get much praise at all. Those guys are working hard up front. Coach Studrawa is very hard on his guys. No matter how well they do, it is always something they didn't do. They never hear credit for a good job and it naturally makes them hungrier. I think that is a reason why they are doing as well as they are. You look at P.J. (Lonergan) who had to line up with the West Virginia noseguard (Chris Neild). P.J. did a great job and carried his own load. That was huge for us because West Virginia played a three man front, and for P.J. to be one-on-one with their noseguard allowed our guards to take on linebackers and open the big holes I was able to run through. They're doing a great job up front. They're doing all the dirty work, and that is why I always credit them when I have a big game."

On running the option...
"Like or dislike, we're still going to run the option. It doesn't matter to me how we get it done as long as we get it done. As long as things are going well and we're putting up a lot of points, than nobody complains about the option or who is the quarterback. When times get rough people like to point their finger and blame, but that is not really us at all. We're going to continue what we've been doing. Let's not forget that we are 4-0, but we're still not satisfied by any means. We're going back to the drawing board and we're going to fix the small mistakes."

LB Kelvin Sheppard

On the defensive progress...
"After fall camp I knew we'd be good. Our goal was not to give up any touchdowns in Tiger Stadium. We've given up three, but good things are going to happen as long as we keep on winning."

On Defensive Coordinator John Chavis' impact...
"Coach Chavis is probably the best coach I have ever been around. You can see it in my game. My progression from my sophomore year to my junior year has been crazy. Now my progress is going even further into my senior year. The way I am picking up things and the way I am reading things has been helped by him. From a technique stand point, I don't think any other defensive coordinator can compare. You can go back year after year to all of the linebackers that we've had at LSU, and if you turn on the tape now, not taking anything away from those coaches, the technique and the way linebackers are getting off of blockers just shows that Coach Chavis has been doing this for over 30 years. He was at Tennessee for 20 plus years, and they had great linebackers. Now he's brought those talents over here, and he is helping our team."

WR Russell Shepard

On the offense and the team...
"The potential we have on this offense and the talent we have makes people want to see huge numbers and big time plays. At the end of the day it is about the three teams we have: offense, defense and special teams. The defense and special teams are playing amazing, and the offense is going to get it going. We see what we need to do. We just need to put it all together."

On the option...
"The option creates mismatches. When defenses blitz, for example West Virginia who did a lot of three man rushes and dropped 8 in the secondary, the option forces the defense to man up on a specific person like a quarterback or a running back. That creates mismatches across the field. A lot of times when Jordan runs the option he cuts it up and gains four or five yards. It does a great deal for our offense. The option is a characteristic that recent championship teams have had."

On using Patrick Peterson on offense...
"That would be a lot on him and his body. Pat is doing a lot on returns and is playing on all snaps on defense.  Playing offense would take too much of toll on his body. We want him foremost to be the best cover corner in the country, which I think he is."

 

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