BATON ROUGE -- As his top-ranked LSU football team begins preparations for Saturday's 2:30 p.m. CT contest at Tennessee, head coach Les Miles spoke to the media to recap the Florida game and look ahead to the Vols.
Watch the opening statement above.
TRANSCRIPT OF LSU COACH LES MILES' WEEKLY PRESS CONFERNCE
"I can tell you that Saturday was a joy to our team because of the great number of fans that packed the stadium. The feel of the stadium was electric. Our guys just played to it and enjoyed it. It was a nice and satisfying afternoon. I felt like we played well in the Florida game, but certainly not perfect. We won in all three phases."
"We got off to a great start in scoring on the second play from scrimmage - a well thrown ball from Jarrett Lee. We put 453 yards of total offense on them, 250 rushing and 215 passing. Again the biggest key was that we had no turnovers. I felt that Spencer Ware came and played with a physicality and passion that he is becoming known for. It is his style of ball. He had 109 yards and two touchdowns. He ran hard on every play. I felt our offensive line gave great effort, again not perfect in any way. I felt that they were physical and came off the football. Late in the game, we said 'the game is ours if we control the ball and run the ball,' and they responded very well and took the ball down the field. More significant than the score on that drive was the time that they ate off of the clock. I thought they a very good piece of work. They have only given up four sacks all year, and that leads the conference. Will Blackwell is the SEC Conference Offensive Lineman of the Week. He continues to improve. It is really representative of the five guys that are coming to life again and again this season."
"Defensively, they play with great intensity, again not perfect in any way. They are playing the style of football that we need from them play after play so that we can do the things we need to do. They held a very explosive Florida team to 200 yards less than their season average. We're getting takeaways. We had two interceptions. It gives the offense the opportunities to add positions and opportunities to score. I can tell you that the defense is ranked in the top 10 in virtually every statistical category. That speaks to the effort. That defense comes to the field with the want to make an impression, the want to be ambitious and the want to be recognized. They play that way."
"I thought we did very well in special teams. Drew Alleman had two field goals. Brad Wing punted the ball well. He kicked it down in there when we needed him to do. On the fake punt, just so you know, we have an awareness within our special teams where we react well to situations. I think that is what was there. We recognized that there was an opporunuty, really the guys on the field did, and made an adjustment to extend the possession and gives us a first down. Obviously, also the opportunity to score. Overall that is what we want. We want that awareness and ability to see the field and understand what is going on."
"In the same thing, we cannot taunt an opponent. It is an interesting rule. It is a rule that you can look at in a bunch of different ways. A game on Sunday where the celebration is excessive and does appear that there is not that rule, that is one thing. You look at it and go what is the harm. If you look at from the guy that is scoring the touchdown, that is his enjoyment. If you look at it from the opponent who says I really wish you had not quite done that. That is the reason the rule is in place. If I am the official, I am making that exact call. I think Brad will understand what we expect from him. Certainly, it will be a great opportunity to teach our football team what to do and what not to do. Overall, it was very positive, but we just have to take stock of the position that we are in. Take the points and celebrate with your teammates after."
"I think Tennessee is a quality football team. They are physical. They are 3-2 overall and 0-2 in the SEC. Derek Dooley is doing a tremendous job in his second year there. They have their guys playing well on every down. They are very quality in special teams. Offensively they move the football. Defensively they give you a number of looks that you need to prepare for. Again, this is going to be a physical game. It is every time we play. I know that their quarterback Tyler Bray is not expected to be there for our game, but I can tell you that Matt Simms played well against us the year before in our stadium the year before. We understand that they are very capable no matter who they play at quarterback. I can tell you playing Neyland Stadium is a joy and it is one of the great places to play in college football. We look forward to it. It reminds us of a number of places that we have played this year. Our team seems to get really excited about the opportunity to play in great venues. I think this is another one where our guys will look back on and say that this was a great place to play. They are a very quality SEC opponent."
"We have the opportunity to improve. The thing with this football team is that they have taken the challenge each and every week. Each and every week the challenge is to improve, prepare and defeat the opponent. Frankly I felt that they improved this week. If they continue to improve, I think we will have the opportunity to be a special team. It is a process that continues and will continue."
On the changes in the offense from last year...
"I think it is a mark of a team that wants to be champions. They are a team who applies its focus and the pieces of the game that need to take place. A team that comes to the line of scrimmage and understands a snap count, is certainly ready on offense. A team that knows how to carry the football and provide ball security is ready not to give up any turnovers. Steve Kragthorpe has taken the exact plays that we have run and added some of his own pieces. He has interpreted it so well that the quarterbacks are making decisions very quickly. Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson are both veteran guys now. It is easier for them to make the decisions and get the ball out of their hands. That speaks to the efficiency that is going on now."
On ball security...
"It is important to our team that the person that we entrust with the responsibility of the football, return it to the team. In other words, respective of the gain or a loss, it is our ball. It is a basic responsibility. We work in it every day. It is not something that escapes us in any day, including game day."
On the keys to the game...
"I think what we need to do is play like we play like we've been playing. Maintaining the consistency that we have maintained. Running the football and throwing the football. I think we need to play well on special teams. It is another opportunity to establish who we are on the road in a hostile stadium. We need to play like we're capable and that is it."
On John Chavis returning to Tennessee...
"I can tell you that John Chavis is a tremendously loyal person and supporter and advocate of Tennessee. Certainly he has maintained relationships back there and roots with them when they are not playing LSU. He will want to represent his past by being an excellent defensive coordinator against Tennessee this coming Saturday."
On the skills of both quarterbacks...
"We're going to be able to run it or throw it with either quarterback in the game. It does not make a difference. Our offense is handled well by both quarterbacks. It just means that you cannot gang up on certain skills that Jordan Jefferson has because of his feet. We're going to throw the ball with balance like we always have."
On last year's close win against Tennessee...
"Victory is victory. No matter what way you cut it. The enjoyment that I had after that game was significant with the feel of victory. I don't necessarily think there was bad taste in anybody's mouth in anyway. I can tell you that we did the things we needed to do in unusual circumstances to get victory. I enjoyed it and I am going to stay that way."
On short yardage situations...
"I think all our backs really can carry the ball in short yardage. Not just Spencer Ware. I can tell you in short yardage situations we made a couple of mistakes where we let guys free. I don't care who is carrying the ball. That guy is going to have a very difficult time. I can tell you there were two very specific instances where guys came roaring through, and really shouldn't have. Our backs are good. Any of the three can handle the ball in that situation."
On Spencer Ware's value...
"He has great vision, is very physical and runs with a passion. He was a quarterback in high school. That gives someone a certain moxie and understanding of the game. The thing that I am learning in whatever number of years that I have been in coaching is that those quarterbacks have great view of the line scrimmage. Guys that have run the ball in their high school career generally make few bad cuts. They understand where the front is. They understand what the seem looks like and why that seem is there. He runs with a want. That is why Spencer is so valuable to us as a runner."
"There's a great physicality on our offense right now. It's at all our positions. Spencer Ware brings 225 pounds to the table and that's important because football is a physical sport and he plays that way."
On Tennesse's quarterback situation . . .
"I think Matt Simms runs the offense in a manner similar to Tyler Bray. Simms doesn't have the most recent experience on the team but he does have a lot of experience and I'm sure he will step in a do a very good job."
On the running game . . .
"Any time you run the football it creates an issue for the defense. If effects where you put the safety, you need to put an extra guy in the box to stop our rushing attack. That leaves single coverage on both wide receivers. This week Rueben Randle got the ball. Last week it was Odell Beckham Jr. and Russell Shepard has gotten in there intermittently. It's a choice a defense makes and we're going to get the ball to the guy who should get it. If it's one-on-one coverage we will get the ball there. If it's soft coverage, where they're trying to stop the pass, we like to rush it. It sounds simple but that's our thought process."
On the rule that caused Brad Wing's touchdown to be called back . . .
"As the coach, if the rule is in place I'm going to coach it hard. To me if you look at the play from the perspective of a father, you wouldn't want your son to be taunted. In Brad Wing's case, I'm not sure it wasn't a little bit more joy than taunting. I'm not sure it was flagrant, but when you're an official, where you need to be objective, I think they threw the flag at the right time. If the rule changes it can change in a number of ways. You can keep the points on the board and assess the penalty on the kickoff. In any event, points off the board or not, I'm for it. If you want to leave the points on the board and allow them to celebrate, that changes the rule entirely. All they're trying to do is to protect what college football is about. To me college football is about protecting your opponent."
On the historic start to the season . . .
"We've had a nice start, but we're not satisfied with our position right now. I like how the season has progressed, but we look forward to the next games. In this season and in every season it's about the next game, never about the last game. Our guys are looking forward to Tennessee. They recognize they just accomplished a nice victory over a quality opponent but it's time to move on."
On the linebacker play . . .
"Kevin Minter had a very strong game. Stefoin Francois and Ryan Baker are playing a lot and their output and productivity is extremely good. They're becoming more comfortable in SEC play. They'll continue to see more snaps and have greater impact."
On the lessons from last season's Tennessee game . . .
"We made some changes the week after last season's game so that situation won't happen again. We work on it all the time anyway. In a normal week, we work on two minute drill on Monday and Thursday. During our two-a-day package it's the first series that goes in so we work on it a lot anyway."
On Brandon Taylor's performance against Tennessee . . .
"Brandon Taylor is a veteran who's seldom out of place. He puts himself in a position to make key plays. He's a solid tackler and he understands how to cover the pass. He's very important to the secondary."
On P.J. Lonergan's status . . .
"I don't expect him to practice today. We will see where he is the next few days. The good news is it doesn't appear to be a very bad ankle sprain."
On the offensive line . . .
"When you can rush the football, they cannot pin their ears back and come after you. That helps the offensive line protect the passer. It also helps in alignments because the defense can't line up wide or else the ball creases them. Our offensive line is improving and working hard. I like how they have gelled, they continue to gel without respect to the next guy who goes into the game."
On the team's focus . . .
"The good news is we don't have to focus on anybody but the next opponent. That's the good thing about this conference, all you have to do is show the film and you see we're facing a quality opponent. We know we need to prepare to get victory. I hear the talk but I promise that talk about anybody but the very next opponent doesn't exist in our building. We talk about the improvements we need to make in order to accomplish our goals against the next opponent. We don't pay attention to the fan chat or media buzz within our building."
On the quarterback play so far . . .
"I want to give a lot of credit to Steve Kragthorpe and Billy Gonzales because they've both done a strong job of guiding the passing game and teaching it to the receiving corps as well as the quarterbacks. I think we're more efficient in the passing game. We understand what we're doing in making decisions with the ball in our hands. Our receivers are talented in running the prescribed routes. We've got a lot of playmakers and getting them the ball is exciting. If you match that with a quality running game, it makes it easier."
On being a member of the Baton Rouge community . . .
"I've never been worried about my family speaking out publicly. They understand the coaching profession and we are in it as a family. All four of my children know the specifics of my job. My daughter Smacker, who swims at Bolles in Florida told me both of her coaches went to Florida so she especially wanted us to defeat Florida. I got a text from her after the game and she said due to discriminating athletic views, she now has to clean the bus after a road trip and she will be required to do extra training so she said not to win by so much next time. I told her get in shape."
On the lessons learned from last season's Tennessee game . . .
"I'm a part of the team. Our coaching staff is part of the team. That's a collective group of skills brought to the table with an opportunity to achieve victory as a team. In other words, we're all in it together. If a coach makes a mistake, he tells the team. If there needs to be a correction in any aspect, we make the correction. Being in it with my team is what our coaching staff has adopted and it's what we're about. The line of communications between coaches and players is open when it should be."