Miles Addresses Media Prior to SEC Championship Game

LSU head coach Les Miles at Monday's press conference
LSU head coach Les Miles at Monday's press conference (@LSUsports) (@LSUsports)
LSU Sports Interactive

BATON ROUGE -- On Monday, LSU head coach Les Miles spoke to the media about the Tigers' upcoming SEC Championship game against No. 14 Tennessee. The conference title game is the Tigers' fourth since 2001. Watch the press conference on-demand in the Geaux Zone.


Opening statement...
“Recapping the Arkansas game, certainly we would have liked to have it end differently. There were some bright spots. Offensively, we scored 48 points with no turnovers, had 213 yards while passing and rushing for 200 yards. Jacob Hester showed tremendous effort with 126 rushing yards. We had as strong of a quarterback performance that I have been around with Matt Flynn. He is a gutsy player and competitor. He threw three touchdowns and ran for a two-point conversion. Everything we could possibly ask him to do he did. He was our offensive M.V.P.”

“Defensively, there was one play in the first half that we would like to get back. As we went into halftime, we felt like we were in pretty good shape. Then there were about five plays that we would like to have back in the second half, including overtime. We faced an exceptional offense and they were executing at an unbelievable level. There are reasons to improve. It is something that we are going to want to continue. You have to give credit to a great running back (Darren McFadden) and a great scheme for Arkansas. There were some tremendous performances on defense. Ali Highsmith had 15 tackles with four assisted tackles. He was our defensive M.V.P. He was all over the field.”

“On special teams, on a week where we were concerned about a kick return, a punt return and about matching a dangerous return team, we played very well. Patrick Fisher averaged 42 yards a punt. We held Arkansas to three yards on punt returns. On kickoff coverage we knocked the ball loose and got an extra possession. At some point they decided not to return their best returner (Darren McFadden.) I felt we played really well on special teams. Colt David continues to set records every time he kicks. The guy who wins our M.V.P. is Chad Jones. He goes down there on kickoffs and punts and makes tackles. He returns punts and kickoffs and is just playing extremely well for us. We are certainly happy with his development as a true freshman on our team.”

On what his team has accomplished so far...
“I’ve thought about how this season has gone. Certainly we would like to have the last game back. We understand what that has cost us in our national ranking and what it means. Right now, I would like to talk about what we are, and not what we just lost. What we are is one hell of a football team. I like our team, especially the character of our team. If you think about this football team, we have not been healthy since the first game of the year. Yet, no matter who we call on to go in and make plays, they make plays.”

“This team has not lost a game in regulation. I know it does not mean much to you guys (media.) The point is, in a 60 minutes game, we play as competitive as we can be. There is not a team that we have played that has bested us in the first 60 minutes. If you had to look at the length and width of the game, that is how it is measured. Then you go to overtime, and I think our overtime system is just as flawed as any other overtime system. It’s just the way it is and it is probably correct. You have to decide it then where it takes the length of the field and certain situations out of it. It is imperfect, but a darn good system. You tell me if there are other teams in this country that can say that. If you just give us ties, like in the old system, we are undefeated with two ties. Maybe that adds up as one lost.”

“Go find a team that has losses that only came in overtime. Go find a team that compares competitively with five nationally-ranked teams and has done extremely well. I am talking about our team and what we can be, not what we just lost. I think our best football is coming. I haven’t talked to my team yet today, but I can say this there is too much character on this team not to understand that 10 wins, third-straight time at this school, has not been done before, is special.”

On the SEC Championship game and facing Tennessee...
"The opportunity to play for the conference championship, in the finest football conference in America, is a tremendous opportunity. You put me in that position, you will understand that I am excited. This team has achieved. I look forward and I am sure our team will look forward to preparing for Tennessee.”

“I understand that Tennessee is very good. We played them the first two years that I was here. Both games were decided late in the game. It is a very competitive team and our team is no different. They are very talented with quality men on both sides of the ball. I think (Erik) Ainge is a tremendous quarterback and can really throw it. Their defense includes a front seven of big, strong and physical guys. Their secondary has athletic talent.”

“Their receiving core is led by Lucas Taylor, who leads the conference in receiving.”

“Tennessee is better than they have been. We are going to have to play well to win. We look forward to that challenge. Let me go play for the SEC title. I am right where I want to be. There only two teams in this conference that get the opportunity and right to practice this week. There are two teams playing for the conference championship and I am thrilled to be one of them. I look forward to competing against Tennessee in Atlanta on Saturday.”

On how long it took him to get over the Arkansas loss...
“I did not have a great Friday or Saturday. I started figuring out all these other nationally-ranked teams that play these schedules and I am thinking I like my team.’ Watching what has happened in college football has helped me. Last Saturday helped me a lot. The people that were competing, with their schedules, who they played and who they have lost to makes me pretty proud of our team. It helped me a lot to watch how Saturday unfolded.”

On how the defense has struggled lately...
“The Arkansas game in certain personnel, they didn’t have a chance. When they got to the running back personnel and started using (Darren) McFadden like they did, I have to admit they had us. Even when we could get an extra guy to the play, we still couldn’t make the tackle. That is Arkansas. I think it is unrealistic to look at a defense and think that they will hold them to 250 yards. We are playing quality offenses in this conference week in and week out. I want this defense to look forward to playing this weekend. I think they are due. The potential to play our best is right in front of us. We look forward to going to Atlanta and playing for the title.”

On the rumors of defensive coordinator Bo Pelini interviewing with Nebraska...
Bo Pelini has not traveled to any place. I have been with him everyday. The only thing that I can tell you is I don’t know what your information is and I don’t have a lot of information on it. I know that he is preparing our team for our season and the SEC Championship. I can also say that I would recommend Bo Pelini to any school. I think he is a quality coach and wonderful colleague. He is focused on the task at hand and I don’t think he would have it any other way.” 

On comparing Arkansas RB Darren McFadden with LSU WR Trindon Holliday...
“When No. 8 (Trindon Holliday) goes on the field for us, it draws attention and rightfully so. When McFadden is blocking, is it going to be a screen or an opportunity to dump it off to him? There is greater attention to that kind of a player without question. Would I have liked to have seen other strategies used to give us success against him? Absolutely.”

On the Tennessee offense...
“Their quarterback (Erik Ainge) is a very talented thrower. They have a real quality receiving group. They have not given up many sacks. Is there concern? Absolutely. I also like our match up. I like our guys rushing their offensive line and the opportunity to get at their passer. I think we will provide coverage. Our secondary will want to play more so in this game. I am concerned but our opponent should be also.”

On what he thinks of the current BCS standings...
“Beyond this weekend’s games, the opportunity for the champion should be a tremendous opportunity. If you win the conference, that conference championship should carry a lot of weight with a lot of people. I will wait to talk about this system beyond that time frame.”

On the formation penalty that nullified RB Jacob Hester’s touchdown reception...
“It was the most elementary formation that we have minus our first one. The first one that we put in is to go right. The second one is to go left. In this instance it was left-slot. One gets on and one gets off. It is not a complicated call but the situation makes it complicated. It is a very competitive game and one of the players substituted for that play. There wasn’t any special coaching. It was something that we have done routinely.”

On WR Trindon Holliday’s status for the SEC Championship...
“Certainly without him in there we are not as fast. I am very optimistic. He sprinted Sunday and I think he will do the same today. He will have a light workout and he will condition and practice with the team. Tuesday is up in the air but I think by the back end of this week, he will be ready to play.”

On QB Matt Flynn’s status for the SEC Championship...
“Right now, Matt is no different from other weeks we have been with him where he is a little worse for wear at the beginning of the week. I think he will take the reigns on Tuesday or Wednesday and continue to do the things we ask him to do.”

On some fans and media members saying a conference championship is less significant than in the past...
“Only two teams can play for it. Certainly this is a program that strives for a national championship, an SEC Western Division title and an SEC Championship. If there is a conflict in perception of its importance, it hurts the conference championship and demeans in some ways the game. In our conference it shouldn’t because you to have line up and play week in and week out. That might be the view of some of the public, but it is certainly not my view. I am thrilled to be in this game and look forward to competing with everything we have.”

On how confident he is that his team will be ready for the SEC Championship after dealing with the Arkansas loss...
“I think with the understanding that this team has achieved, it won’t be hard for them to understand that they are in an advantaged position. Only two teams in this league can qualify for this game and certainly we have done that. I am pretty confident. I have not met with the team today, but I am pretty confident, knowing the leadership and who I go to work with everyday, that they will understand pretty comfortably that we have a great opportunity in front of us.”

On the dramatic games that have taken place in the SEC...
“Just reviewing the games, the price of season tickets should go up, except for our fans because they expect those types of games. It shows how competitive college football is. It is a great sport.”

On what he saw out of Tennessee in its game against Kentucky...
“I saw exactly what I saw on film. They are a very talented team with the ability to throw the football. They made some big plays when they had to. They are a very competitive team.”

On if he has talked to his coaching staff about waiting till after the season to look at other jobs...  
“If I worked on a different staff, then that is probably something I would need to do. On this staff, I think everybody is on the same page. There is no individual goal or professional opportunity that is more important than representing this football team to the best of our ability. This is a quality group of men. This football staff enjoys going to work with these players. There are no other views. There are no quick phone calls. It is about attention to detail, improving and playing our best in this game.”



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