Miles Addresses Media as Tigers Prep for Alabama

Chris Parent (@chrisparent) (@LSUsports) (@LSUsports)
LSU Sports Interactive

BATON ROUGE -- LSU head coach Les Miles spoke to the media on Monday afternoon from the LSU Athletics Administration Building, as his No. 5-ranked Tigers begin preparations to take on No. 1 Alabama on Saturday.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. CT on CBS.

Watch the press conference video now, and check back for the transcript.


Opening statement ...
"The open date was met in the Miles family with two soccer games and two football games. I happen to find my son on Friday night playing a quality opponent on the road, my nine-year-old's soccer game at a local youth field, which was a desperately played game with great competition, and my eighth grade son Ben Miles played a rock 'em sock 'em football game with St. Aloysius (Catholic School). It was wonderful time had by all. I watched college football, and I'm saddened to see (University of South Carolina's) Marcus Lattimore reinjured. That's the difficulty about our sport. The reality is when you play this game, you're at risk. The risk is certainly major injury. Hurricane Sandy's hitting a spot that's not normally hit by hurricanes. They're in for a tough go. We're wishing them well and recognizing that they're in a difficult way. We wish them our best.

"We had a good week of practice. We had three very quality practices. A lot of work was done, and we had the ability to focus on our academics and get extra studying in. I really thought that we got a lot accomplished. We reviewed some of the things we do and we don't do and how to improve us and feel like we're in great position to prepare for our next opponent. It's obvious when you walk into the room that certainly we're playing a different team. It's a little fuller, and there's a little more attention to detail. That's the way it's supposed to be.

"Alabama is a very, very fine football team. They're well-prepared and very talented. Certainly they've won every game by a minimum margin of 19 points. I watched every snap on Saturday in the Mississippi St. versus Alabama game. It looked just as bad on the coach's copy.  It looks like that Alabama team is pretty good. The quarterback A.J. McCarron just seems to make all the throws. He's a quality leader. He's thrown 18 touchdowns and no interceptions. They're a positive 17 in turnover margin. They have a big offensive line that's very mobile and very athletic. They have quality running backs in T.J. Yeldon and Eddie Lacy. They have a receiving core that can run and catch it, a big time tight end and Michael Williams. Their defense is the best defense statistically in the country. You can see it when they play. They play with great technique. They're very disciplined and never out of place. It's a very, very capable defense. In special teams, their placekicker has not missed a kick. Jeremy Shelley has not missed a kick, and that's a pretty special position to be in. Guys like that having great years. Very quality return game led by Christion Jones. They look like the No. 1 team in the country: very talented, very capable, well-prepared. Coach (Nick) Saban's done a great job there. They have talent, and they're well-prepared. You can see that it's the team that deserves to be the No. 1 team in the country.

"We look forward to playing that team. We need to do this better: we need to play for us. We need to play better because we did. We owe ourselves our best effort. I think our guys are looking forward to doing that. We always enjoy playing in Tiger Stadium. The environment that was there the last time we were there certainly is preferred. We'd like to have that again Saturday night against Alabama. Our team
will enjoy playing this team. When you match yourselves versus a very quality opponent, it requires you to play best. Frankly, our guys will look forward to that."

On preparing the game plan for the game versus Alabama ...
"The key is to work your technique versus their technique. It's a fundamental coach's game that way. You must improve your team, because you must play best technique.  When a guy, or when a team, is matched with an equal team, the best technique wins. We've focused on that the last two weeks, and we hope that we're improving that. We'll improve it again today."

On the high emotions of the upcoming game ...
"I can tell you that our guys are looking forward to preparing. I think there's an honesty that says 'We play Saturday, we don't play today, tomorrow or the next day.' There is no opinion that's more valid than the opinion within our building. Let's just go to practice. Let's do the things we do. Let's prepare to play our best. Let's not get too caught up in the perimeter. That's the reason people come to LSU. They want to play Saturday night in Tiger Stadium against a very quality opponent. You want to pay for something very important. Certainly the league and the west are very important."

On the familiarity of playing Alabama ...
"We take into account a long view of how we played against this team for years, including the national championship game. We also look at this year's film more appropriately to personnel. You find that there are changes in the defense, but really, they're very small. They're really tweaked here or there, or they maybe add a blitz in here on a blitz in there. That's new, but it's not really new. It's more how they've always operated. They just really incorporated that against that personnel group. We take that into account. They know us and we know them, and that's probably understandable for two teams that are as ambitious as we are playing in the conference and playing in the division. How it turns out will just be throwing them into the stadium and figuring it out."

On changes in offensive play ...
"We're really going to throw the football better. The opportunity to throw the football is something where we're going to have to defeat press coverage, or we're going to defeat quality zone coverage and zone drops and get open. In the passing game, that's how you affect defense. If you're in the option offense, you can affect the defense by playing a lot more assignment-responsibly than a defense that doesn't have to worry about options. What we're going to do is attempt to stretch them vertically and horizontally with the passing game and let them be responsible for their assignments that way, rather than the option."

On quarterback Zach Mettenberger ...
"We really call a variety of plays for him. It's not necessarily needs to be checked to. If we need to have them checked too, Zach (Mettenberger) can certainly do it, and it's not an issue. He's reading the defenses well. He recognizes where he should be going with the ball, and that's really one of his strengths. I think he really processes the field well when he's in the game. He knows when he made a great throw and a great decision, and he also knows when it was not the throw to make or the route was not adjusted properly. I like his development. I think any quality quarterback that stays in the system and continues to call the same plays and develop the same reads and processes will in fact mature and have growth as they continue. It's realistic to expect that Zach will play better than he did at the beginning of the year and that he'll play better as we finish and get to the end and to the back end of this year. I think that there's an opportunity for him to really play well."

On offensive guard Josh Williford ...
"I think Josh Williford will have the opportunity to play in this game. That's just watching him do the things that he's had to do up to this point. I don't know if he'll practice today, but he'll probably do a lot of work today and should be at practice tomorrow. We're optimistic that he'll practice this Tuesday."

On playing in the rivalry between Michigan St. and Ohio compared to LSU vs. Alabama ...
"As a player, I enjoyed my coach. He always enjoyed rivalry games. He always enjoyed getting to play the Buckeyes. It was a joy as a player to be around him. He was a very special coach and a very special man. The rivalry was special to me as an Ohio guy and as a player at Michigan to play against a very quality Ohio State game. I can tell you that in the most competitive division in college football, there are two very quality teams that are going to play every year, and I think the similarities between the Ohio and Michigan team certainly draw the comparison in this conference. It's so difficult for me to look back on that and compare an experience I had in college and I had as an assistant coach at Michigan, and now  to bring it to life here. It's a great rivalry. It means so much. It's an opportunity to take the west, and it will always be that. I think our guys enjoy playing in this game. They recognize a very quality opponent. They're challenged to do their best. I think generally year in and year out that they meet that challenge."

On linebacker Luke Muncie ...
"Luke Muncie will play in this game. I think the line backing core will rotate through. Really, we're very fortunate that we have some talented guys in that freshman class. I think it'll be good to see a number of guys in there. Coach (John) Chavis is preparing them well and the game play really is reflective of what they can achieve and what they can accomplish."

On having the home field advantage ...
"I can tell you that our team will look forward to playing in this stadium. There's no place like it. The environment that can be created in Tiger Stadium certainly will help the home team. Our guys play best in that stadium and in that environment. I think they'll look forward to playing in it. I imagine it will be pretty special."

On Alabama running backs Eddie Lacy and TJ Yeldon ...
"They're not only very strong, very physical runners, but they're also loose, which I always see is the issue. (T.J.) Yeldon seems to have a little more make and miss. (Eddie) Lacy runs hard and both play very sound ball security style of football. I think they're very talented."

On Alabama's approach ...
"I don't know if they're exactly the same team we played in the national championship game. If I was them, I think I would use the same game plan. It certainly worked once, I wouldn't imagine they would change it much. It's always a pleasure to professionally test yourself against someone that's a very quality and very capable coach. I think Coach Saban has really prepared an Alabama team extremely well. When you're challenged, and if you enjoy challenge, well, you enjoy it."

On LSU motivation ...
"I think there's always a point that there's a piece that motivates a team. I can always tell you that with me, it's the positive end that motivates me; the opportunity, victory, and certainly the opportunity for our football team to advance in the western division. In comparing us with a very quality opponent and matching us with a very quality opponent drives for a best place. I think we played very well against a very quality South Carolina team, the reason that we did is frankly because we needed to have a victory. I don't know that fear was necessarily the piece. I think there's a piece in every man that says 'I just don't want this to end on the wrong side of the score.' I don't know if that's fear or not."

On LSU players from Alabama ...
"We have a number of guys from Alabama from our team. Kwon Alexander would have loved to play in this game. Josh Williford is trying to get healthy. I know he's looking forward to playing in this game. Connor Neighbors is just a wonderful guy. He works so hard, he's such a part of our team. Anything you ask him to do, he does it and does it well. He is welcome, very welcome. We look forward to him playing in this game. I think there is probably a little bit more energy in some of those guys from Alabama."

On the bye week ...
"I don't know that it's helped us any differently. Our game plan has fallen together like it would normally. I think that maybe knowing the opponent as well as we know them and they know us, I don't know that the extra week is worth it. I don't think you necessarily need a full week to gain plan. I think you need to play best and work your technique.  I don't know that the game plan has changed much at all. I think the open date certainly allows, in the eighth week, some fresh legs and some different energy. If there were an advantage, that might be an advantage."

On being ahead of schedule ...
"Really, this is going to be a Monday time-wise. We're not going to try to over coach it. We have a little more of the game plan in than we normally would on a Monday, so we'll coach to some of those periods that the game plans. We'll have an opportunity to iron those things out, but I don't know that we'll expand our timeframe. I don't think it will be a Tuesday. It's still very much a Monday."




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