Miles Addresses Media Before Regular-Season Finale

LSU head coach Les Miles at Monday's luncheon
LSU head coach Les Miles at Monday's luncheon
Steve Franz (@LSUsports) (@LSUsports)
LSU Sports Interactive

BATON ROUGE -- LSU football head coach Les Miles held his final "Lunch with Les presented by Subway" press conference of the regular season on Monday as his seventh-ranked Tigers prepare for a trip to Fayetteville.



Opening statement ...
"Good afternoon. I first would like to ask your indulgence for my choice of language Saturday night after the game. I thought it was impertinent and poor. It is not something that I want to repeat. I look forward to Thanksgiving, and I think our team does and I think our country does. I think it's a wonderful time to put things first, like your family, the Lord and football. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

"The regular season game in Fayatteville against Arkansas is going to be a very meaningful game for this football team. There are no goals, yet we continue to move. We're looking forward to playing it out. Certainly, there are some spots to achieve for us, but I'm looking forward to getting to Fayatteville. It's the first time that I've been there, and it's the first time that an LSU team's been there since 1992. We recognize the traditions there and the venue, and we're looking forward to playing.

"I felt like Ole Miss gave us their best shot. It was certainly a tremendous game. I enjoyed the fact that we finished the home season correctly, and that we're sending our seniors off with a victory. It's a trophy game. It's one that we enjoy having, the Magnolia Trophy. Our football team saw a very quality Ole Miss team. They're getting better. It's the end of the season. We had another fourth quarter comeback. It really took a defense to come up with a stop and get them out of field goal range. It took the interceptions and the turnovers. It took a great punter and a tremendous punt return. There were spectacular individual efforts, but we hold point that we have to improve. There isn't any question. It's something where we have young players that are going to play great and young players that will play 'I didn't know that' or 'I forgot that' or 'I didn't make that play,' and we're going to continue to coach technique, alignments and assignments. That will continue, and this will be a short and very quality week in terms of looking at some of those adjustments that need to be made. Offensively, we had a nice night throwing the ball. Zach (Mettenberger) had his third-straight 250 yard plus game, which is really the first time in LSU history since Tommy Hodson did in it 1989. He ran the ball when we needed to, and Jeremy Hill's three touchdowns were right on time. Spencer Ware runs a very physical style of football, and we really needed him and that kind of leadership that he gave us.

"Two SEC awards in the game, P.J. Lonergan was the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week, and Odell Beckham, Jr. certainly was the specialist in the conference. We can't turn the ball over like we did in that game. We got turnovers but we can't give turnovers. We had a fumble that was really a very big play. We had a back that adjusted a route that shouldn't have been adjusted, and we had a quarterback that tried to be a little aggressive on a throw. These are all things that we can get accomplished. Penalties, they're still not perfect, but we look back at them. I'd have to take one or two of those penalties myself. If we could've avoided the holding on the long pass to the six yard line, that certainly would've been better. We had an offsides that allowed their offensive drive to continue. It was very significant. We have things to correct, and the good news is that we have time to do that. Again, the defense got three interceptions, key plays, and they lead the conference in 29 turnovers. That includes 17 interceptions. The defense is certainly doing their job in that respect. Special teams, we're punting the ball well, and we're returning it. I think our starting possession was an advance over our opponent's starting possession by about 12 yards. We're a team that can kick it down and tackle you before you even get to the 20. That's a tremendous advantage to us.

"Arkansas, I think they're a talented team. When you watch their film, you can see why they were ranked in the top 10 to start the season, and they're still there. The quality players have played hard. John L. Smith was in a tough position in this last game, but I'm sure that he'll be ready, and I'm sure that this Arkansas team will play inspired. Offensively, Tyler Wilson is a great quarterback who can really throw the football. He's averaging 303 yards passing per game, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Their wide receiver Cobi Hamilton has eight catches for 1200 yards and five touchdowns. He's a big play receiver. They have a good running back in Dennis Johnson, and offensively , they're very dangerous. Defensively, they have a good force unit. They're very good against the run, and they have a very quality front seven.

"Overall, we need to finish. We need to make sure that this season, we operate like we have said we would and turn out to be the best team that we can be and to be a dominate team on Saturdays. We're playing this Friday, so we'll have to move that schedule up a day, but that's the goal; to play best, to improve and to see where this season puts us. We don't control our destiny, but there are some destinations that this football team would love to be a part of."

On Arkansas's preseason expectations ...
"It is very difficult for me, having not been involved on their campus and their team. The only thing I can tell you is that they seem to play better, with enthusiasm and with emotion. I see talent there when I watch the film. We have to play well and understand that we will be challenged."

On playing at Arkansas ...
"I think our schedule is a pretty good one for the Holidays. It doesn't get them home much for Thanksgiving. I think the opportunity for them to play on a Friday and in a day-time game, playing at an opponent's stadium, is certainly something that our team can enjoy. When you watch the film, the opponent will gain your respect. I can't imagine that we would not play well or competitively in this game."

On the play of QB Zach Mettenberger...
"We are protecting better and our routes are by design and by design coming into vision for him. Not only is he seeing it better, but the routes are on point for what we have asked them to do. We have maintained that chemistry. If that continues, we have the opportunity to throw the football."

On what inspired his postgame media speech...
"I seldom read the papers as you guys know, but I get reports. The opportunity for me to talk about my senior class and let them know that their contribution was greatly respected, and that in no way can an article written by somebody out of the building have any real effect in terms of legitimacy of an opinion, so I took a broad stroke there on that comment."

On Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson...
"First of all, it is our plan to make our secondary more competent and more accountable. I think that will happen. I think that Tyler is a tremendous talent and a very capable quarterback. Again, it will be a challenge to us. The only way to contain a guy like that is with coverage and rushes in certain down and distances. It is an evolving strategy throughout the game."

On the short week schedule...
"Today is Tuesday, tomorrow is Wednesday, Wednesday will be our Thursday and Thursday will be our Friday in scripting and writing. Then we will travel that day. We will have a team meal, and really celebrate a team and family style of meal. We will laugh and enjoy each other's company, and then practice."

On the short passing game...
"The opportunity to hit those underneath routes just requires a defensive deployment of width. When you widen a defensive front, it allows you to attack. That affects the overall view. You find people that are deployed and defending the pass, we should have the opportunity to gut them some. It also allows us to hit a vertical seem."

On the other college football games...
"I would say that I got home around 8 or 9 p.m. I watched football from that point forward. I saw the Stanford-Oregon game. I saw bits and pieces of UCLA and USC. Really, as much as I could get to. It was just a matter of time. I watched the Kansas State game. First of all, Coach Snyder might be the finest coach I know. He is a quality man. He is as good a fundamental coach and is on the edge of knowing how to attacked offenses, defenses and special teams. He is as good as there is. If you watch TV and compare our conference across the board, I think we would compare extremely well. Somebody said it well in the media. Death, taxes and the SEC. We are coming."

On the possibility of playing a bowl game in New Orleans...
"First of all, it is a great city for us with the exception of one game. We play extremely well in that facility. I would like to go back and reacquaint ourselves with playing best in the Dome."

On the accomplishments of winning double digit games year in and year out...
"Each team has their own set of circumstances and situations. Some teams can get to that. Some teams can't. Some teams fight injury, sickness and legitimate issues on and off the field that limit or grant opportunities for them to succeed. I think this team is fighting and doing exactly what we have asked them to do. I think that they are as competitive as can be. I have to be honest with you. It is very positive to win 10, but I wish that it was 12. Sometimes 10 is just what you should have won. I understand that. I am proud of how this team is fighting and playing."

On the play of tight end Travis Dickson...
"We have some guys and he has developed. It is an amazing thing when young guys come in, they learn, they invest and they fight to get better. They improve, and they do it quietly. They do it in a position where possibly in the stands have not noticed, but the coaches have. I think you will see him the rest of the way out. He is a guy that we will count on."

On the status of LB Kwon Alexander and RB Alfred Blue...
"Kwon Alexander is likely to play in this game. Certainly, likely to travel. I think it will depend on how this week goes for him. Alfred Blue, I am not certain. I don't think it is the same injury. I would like to take him anyway. I believe that I will be capped in the position where the guys that need to play and are healthy get to go."

On his comments about his own playing days...
"I think anybody that goes into a career, I would be willing to bet that maybe the finest golfer in our country today, no matter who it is, will say, 'boy I missed that shot. That was mine.' Careers, I would have to say that one of my idols, Michael Jordan, would look back and go, 'I wish.' I think that there are a number of men who look at themselves and just wish that they had the opportunity to make that play or felt like they could have played better in some way. They could have been more productive for their team or used better by his coach. I don't know if many careers where a guy just check every box. To sit on the side and critically look at that, is very difficult. I can remember riding with my old coach, Bo Schembechler, and asking him about two players. One of them was one of the most physically gifted men I have ever seen and the other guy had very little natural ability, but his preparation was 100 miles an hour. I said, 'Coach, wouldn't it be great to find the combination of the two guys.' He said, 'You know, that little guy has always been operating with his mind and it has taught his mind to do those things. The big, talented guy still gets it done, but it is not the same. He is doing it with a different characteristic.' Both of those people play on Sundays, have unusual careers and they are spectacular men. Generally speaking, the rest of us in America come somewhat short of that. I just was speaking to those men who have been tremendously productive, accountable and have contributed to specific victory and achievement in my program. I do not want them to be viewed or judged in any other way, which is positively."




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