Miles, Football Team Hold Annual Media Day

LSU head coach Les Miles
LSU head coach Les Miles
Steve Franz (@LSUsports) (@LSUsports)
LSU Sports Interactive

BATON ROUGE -- LSU head coach Les Miles along with coordinators John Chavis and Cam Cameron addressed the media on Sunday afternoon during the football team's annual Media Day.


Photos: Media Day | Fan Day

August 11, 2013

An interview with: COACH MILES

COACH MILES: Afternoon. I think we're a football team that is developing, and I like the position that we're in. We've had a quality week. We went five acclimatization days, and four of which we split the team and we took what we had really maximum reps, if you will. The fact that the first team would play in the a.m., and the second team would play in the p.m. against each other, and really, we took the time to introduce our football and really to get maximum reps and maximum repetition on our offense, defense, and special teams.
So, again, I like where we're at. I think we're improving. We've had seven really, really good weeks. So I should say seven really good practices. So, questions?

Q. If you would, could you elaborate a little bit on Josh Williford's injury, and what happened to him?
COACH MILES: Yeah, I think it's wise for me not to talk about injuries at this time, And Mike will prepare something and release it all at once. But if you have an injury question, just hold it.

Q. But just how it happened in practice?
COACH MILES: It's football. Coincidentally contact, and we were in shoulder pads and helmets, so...

Q. On Vadal Alexander
COACH MILES: Yeah, we've moved Vadal over to right side from the right side to the left guard. Really, it's really benefited us. We really think that Hawkins has had as quality a camp to this point as anybody. He may well be one of those very, very talented offensive linemen that can really play. So the advantage then, if you take Vadal and you move him into the left guard spot where Williford was, it will really give us some real power at that left side with he and La'el Collins.

Q. Some of the new guys, new arrivals, that have kind of asserted themselves that are pushing for the second, third unit or any position?
COACH MILES: Yeah, I want you to know something, I think Duke Riley is coming here really with speed and enthusiasm. I think he's going to have a great career further. I think there's been a number of guys. I think Jeryl Brazil with his speed has some real ability there. I like Rickey Jefferson. I think Rickey Jefferson's going to be a real quality addition to the secondary.
Melvin Jones, a talented guy and Kendell Beckwith, I think ‑‑ I think our line backing core, generally, is just much improved.

Q. On Lamin Barrow getting No. 18 jersey.
COACH MILES: You know what? He's paid a tremendous price in his preparation, you can tell. He's hard working, he's big, strong, physical, and yet he's a quiet leader. He's a guy who leads by example and really when he talks everybody listens.
He's had a very, very quality opinion on everything that we've done here really since I've been here. He's been a leader that was many times not overtly vocal, but kind of in the back of the scenes going this is what's right. I think he's really earned the spot. 18 is a chemistry. It's a program guy that's kind of developed and kind of reflects on how he treats other people and really what kind of person he is. I just think it was a great pick.

Q. Coach, in the middle. You mentioned Rickey Jefferson, what characteristics have you seen from him that will lead to some early playing time?
COACH MILES: Well, he can really cover. He's a very physical player. So he's going to have to get comfortable in the secondary and understand his responsibilities as it fits into the scheme and the call. But we think he'll have real success.

Q. Just talk about the offense and the changes that you've seen just in the short time that Coach Cameron's been here? We've talked to the guys and they said it's harder to figure out for the opposing defense, but your defense understands after seeing it in practice every day what's going on.
COACH MILES: There is an opportunity for us to call multiple plays from different, as you say, a select group of plays from many, what would be variant personnel groups and implementations. So what appears to be something new for our opponent will not necessarily be new for our guys. That is really the major piece.
The fact that Cam has real understanding of different aspects and places on the field and where and how to attack, we're not there yet. Certainly we're not ready to play, but his influence, we're going to be better.

Q. How much competition has Anthony Jennings provided to Stephen Rivers, and where does that No. 2 quarterback position shake out as of right now?
COACH MILES: Anthony Jennings is really improving. I like how he's coming. Really, Stephen Rivers is also really improving as well. I think Anthony Jennings has certainly a leg‑up on that second spot, but they continue to compete.

Q. How did you do in the Michigan version of the big cat drill?
COACH MILES: Oh, I'd be in trouble, I think. The one thing that we did at Michigan was that we came out of chutes every day I had respect for that. It was pretty routine. I certainly would have enjoyed the competition.

Q. I was wondering how the place kicking battle was coming together between number 30 and number 30 and number 30?
COACH MILES: We're going to have to change those numbers, you know? The problem with it is the NCAA has come up with a new rule that the people at the same position can't share the same number, so we're going to have to come up with 3, 0, and 30, and just kind of put tape over the appropriate number so that we can send them on to the field.
I think Colby Delahoussaye is certainly in front there as our field goal guy and really is kicking well. He had a really nice camp. Though I think James Hairston as well and Trent Dominique are really providing competition. Trent gives us not only a back‑up with a long field goal, but also a really quality punter if he can step in and punt the ball. So he's going to give us that.
James is still our kickoff guy and can be a long field goal guy. So I think Colby is certainly the advantage at this point just simply at field goal.

Q. Can you talk about the defensive end who jumped out at you this week? Did Lewis Neal improve his chances of starting after the first week?
COACH MILES: I think the veterans have really jumped out at me. I think Jordan Allen is a guy that really has two years left to play and he's really prepared. He's having a nice start. I think Danielle Hunter is going to be a guy that's going to play a lot of football. I think Lewis Neal as well as Tashawn Bower, as well as Frank Herron are guys that can really step in and play. I think we're going to have real quality end play.
M.J. Patterson, for that matter, there are some real fast, athletic, big men there at the end for us. So we'll look forward to putting them on the field.

Q. In light of the rules being more clearly defined, I guess, in terms of launching and high hits, et cetera, and defenseless players and the penalties being much more costly, has that factored into coaching at all?
COACH MILES: Absolutely. I think every defensive coach will have the opportunity to teach a little lower framework on his tackle. You're really looking at places where they're defenseless players. In other words, a receiver that's going up for a ball who is really defenseless except that he's receiving the ball. They also pointed at what would be a kicker after the kick.
They also pointed at a quarterback after change of possession. So, defenseless player is a big deal. Give you an example ‑ on a punt return, a guy that's running to make the tackle who doesn't see the blocker, that blocker cannot just waylay the guy.
Now all of those spots being discussed, here's the key piece: Launch with intent to be above the shoulders, whether it's your helmet, your shoulder pad, your forearm, period. From the shoulders or above, if you launch, then, in fact, this is going to be a 15‑yard penalty and a game suspension.
Now, if given that opportunity, you're wrapping and you stay low and if it becomes incidental, it's much different. In other words, you can say it was not by intent. And in a tight scrimmage in the in‑line play, that's not going to be called.
But it's those defenseless players that you cannot target with the helmet. You can't target above the shoulders. Yes, at this think it's going to be coached well. I think the guys that coach it well and coach it best will have an advantage come game day.
Those plays that were described as real impacting hits have to be removed from the game. That's really what's happening. So we can be tough, and they're going to be great hits and it's going to be a physical game. But it's not going to be intentional above the shoulders.

Q. Over these next few weeks getting closer and closer to the start of the season, what are your greatest points of emphasis overall in terms of getting this team game ready?
COACH MILES: What we're doing is going through all of the situations that we go through yearly at this time. We're talking red zone, tight zone now. We'll talk coming out, backed up. We'll talk four‑minute, four‑minute is kind of a sore point for me. I want to practice it significantly in these next couple of weeks.
Other than that it will be offense, defense and special teams, and really getting the guys in the right spots. There are a number of very talented guys that have just arrived. We want to make sure we get them in the right spots to get them on the field.

Q. Can you reference four-minutes?
COACH MILES: Four-minute is the back end of the game where you have the lead and/or defensively you don't have the lead and you have to get the ball back. It's a piece of time where the defense is more likely to take chances, be zero, all coverage, down low. It's a place too if we're good at it, we win two more ballgames, so that's the emphasis.

Q. Other than kind of forcing TCU to have to prepare for the possibility of Jeremy Hill playing, what is not telling us and not announcing it, what else does that accomplish? Are there other benefits to it and how does the team respond not knowing if he'll be there or not?
COACH MILES: The idea that you have a discipline that is reflective of in‑house, it's team in nature, and it doesn't reflect outside opinion. Outside opinion can be self‑serving, depending on the location that you live in. It's really egregious or it's not that bad at all.
So what we're going to do is talk about our culture, and punishment will be dealt in an appropriate fashion.

Q. You guys are a little bit of an underdog as far as outside expectations in this room, but you have thrived from that in years past. Next question, your large group of juniors made their foray onto the field this weekend, many of them having an impact, and specifically what Tyrann was able to do after a year away from the game?
COACH MILES: Tyrann is obviously playing very well at Arizona, Peterson also and Minter so Arizona might be LSU West. So we'll look forward to kind of following guys. Telling me that Bennie Logan had a sack and really that Matt Flynn played pretty well at Oakland. Yeah, it's fun. I don't watch Sunday football because I don't have the opportunity, but when I get to the channels or the news comes on and I'm about ready to close my eyes, it's nice to see a Tiger playing in a professional league and having success.

Q. If you would, Coach, maybe some impressions of Travin Dural so far in camp, and what's he bring this year that you didn't have a year ago?
COACH MILES: Travin's playing better, he's got great speed and the ability to go up and get the ball. He's developing really well, and I would expect to see him on the field in the game.

Q. Where's your chain that used to be over there?
COACH MILES: The chain?

Q. Yeah, the big chain.
COACH MILES: It's coming. It's being prepared. What happens is it's claimed and a new coat of paint is put over the top. So this year's team, once they recommit to this room, this team will sign on top. So every year that we sign, there is that signature still on that chain within the layer, if you will.

Q. Coach, would you talk about Kenny Hilliard and what kind of year he's having?
COACH MILES: Kenny is coming lighter, faster. Looking for an opportunity to play significant football with four tailbacks. He's certainly going to be a guy that's carried and will be relied on to carry his share of the balls.

Q. What makes Dallas an attractive destination for you to keep coming back to?
COACH MILES: It's a place that I'm comfortable with. I used to live over there in Hackberry Creek. It's always fun to go by the Anatole, and certainly the place that we're playing. It's spectacular. We have enough people in the Dallas area that we're recruiting, it's close enough so that the LSU faithful can get there. We enjoy that neck of the woods.

Q. If Josh Williford is not able to play at some point in this season, you'll have potentially an offensive starting unit without a senior for the first time in a long time, if my memory's correct. How's that unit coming together?
COACH MILES: I really kind of like what our offensive line is. I think Hawkins may be an undersung, very dominant player at the right side. I think you're looking at a center spot with both Porter and Ethan Pocic that will give you what you want. Trai Turner at the right guard, and then side, Vadal over there has given us real power besides La'el Collins. I think they're coming together really well.
First of all, the knowledge that Alexander brings to the left side, you play as much football as he has, even as a young player, he brings over a lot of knowledge, and those two men beside each other, you know, they're going to give us a real push.
I like the center combination, Ethan Pocic is coming. He showed up here in spring of the year, and he's played and competed. Elliott Porter, to me, is in position to have a great fall, so I like us.

Q. My question was exactly about the battle between Porter and Pocic. If Pocic does start, and I know you can't make a determination, I think he'll be the first true freshman to start at LSU on the offensive line since Alan Faneca did many years ago. Is that still too close to call on who will start at center?
COACH MILES: Yeah, I think both guys will play significant football. It would be hard for me to say in every game, but I would have to say routinely throughout the season.
I can't tell you who exactly is going to be the guy. I wouldn't be surprised if Elliott Porter held it down the entire year. We'll have to see how it goes.

Q. Not a question, but an observation. Last year I did an analysis of the players from the different schools in the NFL. LSU was third behind USC and Ohio State this year. I haven't done a complete analysis, but LSU was up three players with 48 on the pre ‑‑ season rosters and Alabama had 32. Care to comment on that?
COACH MILES: Well, I can tell you that we're doing a great job evaluating our players as we recruit them. It's a very honest opportunity at the end of play here. Our guys successfully go on to the NFL.
Spencer Wares looked like he had about five yards a carry and several receptions. It's going to be nice to watch games on Sunday as well, won't it?

Q. Coach, we just talked about Pocic and Jefferson and Beckwith. Can you, as a whole, generalize this group of true freshmen and what kind of an impact they're going to have on this football team?
COACH MILES: We've counted on them to have real strong impact considering we've graduated 11 of our juniors on to the NFL early. Our guys leave this room to the NFL and we have to have impact from our young team. That freshman class, those newcomers that arrive in this room. I think we recruited to that. I think it was an opportunity that these guys saw and seized.
I think that they look forward to coming into this room and being like others that have played here and had impact as really as true freshmen or as newcomers.

Q. Can you kind of speak to what's been the trademark of your offense, the power running game, and the backs you have combined with the offensive line this year? Your confidence to be able to lineup and run it like you have in the past?
COACH MILES: Well, I think our fullbacks, our offensive line, I think Dillon Gordon at the tight end spot is a big, strong, powerful man. I think that the opportunity to rush the football as we have in the past is certainly there now. Combine that with play action and the things that Cam would bring.
I think the advantages are to keep the strength that we've had, but build on it with the ability to throw the football in like situations, in like formations, so the defense cannot determine whether it's run or pass.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

LSU Media Day
August 11, 2013


On the changing of the college game…
“Other then a few different rules it is still teaching. In the NFL you are working with younger and younger guys every year. The average age of the guys that I was coaching really wasn’t all that different. I think coaching is coaching. Teaching is teaching. The games are a little bit different. Obviously I’ve coached longer in college than I did in the National Football League. It feels good to get back in the college game.”

On his offensive scheme…
“We are still working our way through (the offensive scheme). We have some things planned. Obviously there is a great foundation here offensively, especially the running game and protection scheme. There is a lot of good stuff in this offense. We have made sure we’ve looked at everything that we like the most as a staff and that Coach Miles is comfortable with. We just try to build on the things that fit our players. Everyone on our offense has input. I think that is the only way you can do it. We have an outstanding offensive staff. Some things will be similar. But the hash marks are different so there are certain things that fit in the NFL game that really don’t fit in the college game. We are smart enough as a staff to realize that. We have other guys on the staff that have been in the NFL. The spacing is a little bit different and the rules are a little bit different. There is a lot more contact with receivers down the field. We are tweaking our scheme just because there is so much contact down the field. In the National Football League it is not quite that way.

“What I have tried to do is come in and get as much input as I could from the current staff. It is a tremendous staff. I talked to the players. I was able to talk to every player within the first two and a half days. I got feedback from them and that was very positive. The bottom line is we need to ask our players to do what they do best and develop the talents that they bring to the table. We have guys that can run. We have guys that can throw. We have guys that can catch. We tell our guys if you don’t have a football in your hands you are a blocker. Everyone has to be a blocker. We are still evolving to see the things that we do best. I think we do a lot of things well, but really there is more to it than that. We want to do things on Saturday night that we do best and throw out the stuff that we aren’t able to do at the level that we want. That is why we are still evolving.”  

On coaching from the press box vs. the field…
“Ninety-five percent of coaches in the NFL are on the sideline. The reason being is you get photos. They give you photos of what is going on. But I will be in the press box. (In college) you don’t get photos, but it is the best view. I have been up there for years. There is no doubt it is the best view. In the NFL you are able to talk to the quarterback. To be able to punch a button and communicate with the quarterback allows you to do things quickly. You don’t have that luxury in college. I’ll be relaying things down to our assistant coaches and our signalers. I’ll be talking to Zach (Mettenberger) in between series. There are some changes, but these are things I have done in the past at both levels.”


On how practice is going so far …
“It’s going well. We got some good, warm weather for this acclimation period. We got in pads on Friday in full gear, and it’s a lot better when you’re out in full gear to play real football.”

On the incoming freshman class …
“I think it’s too early to start calling names. We’ve got a very talented class that arrived on campus earlier in the summer. Most of them have been here working out, and they’re in great condition. It’s going to be fun to see how things work out, and we’re going to count on some of those young guys to provide depth for us.”

On Jalen Mills
“He’s got a year of experience, and that helps. He did a good job for us as a true freshman last year and stepped in and played in a big way for us, and we need him to do that. We’ll count on him to have an even bigger year this year.”

On what it takes to play cornerback at LSU …
“If you’re going to play at LSU, it starts with ability to cover. You’ve got to have great hips and great speed to do that. And then you’ve got to have great confidence because I don’t care how good you are – there’s going to be a point in time where you give up a play and then you’ve got to go play the next play. It takes great athletic ability, and it takes great confidence to play corner at LSU.”

On whether this season will be a test for new guys to see if they can compete …
“I think it’s always a test. Obviously the number of guys that we lost last year isn’t usual – normally you don’t lose that many, but we did. We didn’t get caught off guard. We recruited well before this year and the years before that. But certainly when you lose that many guys, there’s going to be some freshmen that are going to have the opportunity to play.”

On Lamin Barrow
“Had we not had Kevin Minter last year, everyone would have been talking about Lamin [Barrow] and how well he played because in my opinion he had an outstanding year for us. Look at the number of plays that he was in on and it’s pretty high, so I thought that he played extremely well. Lamin was the guy, had he chose to, who could have gone to the [NFL] Draft and been a second or third round pick from some of the information that I got from people. I don’t want to refer to him as a program guy. He’s an excellent football player; he’s played well here. He decided to come back his senior year and we hope he has a great senior year at LSU and we’re glad to have him. There’s no doubt about that.”


LB Lamin Barrow

On being selected to wear No. 18 this season …
“It just means everything in the world to me because of what it represents to my teammates and the guys who wore it before me. All of the coaches and staff hold me to a responsible leadership role, and that is a compliment to me. I am very honored.”

On his goals and expectations for this season …
“I’m really just focused on winning. I want to win a SEC championship and even a national championship. We did a lot of good things this summer. We have worked very hard this summer. We just want to come out and dominate every game. As far as individual goals, I plan on making a lot of tackles and some big plays. Over the years I’ve been the guy who was a role player. Last year I had a pretty good season. This season I want to make more of those big plays, and I am taking it upon myself to be a better player.”

OT La’el Collins

On playing against big name players …
“I look forward to playing against all of those players. From the first game to the last game I look forward to them, but you cannot just look at them. You cannot overlook that game two or three weeks from now. You have to worry about the guys you are going up against in that week.”

On the pressure of living up to expectations …
“I do not really feel any pressure. I just feel like I am going to go out there and play my game. I am just going to keep on doing what I have been doing. I know there is a lot of pressure, a lot of big roles to fill in this position and a lot of expectations. All I can think about is doing what I need to do right now and that is working hard in practice and preparing myself to help my team.”

On being the most experienced player on the offensive line …
“I feel like it is a big leadership role. You have to play this no matter who you are on the team. Just by having that playing experience a lot of guys are going to look up to me. This is because I played every game last year and I took every snap on offense. They are going to look at me for different opinions and different examples about what could happen in different situations. I will be able to share with them my opinion, and I think this plays a big role.”

WR Jarvis Landry

On contending for titles …
“I think every year we have a chance to contend for an SEC title and a national championship title. Having the chance to go 13-0 and unfortunately losing the national championship I just want to be in that moment again. I really just want to feel that moment again.”

On Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron
Cam Cameron is an awesome coach, an awesome motivator and mentor. The things he does for us on and off the practice field and also in meetings are just tremendous. It is exciting. I think the possibilities are endless because of the way he allows us to practice. He is going to help us to effectively attack defenses this year.”

On passing the ball this season …
“It is LSU. I think we are going to continue to run the ball and pass the ball. I do not think too much will change. It is just the scheme and other things that we are going to do differently to help us be more effective.”

On working with Zach Mettenberger this summer …
“It has been great. Zach has matured as a quarterback. He has definitely raised his level through fall camp. Zach is completing a lot more passes. Zach’s anticipation and his timing have improved. Everything that we need him to do he is doing.”

S Craig Loston

On what it means to have an annual Media Day and Fan Day …
“You get excited about things like this. After the season ends, you think it will be a while before you play again. You look week in and week out, and it’s the offseason. Before you know it, you’re right back ready to play. We have things like this, media day and fan day, to get you excited because the season is right there and I enjoy it.”

On being a team leader on defense …
“I like to just be myself. I make sure I get the right checks and make sure I put our defense in the right position to go out there and make plays. I think if I can do that week in and week out the leadership role will speak for itself.”

On the team’s young talent on defense …
“Since I’ve been here, there have never been so many young people who are looking forward to playing. This year we have a lot of young guys that can get the job done. Tre’Davious White is looking good, as well as Rickey Jefferson and Jeryl Brazil. We have a couple of guys that have experience and have done well also in the past, like Jalen Mills and Jalen Collins, so I think it will be something special.”

On what he thinks about LB Lamin Barrow wearing the No. 18 jersey for the season …
“I love it. Lamin (Barrow) is a great guy. He’s been here as long as I’ve been here. He can go out there and get the job done. I think he holds the same responsibility in his room that I hold in mine, and I think it’s going to be nice.”

DT Anthony Johnson

On his playing time in previous years …
“It helped me tremendously. Playing those big SEC schools is going to help me with my composure. It helps me know what to do coming off the ball and how to help out my teammates around me.”

On what former teammates taught him last year …
“I learned just to keep pushing. Barkevious Mingo was a guy that I looked up to because he started as a small guy and turned out to be a first-round pick. Bennie Logan was another guy that came in as a defensive end and had to wait his turn behind some great guys. They just taught me to keep pushing and go out on the field and play like it was my last game.”

On the differences in the defense this year…
“We are going to keep attacking people. We are going to keep playing great defense. We are going to play hands-on defense and man to man. That is what we do best – play tackle football.”

On being the underdog this season …
“When you look at the past people always put LSU at the bottom. We never look at those kinds of things.  We are going to go out there and play football. We are going to work our way through it and show people we deserve to be at the top.”

QB Zach Mettenberger

On Lamin Barrow being chosen to wear No. 18 …
“Lamin [Barrow] is a great team leader; he is kind of a soft spoken guy. He is definitely a guy who does not talk a lot, but he shows so much leadership. They could not have picked a better guy to give that number to.”

On increasing the passing game this season …
“We will see. We are going to do whatever we need to do to win the games, whether that is passing the ball more or running the ball more. It is whatever gets wins for our team. Obviously, being a quarterback I would like to throw more, but we will see how the season goes.”

On his improvement with Cam Cameron
“I like to think I have gotten better. You have the mindset that you either get better or worse each day. I like to think every day I get better. Coach Cam has been a very influential person on me and my game. The more time we spend together the better we get. There are only three more weeks until the season starts, and we are going to try and get as good as we can.”

On experience and the offensive line …
“We are going to need experienced players all across the board. The younger players are talented but the seasoned veterans are the guys who know what to do every time. We have a really good crew of players at offensive line, same with wide receiver and running back. It is going to be exciting to see the mix of experience and young talent this year.”




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