Miles Speaks to Media Prior to Arkansas (@LSUsports) (@LSUsports)
LSU Sports Interactive

BATON ROUGE -- LSU head coach Les Miles addressed the media during his weekly "Lunch with Les" press conference on Monday. The Tigers play host to Arkansas in the regular-season finale on Saturday at 6 p.m. CST on ESPN. Watch the press conference on-demand in the Geaux Zone.

Les Miles Press Luncheon
November 23, 2009


Opening statement...

“As we went to the Ole Miss game, we asked our team to do some things very specifically. We asked them to play as themselves, play as LSU, find a piece of them and play with it. I felt like defensively they did that minus about three plays. I felt like that defense was a pretty strong defense. They played better in the second half than they played in the first. Offensively, we had a quarterback with a hobbled foot, and we lost a tailback. A young wide receiver makes a couple of big plays. I felt like our offense gave us every opportunity to win. On special teams, we block a field goal for a touchdown. We get a successful onside kick. I thought special teams played very, very well.

“As a part of a process that we go through, we evaluate everything we do. We evaluate the players and the coaches and every decision that’s made. I’m a part of that process. I’m no different than anybody in that room – that team room that I run. We look at ourselves very critically. Certainly I mismanaged the back end of the Ole Miss game. It’s my responsibility. I’m the head coach. I know I’m taking criticism, so what I’m going to try to do is go through this kind of bit-by-bit for those of you who would need to listen.

“It starts with the missed two-point conversion. I understand that we got to the one and a half (yard line). We talked about a couple of plays at that point in time. We were missing two tight ends that were nicked, so the opportunity to get the run that we wanted in the game was not quickly accessible. We felt like the advantage that we had at the wide receiver spot was still there. I like our quarterback. I like our wide receiver. I like the call. I told every guy on that onsides team that all we have to do is get this ball back, and we win with a three-pointer. The mindset was right, and Jo Jo (LaFell) makes a big play on the kick.

“He comes back, and we hit the flanker screen down to the 32-yard line, and it’s that point in time that I anticipate us winning that game. I felt like we needed to be closer. Certainly a 49-yard field goal is a good kick for our guy, but the opportunity to move the ball certainly is what we needed to do. We discussed briefly runs and passes, and frankly the first pass is a deep ball that is one where we have great protection. We have a throw away, and it also backs off the defense. The second pass is a very quick throw and one where we ought to be able to bang it in there versus virtually any coverage. It’s there. We take the sack. I want to do better there. I want to do better there in strategy. I want to do better there in how we approach that position. I don’t want to ever back up in a position where we are first and 10 at the 32 (yard line). I want to put ourselves in that position more often at practice. We are going to discuss more thoroughly that spot in the play call. I defend those calls. Those calls come with my name on them. I want it better, and we will be better.

“Now at that point, as a head coach in review, that’s where I want to win the game. I want to win the game right there when it’s first and 10 at the 32. Now we’re fourth down and 26, and it’s a much different scenario. What I am doing and the mistake that I make is I go to the next play, and I’m talking about what’s injured, what’s not, who’s on the field, the plays that need to be made and trying to review quickly what needs to be and what needs to take place on fourth and 26. I let the clock get away from me. It’s my fault. It’s my mistake. Finally, I get the timeout called, and now it’s a nine-second game. It’s fourth and 26 with nine seconds to play. I know by experience that it’s not likely we’ll get two snaps. In fact, if you get the first down, by the time you get the team down there, get on the ball and snap it, it’s not a likely scenario, so we make the decision to go for the score. We throw the deepest ball that we can. Their defense makes a great call and keeps our quarterback in the pocket. We had a nice roll to it. Our quarterback makes a great throw. Terrance Toliver makes a great catch, and we come down at the five-yard line or so.

“For us to get the next snap, it would have taken a tremendous position. With three seconds on the clock –
 which in the initial view it was different – you have the opportunity to spike it, and a number of things can take place, but with one second on the clock, the likelihood of getting the ball snapped was not good, so the initial decision at nine seconds, certainly the mistake being made in squandering seconds not in review at this time, but the view of the nine-second play just to get one play run and with the opportunity to win it was probably the right call. Now, on the next snap, these are the two plays we have practiced, and we practice them certainly every Thursday and certainly every week. One is a hurried field goal. It takes 12 seconds to get our personnel on the field. We do not have a chance to get that ball off. The other is to have a play called, and the mechanics of that play are this. The official walks onto the ball. As he walks away from the ball, the play clock is wound, and the second goes off. Now, we refute this now put into this position, how do we get a play snapped? I suggest that it’s very difficult. I suggest that with one second to go on the clock that without question, more times often than not we will not get a snap.

“Now, in terms of the issue of clocking it, certainly there was every want to win that game. In a position of now what and wanting to get another snap, without a play call because the opportunity that we thought had certainly was that we would try to score with the play that was called. Now the one second and to try to come to the line of scrimmage and get that ball snapped with some positive result with one second to go was certainly what our greatest desire was. Again, without the field goal and without the second play called and trying to get the team on the ball, what was relayed from the press box was there was a possibility of a 12th man on defense. If they could get the ball snapped in some way, that defensive penalty might give us another opportunity at a snap. I reviewed it. There was a substitution that took place there, not 12 guys on the field. That verbally came down from the press box to the sideline and was signaled to the field. At that point in time with one second to go on the clock, I had lost that opportunity for the team there by squandering seconds.

“We didn’t get it off. If you look at the official play-by-play, we did not get that ball snapped. They don’t list it as a snap. They list it as ‘Game ends at the five yard line.’ I saw as a part of reference to come over here today a YouTube video of me pointing at the ground. That was on the reception as soon as Toliver caught the ball. The Ole Miss rebel came up with the ball. That was description of the coach trying to tell them, ‘It was down. It was down.’

“With the ‘clock it’ call made at any point in time, if the quarterback is getting signaled to clock it, I understand his decision. That’s what he should do. The play signaler should also signal to clock it, but I knew at that point that was not the answer. Certainly that may have been the best answer that we had considering if there were 12 men on the field, then there would be a flag thrown. I went through the possibility of asking for three seconds to come back on the clock. At that point in time, the officials were running off the field; there was no chance. We went through these situations very thoroughly as a staff, and I’ve learned. I’ve got to get it right. It’s my fault. It will be fixed. It’s my responsibility.

“I told my team Saturday as we came in from Mississippi, and we went into the team room, and I told them again this morning that if there is accountability in this room, in this team room, I hold them accountable, and I’m accountable to them. I spoke to them very honestly about my mistake. I also spoke to them about the strength of a team, that the team is a group of men committed to each other with a want to succeed and to do all those things that they need to. I have a great team. I have a great group of men, and it’s a difficult time. We’re certainly going to have to do well and perform from this point forward.

“I regret the mistake. It cost my team a best opportunity at victory. In 48 hours I’ve gone through the pain of this, and it’s not something I enjoy. Certainly my team feels as bad as I, but I’m done with Ole Miss. I know you’ll have some questions after, but I have got to turn my attention to Arkansas. They’re a very talented football team. My team shows up at 3:15 p.m. today, and I do not have the luxury to review the call and review the situations yet again. I feel like the adjustments have been made. Certainly I understand the mistakes that were made, and we’ll be better, but I have 24 seniors that will play in their final game in Tiger Stadium. I want to prepare a great game plan. I want to give them every opportunity at victory.

“Arkansas is a very, very good team certainly at this time in the season. They’ve won four straight. They are coming off a 42-21 win over Mississippi State and really hitting on all cylinders. Coach (Bobby) Petrino has done a great job there. They have a high-powered offense and good defense. Offensively, they are averaging 38 points per game. They are first in the conference in total offense at 445 yards per game and throwing at 310 per game. They are very good in the red zone. They are scoring at about 97 percent. They are very talented at quarterback with Ryan Mallett, who leads the SEC in total offense with 288 yards and passing offense at 290. He’s thrown 28 touchdowns and six interceptions. He does a great job managing their offense. They have four players with at least 25 catches and three with 30, so they move the ball around. There is a lot of talent in their offense.

“Defensively, they are allowing 25 points and 400 yards per game, but they get very good down in the red zone. They are No. 2 in turnover margin with plus 12, so they are getting takeaways and not turning it over. Again, they are No. 2 in the red zone on defense. Again, the goal is to send 24 seniors out with a great game plan and a great opportunity at victory. I have a responsibility to represent a great school, great state and a great team. I understand the mistake that this head coach has made, and it will not be repeated.”

On how long it takes to get the field goal unit on the field...
“We’ve practiced it on a daily basis, and it takes 12 seconds on the play clock.”

On whose responsibility it is to get the field goal unit on the field...
“If we had 30 seconds between the throw and ball ready to play, I’d be very much surprised. It’s my responsibility completely.”

On his motion toward the ground...
“The video that I looked at was simultaneously arrived with the ball and the catch, so the view that I have is that the Mississippi player comes up with the ball, and I’m telling him he’s down.”

On the notion that he lied about his motion toward the ground after the game...
“I can only tell you this. I knew that clocking it was not the answer, and I was stung in that position with knowing that clocking it was signaled, and I was not for it. Now, to find out why clocking was called, I did not get until I came to work on Sunday, and when I came to work on Sunday, I was told that the view of 12 men on defense was why the ‘clock it’ call was called from the press box, and I certainly know that there was nothing that was going to be done with one second to go on the clock unless there was a defensive penalty. I didn’t know that at the time and was against the ‘clock it’ except that as the description and why came forth on Sunday.”

On if two plays were ready to be called during the timeout...
“No, after the nine seconds, the determination of the style of play that we needed, we go for the first down, the play clock runs out. We felt like we had to score, and that ended up being the case. The second play was not called”

On what happened on the second down play on the 32-yard line...
“The play was not open. The play was a contested ball that with a 6-foot-4 receiver on a perimeter corner where we had a real matchup and leverage on the throw could have been banged in there. It was the style of throw that we felt like could have been thrown no matter what and at worst, the throw away. I certainly understand that Jordan is not throwing the ball, not throwing it for the completion. With retrospect, we’d all like to have him throw the ball out of bounds. I did not give him specific instructions on that spot for that. To me, I think that’s a part of the strategy that I’m talking about. The calls that we make there come with a code that says we are in position to win this game, travel smartly and make great decisions. We did not give him that. He should have had that. We should have given him that absolutely. The one thing that Jordan Jefferson has done – certainly he’s been sacked – is he’s got great ball security. He throws a pick in that game, and it surprised him. It surprised his team, and he’s not prone to doing that, so I understand him pulling that ball down, and I understand him not throwing it. I understand the sack. The problem is he needs to throw it away. That’s what we’d like to have schooled. I didn’t have that schooled, and that’s something that we have got to get fixed.”

On if the players are taught to take ownership in situations with the clock running down to take a timeout...
“The want to have had the players on the field make the timeout call in that spot certainly is a great call. That’s what should happen, but in the same vein, that’s my responsibility. I have done that every game that I’ve ever been alive as a head coach, and I can’t imagine that I made the mistake I did. It was my mistake.”

On the running back situation going forward with Stevan Ridley, Trindon Holliday and Russell Shepard...
“Those are the three that will get the carries first certainly. I think Dominique Allen might get some snaps, and there are some other guys who might play at tailback.”

On if someone is responsible for noticing the time situation and calling a time out...
“I don’t know that there is that responsibility designated. Certainly I would have anticipated that I would have gotten the official’s attention, and the timeout would have been defined. That is my responsibility. I think that at some point in time I saw the fact that the clock was running, and I had to get it called. No, there is not a check in place. There is now.”

On practicing for the situation with one second remaining...
“We’re bringing it from the sideline, and to be very honest with you, the added piece will be to snap the ball when the official walks away, not made ready to play but when the official walks away from the ball because if he makes it ready to play, the chances of being ready to take the snap are not good. It’s got to be when he walks away, and that is being done. That’s a part of our review system.”

On if he has the authority to overrule his coaches in play calling on that last drive...
“I absolutely could have forced a run. I felt like the coordinator had done a really good job. We just moved the football down the field throwing the football for a drive and a score. I felt like our quarterback was in rhythm, and I listened. The two calls to the sack, certainly the second call was a call that I instinctively would recognize it as a pretty safe call.”

On the play call on the two-point conversion...
“We lost two at the same position. We lost two tight ends. That created these issues. The issues are not can you run the play, but can you have the advantage and make that play a success? Can you execute the play? Having a guy that understands the assignment is one thing. Having a guy who can go get it for a positive play is another. We felt like the receivers on the field and our quarterback being in rhythm was an advantage at that point.”

On what specifically he thinks he has learned from his mistakes...
“In the back end of the game, if I had to put three things in, certainly I want manage the first down from the 32-yard line. I want to manage the calls better. I want our quarterback to have an understanding that he’s in a position where we are in good shape, that in fact we don’t back up from there under any circumstances. We call passes, and we call runs, but they are going to be those runs that are designed to be safe, zeros or throw-aways or a positive gain. To me, that’s the first piece. Certainly the easiest piece is to correct me. Make the timeout call, coach. It’s not that hard, and I take that to heart. The other piece is we found out about the mechanics of plays and those plays that were without timeouts and it’s a short clock and how to get the ball snapped with no time or a second on the clock. To me, we have a little conversation with our center today, and we will be better from the knowledge of how that back end went. We will also have in a position where we can’t get a field goal team on the field, we’re going to have a play that we’re going to run repeatedly, one that we practice and one that will then be a follow of a great play and follow with this play. That’s been discussed currently and already with Jordan and our quarterbacks. We are improved by strategy, but it doesn’t help us last week.” 

On why they weren’t prepared considering the unpredictable nature of college football...
“It’s interesting. The thought process was we had to score on that play. Jordan Jefferson made a great throw as close as he could without rolling to the direction of the throw. The second play is being worked but was not called prior to, and the reason certainly is the feel that it had to score and that we were not going to get a second play off. That ended up being the case.”

On his thought process in needing to declare Terrance Toliver down by contact with his motion to the ground...
“The Ole Miss player came up with the ball. He came out of the pile with the ball, so I wanted to make sure that they knew that the ball was down and that the receiver had caught it and gone down.”

On what personnel you need to send on the field for a field goal attempt...
“You need four tight ends and five offensive linemen.”

On if he could have gotten a penalty for excessive timeouts and been able to run another play...
“I saw the registered timeout on the score clock, and I thought about that because I knew that I had taken my third. I wondered if I could have gotten a penalty to allow us some time. I asked that to the head of officials last night. I didn’t ask him that specifically. What I asked him was if we lined up over the ball, and we were offsides, would then there be a flag thrown and then the opportunity for a huddle and a snap. He said, ‘No.’ It will still be the situation on the clock with one second. They’d mark off the five yards and then spot the ball and snap the ball. I think that maybe there is a chance there that if you orchestrated a penalty in a position where you could get that done, it would be a masterful plan.”

On if he tried to call timeout from the time the third down play was over to the time it was called with nine seconds left...
“I’d be the first one to tell you that I would like to think that I had called timeout before that. I can’t imagine that I did not. I can’t tell you that I did, and that’s my issue. My issue is that mentally certainly I thought that the timeout was called. The timeout is called and that I was into the next play, what we need to do, what’s going on, and that’s my mistake. I understand.”

On if he can run a field goal attempt where he only needs to sub the snapper, holder and kicker in the game and just three other players out...
“No, we’ve only used our field goal team, and we practice it every week. The reason we don’t do it the other way is if you watched some older, botched field goals where everything is not proper, and they can come of an edge, you have a chance but you don’t have a chance because they block it.”

On if he made a statement today to fans to put this behind us and trust him going forward...
“I certainly understand the criticism. I’m critical myself. The thing that I would encourage is support this football team. They’ve worked awfully hard. They are a quality group of men, and there are some special things left in the season for us – the opportunity to win nine in the regular season and the opportunity to win 10 in the bowl season. Our football team is going through a very difficult time with this game, and I understand the criticism of the head coach. I’m critical myself. That will have been fixed. We will go on. I want you to support our players and this team.”



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