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LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 2, 2014
COACH LES MILES:¬† Good afternoon, all.¬† Ted, nice to see you.¬† Looking forward to being at home in Tiger Stadium.¬† Looking forward to the new digs, and we're awful excited about it.¬† I can tell you that it's awful exciting around the Miles family at this time.
Manny is getting prepared to play a big game this Friday, and Ben is with Catholic and pursuit of varsity playing time.
So, I'll be at home, and I think that Manny's away and Ben's at home.¬† So, I'll get to see Ben this Friday night.
So, it will be a pleasant break from the movie, considering the classy movies that we have seen, Saw, 1, 2, 3 and 4.¬† Some of the real entertaining movies out there.
But we opened the season with a bowl game.¬† We played a team that I say has won their conference three of the last four years.¬† They're very comfortable in the Rose Bowl.¬† And it was a team that has very obvious talent and capability.
We really enjoyed the hospitality of Houston.¬† The fact that 50,000 friends of the Tigers were on hand.¬† It was obviously a home game.
But, it had all of the markings, the excitement in the stadium, the loudest bells, if you will, that were put off by our fans of a big time bowl game.¬† And our guys, they really enjoyed it.¬† Certainly put themselves in position where we knew that we were going to have to earn the game.
We knew that we were going to have to play four quarters.¬† We just didn't know we were going to have to start down 24‑7.
I give great credit to Wisconsin.¬† They're a big defensive front and really big, huge offensive line that can really block and a back that's a very talented back.
They played very, very good football, really challenged us for the entire time.¬† Made us earn it.¬† Played nine true freshmen, played four first‑time starters, and, considering, I'm glad that this team continued to fight and give relentless effort.
It's interesting, I had somebody close to me tell me, you know, looked like to me in the second half they played faster.¬† Looked like to me in the second half, they played harder.¬† Just looked like to me in the second half that they were going to win, and it was just really a matter of time.¬† And if they could come back.
And I, at ground level‑‑ I don't know if I necessarily got that, but I knew they were playing harder and it's nice to be a part of an organization that has a resolve to fight like hell, to find out if they can't win every game they're in.
And it just seems to me that these Auburn Tigers are not unlike other teams and yet their own brand, their own style of person.
So, offensively, I think we start with a couple of new guys that went the wrong direction a couple times and cost us momentum on drives.¬† And we had a very difficult time getting yardage.¬† I heard somebody on the radio comfortably say, well, they just have so many guys in the box that they couldn't run, they had to throw it.
Certainly, there's some truth to that.¬† But, we also miscued and gave them every opportunity at slowing us up.¬† I can tell you that at quarterback, in my opinion, functioning the offense, did the things that he was supposed to do.¬† Hit the passes he was supposed to hit.¬† Threw it away when he was supposed to throw it away.
If he continues to play like that, I think that we will have a certain level of excellence at that spot.¬† I think Brandon Harris is coming.¬† I think he's‑‑ we're not going to predetermine lack of playing time for him.¬† We're going to continue to bring him on.
It was obvious in that game that the opportunity for us to win was to, certainly right now, is to get Anthony Jennings comfortable in there and let him play.¬† And he did very well.
Offensively Kenny Hilliard gets 110 yards.¬† I think that that was something that we expected, the style of play that he would have.¬† Boy, I tell you one thing, it was nice seeing him break off in the last part of that game and go long to score.
Anthony Jennings was 9‑21 for 239 yards passing.¬† Two touchdowns.
We did not turn the ball over there and to me he‑‑ he will really improve from there.
The wide receivers played well.¬† Travin Dural kind of went back to some of the things that he did in the Arkansas game, and it's become more expected in who he is.¬† And we're excited at his growth, and he had a couple of huge catches.
And John Diarse on 30 and 20 scores I think from 26 or 36.¬† What a big play that was.
And John is a guy that can run with the football after catch.¬† He's got very sure hands.¬† So, we're liking him and Trey Quinn as a very quality group of receivers, and certainly a group that will do nothing but get better.
It's interesting, when you are down 24‑7, all three phases have to play well.¬† But first and foremost, you have to stop them.¬† And I think if you looked at our defense in the first half and you saw some of their plays, I think that you would say very comfortably, yup, that should have been hit right there.¬† Yup, that should have been hit right there.
Those miscues, if you will, are things that can be corrected.¬† They're nothe's not athletic enough, they're nothe didn't try, he's not, it's not any of those.
It's we need to make an adjustment a little bit quicker.¬† We put ourselves in a position to make the tackle a little bit better, and that's the style of thing that we really have to improve on and have really just a week to do so.
So‑‑ but that defense played so hard in the back half.¬† I want to say the defense gave up 32 yards and two first downs after the score was 24‑7.
That they gave up only 50 yards passing on the day.
If you had to go back and look and see the yards that the Wisconsin offense had churned out the year before, you would find out that that was about the lowest outing that they had.
So, that was a team that I want to say that they averaged 281 yards of rushing yards a game.
So we're‑‑ we have compared very favorably there.
If you look at Alexander had eight tackles and was our MVP, played really well on defense.
The two interceptions, one by Jay Mills and Ronald Martin, both were huge in the comeback move.
I felt like the guys up front played well.¬† LaCouture and Godchaux both were really, really evident when they were in the game.
Now, special teams, the fake punt, certainly something that was needed, and it was certainly timely.¬† It's what we needed to do.
But Jamie Keehn averaged 42.5 yards on eight punts.¬† Five were done inside the 20.¬† Colbe Delahoussaye, he was perfect on the night and picked right up where he left last fall.¬† And young Cameron Gamble had a couple booming kickoffs.
I think there's a chance, with real competition at that spot, with Trent Domingue, that this could be as good a specialist as we have ever had.¬† I think that Jamie is going to be better and better.
Colbe's leg is so much stronger than it's been and Cameron, if we can just not get five yard penalties when we send him out to kick, I think we're going to be okay.
I have to be honest with you, I think this has happened to me twice in, I don't know, 14 years of head coaching, that I got a five yard penalty on putting the ball in play.
I said to him, I said, hey, I says, to the official, what the heck is going on.¬† We put the ball in play a long time ago and no one ever noticed.¬† I want you to know how it goes.¬† The official hands you the ball and then you go to the tee and you put it on the tee and then he blows the whistle, ready for play and here we go.
Well, none of that happened and Gamble went out there put the ball on the tee and just kind of looked around and time elapsed and that was that.
So the next time I told the official I said, listen, he's a freshman, help him out, don't let him cost me a five‑yard penalty again.¬† And they giggled.¬† But it, that's what happened.¬† He got out there and looked around and said, and are we ready?¬† And about that time it cost me five yards.
So, but you think he'll come along very nicely.
Now, Sam Houston.¬† They're a very good football team.¬† They're 1‑1 on the season.¬† I think they lead, I think they're averaging 600 yards offense
I mean, I think they lead the subdivision football in offense and they're very, very capable there.¬† They got a quarterback that is ‑‑¬† not only can he throw it, but he can move his feet in Jared Johnson.
Again, a guy that can really throw it.¬† So, it's averaging 43 yards per game or excuse me, 43 points per game, and just really pretty dang special.
The special teams are good.¬† They got a nice punter, big leg.¬† A guy that can kick off and he's 3‑3 in field goals.
Again, a very quality opponent.¬† This is a team that is really‑‑ has good quality youth, but also has a number of transfers.¬† Guys from Baylor and TCU and that really help them‑‑ they're a well personnelled team.¬† They're capable.¬† We're going to have to play well.
One thing about it, just watching their film, certainly tells you that you better be ready to play, because they go up and down the field.
So, first home game in Tiger Stadium.¬† I think our guys are looking forward to being here.¬† Can't wait, myself.¬† Questions?
Q.¬† How does a team like Sam Houston State run 105 plays in one game.¬† That's what they did last game.
COACH LES MILES:¬† The last time that we did that, it was an over time game.¬† I want to say we were 101 at Kentucky, and I think we were about 107 in four overtime game against Arkansas in our stadium.
So, I mean, it is a‑‑ considering that that was probably with about four or five more minutes on the clock in the old clock rules.¬† So, that's a lot of snaps.
Now, it just let's you know how fast they go.¬† Let's you know that they will throw incompletions, stop the clock, and I think that legitimately, it's a concern, something that our defense must be prepared for.
Q.¬† Was Frank Herron suspended or injured?¬† Why didn't he play in that game?
COACH LES MILES:¬† No.¬† To be honest with you, we would have loved to have gotten Frank in.¬† And some other guys.
But, the issue becomes one when you're in a‑‑ when the game's tight, and you want to be able to count on the call, you go with that veteran that kind of understands it a little bit more.
We're hopeful that we can get Frank coached up a little bit better and get him on the field, because he is, in my opinion, a very, very talented guy.
Q.¬† With the offensive line, was as there a difference in schemes from one half to the other?¬† Is it fair to say that things were simplified for that group in the second half?
COACH LES MILES:¬† No.¬† It was the same calls, but it was, okay, settle down, recognize who we are, let's go play.
We understand, you know, here we are in a new stadium, we're in a different place, but it's‑‑ we're still the same LSU Tigers, and let's go play.
And it really was.¬† They got comfortable, they started playing hard, I think that there was some mistakes that were made in the first half that weren't made in the second half, and they're also a group that will get better and better.
Q.¬† With a couple of younger players with high expectations, Leonard Fournette, Brandon Harris, who didn't set the world on fire in this game.¬† What do you tell them about keeping those expectations in check?
COACH LES MILES:¬† I'm glad you asked that question.¬† First of all, let's see, I think I got in two place my sophomore year, and then my junior year I was kind of‑‑ I probably played three games.¬† My senior year I think I could have counted on a lot of plays.
How about playing in the first game, how about taking the first kickoff back?¬† How about all the things that those guys did as true freshmen.
I mean for anybody to determine, wow, they didn't quite light the world on fire, they're freshmen.¬† They're playing in a big time bowl game.¬† They're in a season, a season opener.
It takes time for guys to understand exactly where the break is, where the cut is, and I just want you to know something, we were thrilled with their performances.¬† They exceeded our expectations.
So, Brandon Harris, he is coming.¬† Leonard Fournette, just relax, don't be impatient, they're freshmen.
When you were a freshmen in college, do you think you would have stepped on that field and had any inkling as to what you would be expected to do?¬† To be honest with you, no.¬† Okay.
I promise you, I said, yeah, I can remember saying and asking‑‑ being asked a question, are you ready to compete to play?¬† Because the red shirt rule was just relaxed.¬† I said you betcha.
Then I thought to myself, I wonder what he's really talking about there.
So, trust me, those two guys are going to have great careers.¬† Let me tell you the way this is:
In the NFL, if you're a scout, you want to have the first opinion and you want that opinion to be exactly right.¬† Right?¬† If you're a college coach, looking at recruiting tapes, you want to have the first opinion have it be exactly right.
So many times that guy tries to label, or put, a young player in a position that makes his opinion most noteworthy.
That's not how people are.¬† This is a guy who is going to develop year after year, play after play.¬† Just wait.¬† Just wait until these guys get to the back end of their careers.
Don't put yourselves in position to be really ‑‑ I remember one guy say, Randy Moss isn't going to be that good of an NFL player.¬† Now, there's one of those memorable misquotes and mis‑cues, if you will.
Q.¬† The guys who didn't make the trip that weren't injured, are they going to be back in the mix this weekend?
COACH LES MILES:¬† Yeah, absolutely.
Q.¬† So, just a one game deal.¬† And then I know you guys might not have an update on Trevonte Valentine.¬† But, just a kid like that who is waiting for final clearance, does there come a point when he can't add courses anymore and what happens when you ‑‑
COACH LES MILES:¬† He's already cleared the clearinghouse.¬† The clearinghouse has‑‑ the NCAA has said this man is eligible.¬† Period.
So, what has to happen is, is there's a series of questions that then the conference is asking, really, in my mind, probably the first time in the last‑‑ first time in my career as a head coach, that this type of secondary review would even take place.
So, what they're doing is, is asking for further documentation and explanation, etcetera, which is all makes great sense.¬† It's just a difficult thing to get accomplished when there's a new high school team and a new group of young people at the high school that Tre went to that need service, also.
So, we're trying to get those administrators back in the high school to basically send in the material that they have and hopefully, they have it and we can get that done.
But, he's practiced with us last week and really did very nicely.
Q.¬† What did you learn about Anthony in this game that maybe you didn't know going into it?¬† And how much better was he after he got a little bit of the option under his belt, the offensive line maybe picked up their blocks a little bit more and give him some time to see down the field.
COACH LES MILES:¬† Well, I think he handled the frustration well.¬† I think that he obviously handled the opportunity to make plays.
I think he's a ‑‑ I think he sees the decision making process much differently.¬† I think he's looking at it in relationship to a team and making quality decisions at his position.
There's a lot to that quarterback spot.¬† You have to communicate to 10 guys.¬† You have to get communications from the sideline.¬† It takes a ‑‑ it takes experience.
And frankly, Anthony handled that, considering a very loud, very enthusiastic, and very partisan crowd, it also is very difficult to hear.
Q.¬† (No microphone.)
COACH LES MILES:¬† Did he say left hash exchange?
Q.¬† (No microphone.)
COACH LES MILES:¬† Oh, yeah, absolutely.¬† We‑‑ in my opinion, he understood kind of where we wanted the ball, but he did not communicate that to the official, and so I was communicating to him about that.
From now on we're going to go right by him to the official.
Q.¬† Davon Godchaux suffered a real bad knee injury to start his senior year.¬† Can you talk about how he recovered from that and put himself in position to play as a true freshman, and where can he go from here, as far as being a factor on that defense?
COACH LES MILES:¬† Yeah, we think he is a guy that potentially, can be as talented and capable as any of our guys.¬† He's tough, he listens and learns well, very athletic, uses his hands well.¬† He's not afraid to mix it up.
Yeah, we see him developing to be the style of guy that we're used to having up front.
Q.¬† What judgments, or what did the line do better from first half to second half to finally get the offense going a little bit?
COACH LES MILES:¬† Just were consistent.¬† Just a consistent group that made adjustments in their technique that allowed us to be a little bit more protective ‑‑ or more protective, but also physical at the line of scrimmage.
Q.¬† Second, a small thing, maybe not to a coach, I guess.¬† But, when Jalen tracked down Gordon on the long run, they scored anyway.¬† But that seemed to be a little bit of a tone setter for the defense.
I think you mentioned after the game, there were a couple of times when LSU says, we're not going to go away and Wisconsin noticed.¬† Was that kind of one of those moments?
COACH LES MILES:¬† Yeah, I felt like Jalen Collins played one of those kind of games that really made a difference.¬† If you look at some of the tackles that he made, he was as physical a corner as ‑‑ and I can remember three just off the top of my head where he made very, very distinct, unassisted tackles that dropped guys.
And then, the ability for him to show, nobody is going to just get in front of this secondary and run.¬† I felt like he did a great job there and kind of, if you will, let them know that there's nothing easy in this one.
Q.¬† Your defensive backs in general, when you go back and watch the film, why were they so successful?¬† It seems like they were right there with the receivers every time he threw the ball?
COACH LES MILES:¬† Well, I think that we have talented guys.¬† I think there's a ‑‑ I think Tre'Davious White is a guy that is real cover skills guy.
I think Collins played very, very well in the coverage end.
Our safeties are guys that can run and play, and I just think that that's who we are in the secondary.
Q.¬† I know that Malachi didn't make the trip because of a injury.¬† Is he going to be back this week?
COACH LES MILES:¬† He practiced yesterday.¬† We would expect him to compete for playing time in this very next game at home.
Q.¬† Terrence Magee and Leonard both struggled against what you called a good defensive front.¬† Anything that you would like to see different from them as they push forward?
COACH LES MILES:¬† Like to have some open holes when they got up in there.¬† I think that that's the spot that they're in.
I think both guys are very, very quality backs and good people.¬† So, I want them to keep doing the things that they have been doing.
Q.¬† Can you clarify.¬† You said Trevonte is allowed to practice even though he hasn't been cleared by the SEC yet?
COACH LES MILES:¬† Well, he's not eligible for game time.¬† Okay.¬† He can't play in games.¬† But, he's eligible to practice and go to school and do all those things, until which time we can get these things cleared up.¬† Because, we would like to get him on to the field and ready to play.
Q.¬† I hope Michael doesn't regret letting me ask this.¬† The game notes say, and this isn't just LSU, there's a lot of SEC teams playing the FCS this week.¬† Since you've been coach, LSU is 6‑0 against FCS outscoring them 232‑64.¬† How do you draw that fine line or reconcile the amount of verbal respect that you pay to these teams on game week with the reality of the results, and how do you, I guess, what is the benefit going forward of these kind of games?
COACH LES MILES:¬† I'll give you an example.¬† We played Wisconsin.¬† Wisconsin is known for pushing the ball at you physically.¬† They're known for big offensive line.¬† They're known for tight ends that run and catch and mobile quarterbacks. ¬†And that's a tremendous challenge to a defense.
Offensively, they're known‑‑ they're as disciplined a defense as there is.¬† Iowa was a very good team.¬† Wisconsin beat Iowa.¬† Okay.
The point that I'm making is, is this was a very specific challenge.¬† Now, this next week, they have thrown for what?¬† 600 yards a game?¬† I mean, maybe take it back.¬† I think it's 600 yards total offense.¬† I want to say just under 400 yards of throwing offense.
So, my point to you is, is‑‑ and these are talented guys, I mean, the challenge?¬† No.¬† Here's the thing that's interesting.¬† Boy, I would hate to be the one up here saying well, I want you to know, remember those three other teams that ‑‑ no, no, no.¬† The good fortunate is if we continue to improve and do the things we're capable of, we're a very capable team in and of ourselves.¬† Period.¬† Period.
Okay.¬† So, it doesn't make any real difference at that point then, you know, it's really about us improving.
Now, this team here is going to be a tremendous challenge in the fact that they have speed and ability.¬† The fact that they're a team that throws the football very well.¬† They can put a number of plays in a series and extend a game very, very quickly.
So, I'm just letting you know, for us, we see what we ‑‑ we know what we see.¬† We see a TCU receiver that's very‑‑ one of the best receivers that TCU has who is now currently with this club.
So, my point to you is we, whether you guys believe it or not, it doesn't make any difference, because all we got to do is see the film and we find that they're very talented.
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