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October 6, 2014

Les Miles

COACH MILES:  Certainly our football team and our program are building.  It's disappointing how we played.  We spent a full Sunday looking at what was the game film and really kind of really outlined a plan that we feel like gives us a great opportunity for improvement.
It's a‑‑ with a lot of football left to play and the need for our guys to understand the direction we're going, I think they will be very comfortable with.  I can tell you that the character in that room and that building and the type of people that are there will certainly respond, and that to me is the reason that I have confidence in how we'll go forward.
I think there's an opportunity for us to play best and to continue to improve, and there's reasons for our play, and frankly, I think our guys will understand that and take those strides that they need to take to be a quality football team.
It's really an interesting thing.  Man, the score was this.  You didn't get any third‑down conversions.  It was this and that, but the reality of it is if we get this offense moving the football, and we're really close, but we have to improve there.  This defense has given great effort and energy, and they're really making tackles, so if you want to see some really quality efforts, it's there.
I can tell you that early on, some of the plays that were made by the opponent were one‑time plays.  I mean that Williams made a tremendous catch over the top of Rashard Robinson, and I promise you Rashard Robinson had it covered, and in the double pass or the play where they pitched it back to their second guy, mills was right on it.  So yeah, we didn't like how we ended up, and certainly there's reasons for it, but there were some really strong performances in that game, and for me to deny that would be a mistake.  I love the effort and energy of that team.
Both offense and defensive lines played much better.  The idea in the first and tens we were probably, without doing the arithmetic, probably averaging seven or eight yards on first and 10, and then simple opportunities to convert in short yardage, really we went by with a mistake, and that mistake really cost that offense the opportunity to move the football.
And then, you know, with an opportunity to get back in the game, we fell short based on those things, and so I'm disappointed.  I certainly understand the position that we're in, but I like my team.  I like how they will respond, and that to me is the most important piece.
Just before half time somebody was saying about the last 10 seconds of the first half, the opportunity for us to use a timeout certainly was considered and talked about immediately, except that we were already on the ball.  By the time they got the chains moved, it was a 10‑second clock.  With a 10‑second clock we never expected that we would use a 10‑second play.
So what we did is we made the decision to, don't let the defense get huddled up and get their defense squared away.  We had the play we wanted.  Let's call that and run it, and we were at the line of scrimmage.  I went back and looked and said, it appeared to me that that clock was started, you know, maybe a little bit before it should have been, or maybe it was running at the time.  And I looked at it on game film.  We were at 10 seconds and on the ball.  So if two seconds elapsed before, then it was an eight‑second play.  Anyways, the point is we decided at that point, keep the timeout.  If that ball falls short of the goal line, you have an opportunity to have a one‑second timeout and field goal.  And didn't want to get the defense to line up.  Wanted to make them have a pressure on them in that position.
So in retrospect, certainly if the clock was winding down, because we did not understand how that clock‑‑ that was a 10‑second play.  We just frankly didn't expect that to happen.
Now, we look at Florida, Florida is 3 and 1 with 2 and 1 in SEC conference.  They are a very talented team.  Will Muschamp is doing a very quality job there.  They suspended apparently Treon Harris today.  For what reason I'm not certain and don't know his status.  They're averaging 33 points and 400 yards on total offense.
Jeff Driskel is the veteran quarterback that's back.  Big running back, Matt Jones, 372 yards and three touchdowns as a runner, big strong tailback style.  Defense is talented.  They're allowing 20 points per game.  Very good up front, play makers on that side of the ball, and they've gained 15 turnovers and only turned the ball over seven times.
I like my team.  They got character.  They're going to respond.  There's still a great opportunity for our football team to develop and be the kind of team that we all want it to be.
So in a side note, I don't read the papers and don't listen to the sports radio and don't know the perimeter, on purpose.  And I pulled into the office today this morning about 7:00, 7:15, and I reached in my console to get something or do something and there was a black SUV right kind of pulled up beside me in my parking spot or by my parking spot and a gentleman kind of rolled his window down and leaned out and says keep fighting, coach.  He says keep fighting.  He says, you're doing a great job.  And I appreciated that.  That was a nice guy.  But the reality of it is is it's this room.  It's my building back there.  They're a great group of kids and a great group of coaches, and there is only one way.  And they will stay the course.  That much I promise you.
So questions?

Q.  You said a minute ago that you think your offense is really close.  What makes you say that?  What makes you have that kind of confidence?
COACH MILES:  If we can get a‑‑ in that game we just needed to be calm and relaxed and comfortable, and we were not quite that, and it created a‑‑ some issues.
Those issues can be corrected very quickly, in my opinion, with effort and energy, and to some degree correct it, okay, based on the fact that we're a youthful team in some of these situations.  But we have talent there.  The good thing is we have good players, and yeah, I think our receiving core, our quarterbacks, I think the offensive line.  I think the running backs I think at that offense can be very productive and really in short order, just relax, be comfortable, do the things that they can do.  We're not going to ask them to do things they cannot do.

Q.  Will (inaudible) miss any practice?
COACH MILES:  He will practice today.

Q.  Guys are playing hard and they're making plays.  Is this a situation where coaching wise there needs to be some philosophical change in how you guys are doing things to put them in place?
COACH MILES:  Well, I think that that's constantly what a coach does, and you know, he thinks about the skills and abilities of his players and what we can do.  And I think we're doing that.  I think that's certainly the plan.  I just‑‑ what you have to do is continue to tweak it and continue to adjust it to make sure that those players are given the opportunity to play their best.

Q.  Where is the confidence level with your two quarterbacks and have you decided on who will start this weekend?
COACH MILES:  We have not decided on who's starting this weekend.  We'll let them both compete through the week and make a decision as we get closer to game time.

Q.  Confidence level between the two.  You know, the confidence level of Anthony?
COACH MILES:  I think both of them realize that they're both going to play better as they go forward.  I think there's a‑‑ I think there's confidence that we will‑‑ that both quarterbacks will play better than they played in the last game.

Q.  Coach, you mentioned Treon Harris's suspension.  How does that change your game plan?  Will you continue‑‑
COACH MILES:  You know what, it's going to be interesting.  I'm not really certain how that'll change.  I think there's probably an athletic element to, you know, Driskel as well, and I think he probably can run those things in a lesser fashion, maybe not as athletic.  And so we'll probably look at the opportunity to prepare for what is Florida's best stuff.  And I think with that in mind, it'll probably cross over irrespective of who the quarterback would be.

Q.  You mentioned some of the mistakes.  Do better teams not make mistakes or do they overcome the mistakes that they make?
COACH MILES:  Both, to be honest.  Better teams that don't make mistakes obviously don't have to overcome as much, and therefore, the great play to extend drives don't occur, don't need to occur.  And then those teams that make a mistake, but yet then have the ability to overcome those mistakes, kind of a little bit like, you know, like that great throwing quarterback that steps in on third down and long and overcomes a penalty as you go forward.  And so I think there's both opportunities there.

Q.  Coach, your program has been very consistent, especially in the national scheme rankings for a very long time.  To fall out of the rankings, I know you said you don't pay attention to the perimeter, but just how difficult is it in this day of college football to maintain success year after year after year?
COACH MILES:  Well, I have to be honest with you.  I would‑‑ in other situations I would think it would be very difficult, but I think at LSU, I think that we have great opportunities.  I think there's great opportunities presented to young guys that can come here, and I think that they will recognize that this is a place in recruiting that they could attend and really accomplish their goals.
I also think that we have quality personnel, and I think that, again, I think it's a‑‑ it's a difference‑‑ it's very small.  If the offense gets on fire and gets going, the defense will click right in.  Special teams are in pretty good shape.  It's just, you know, making that adjustment.

Q.  Coach, when things get rocky like they did Saturday night, who are the guys in the locker room that you look to to kind of be leaders and to kind of keep everyone's head up?  And second, Cam Cameron is up in the booth.  Can he help maybe your quarterbacks during the game if he were on the sideline a little bit?
COACH MILES:  We've given some thought to that.  He's trying to make some of the best calls he can make with vision of the field, and I think without that vision it would impair the call more.  Okay.
What was your first request he.

Q.  Who are some of the leaders in the locker room?
COACH MILES:  Leaders.  La'el Collins is a guy that really has stepped up there and is making that point in a very verbal, very, you know, very strong fashion.
I can tell you this, too, Danielle Hunter, who doesn't say boo, just makes play after play and fights like hell, and he says with not a word uttered, play like me.  And he's special.  In that game he was not perfect, as you can see, we were‑‑ there was not many perfect players in that game on either side.  But the point being is he played with great effort and energy and made tackle after tackle in spots he was supposed to make them examine and in spots he could not have made them.

Q.  You haven't had to deal with a large loss very often in your career at LSU, but when it does happen, does it make you think of anything from a philosophical standpoint about your program or is it just week to week for you and you're just trying to fix what happened one week and get better the next?
COACH MILES:  Well, it's a‑‑ certainly there's a philosophical piece about hard times, and to me I've kind of recognized that there's so much to gain on days like today.  There's so much opportunity to improve.  There's so much really, you know, that a program like this could, you know, take and learn from.  So I can tell you in terms of the week to week, you look at the things that you got accomplished in last week, and to give you an example, the offense and the defensive line in my opinion played so much better now.  There's some other pieces that we need to attack and get after, and if we can get to those, next Saturday can be a play best.  And to play best, that really is, you know, what we're after.
And we haven't got there yet, and I think the week to week chore is to get us to that point.

Q.  You talked about the need to be calm, comfortable and relaxed.  Did Brandon's demeanor surprise you in that ball game?
COACH MILES:  Well, I have been around some freshmen starters in the past, and I can tell you that there's a lot that goes on in a freshman's mind as they take the field, and then combine that with being a quarterback, you know, there's 10 other players really relying on your signal and your direction, and frankly, you know, that's a tremendous burden.  You would like to have said, and I would like to have said that he handled that last game prior to this experience extremely well, and so that all he would have to do is translate those calls in a like fashion.  And it didn't surprise me because certainly a freshman, any freshman is capable of having those kinds of issues, but I would also say that I would predict him to play better than he played.

Q.  We saw a D. J. Welter come out in the second quarter and then Kendell Beckwith played from then on.  Where does that position middle linebacker stand right now?
COACH MILES:  Well, D. J. Welter is a tremendous contributor to our team and a very quality backer.  I think Kendell Beckwith has got some natural advantages there, and I think that he probably played more in that game and should count on playing a little bit more in the rest of the games.

Q.  Do you expect him to start?
COACH MILES:  Yeah.  I don't know that start is really the focus in my mind.  To me I think he'll play most, and I think he's‑‑ and I think we'll need D. J., and I think D. J. is a tremendous team player and a guy that looks forward to contributing and competing to be the best that he can be there.

Q.  Do you feel like you've got the players in place and an understanding of what each can do and know what you want to do with them or do you anticipate more like personnel shifting, just in general?
COACH MILES:  I think there's few personnel shifts on the defensive side.  I think it's some technical pieces that we need to get in place.
I met with chief of the defensive staff and we're kind of all in agreement where we're headed there, and I think it's, again, a very small shift.  You know, I think in certain instances there's a premium for one guy over the other.  I think that that's a fact.  But I don't know that we can‑‑ I don't know that we're going to toss anybody to the side and not count on them to be very significant as we go forward.

Q.  Kind of following up on Scott's question, you guys haven't been beaten like that very often.  It's one thing for coaches to handle it.  What are the challenges to get players to kind of stay on line and not lose it after they've lost games like that?
COACH MILES:  Yeah.  I think the‑‑ I think character certainly is a key piece to that.  I think guys that recognize that the only way to get things fixed is going to be, you know, taking a responsibility and accountability for it, and I think the room that I operate in is full of that character, and I don't think there's anybody that enjoyed the plane ride home, that's really enjoyed the last 48 hours, and I think that they're ready to get to the point of, yeah, okay, what do we need to do and let's do it.  And it's a mend and it's a fix and it's a work hard, and I think that that‑‑ I think that'll happen.

Q.  You may have just answered this one, but in situations like this, is it about your team or do you still scout the opponent and you improve your team through that routine, I guess?
COACH MILES:  Yeah, I, first of all, want to not take anything away from Auburn.  I thought that they had a great game plan, executed it flawlessly, just really made some big plays.  But it will always be about my team.  The things that we can fix can be fixed in that room, in that building, and in this program.  And that's gotta always be our focus, not necessarily who we play.  We have good players.  I like our players.  I promise you this.  I like my wide receivers.  I would want my wide receivers.  I want my quarterbacks.  I want that offensive line.  I want that‑‑ and basically I can go right down the list and tell you that, frankly, I want this team.  Okay.  So that being said, we have to make it work, and I think that‑‑ I think our guys will do that, and I think that they understand what's at stake.  The enjoyment of, you know, a very quality season.

Q.  Could you give us maybe some kind of injury update on Connor Neighbors came out of the game and Quentin Thomas obviously didn't play, those two guys?
COACH MILES:  Yeah.  I think Connor Neighbors could have returned to the game.  I think we kind of kept him on the sideline.  I think he might miss a day or so of practice, but I think he should be ready to go for the game.
And Quentin Thomas, I think he's getting closer to coming to the field.  I don't know his status.

Q.  Coach, there's a lot of fans and people at Florida calling for Will Muschamp to be fired.  He took them to the Sugar Bowl a couple of years ago.  Does the pressure to win build with losing or is that constant?
COACH MILES:  Yeah, it's an interesting piece.  I have never really succumbed to being that guy.  You got it.  So I will only ever be the guy that stands in the front of the room that's trying to get it fixed.  And I don't worry about anything in the perimeter, and the perimeter and has over taken a lot of great coaches, but the point that I'm making is it will never overcome my approach.

Q.  Hey, Coach, a couple of quick ones if I could.  Is Brandon Harris perhaps better coming off the bench?  Can quarterbacks be better coming off the bench?  And how does playing in Jordan‑Hare Stadium here Saturday get you ready to immediately go this week?
COACH MILES:  Yeah.  I think certain guys have a good feel for coming off the bench.  I think certain guys are good starters, and I think both of these quarterbacks, Harris and Jennings, are guys that will learn to be and want to be very, very quality starters.  So it'll be interesting.  They might not have a choice.  They may both have to start.

Q.  Hey, Coach, the last time I guess things kind of felt this way was 2008, 2009.  What did you take away from kind of climbing back up the mountain in '10, '11 that feels applicable now for you or helpful?
COACH MILES:  Yeah.  I've always believed in my team.  I think that I do so on a selective basis.  It's just not blindness, but I can tell you it's a quality group of people.
Really in every practice, you know, there's a process served, and I think that our guys understand it.  I think there's a lot of what is the characteristics of a quality program in place.  We just need to fix a couple of things, and if we do so, you know, we have speed under a ball.  We have the ability to make a catch.  There's a lot in place here.  We just gotta pull it together.

Q.  Big picture SEC question, I guess.  Last year the teams that were successful had returning veteran quarterbacks.  This year you look at the teams at least won this past week.  Does that put more emphasis on quarterback development and long‑term development?
COACH MILES:  Yeah.  I think that there's a necessity, if you will, that no matter what year it is, that that quarterback play is very quality, and I think the adjustments can be made, you know, to accommodate what are those guys' skills.  And I think that that's certainly what we're doing, and I guess the assistant coaches and head coach are working so that we can have success, and then that development, then, you know, continues.  And you go year after year.  By the time you get to the back end of a guy's career, they're pretty salty.

Q.  You mentioned you met with John Chavis and some of the defensive coaches this morning, I guess, or last night?
COACH MILES:  Yesterday really.

Q.  What can you tell us is said in those meetings when you meet with them?  What was kind of the outcome after you met with your defensive coaches?
COACH MILES:  Well, what you do is, you know, what is an impression that I had from the sideline was either confirmed or changed based on, you know, what exactly the call was and what the technique that was played.  And I have to be honest with you, we're improved in the front.  You know, to me the linebackers, you know, fool around.  Secondary we covered.  There were some tackles that were missed by speed, but not by contact.
It's very difficult to charge a guy with a missed tackle when he doesn't actually touch the guy.  And so I looked at the effort and energy, and I kind of enjoyed parts of what I saw.  And I felt like that the technical change could really make a difference, especially going against these spread offensive fronts.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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