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October 13, 2014

Les Miles

LES MILES:  It's a very exciting game.  It's one that I think certainly took twists and turns.  The last six minutes, certainly, our football team needed to figure out exactly how to win that one, and it did.
I have to tell you that I am very proud of the way they overcame some adversity there.  Really enjoyed the fact that they went in there to play like Tigers.  The back end that have game, any number of ways they could have found a way to finish the game strong, but not.  And they never flinched, they, we pride ourselves on playing in close quarters and we pride ourselves on playing best when it's tough, and they did.
Again, youthful team, that's a great characteristic to have.  So, offensively, enjoyed how Anthony Jennings kind of handled the situation, understood the game, minus a couple of mistakes.  He was pretty good on the day, he helped us a certainly and a half gay Ted victory and made some plays when we needed to have him make them.
We wanted to play Brandon Harris, I did, certainly coach Cameron did, just what happens you get in those tight games, the win and the necessary momentum doesn't present itself and so what you say is, let's go with Anthony.  And certainly that proved to be the right thing.
Felt like the offensive line keeps getting better.  I think it was a dominant day for them, rushed for just under 200 yards.  Protected the passer fairly well, and again, this team's improving.  Leonard for net rushes for 140 yards, two touchdowns, really runs the football like we're used to having it run around here.
Melvin Jones, a first time starter at full back, his, the starter in front of him is Connor Neighbors.  Connor Neighbors coached him all through the week and put him in position to play, should Connor not travel.  Connor did not travel.  Connor talked to him before the game by phone.  It made a very nice reaction to playing.  He just put a smile on his face, and went to work, and looked up, and certainly, not perfect on the day, but made several big catches and a couple very significant blocks and again, a guy that, a young player that steps forward to play.
Travin Dural makes two big catches in that game, really, and his presence on the day is very significant and we're trying to get the ball to him more and more.
Tre Quinton makes a couple of third down snags.  Malachi Dupre, one.  And we're looking for a little bit more productivity out of him and Tre, and see if we can move the football around a little bit more in the air.
Certainly, it would be our want to throw the football just a little bit more efficiently and better.
So, definitely, I thought that they played well, except a couple of big plays late in the fourth quarter touchdown.  That just absolutely‑‑ let's put it this way, that late fourth quarter catch and long reception that was followed by extremely relentless effort by both Rashard Robinson and Ronald Martin.  If you think about them not tackling that man before he crossed the goal line, how much different that game would have been.
They caught that man at the 10 yard line and wrestled him out of bounds to set up an opportunity for that defense to come forward and stop it.
Third down and one, they were going to take the fourth down to tie the game.
On third down and one, they called a run and they could not get a yard.  And I have to say that that was a huge piece of the game.
They go forward and kick the three pointer to tie and then we get the ball back, we punt it back to them, and they're in position now to move the football and score.
And our defense is playing the percentages, and they throw a ball inside and Alexander closes on it and knocks it lose, knock it up in the air.  Jefferson gets it and returns it just about 20 yards, puts us in great position for a kick.
I think the kick, very similar to our team, was a guy whose mis‑fired on a PAT.  During the injury time out where we certainly wish the opponent well, but during that time, he said, we want to kick this one anywhere but from the right hash, Coach.  And I said I'm right with you.
So, we called a play that would center the ball and that would certainly not be pushed all the way to the far hash.
Magee comes off right tackle and is pushed all the way to the far hash.  So, I said to Delahoussaye, I says, you good with this?  He said I'm good with this.
There's a guy who, you know, again, you're miserable when you miss a two foot putt.  You're miserable when you miss an extra point.  Now, he's got a 30 foot putt for a birdie and he hits it.  So, I certainly enjoyed his response and who he is.
So, all in all, we have taken a lot of good football teams to that Swamp.  It's a tough place it play.  It's loud, it's aggressive.  Will's done a good job there.  They have real athletes.  That receiving corp who comes on the field is pretty special.  Those running backs can run.  They have a very fine quarterback.  That defense and that offense and that special teams not played perfectly, but played to victory.
So, now, the things that we got to do in the correction is, we got to get that punt return handled.  We got to make sure that our guys recognize their responsibility in coverage, and that will be something we'll spend time on in this, in this week.
I go back to looking at Jamie, Jamie me kicked it just where we wanted to and kicked it with good hang time.  He booms a ball now and then.
Frankly, we got to prepare that coverage unit to get down there.  Because we want that 52 yard punt, we want that.  We averaged 45 yards a punt.  He returned two of them, two of them very significantly and we kicked two out of bounds.
So, yeah, we're, I think we're‑‑ I think we have got a weapon there, we just got to make sure that our guys recognize their responsibility to cover.
Now, first of all, I want this stadium to be just like it's always been, a very live place for our opponents to witness a very, very noisy and very loud partisan crowd, and I want to encourage everybody to come out to the stadium and enjoy us, because we will enjoy you.
Kentucky's 5‑1, they're in the conference race on the east.  And they have gotten better each week.  Mark Stoops is a very fine coach, comes from a family of coaches.
I have competed with that family and enjoyed that, and his impact, and at Kentucky is very significant.  One of their losses to Florida was on three overtimes, and they're in good position to play in that conference on their side.  They beat South Carolina in a 38‑24 game.  So, it's going to be a very quality Kentucky team.  Offensively, they're averaging 36 points, 448 yards, they're rushing it for 185, and they will throw it for 265.
So, quarterback completes 63 percent of his passes and 1,500 yards this season, 10 touchdowns, he spreads the ball around, he hits five players with at least 12 receptions.  Good balance.  They run it and throw it.  They will use a wildcat quarterback who can run it and throw it some.
Defensively, they're allowing 18 points and it's, again, a very quality SEC defense.  They turn the ball, they have taken the ball away from the opponent, they have got 11 pass interceptions, and their turnover margin is second in the conference.
So, very capable defense and we'll have to play well.
Special teams again, very quality, well coached, and prepared.
The ‑‑ I probably want to take a minute myself and to thank the players that I've coached for these years, and the Assistant Coach's who put great game plans together, and the people in the perimeter of my building that really have made a difference.  Those people and our association with LSU, frankly, you don't have the opportunity to have the kind of success we have had without everything in place at LSU that gives us that.
So, to those people, I just want to say thanks.  A hundred victories is a significant piece for me and one that I will remember.
So, now, I expect all of you will have questions.

Q.  Do you think that was a more appropriate use of Leonard and what makes him better with volume, more carries?
LES MILES:  Yeah, I think he's one of those backs that gets stronger as the day gets longer.  Yeah, I think he's cut out to be that kind of back.
I like‑‑ I certainly like the three other backs that we have, including Magee and Hilliard, certainly Williams.  But I think that Leonard gives us that big, fast back that can really push the ball at a defense with.

Q.  You touched on your 100th victory.  You talked about it after the game as well, but you had a couple nights to sleep on it.  Can you kind of expand and does that mean anything to you?  Have you actually had a chance to think about it and what does that victory actually mean to you here at LSU?
LES MILES:  The 100 victories is that what was said?

Q.  Yes.
LES MILES:  Well, if you think about our time here, I had my eldest daughter make a text to me kind of in relationship to that.  She mentioned a couple of really key pieces.  And one, our family has really enjoyed its time in Baton Rouge and how good it's really been for us.
I think that, certainly, my association with a school and a group of men that will fight you for a first down and fight you for the ball, has allowed us together to achieve quite significantly.
Again, to all the men that I've been fortunate to coach and those men that have been assistant coaches and contributed greatly, for that matter, those administrative staff, the Bonnette's and the Loveton's and Sharon Lewis, those people, they work long, long hours.  So, even this young addition on over here.  So, it's a very significant, very significant group of people that have allowed us to have this success.

Q.  You received the game ball after the game?
LES MILES:  Yeah, Terrence Magee handed me a game ball commemorating the 100th victory and I, again, the young men that I've been fortunate to coach, are tough, hard nosed ambitious, they want to get a degree, they want it play championship football, and they want to play.  So that, it's most fitting the style of game that it was.  Many turns in that game and again, like the, like the 100th victory, it was the Tiger experience, if you will.

Q.  What are the elements or components that you and cam discuss during a game to determine whether or not the backup quarterback is ready or should go in?
LES MILES:  Without belittling and going through each possible criteria, let's just say that it's kind of summed up in opportunities to win and what is the best, who is the best quarterback to give us that opportunity?  And in a tight game, where a series or two is very significant, you're‑‑ it has to be made in an immediate fashion.  So, chose not to make a substitution.  To be honest, I'm in the certain that we wouldn't choose for this week to play both.

Q.  Defensively, you guys seemed to hold up better against the read, the quarterback read.  Was that a scheme, was that the players playing better or what was it?
LES MILES:  It's interesting.  We looked at them and we looked at a couple plays.  One play got six yards, and in the exact same defensive configuration with the exact same call.  And then later in the game, that exact play got zero yards.  It was just the defense playing better.  Just playing with awareness and really, really using the coaching.
One of the points that we'll make is make your‑‑ make your first plays your best plays, and then get better.  That's the, that's kind of ‑‑ we gave them some yards that we didn't necessarily need to give them.  We'll continue to improve that way.

Q.  Happy Columbus Day?
LES MILES:  Another great day.  Not to be confused with St. Patty's Day.

Q.  Talk about the late possession you had before the Jefferson interception.  Where were you battling, were we going to play for overtime, were we going for the win, what was the thinking there?
LES MILES:  Well, on offense, it was move the football, score, and win the game.  Okay.  Simply put.  There was no ‑‑ it was all about going down the field, not errantly, not at risk, but our best opportunities to get first downs, drive the football, put us in position to win the game.  Okay.
That being said, once we punched it, it was absolutely a stop them at the nearest, closest opportunity.  They moved the football a little bit more than we would have liked, and certainly Jefferson, I think Quan was in on it, I'm not certain who else, but that was a big, big play.

Q.  I know you have been pretty good at punt coverage this year, other than the two the other night.  Was the second one‑‑ did you try to get it to the side lane a little more, I think it went right down the middle?
LES MILES:  Yeah, we were looking for more of an angular kick, but, again, our coverage is such that we should have been able to cover that one.
We felt very comfortable in the kick.  Especially after the first one, because we made some adjustments on the sideline that we understood that this guy has that speed out to the field, we practiced it all week.
Now, get up the field and use that last opportunity to understand how important it is.  We made some other mistakes.  So the point that I'm making to you is, is that that will be a point of emphasis this week, certainly.

Q.  The first one he clearly out kicked the coverage?
LES MILES:  Yeah, well, again, the point is, is we're still very confident in how we cover kicks and we have speed under the punt.
So, we're not slowing him up at all, we just need to make sure that our coverage understands their responsibility, because if they do, we frankly will cover that punt often.

Q.  When you scout your opponents in the SEC, do you find freshmen or red shirt freshmen contribution in the SEC to be exceptional in any way this season in your experience?  Do you think that expectations upon them may be increasing, or does it kind of depend on the program and how they recruit and how the NFL draft affects them?
LES MILES:  Yeah, I think it's more of the place that you choose to attend and what you expect from those people that are within your program.
That being said, those freshmen that come to our place, we expect you to make a very significant contribution and to play a big role.
It's kind of how we're built right now, with the early leaving to the NFL and the absolute requirement that that freshmen class come in with the ability athletically and emotionally to step on to the field and do those things.  So, yeah, I guess what I'm saying is, I think that there are some freshmen who are built exactly that way, the Jamal Adams style of guy, and I think there's some freshmen who are similar to me, who came in big eyed and thought he was very, very capable, but in fact, certainly needed time to develop.

Q.  Jennings, when you compare him to Harris, one thing that stands out is he looks composed out there.  Is that something that Harris just learns as time goes on to set into a game, or is that something that just finally clicks for a guy?
LES MILES:  I think there's a ‑‑ the more comfort that you have with the offense that you're running, the execution that you're about to use and maneuver into the game.  As soon as that becomes comfortable, it becomes comfortable to take snaps and communicate in all those things.  So, I think experience fixes the inabilities that youth bring.
So, we're ‑‑ I think he'll be fine.  How soon?  I think soon.  He had a great week of practice last week, and really, Anthony Jennings had a great week of practice.  So we're improving at that spot, and really we're looking for the opportunity to play him.

Q.  Would you talk about Lyle Collins on Saturday night.  It seemed like he had a dominant game.  Was that one of the best games he ever played here and, two, was that your kind of game Saturday night, where you're lining up and dominating the line of scrimmage, is that how you like to play?
LES MILES:  Well, I can tell you this:  My kind of game is any game where the Tigers win.  So, you know, I'll take it of the sliced and diced and salad on the side.  Doesn't make any difference to me.
I enjoy a physically dominant defense and offense and that's‑‑ I'm sure that every coach in America has that same want.  But, I think Lyle Collins's game was that.  I think it was very physical, I think it was a dominant performance.  I think the five guys up front really played well start to finish.
You look at Alexander, he had as complete a game as he's had in quite some time.  I think our center played well.  Right side, both Hawkins and Ethan Pocic played extremely well.  So we're coming there.
We got five guys that can step forward and block you and protect for the passer and that's what we want to do and do it with balance.

Q.  Anthony Jennings looked very comfortable rolling out in the pocket, moved in the pocket left and right and made some nice throws out of that set.  What do you think helps him in those situations?
LES MILES:  Well, I think that there's a ‑‑ anything that's like the run that we employ gives the defense the greatest difficulty.  Because if they go slow to the run fake, then and they wait for pass to come out, then that run squirts in there and gets us yards.
If they go quickly to the run, then that pass is extremely good for us.  So, again, any time we can balance those two things that makes the defense very difficult to be right.

Q.  You mentioned the fans at the beginning in your opening statement.  Whose expectations do you think are higher, yours or your fan base?
LES MILES:  I would think that we're very similar.  We both‑‑ when it comes to that, to this very next game, we all kind of believe that the Auburn Tigers should win.  And that's kind of the way it is in every game we have played thus far, and certainly, how we would all look at it similarly as we go forward.

Q.  After the interception by Rickey Jefferson, can you tell what the strategy was and what happened with the clock at the end of the game?
LES MILES:  Well, we had 24 seconds.  What we decided was we would push it to the middle of the field, maybe gain five yards, because it was going to be a very significantly long field goal.  We would like to have gained some yards.
It ended up pushed to the right hash and then they covered it and with 24 seconds to start the play, let's just say you take ‑‑ we said 10 seconds, okay?  And I want you to know, it was every bit of that and more.
So, the point is, is we wanted to clock it.  And as soon as we clock it, the clock stops.  And we're going to kick our field goal.
Well, what happens there is‑‑ I would guess that in short order, I'll be speaking to the conference about it, just to find out what the ruling would be.  But, I can't imagine that the officials would allow the defensive team to stay on that ball for 24 seconds.  Okay.  Just think about it.  I think it would have eventually led to a timeout by the official and possible delay of game on the defense.
So, they kept piling and piling and piling and did not want to unpile.
So, thank goodness that we had that Wisconsin thing not too long ago, where this would all be decided prior to and everybody would kind of know how to operate.  And 24 seconds is really, if you think about the number ‑‑ now should we have taken a couple opportunities to throw passes?  That may well have been a position as well.  Not something we wanted to do.
I guess what I'm saying is that we did not anticipate, nor do we, that we would have got anything but maybe a five yard penalty against our opponent and move it forward and/or kick it from there.  How is their player by the way?

Q.  He's okay.

Q.  Update on Connor Neighbors?
LES MILES:  Yeah, Connor Neighbors had a little nick and he should be fine.  Talked to the trainer today, he'll practice today.

Q.  I think you have now 23 wins in the fourth quarter when trailing.  How do you explain that?
LES MILES:  Well, I think it's the team that I'm fortunate to coach.  I think it's young guys that believe they're going to win.
And I agree with them.  I think this football team‑‑ I think our program enjoys victory as much as any group of people I've been around.  That's a wonderful thing.  I enjoyed the festive celebration in the lock room.  I enjoyed the players ‑‑ the only thing I got to fix is that celebration before we're going to kick it off, because now we kick it off from the 20, and that's enough to give a guy gray hair.  Not only gray hair, a bald spot and a bunch of other things.
But that ball was‑‑ we talked about it, we said, okay, now, we're going to kick a bounding ball, and that ball that Trent kicked went just perfect.  It bounced over the top of the intermediate return man, it landed in a dead spot back in there.  The guy who ended up fielding the ball had a difficult time fielding it.  The game clock was done.
Now they had a nice little play lined out.  They had two guys on the wings with depth, but we were already whistling by him and he had to take that ball up the field and that would be the end of the game.  Which was just what the Tigers needed.

Q.  Alexander, what makes him so good?  I think a few people on the broadcast called him unblockable Friday or Saturday during the game.  What makes him so special?
LES MILES:  Speed and physicality.  It's the duality of that‑‑ those two characteristics.  If you have great speed, you can get to a lot of balls.  And then if you're willing to strike, that also defends against being blocked and it also allows a guy to get to the point of attack and using his speed.  In other words, he's ready to have contact.

Q.  Last time Anthony Jennings was in Tigers stadium, he had a rough game.  How impressed are you that he was able to bounce back, because it really shell‑shocked a lot of people.  And what are your thoughts on playing in that stadium again?
LES MILES:  You would think that going to the Swamp and having a group of people that really wished him all pain and discomfort, and playing in that stadium would certainly have him understand that he can‑‑ he can stand in front of anybody at any point in time.  And playing at home certainly should be just a joy.

Q.  Can you explain why you're sliding some offensive linemen into a tight end spot occasionally, what that does for you in the running game in particular?
LES MILES:  Well, it's balance.  It's the defense looking at those units of coverage that they have to use and where are they and where they're not.
So, we're occasionally ‑‑ we'll lineup deceptively that way.  See if we can put us in position for a pass or maybe a run that might give us the numbers advantage.

Q.  I know Sunday's a big day of preparation for you guys, but Jarvis had a big day for Miami and mentioned you gave him a call.  How much do you pay attention to your guys in the league on Sundays?
LES MILES:  I get very little time to get the Sunday results.  I generally get it by word of mouth and how wonderful it is that our guys are doing well.  It's neat.  Everybody expected that Jarvis Landry would have a very, very productive NFL career.  I can't imagine that's changed.

Q.  Clifton Garrett, do you feel like he's headed towards a red shirt since he hasn't played?
LES MILES:  I'm not ready to say that at all.  We're entering the point of this season where we're going to look forward to playing some very competitive games and wanting victory; and that being said, all hands on deck.

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