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November 24, 2014

Les Miles

COACH MILES:  Happy Thanksgiving.  Our football team, or families, have a lot to be thankful for.  Good health and all the things that a great society provides for us.  The Lord has blessed us greatly, so happy Thanksgiving.
Now, I'm kind of sitting in my meeting room last night watching my practice film and I get a text that says that Odell Beckham has caught the greatest catch of all‑time.
And the way media is, I got probably three different views of this catch, and is it spectacular.  It's truly Odell Beckham.
You I saw him and Jarvis do things like that on the practice field all the time.  I mean all the time.  They finally caught one on camera, I guess.  It's something that we would have expected.
So I'm really proud of what Zach is accomplishing.  Threw four 300 yards yesterday.  Jarvis Landry scored two touchdowns.  Jeremy Hill and Alfred Blue are having great years as runners.
It's nice to look back at those guys.
Now, final week of the regular season.¬† Opportunity to win a ninth victory overall, and the opportunity to win a series of 15‑straight 8‑victory seasons.¬† Certainly the longest streak in school history.¬† It's something that our football team would enjoy doing.
So we practiced twice during the open week.¬† Gave them the weekend off and brought them back on Sunday and practiced.¬† Sunday was a Tuesday‑style practice, and there was a lot of energy.¬† Our football team knows how to practice.¬† They're looking forward to playing a very, very good, very talented Texas A&M team.
On the offensive line we expect Vadal to play; Ethan Pocic will be at center; Evan Washington will be the next at right guard.  We would expect that Hoko Fanaika will be the next offensive lineman in the game.  So glad that Vadal is back.
Quarterback is gonna have to play better, but the key is make is the 10 players around you best, and the opportunity to do the things that we do that allows us to win.
Both guys are improving.  Both guys are coming.  I like my quarterbacks.  They're getting better and working hard at it.
Defense continues to play at a very high level.  They're fourth in the SEC in pass defense; scoring defense and total defense, those guys are talented and looking forward to playing a very, very talented A&M offense.
A&M is 7‑4.¬† Coach Sumlin is doing a great job making them better.¬† A Purdue graduate along with Gordy Rush, another Purdue graduate.¬† So I'm certain that somehow that's relevant.
The A&M is a very explosive offense.  They throw the football well.  They are averages 220+ yards.  Throwing the ball they're scoring at 36 points per clip, averaging 469 total per game.
True freshman quarterback Kyle Allen threw for four touchdowns and 277 against Auburn; threw for three touchdowns and 237 against Missouri.  So he's a very quality throwing passer.
They have four players that have 40 receptions or more.  Do great job spreading the ball around.  Three very good runningbacks.
Defensively they're allowing 445 yards a game, 27 points per game.  Best freshman in the nation is Myles Garrett with 11 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss.  They have good playmakers on the defensive side as well.
Challenge for our team to go to Kyle Field and play well.  Looking forward to that.  Our football team certainly wants to take the field, and looks forward to doing so.

Q.  You keep saying that the quarterback position is about making the other 10 guys around him better.  What's the difference in those guys' eyes in playing with Anthony and Brandon at this point?
COACH MILES:  I really don't know in their eyes.  I can only tell you in our eyes it's all the things that allow us to have success on offense.
Again, both guys are getting better.  And, again, Brandon Harris is getting better.

Q.  Last week you got a lot of offensive questions and they've already started today.  Does it surprise you at all that we and the fans like to focus singularly on the quarterback position?
COACH MILES:  No, it doesn't, to be honest with you.  Ever since I've been here I think I've gotten questions about the quarterback shot.  Certainly not the free safety and certainly not the defensive end.  But the quarterback, I recognize that.
And it should be.  It's an awfully important spot on our team and one that gets a lot of attention.

Q.  It's been over 30 years since LSU last played on Thanksgiving.  What are you're thoughts on playing this week on the holiday?
COACH MILES:  Well, I think we'll take a short amount of time on those days leading up to Thanksgiving to do the things that are important and celebrate in a very quick, modest way.
Then I think once Thursday is done with, I think there may be some turkey leftovers in the icebox for Friday.  I think that might well be the start of Thanksgiving, so...

Q.  Last week you only practiced two times.  Was that more of a chance to get these guys mentally away from the game than physically, or was there any kind of relaxation with the team?
COACH MILES:  We're two days short of a full open week.  Basically how you want to use your days, and we wanted to get them off the field and get them fresh.  We wanted to back up the open dates or the dates we didn't practice as close to the game as we could, which we did.
Monday watched the film; Tuesday was really a day off; and then we went Wednesday and Thursday; then we wanted to give them two fresh‑leg days, if you will, just prior to game week.¬† That's kind of how we went.

Q.  Due to the two open weeks, when you all play it's going to be more than a month since you won a game.  How tough has that been for a program that hasn't been used to that?  How are the coaches handling it?  How are the players handling it?
COACH MILES:  I can tell you that there is some wearing on the program certainly, but I can also tell you that everybody is handling it in a very straightforward manner.  They're working hard at it.  They're enjoying practice.
We have lost a game, and I think our guys understand the things they need to do to get that feeling back, so...

Q.  Is it safe to say that Jamie Keehn has settled down and become more consistent and is a pretty good punter now?  Any other thoughts about him?
COACH MILES:  Yeah, I think he's a big leg.  I think he will continue to get better.  The great thing about Jamie Keehn is he's somebody who is constantly grooming his punting and practicing it and understanding what he needs to do.
He's going to get better and better.  And, again, he's a little more mature than some of the other guys.  He's the captain for this game, so...

Q.  You mentioned a little wear not having gotten a win in a while.  Who takes that the hardest among your group?
COACH MILES:  You know what?  I don't know that it does us any good to determine who takes it the hardest.  I think everybody understands.  It's one of those things that you're looking very comfortably at let's work hard and get this things going.
The great thing about it is this program, this school, the room in which I operate in, is full of real quality character people, and they are looking forward achieving.

Q.  And whether you're interested or not, at this point, when there is a job opening at Michigan, do you just expect to hear from them giving your ties to Michigan and your success here?
COACH MILES:  Yeah, I have given little or no thought to any other jobs.  I am so comfortable with my team and doing what I'm doing.  I do not read the paper.
I certainly respect and love Michigan and wish them the very best.

Q.  Do you take it as a compliment when you are connected with another job?
COACH MILES:  I don't really look at it as a compliment or not.  Again, I haven't read a newspaper in a month, just so you know.  It's hard for me to tell you what the record of other schools are.
I just kind of enjoy going to work and getting it done.
I need to correct that.  I do read the newspaper.  Just not the sports section.

Q.  A&AM has struggled against the run.  You've had a lot of success there this year.  You've moved some pieces around the offensive line.  You feel confident with that group?  What's the mentality of the backspin after not many of them got touches or had much success last week.
COACH MILES:  Yeah, I think our football team knows what it needs to do.  There is a confidence and a comfort with work.  I think our runningbacks are looking forward to coming to the field and running the football.
I think the plan is good.  I think our guys are zeroing in on that plan.  I think we'll look forward to how we play.

Q.  Two games remaining in the season, what would you like your identity or stamp to be for this squad finishing out?
COACH MILES:  Well, a team that continued to get better and a team that obviously finished the season in a completely correct way.

Q.  Two questions:  First one is this a rivalry game in your mind?
COACH MILES:  I was told when I came to school here that it was absolutely a rivalry game, and I understand that.  I have to be honest with you, I'm glad you asked the question.
When I was with the Dallas Cowboys, our best friends in Dallas, the Hikeys, (phonetic) were A&A graduates.  I would spend Fourth of July with my wife in the backyard at their house in their pool.
To be very honest with you, I've never seen a group of people so love their school.  John Hikey and Sandy Hikey.  Sandy Hikey currently is passed.  We were great friends.
So I fully understand how the group that call themselves Aggie fans, how they love their school.
And then I was told when I arrived here that the current record was not good and that we needed to do everything that we could to uphold our end of the rivalry.
Yes, I recognize it is a rivalry.

Q.¬† The second question is kind of a conference‑ wide view.¬† You are somebody people listen to on this, so do you think two teams deserve to go?¬† I know there is more season left, but in the playoff, and then should an east team win, what do you think about that dynamic?¬† What they represent the SEC in your mind?
COACH MILES:  To me, I recognize what parity is in this league.  I recognize every week you line up you're playing a very talented team frankly.  They put things together, it's going to make it very hard on you.
I respect this league eminently.¬† Yeah, I could easily see two teams making the four‑team tournament.
But in the same vein, I recognize too that should the east division win the championship, that would give certainly different criteria nationally.
Yeah, I can't imagine that there is a tougher league and certainly a tougher division than the Western Division of the SEC.

Q.  You had a lot of guys leave early for the NFL draft the last two years.  Do you expect to have a smaller amount this coming year?
COACH MILES:  I really don't know, to be honest with you.  I haven't kind of looked at the numbers.  I am going to visit with guys as best I can as we come forward.
So many times it's a very personal decision and it's not something that's really based many times on draft status.  If it was, I would think that we would have a lesser number in a group that would be here pretty much intact.
But, again, that's not my decision.  I'll be involved in it here directly.

Q.  Do you talk to players already, or is that something you wait until after the regular season?
COACH MILES:  I'm more ready to wait until I get into post regular season.

Q.  How interested are you in finding a junior college quarterback to come in this spring, and would be the advantages and disadvantages of doing that?
COACH MILES:  Yeah, I'm not ready to necessarily envision a junior college quarterback this minute.  But as we are in every class, we look for the best available.  I'm certain we're looking at some junior college guys, including quarterbacks.
But I'm not telling you that I'm wildly motivated there either.

Q.  Would it be an advantage to have him before spring?
COACH MILES:  Well, it really kind of just depends where their maturity is.  Okay?  If you have a junior college guy that's really run the show and understands the passing game extremely well and can really throw it and understands what we're going to ask of him, then I think certainly that would be a guy we would consider.
But ideally that guy would have to be here in the spring of the year to fully comprehend what we're going to ask him to do on the quarterback.

Q.  Did you receive a letter from the Secretary of Louisiana Department of Veteran Affairs about getting Luke Boyd some snaps or getting him into the game?
COACH MILES:¬† I'm certain I did.¬† I don't necessarily respond to well‑wishing in many ways.
Although I was touched by the fact that so many people have championed Luke Boyd's cause in terms of getting him get on the field and letting him take some snaps.  I certainly understand that.  But.
To travel and have him take one of the spots would be very difficult for us to do this late in the season.

Q.  The whole team makes the trip to the bowl game, right?
COACH MILES:  Absolutely.

Q.  He'll be part of that?
COACH MILES:  Absolutely.

Q.¬† You say you don't read the newspaper.¬† There was a story, I believe this morning, about Thanksgiving Day games.¬† If I may deviate for a few moments, Alvin Dark, who just died, led LSU to an 18‑7 victory over Tulane in 1942 on a Thanksgiving afternoon.¬† I saw that game.¬† I am the only one in here that can make that statement.¬† But he was the best athlete, in my opinion that's ever been on this campus.¬† He was a three‑sport star and he was a scratch golfer.¬† That's unheard of these days because they play so many games.¬† That team was 7‑3, 6‑0 at home, 1‑3 on the road.¬† Not too much different from today, because I feel like LSU, through the years, plays better at home than anywhere else.¬† I'm not going to ask a question.¬† I'm taking up too much time.
COACH MILES:  Thank you.  I kind of understand that scratch golfing thing.  You can put a number of athletes in that category, but when you add scratch golfer, that was pretty special.

Q.  Quick question about Texas A&M freshman receiver Speedy Noil.  What have you seen from him on tape that's maybe stood out?
COACH MILES:  Again, very talented receiver and a guy that we recognize as a guy with the ball in his hands.  Very special.

Q.  I think you were asked this last year, but the recruiting with Texas, you guys, especially lately, have gone over there a lot.  What does this game mean in the much broader thing of recruiting?
COACH MILES:  I think it's perimeter only.  I think year after year we'll always go into Texas.  I think they're just is a real quality fan base there.  The opportunity to play at LSU and be in close proximity to home in Texas, certainly that Houston swing is something we'll always represent to those guys in Texas.
So certainly if you do well, that helps in recruiting.  Yeah, but that would be understandable.

Q.  Can you talk a little bit about Dwayne Thomas, how he's recovering from his ACL injury and kind of his mentality towards having to sit out this season.  How is he doing right now?
COACH MILES:  He's constantly around the facility.  He's a great teammate.  We can hardly wait to get him back, to be honest.  He'll be fine.  He's working hard.  His rehabilitation is coming along very nicely.
Hope to have him back for spring.  I don't know if that's possible, but as hard as he's working, we would think that's likely.

Q.  Your previous couple of meetings you defended Texas A&M's offense very well.  Has it changed any with Manziel not being there, and has your preparation has to change because of that?
COACH MILES:  Yeah, they're callingsome of the same exact things, and then there are some different things that Manziel brings to bear, as well as this quarterback.
So there has been a little shift, but there is still some of the same basic fundamentals, spread, the ability to throw the football; some of the runs are probably different.

Q.  I know you try and eliminate this as much as possible, but just given human nature, do you find it harder, more difficult to motivate a team that's lost a few games versus one that's undefeated at this point in the season or has maybe only lost one?  Is that the nature of the beast?  Do you sense a different level of motivation?
COACH MILES:  Yeah, I think that this team is a young enough team that really wants to improve and is not really ready to put next year in the near vision.
It appears to me that this group wants to play well in this game.  They're not really ready to go on from there.  I enjoy that focus.  I think maybe it's a little easier to motivate them in certain ways.

Q.  Sounds like Elliott is out for this game.  What about the Bowl game, Elliott Porter?
COACH MILES:  I'm not certain.  Really just kind of depends on the schedule when he would return.

Q.  How did Brandon do in practice this week?  Is he improving?  Would you be surprised if he does not play Thursday?
COACH MILES:  Yeah, I would suggest that he's improved, that he continues to improve, and I would want to assess this week fully before I commented on that.
But, again, I like how he's improved.
THE MODERATOR coach, thanks for your time.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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