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October 5, 2015

Les Miles

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

COACH MILES: South Carolina is having a difficult time. Yeah, we certainly understand the whims of weather, and I'm certain they'll do great. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

We travel and play at virtually the same time we played the Syracuse game, so s our travel schedule and week's practice schedule will be kind of mapped out for us. We kind of enjoyed what we did last time. We got them up early, put them to bed early, and it seemed to be the right recipe.

The Eastern Michigan recap. We're still making a couple of those mistakes we wouldn't like to make. But you're making it rushing for 399 yards, and if we don't drop balls, we probably score two more touchdowns and maybe another 150 yards of offense. So we're certainly in the ballpark.

Surprised to get a second player without a helmet playing. This is a real interesting thing. I'm going to insist that our equipment man fit our team yet again, okay? Because to me, I think this has to be that the helmets are loosely fitted and we have to tighten them up. It's pretty simple that way.

If you looked at that penalty, the defender put his hand right in the face mask of our offensive tackle. Of course, he continues to block through the whistle, and that's what has to get fixed.

Special teams need to be a little bit better, but I think they made some improvement in that game. They need to continue to kick like we did. I think Trent Domingue has a nice, confident piece going. Three for three for field goals.

We brought Cam in to kick after a short kick, and he gave us a five-yard penalty. Just seems like he takes some time. He's that guy this stands over a putt for about three minutes before he kicks it -- or he putts it, I should say. I said Cam, You see that box over there with the 25 second clock? That's for you. You get to look that every time you get to kick off. He'll eventually get it I suspect.

So we had several defensive offsides, and we'll get that fixed, I'm sure.

Offensively, Leonard Fournette in his third straight 200-yard game. First time in SEC history that a back has gone for 200 yards three consecutive games. It's kind of nice to be a part of that, the offensive line, the full backs, wide receivers, and blocking, all of which really lead to that, and that's why Leonard is having that success. He'd be the first one to tell you that.

He leads the nation in rushing of 864 yards; 216 yards per game and in points. So he's scoring at 16 points per game.

Brandon Harris is really doing what we ask him to do. The one thing I would like to have is the presence in the pocket, hang on to that ball if he's getting pressure. We'll have to talk about that and see if we can get that fixed. But he's hitting the balls that he's throwing. He's really on target. Just need to catch it. I think that that will happen.

I think our wide receivers really are poised to have a good year. That was uncharacteristic of them, dropping those balls.

Defense had another scoreless first quarter. Really gives us a great chance at stealing the early momentum in a game, and certainly it'll be key as we go to South Carolina in a key SEC matchup.

Several of the big plays, Deion's interception was a very, very strong play, and certainly a very fast movement to the goal line. Just made a big play.

We're getting contribution though from really a number of folks on the defense. Sione Teuhema had seven tackles; one tackle for loss. Lewis Neal, two sacks; Kevin Toliver and Jamal Adams, both of which played extremely well in the secondary end and got to take-aways.

So kind of in a position where we would like to be a little bit more hitting on all cylinders. But in reality, we're really close. We're going to South Carolina to see if we can play best. We recognize that Coach Spurrier does a great job coaching, and he'll have that team ready to play. They're a very talented team. They have good players. We'll have to be playing at our best to win.

He's again, a very, very quality coach and prepares his team. Coming off a loss to Missouri, I think they're quarterback is gonna be Lorenzo Nunez, and he's a very talented guy. He's really a true freshman. Started the last two games at quarterback; threw for 172 yards and 60 yards, rushed for 60 yards against Missouri. Got hurt last week, but again is expected to start. He seems talented and very capable.

They also have a very capable receiver Pharoh Cooper: 26 catches; 32 two yards; two touches. Again, defensively they're a stingy group. They have big, talented guys. They're allowing 25 points and 3888 yards per game; 170 yards rushing; 218 yards passing. Their linebacker Skai Moore, 52 tackles and 3 interceptions. Very talented backer.

And we recognize that South Carolina has talent and is very capable and we're playing at their place. It will be just like other SEC games and contests we've played in: you have to play your best. We'll look forward to that.


Q. Is what we saw from the passing game Saturday similar to what you see in practice, and does that kind of inform how you call plays and how you form a game plan?
COACH MILES: Well, we have general menu that we pick from. We go to game plans, and some plays go in and some go out. Sometimes you mix and you tinker to get the best combination on front side and the back side of the route.

I think that's what most people do. I think that's smart. I think you would have enjoyed our passing attack if we had pulled in some of those balls and score two more touchdowns, as that would happen in what would be normal play, so...

Q. After taking a look at the film, how did you evaluate the wide receivers, their pass running, the effort they gave? How did they do in the game?
COACH MILES: Yeah, I think our wide receivers expect more of themselves. I think several guys played really hard and played really fast. I think there were times when energy to the ball didn't match their ability, capabilities.

Be easy to say not good enough, but I think they give really quality effort. I think sometimes there are other reasons why they didn't have success. We'll press those a little bit in this game week.

Q. That first game against Mississippi State Travin had a couple touchdowns called back. He had a little bit of luck and bad time getting off to a good start this year for you?
COACH MILES: Well, to me, he's had plenty of opportunities. It's just that we need to capitalize on those opportunities and allow him to do the things that he can do.

Q. Lamar Louis got hurt in the game; missed the second half. Update on his injury status?
COACH MILES: Yeah, we think Lamar will be fine for game day. It's not as serious as him missing the half might seem. We think he'll return to play very quickly.

Q. What about Dylan Gordon. Can you give us an update?
COACH MILES: Yeah, Dylan Gordon may well -- he's working out today. He's a guy who wants to get back to the field very, very badly. You just never can tell.

Q. Jalen Mills still a week away? Where would you put it?
COACH MILES: I'm still day-to-day with him. Kind of he and Dylan, I'm going to see where they're at today and see if we can mark a day on the calendar for these guys.

They don't obviously have to be the same day.

Q. I get the helmet rule. Safety and all that. What's a kid supposed to do and what do you coach him to do? Drop to the ground in the fetal position? Cover their head? Run away to the farthest empty place?
COACH MILES: Yeah, it's a smart rule. It's a really good rule if you think about it. For instance, should that ball have been fumbled in the boundary and suddenly a cluster of players, some trying to tackle and some trying to run it in for a touchdown and Lewis Neal is right there, he had best turn and run and get a you have out of the away because his injury could be very serious.

Obviously Hawk had this guy and was blocking him, and the guy, out of frustration, I guess, just kind of removed his helmet and basically -- and did not get called, which certainly there are things that people miss snap after snap.

But at that point in time, Hawk, yeah, we're good. Your play for this particular time frame has ended. You must withtreat. [Sic] Yeah.

It's a smart rule. It really is. There are a lot of really brave, courageous guys that would go rough and tumble in there and really get hurt. That's what you don't want to have happen.

Q. You only attempted two passes in the second half. Is there sometimes a temptation, because Leonard and the running game has been so good, to look to the passing game and say, Forget it; this will work?
COACH MILES: No, there is no temptation to look to the passing game and say that. We want very much for that passing game to work. The thing that happens is you get to the back end of a game, put in your seconds on offense and defense, and really, you don't want to -- you know, the decision of whether you've won or not has been decided. You have sealed victory.

So I think we ran out the last, I don't know, certainly most of the fourth quarter. I think that you'll find in those games that are very competitive throughout the game, that we'll be in those situations much more balanced than we were the second half.

Q. When you look at the league and the SEC in your experience, why do you think it is that the western division has been better for the last several years? You recruit the same territory; you've had coaching stability at Georgia and South Carolina and Missouri. What do you attribute this success of the west over the east to?
COACH MILES: I don't know. I certainly recognize like for instance, South Carolina is a very talented team. I thought Georgia athletically is as talented as there are.

I think Florida is showing they have a great year going. Hard pressed for me to tell you that they don't have a very, very capable team.

I don't know. I can tell you that competition breeds a keen want to play. I think in the western division certainly competition is the rule. I can't imagine it's any different in the east. Just turns out that way, I guess.

Q. You touched on the whims of weather. Could you discuss what kind of factor that is when you're preparing a game week and maybe your head is somewhere else with something that you can't control?
COACH MILES: Yeah, well, we'd like to see ourselves as a weather-proof offense, and our defense would certainly like to take advantage of weather.

I think Brandon has that kind of arm and size of hand that he'll be able to control the ball and do the things that we want to do there. We preach a variety of things. Certainly ball security is one. Weather is always an obstacle or distraction in some way or shape. Whether it's too hot, too sunny, too whatever it is. We try to eliminate those very quickly and get to playing.

Q. Obviously South Carolina is going through a lot of difficulties, state of emergency and things like that. You've been on that side as well trying to prepare your team in light of surrounding circumstances. What do you try to do? What would you expect Coach Spurrier is trying to do to take care of his team in light of circumstances there?
COACH MILES: Well, I think first and foremost, his responsibility is that team. Far be it from me to be the one that tells him that. He knows that. As many great teams as he's put on the field and years on the Florida and South Carolina, he understands that.

I suspect that they'll minimize distractions in a perimeter; that they'll seek the right practice plan. I think this will be something that they'll come through. Because, in my mind, because they're preparing for a game and preparing in a season. I think that that makes those times, the necessity to step through them and to benefit you and your team that way. So I think they'll be fine.

Q. Following up on Spurrier, you came here to LSU the same year he arrived at South Carolina. To last this long with one team, is it a game of survival? How does that work?
COACH MILES: "Last this long "and I heard "came at the same time," but explain. I didn't hear -- you held the microphone just far enough away that I was fighting.

Q. You guys have both lasted the same amount of time at your current institutions. How does that work? Is it just a game survival to get to this point, to last that long at one place?
COACH MILES: Yeah, well, first of all, you have to enjoy where you're at. I certainly enjoy this place. I suspect he feels exactly the same about South Carolina.

You have to enjoy coaching your players. I think the guys that he recruits and the guys that I recruit, I would have to say that I enjoy coaching the LSU Tigers. I'm sure he feels the same way.

I think there is certainly a facet of good players come here and certainly good players go to South Carolina, so I think we've been fortunate to have talent players as well.

Q. Obviously with big receivers like Dural and Dupre, I understand the desire to get it down field. But do you and Cam concern yourselves that the intermediate passing game seems to be dissolving?
COACH MILES: I think there is a need to throw where they're not, and I think there are many times that we're throwing routes that have the ability to hit several different areas. I think there are choices on where we throw the ball.

Yeah, we are making sure that we are a team that throws not only the width but the depth of the field as well.

You'll find that that's a part of our planning. If you kind of look through the routes and watch 'em, you'll see that sometimes there is a crosser and sometimes there is a square-in and a deep post. So really three routes that are in major consideration almost in every route we call.

Q. You played a lot of backup defensive guys that we hadn't seen a lot, like Duke Riley and Donnie Alexander. What you did see out of those guys specifically?
COACH MILES: I think some of those guys played very well. I think some of those guys needed to be on the field a little bit longer and maybe in practice, get some of those practice snaps.

I think our second team is coming, and that's the good news. The more that you can put a quality sub in for a guy that's playing a lot of snaps in the key contests, the more rested you're going to be.

Q. Do you feel there is a big separation between Kendall and Deion and then your backups? Do you feel the gap a wider than you wanted there?
COACH MILES: I think what we have there, I think Duke is a guy that can play on the really any of those three spots and play extremely well. I think Donnie Alexander is going to be one of the more talented linebackers we have.

But, again, there is no substitute for experience. He's just got to get reps on the field.

Q. You talked about the effort not matching the talent maybe at some of the wide receiver spots. Is it time to maybe look at Shark or some guys that might not have seen the field as much yet?
COACH MILES: Yeah, we're looking at shuffling the lineup. We're looking at all those things. I'm not ready to do that at this point in any wholesale fashion.

You give you an example: one of the plays, once I saw it on film, I realized was tipped and there was really no way for the guy to catch it. It probably moved three feet in the last ten feet of its travel.

So it's one of those pieces where you would like to say, Wrap your hands around that, but frankly it was a very, very difficult catch.

Some of those things take place every Saturday, and I don't know that that's something that you see sitting in the stands. I didn't see it standing on the sidelines, nor did I talk about it. In fact, nobody saw it until we ran it back and ran it back and said, Hmmm.

I guess what I'm saying is I like the effort of my wide receivers. It's not as productive as it needs to be. Needs to be more in line with the coaching. They're taking it. We have to execute better, period.

Q. Piggybacking on Matt's earlier question, when you have a guy hitting home runs like Leonard, do you have to guard against going away from other areas of your program that need the work? Do you have to guard against the guys relying on him to come in and hit that homerun?
COACH MILES: Well, if you've got a homerun hitter you bat him third or fourth, depends on your lineup, right? That's because if you bat him third -- they get generally five at-bats. If you bat him fourth, there's a chance that it's going to be 4 at-bats or less.

Basically what's always been the rule is you give your homerun hitter opportunities to hit home runs. We also think we have other homerun hitters. Certainly the offensive line, the full backs, the tight ends, have all participated in the success we've had in the running game.

We also think that Travin Dural and Malachi Dupre and Trey Quinn and a number of guys in the receiving corps that can step forward and make plays.

So we want to adjust the lineup some but make sure that those guys that hit homeruns get enough touches.

Q. If you were going to rate coaches in the SEC, you and Spurrier would probably be near the top in terms of more colorful people in the conferences as far as coaches go. Having gotten to know him over the years, as you probably have, you guys think you're more comfortable being yourselves than some other football coaches? You think some coaches maybe take themselves too seriously?
COACH MILES: I don't know. I guess I've seen guys that I've thought were, you know, maybe a little bit more serious or a little bit distracted. But you know what? I think they've been all very successful. There is a wide range of people that can have success at this job, in my opinion.

But I enjoy listening to Coach Spurrier talk. It's certainly entertaining and enlightening at times. Yeah, I guess that it was a compliment to me to be compared with.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH MILES: Yeah, I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I might give the opponent any bulletin board material.

Q. With the way Leonard is going, seems silly to ask about a back up runningback. But you seem to be growing confidence in the two freshmen. Just a quick thought on both Guice and Brossette and what you've seen over these first four games of their career?
COACH MILES: I think both of which are very eager to play. I think they're guys that have talent and skill. I think Nick, I don't know that Nick has missed a cut since I've seen him. Derrius Guice is a fast, very physical, elusive back. I think both guys are going to have great futures.

Nick had a missed assignment in the game and cracked a linebacker and knocked him -- just really had a great block. Frank said to him, Damnit, Nick. He says, Yeah, I know. I just wanted to hit somebody, and I just...

Well, that's a really good characteristic. If you have to make a mistake, you make it aggressively. I guess what I'm saying is both guys will have very, very capable, very, very long careers here.

Q. What's the update on Tashawn Bower, and how important was it to get that kind of production out of Sione as well?
COACH MILES: I think Sione, he's a guy that can play and play a lot. We would expect Tashawn to be back. It's a kind of minor knick, if you will.

Q. Could he have played Saturday?
COACH MILES: Yeah, yeah, he could have played Saturday.

Q. Through four games would it be fair to say that you guys have been able to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball? How do you feel like both lines are playing, if you can go one at a time?
COACH MILES: Yeah, I think both lines are playing really well. The interior defensive line, LaCouture and -- you know what I mean. Davon Godchaux. Both those guy are dominant players and making plays, and I enjoy them eminently.

The defensive ends, Lewis Neal continues to improve our young Tashawn Bower and what would be Frank Herron playing inside and just the -- I think the group is coming. I think I enjoy Ed, and Ed's enthusiasm is giving him reasons to go to the field.

Offensive line-wise, the recipe of those two big veteran tackles and a veteran center in between two young guards. The guards are growing quickly. They're big, capable, physical guys, and they're guys that are really growing up around very, very experienced guys.

So both sides of the line of scrimmage, in my opinion, defensive and offensive, playing well.

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