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October 12, 2015

Les Miles

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

COACH MILES: First of all, just wanted to congratulate our fan base in the state of Louisiana. I thought how they welcomed South Carolina was extremely good. I think it shows how compassion and want for -- to be a part of this country and wish well those people that are less fortunate. We've been through it. We kind of know what it's about.

I cannot complain about that crowd. That crowd was loud and fun. I want you to know they made as much noise, as far as I'm concerned, as any crowd that we've had. I didn't get a chance to look into the crowd much. I was more about the business at hand, but it was a good crowd. I enjoyed it very much.

I'm glad that there were some fishing trips that got postponed and some events with their wife in downtown New Orleans and some private vacations that were canceled. All the weddings should have gone on, I just want you to know. Should not miss your wedding just to make the Tigers game.

The South Carolina recap quickly, offense put a lot of yards statistically up. They rushed for 396 and passed for 228. Possession, we had the ball 40 minutes, and the opponents had the ball 20 minutes. We were 9 of 15 on third down, and we threw the ball 18 for 28 and a couple hundred yards. I thought the receivers really came to play. They had a great week of practice and really wanted to prove that there were people that could be counted on, and they were. So we threw the ball well.

Again, we had two backs that rushed for 160 yards or thereabouts. It's really the first time in SEC history. Derrius Guice was the SEC Freshman of the Week. Offensive line did a great job, as they really have done most of the year. Pocic is the SEC offensive lineman of the week. Leonard Fournette was the quickest player to 1,000 yards in SEC history, in five games. He also leads the nation in rushing and how many yards per game at 204, as well as 12 touchdowns.

So defense held them to 74 yards rushing, 283 yards total in passing. They ran 50 plays, and they rushed it 20 and threw it 30 times.

Getting a lot of players to contribute on defense, Lewis Neal got his fourth sack. Tashawn Bower got an interception. Beckwith led the team in tackles. We missed coverage on two plays that were certainly needed not to be that long a play. Surely could not have -- should not have been scoring plays. So things that we're going to work on. The good news is it's some of our better players, and they immediately knew what was wrong when they came off the field. It would stand to reason that that won't happen again.

Special teams, not where they need to be. We looked at the kickoff coverage, and it's really interesting where we drill it. We expect certain things to happen. I can tell you that we're looking at personnel. We're looking at where we kick the ball. And we really feel like it's something that our team, coaches and players, are going to focus on and get fixed. And really, I think our specialists would be fine thereafter.

Now, Florida, a very good Florida team under their first year coach, Jim McElwain. If you watch their film, they're very talented, very capable. They have a very, very strong defense, a lot of guys that make a lot of plays, coming off a Missouri win, 23-3, and have allowed Ole Miss only 10 points, Kentucky 9 points. They're second in the conference in rush defense at 99. They're second in scoring, allowing 14 points per game. They're fourth in total defense at 296 yards per game. Offensively, they're averaging 32 and just under 400 yards total offense.

Apparently, I was just told that their quarterback Will Grier, who's expected to start, will not start as he's running afoul of some suspension. That being said, I'm certain that they will have a very capable guy. We'll have to kind of go back and see who that is. Certainly, we'll prepare for him, and we'll prepare for what will be Florida's best because I know that Coach McElwain will have them ready to play.

This is a top ten matchup. This is Tiger Stadium at its best, and we expect that the fishing trips are done. We're not taking the wife on another extended holiday. We are coming to Tiger Stadium. Did he say it was 6:00 that he was going to kick off? That's good. It will be dusk. There will be the opportunity for night to arrive, and this should be a great game, a very competitive game, and certainly two very capable football teams.

I am kind of taken back a little by Nick Chubb. I'm just sad to have injury there. You see guys that fight like heck to have excellence and to play at a very high level, and you -- injuries is the one thing about this sport that you'd like to get fixed. It's the same thing that makes it great because you have to overcome it, but in the same vein, guys that are deserving, you'd like for them not ever to be injured. So I wish Nick Chubb the very best. I hope that it's not as serious as it appeared to be.

So go ahead with questions.

Q. Coach, with the news of Will Grier's suspension, how or does that alter your preparation during the week knowing that there's going to be a new starting quarterback?
COACH MILES: Most of the time, the second team quarterback can operate the offense as-is. So we would expect that their best plays or their core plays would be the same. They have a very talented running back, a very capable running game. I would guess that that won't change. And I would suggest that the passing would be the same. It would just be a different quarterback doing it, and knowing the talent there, there will be enough talent to field a very capable quarterback.

Q. Coach, Brandon had one sequence in the first half, like a second and 14, where he threw a little low for Travin, and then third down he missed Leonard. How important was it for him to bounce back from that as opposed to the week before, how the passing game went when he struggled early?
COACH MILES: Well, those quarterbacks do not necessarily hit every ball, and the truth is that we expect him to kind of get his feet underneath him and be comfortable. He really came right back and showed that he's understanding that position. Some positions you can run out there and be aggressive and show all of the emotion that you need. At quarterback, it's all about control and recognizing. It's a much more cerebral position. I think he's really maturing that way.

Q. Real quick, how much comfort did you take in the yardage you got considering the games you have coming up and some of the opponents you have coming up?
COACH MILES: Yardage is not necessarily for me the key. I liked how we were on third downs. I know we were very productive there. And I like the idea that philosophically, if they're going to put a lot of guys in the box, we'll have the opportunity to make throws. The opportunity to get big plays and the opportunity to score in the air is certainly there any time that they want to put somebody up to stop Leonard Fournette.

Q. This past summer, some of your players and Florida's players went at it on Twitter back and forth. Have you banned Twitter this week for your team?
COACH MILES: I'm glad you mentioned that or at least re-upped my memory on that. Certainly, there's no reason for Twitter. The game is always played on the field, not in the media chat rooms. So it would be my guess that our guys would recognize that. I'll see them at 3:00 this afternoon, and they'll hear it again.

Q. Have you put any thought to this is like four weeks in a row that you're playing a starting quarterback that kind of changed midstream and wasn't the guy, and how difficult is that to kind of change your preparation?
COACH MILES: Well, again, we see the guys that come out that are pretty talented and very capable, and they run the things that the opponent plays. Those plays that have become core to the opponent, that's what that quarterback runs. He can either move his feet a little bit more or a little bit less, and he's a little taller or a little shorter.

Again, in this conference, they're pretty talented and pretty capable, and we would expect that this -- the next quarterback that we start studying will be, again, very capable.

Q. Coach, what do you think about the job that Jim McElwain has done so far, so early in his tenure so far at Florida?
COACH MILES: Certainly, he's strung together a number of wins and put himself in position to play for the East Championship. Honestly, that's right where you want to be. I think he'd done a really remarkable job considering.

Q. The camera caught a moment with Nick Brossette and Leonard Fournette after Brossette fumbled in the fourth quarter. A little bit about the relationship in the running back room with the younger guys and Leonard. How do you handle a kid like Brossette when it seems like you've got a rotation figured out there but you want to play him?
COACH MILES: First of all, I think Leonard is quite a leader, and I think he's a guy that takes those young players under hand and says, hey, relax and you'll be fine. We make an adjustment based on where we are on the field and the opportunity to make sure that we're not turning the ball over.

I think Nick's going to have a great career here. I don't think there's any question that he will. We just can't turn the ball over.

Q. Has Derrius given himself the opportunity to get more touches as the season goes along?
COACH MILES: I think it's just about the same amount of touches that the starter did, and I think Derrius Guice will get those touches as it fits the plan. Certainly, he's showing that he's more than capable. So, yeah, he's probably going to get to -- we have a nice rotation. We keep everybody fresh, including him. We'll kind of handle that and stay on that rotation.

Q. What do you feel like the team has accomplished up to this point in the season? What do you feel like the team still has to prove?
COACH MILES: I like the position that we're in. I think we need to improve in a number of areas. I think certainly special teams it's easy to see. We eliminate some mistakes on the defensive side, we're just a very, very dominant defense.

So we get some guys back healthy as we go. Tashawn Bower didn't play in the game. He's back. And then we've had some guys that were nicked up that were playing that it appears they'll be back. We might even have Dillon Gordon. And maybe we'll have to find out about Jalen Mills.

Q. [No microphone]?
COACH MILES: I don't know about J.D. We'll know later in the week.

Q. Les, Florida's very good up front against the run. Talk about their defensive personnel up front and the matchup with your offensive line against their front.
COACH MILES: I think it's certainly a very competitive matchup. They're big, strong, fast guys that you're going to have to use great technique to block. It's going to be a war. Both the offensive line and the defensive line that play against each other on both sides of the ball are talented and very capable.

Q. Coach, on this discipline stuff, which we've seen quite a lot of in the SEC this fall, why don't you just come out and say what it was? Like why do you always have secrecy around it? I mean, wouldn't it make sense to stop the speculation so people -- there's not a lot of rumors going on about the program and say it's because of X, Y? Why the secrecy?
COACH MILES: I think there's a responsibility to protect the player. This is where he's going to college. This is where he's going to grow. This is -- maybe it's a behavior issue. Maybe it's a social issue. Maybe it's a team issue. Basically, he was late. Doesn't make any difference.

Here's a guy that you want to get a great degree and go off and have a great life, and you don't want to in any way disable his long-term plans. So I recognize why you don't. I also recognize why the team knows because the team in my team room, they know.

Q. My question is not about the game and not about the upcoming game. You'd like to know the condition of Coach Kragthorpe, if you're at liberty to say.
COACH MILES: Yes, I think Coach Kragthorpe, who has an illness, it appears to me is healthy and doing well. He did an advanced report for us on Florida and did a great job. He's part of our staff and really does a quality job for us.

Q. With special teams, do you find the issue is with the kicker or with the coverage?
COACH MILES: Sometimes it's both, but most of the time, you have to deal with personnel and make sure that your personnel understands what we're trying to get accomplished. I think, in this particular instance, it was some scheme, and then we're going to change personnel as well.

We're really going to bring it to the team because the team's got to get it fixed. If they want to be something special, if they want to play in more significant games than -- and very much like this Saturday's game, then they're going to have to correct it.

Q. And you've used two guys to kick off already this year. Have you given thought to anybody else on the roster that might be able to do that for you?
COACH MILES: We're -- we feel good about the guys that kick off, to be honest with you. We just need them to kick off where we want them to.

Q. Coach, Mouton, your quarterback that replaced J.D., how do you think he played? If J.D. can't go, do you think he'll start, play most of the game?
COACH MILES: Yeah, I think Mouton, with a real quality week of preparation, will do great. And then we have, I think, David Ducre would be the guy that stepped in behind him and started training a little bit more reps in the practice for him.

Q. Coach, what do you feel like you've gotten out of your defensive backs so far this year, and where do they need to improve?
COACH MILES: I think our defensive backs are playing pretty well overall. I think we can expect them to play much more aggressively in a bigger role as we go forward. We have to have some standard coverage that just keeps us over the top. As long as we do that, we'll be fine.

Q. Les, Dillon Gordon and Tashawn, they both should play Saturday?
COACH MILES: Both should play.

Q. Jalen Mills, is it safe to say he's still more than a week away?
COACH MILES: Yeah, he's going to practice. We'll have to see. Both really. Dillon Gordon and Jalen Mills are both going to practice this week, and we'll have a look see.

Q. Night game against an SEC opponent in Tiger Stadium, how big is that atmosphere as much as it gets talked about every year?
COACH MILES: It is the finest sport venue in the world. I can't imagine that anybody that travels to see a game like the Florida-LSU game, that it will not -- it will compare favorably with any.

Q. How do you feel about the NCAA allowing Leonard to auction off his jersey?
COACH MILES: You know what, I don't really know the specifics there. I'm told that they're working that out. First of all, I'd like to think that Leonard with the idea that he was touched so much that he felt like he needed to do that, that certainly was not suggested by me in any way. But we have to go through the NCAA and make sure that it's compliant. It's just a young guy trying to do something good.

Q. In the past, I think LSU tried to change that permanent rivalry with Florida. How do you feel about having the Gators as a permanent rival these days? Would you like to see it revisited in the future?
COACH MILES: Certainly, scheduling long-term is whatever it is. The commissioner or the administrators make those appointments. Once they're on our schedule, we're excited to play them, look forward to it very much. Certainly, Florida's got a wonderful, storied background, and we'll look forward to playing them.

It's Columbus Day today. Did you guys know that?

Q. Can we get your thoughts on Columbus Day?
COACH MILES: Let's just not confuse Columbus Day with St. Paddy's Day or some other more noteworthy day like Presidents Day, et cetera. So thanks.

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