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LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 23, 2015
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
COACH MILES: Afternoon all. Just want to get me out of the way as best I can. I can tell you that I don't know anything other than let's go to work; let's rally the troops; let's enjoy the men that I've hired and the young men that I've recruited. Let's coach them hard and go away with victory.
I'm going to enjoy that, and it's just that simple. If you have questions along those lines, I'll take one or two, but I'm done speaking about me in about two minutes, so...
Oh, just under the wire. Perfect.
Q. Obviously you've heard the reports and you know that some people already have you fired; some people have you fired at the end of the week?
COACH MILES: They had me in a job not long ago either, as I recall, and on a plane that I was not on, so...
Q. Knowing what's ahead of you, would you like to be involved in the discussion should it come to a departure?
COACH MILES: I don't want to go there. I would be not doing my job as the head coach at LSU, one that I've enjoyed doing, and with a group of young men that I enjoy representing.
What is the future is to me after the Tex A&M game. Great game to be played in Tiger Stadium. I'm not going to find myself watching TV or reading papers or doing anything but preparing a game plan, looking at the advantages that we can have, and seeing if we can exploit them to victory.
Now, so that being said...
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH MILES: Pardon?
Q. Will you take any more questions?
COACH MILES: Well, I was going to say a couple things. Go ahead. I should give at least two. Go ahead. Just didn't seem like there were a lot of hands coming up in the room.
Q. A lot of people locally and nationally considering your track record, what you've accomplished and everything find this whole topic to be a bit ridiculous. Are you hurt or are you upset that this was leaked last week, and...
COACH MILES: Again, I don't know -- I guess an example. There was a tremendously reputable national sportscaster who was the source of the information that was completely erroneous nine years ago. Okay?
So I'm going to go onto work. I think the question is valid. I think you're exactly -- you know, at some point in time, you know, there is a me in this. Not while I'm coaching.
This will always be about our players and the team. I'm a separate piece. I orchestrate and move with and hopefully am successful. That's the only away I know how to do it.
So 15 seniors. Any time you come to Senior Day, you look at times where it's been more than them playing games. It's young men that are working to get their degree, improving to get ahead, investing time and effort and energy to have a great team.
I can tell you that the 15 seniors, I'm proud of them. I think they'll go off and be leaders in business and great husbands and fathers. It's always a tough day for the coach.
But in recapping the Ole Miss game, felt like we were really in position to play well. Defensively gives up a big play and then really plays very hard, stops them on third and one, gives up a field goal, and it's time to go play football.
Offensively we take the first play. It's about a 60-yard gain, and a freshman guard makes a great technique play, gets out in position, and transgresses and violates and no question it's a hold.
It was a great call. It was a call I would've made. The effort and energy that it took for him to be there and do that, I'm going to give him credit for that. I'm not going to -- I am going to coach hard against the technique he used in the back end of the play, but I am going to say, As a true freshman, getting there was certainly half the battle, but you going to finish. We'll teach that technique.
I looked at the penalties as a group. I felt like certainly the officiating was unbiased and fair. Felt like there were some contested calls. I don't know that that has any merit at this point.
Again, we would take advantage and have -- flip the field, except we go back and take a minus 15. We did that just too often. Offensively we put 508 yards up; 184 rushing; 324 passing. If you avoid the penalties and have a little bit of poise on the road, you win the game, and you win the game on offense.
Defensively we gave up seven big plays. Three penalties that were really -- that T. White, just really not a guy that is susceptible to pass interference, but he did.
But there were a couple plays that were really forced mistakes. Guys making a tackle and swipes by a face mask. And I promise you, I studied it. I guess that's the call, but I would have to tell you that that was a call that could have been made a bunch.
But I think our defense really held that team to their second lowest total of the year. I think some of the matchups, I think corners had a tough day. I think there is a -- we lost edge on the quarterback carries. You know, some missed tackles. Quarterback played hard. Give our opponent some credit.
In that period of time where we come back in after halftime and go to 24-17, we're in a position where we take a penalty that we would not normally have taken because we needed to keep 'em out of field goal range.
They score on the next play, so if we avoid those plays, avoid those big penalties, defensively we play much better.
Special teams probably the bright spot of the day. We kicked off and they averaged 17 yards return. We forced two fumbles; one we got.
The punt return, we blocked the punt and got 14 yards on a return. When we punt it, we held their return yardage to a half a yard, and Jamie was dominate. I really felt like our teams played very, very well.
Again, when in at halftime down 24-7, and came back o 24-17, one score away. Needed a stop. Didn't get it on defense. Our last five possessions on offense were an interception, three turnover on downs, and it's too many mistakes and too many penalties.
But looking to Texas A&M, a very good football team. 8-three. Coach Sumlin is good a very nice job. Nice win over Vanderbilt. Of course they got a defensive coordinator I'm very familiar with, and he's a very talented coach. We'll look forward to hosting him in our stadium.
So offensively they're averaging 30 points, 179 rushing, 260 yards passing. Kyle Allen is a quarterback that seems to be getting better and better. Two for 336 against Vanderbilt. Nice runningback in Tra Carson. 990 yards, 6 touchdowns.
Talented wide receiver in Christian Kirk. 16 receptions for 871 yards and 6 touchdowns.
They have a very talented defense, guys that can rush the passer and move quickly. Garrett Myles leads the conference -- or excuse me, Myles Garrett leads the conference in sacks. Armani Watts is No. 2 tackles in the conference.
So it's always to be a hard-fought game. Always bean going to be close. It's a great rivalry game, but we'll look forward to taking the field at Tiger Stadium on Senior Day and playing hard and playing for victory.
Q. If you don't mind, I have to ask you, have you met with any LSU administrators over the last week to discuss your job?
COACH MILES: If you don't mind, I'm going to say that I really said speculation on my job at this point is off limits. The information that I have is do your job as you would do it.
That's something that I took when I took that job 11 years ago. If someone is asking me if I'm coaching for my job, I think I've done that for 11 years.
Q. You still plan to speak to your team today about your job like you said?
COACH MILES: Absolutely. This will be a warmup for the team meeting.
Q. Lastly, about John Chavis, ya'll still stay in contact since he left?
COACH MILES: Well, he coaches for another club, you know, so it becomes a problem.
Q. After the Florida and Auburn games, in so many words you talked about how good this team was, and some of your players said better than maybe you initially thought. At this point, can you look back and say maybe you all were wrong and you weren't as good as you thought earlier in the season?
COACH MILES: Yeah, I don't know that I can say that. I think we're a talented team. I think what's happened is we've got nicked. We really used a number of guys in this season. Our depth is so much better than it's been.
I think we're going to be a better football team. I can tell you that we started three offensive linemen that were freshman, and I think all three of them are going to be really good players, if not great players.
So I guess what I'm telling you is you can have a flat ire for a while, but here at LSU, this is an elite program. We expect to regroup and get going fast. That's really where we are.
Q. Are you considering retiring? Let's talk about that.
COACH MILES: No. I'm not considering retirement.
Q. You mentioned just putting your head down and doing your job. How about your job as recruiter? Would it help to have a vote of confidence from your athletic director to in turn say to recruits, I'm going to be here?
COACH MILES: Yeah, I have not really thought about that. I know this: We've made plans to tactically recruit our board, and I've not really given thought to that to be honest.
I don't think that's necessary, to be honest. I think we go forward. Obviously I'm the coach or something else happens and obviously I'm not the coach.
Q. In the back, what is the attitude and the mood among the coaching staff?
COACH MILES: Yeah, I think I started this morning's meeting with kind of the same rendition as I gave you here. I think that they kind of understand. This is not about me. This is about the team. This is about preparing to beat an opponent and to enjoy the young men that we coach.
I think that there is probably some concern, but I think overall they're professionals and they understand victory is maybe more important than anybody's job.
Q. Leonard Fournette still leads the country in rushing yards. Does he need a trip to New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist to validate his status as one of the best in the game, or does he not need that?
COACH MILES: Well, I would like to say that if you watch a competitor, you catch him play, that he would be the kind of guy that would represent any national award extremely well.
He's good off the field; he's a great teammate; he's unselfish; when you give him his opportunities, whether it's a block or whether it's a run, it is run full. I mean, it's full speed. You had best be prepared.
So, yeah, I would like to say that those people in New York need to consider inviting him.
Q. I might have to point something out. Ole Miss has 16 seniors on their depth chart. You have 4, one of them is a punter. Three games you've lost, the quarterback of the other teams all more seasoned than your guy. You lost two tight ends, the best blocking fullback, and Hawkins during the course of the season. I think that's kind of being overlooked. Last year I had you picked for 8-4 going into the bowl. This year I had you 8-4 now, 8-4 for the season. You lose to A&M and win the bowl, you're 8-4. You beat A&M and you lose the bowl, you're 8-4. So with that, I'll ask my question: What happened when it was fourth and one on the goal line? Some kind of mix up there. It was supposed to be a hand off and it was a pitch out. I don't know what happened.
COACH MILES: Yeah, there was miscommunications there. Let us just say that the burden there was probably coaching. That would be me.
But I look at that specific piece and recognize that maybe there is a piece that didn't get covered. Maybe there was coaching that needed to be done better.
But that was a mistake by one of those players.
Q. My other question: Delaney, the Big 10 commissioner, back in the summer I read this story. Haven't seen anything about it since. But you play freshman, quite a few true freshman. He wants to invoke eligibility for freshman and football and basketball for academic reasons. What's your take on that?
COACH MILES: They would have -- we would have a difficult time fielding a team. We lose guys as juniors, and we recruit young men that we think are capable enough to take the field early, prepare them, and we end up playing significantly with a large freshman class, I would say.
I haven't seen the statistics for this year, but last year I want to say we had 17 or 18 true freshman played, and that was the highest number, and 15 each of the years before that true freshman playing.
So I would have to say that if they limited a freshman class, then they better do something about limiting junior exit, because otherwise you get to a point where you just don't have a team.
Q. You still have four years of eligibility under him playing.
COACH MILES: Basically redshirt. What happens, for instance Michael Backrus (ph) who was a great player here. Red shirt him the first year. Second year was a back up and played.
In his third year, was an All-American and a first round draft pick. He only stayed three years and he was red shirted.
So really doesn't make any difference. You can redshirt a class, but if they're talented, and those are the guys you recruit, then as juniors many of which, they leave.
Q. Do you have an update on Hawkins or Dural?
COACH MILES: I think there is a really good chance that Hawk will be healthy and ready to play.
I do not know about Travin Dural. I think we're going to have to see on that one.
Q. For those of us that aren't well educated on football, how big of a loss of J.D. Moore and Dylan Gordon has it been to Leonard's progression the last few games?
COACH MILES: Well, Leonard's progression, he's he evolved. That's not an issue with him. That is a very quality runningback. Understands the whole. Has good vision. His evolution, that's not an issue.
Some of the holes and the width of those holes, J.D. Moore and Dylan Gordon, some her guys that are significant, that may well have made a difference or two.
Q. You said your offense needs to be fixed. How can you fix it this late in the season? Is it just something you got to fix in the off-season?
COACH MILES: Yeah, I can't tell you I want ti fix it in the off-season because quite frankly I want to win this next game. I think the good news is the three freshman that played really played pretty well.
In fact, I think Will Clapp is going to be a dominate player. I think Maea Teuhema is going be a dominate player. I think Toby Weathersby will also be a dominate player.
Guys really have grown up as freshman, and like Toby in his first significant playing time played really pretty well. Now, he made some mistakes. He's part of those two, you know, motion penalties, movement penalties.
But he's going to be a good player.
Q. You see a change of scheme? Is there a scheme problem? (No microphone.)
COACH MILES: I think right now, wherever you set the scheme I think you need to have some poise and comfort of play and some of those things.
I think the fix is more -- I think our fullback is getting better. He needs to get better quicker. I think those guys that we have, you can change scheme and scheme is scheme. But if the players aren't comfortable in running what it is you're calling, it can be a problem.
Q. We know you don't talk to Chief too much anymore because he's on a different team. But do you expect to be able to capitalize on your years of knowledge of his scheme? Is this maybe a personal faceoff against one of your former coaches?
COACH MILES: We've lined up against former coaches before, and I can tell you that it's never a fun thing, never a good thing.
I think it's going to be a fun competition.
Q. If Coach Chavis would've got the raise he wanted and had a smoother relationship at the time with Joe, do you think you would have had a better chance of keeping him?
COACH MILES: I don't know if I can go back and to do accurate to that recollection, to be honest. I think it's best that -- that speculation might not serve us.
Q. Brian in some of his decision making looks like he may get some people hurt with some of the high throws. You talk to him about that?
COACH MILES: Yeah, he's still in his first year of starting. Still a sophomore. Still a guy that is coming and has made some nice throws, but needs to understand some of the places that he's throwing the balls can put a receiver in harm's way.
I can also tell you I was glad to see him instead of run laterally, he took off and got some nice vertical yardage for us. I think some of those things will benefit him as he goes forward.
Q. I know every year you want to win a championship. You've illuminated on the youth on the offensive line. Before the season started, did you think this maybe a year to have some growing pains and some stuff to learn, but next year might a year that you...
COACH MILES: Yeah, here is how I kind of saw it. I saw that we had an offensive line that might well develop into being one of the best in the country. Had a tight end that was just going to be a dominate player. Two wide receivers that had great speed and ball skills. A young quarterback that was still on the learn and working hard to get better.
Really, you know, had a great summer. I did not in any way, you know, see anything but what could be the high side for this team. You factor in some nicks here and there and some timing some other issues, you know, this is the team that to this point. I think they all, coaches included, just want victory.
They have wanted it for a couple weeks now, and I think it's just really what they need.
Q. You've been the coach here for 11 years, which is a rarity for any coach to stay at any one place for 11 years. Kids have gotten to go through the same school system for 11 years. What has that meant to your family? There have been questions about your job in the past and bumps in the road. To have gotten this far, for your family to have been able to stay in the same place for 11 years, what has that meant for you and your family to overcome the adversity you had to this point and be here?
COACH MILES: Yeah, I think the stability in LSU, being the head coach and giving leadership here and allowing my family to enjoy the opportunities of the community and the enjoyment of Louisiana has just been rich to our family.
It's given us insight to people and different areas. This is home.
Q. What are some of the challenges going up against a team like A&M that's played significant time with two different quarterbacks that play two different styles?
COACH MILES: Well, there is a crossovers kind of piece to them. You know, they operate the same style of offense in a small segment. Where they're different, it requires different defense.
I think it's going to be certainly a nice matchup there.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports