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December 3, 2005

Les Miles

Andrew Whitworth

Kyle Williams


MIKE NEMETH: We'll go ahead and get started with LSU at this time. Same protocol as yesterday. We'll ask each of the individuals to provide an opening statement before we go to questions and answers. We will start with the student-athletes so that they can return to the locker room, and then finish up with Coach miles. Kyle, if you would, go ahead and start us off with your thoughts on the game. Then we'll move to Andrew.

KYLE WILLIAMS: I think it's just something we're all very disappointed in. It just doesn't seem like we had our best effort out there tonight. It was something that, you know, we had expected to give. When we went out as a team, it just didn't feel like we played that way. It's disappointing to do that in a championship game. We expected to give our all effort and play our best game of the year and we weren't able to do that. That's pretty much why we lost the game. I mean, taking nothing away from Georgia, they played a great football game. But it's just disappointing not to have your best effort out there in a championship game, your last game of the year.


ANDREW WHITWORTH: I think like he said. I don't think that it was necessarily all the guys didn't go out there and play, but I think a lot of us went out there with the intention to play. Just as a team, we didn't get it done. Any time you do that, we're not going to win. Especially with the start we had, either side not doing the job they needed to do. It's disappointing. We thought we were playing well, and we thought we were ready to play. It's a disappointing loss but it's one I think guys got to be ready to learn from, you got to be ready to play. It's something that finally bit us. We've kind of had some bad starts and this one definitely got us.

MIKE NEMETH: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Kyle, were they more physical than maybe you expected?

KYLE WILLIAMS: We knew they were going to be a physical team coming in. I think that we allowed them to run the ball a little bit more than we wanted to. But, you know, that's not what killed us. I think the big plays are what killed us. We weren't able to limit their big plays. We knew they were a physical football team coming in, loved to run the ball. They were what we expected.

Q. For both of you guys, a lot of games this year there have been penalties, turnovers, those kind of mistakes. Was this just a team that was too good to do that against, to get away with it?

ANDREW WHITWORTH: I think yeah. I think like I said, we've had a couple games there where we've stumbled at the start or, you know, just periodically throughout the game we've had some crucial penalties. I think this team was ready to play, and it was a team that was going to take all its advantages that we gave them and miscues. It's gonna hurt you when you continue to do that. It's just something we got to work on. It's something that you have to go back and just really just, you know, try and get it done and get rid of it. It's something tough. Like I said, it's disappointing to do in a championship ballgame.

KYLE WILLIAMS: I agree with him. I think that it's something that we've noticed, that we've always gotten off to slow starts it seemed a few times this year. When you're coming in this game - they're a good football team - they're gonna be ready. They always play us well. I think we just shot ourselves one too many times in the foot and against a really good football team. I think we ran that well dry during the year, falling behind and then coming back. Against this team, tonight, they weren't going to allow us to do that.

Q. Kyle, how shocking was it to be down 14-0 right off and then give up as many points as you did at the end?

KYLE WILLIAMS: Well, we've been there before. I think it was shocking they hit those two big passes on us. We weren't expecting those. I think going into the plays we thought they might take a shot, but we didn't think they would complete them that far for touchdown. I think our confidence was high. You know, even after they kicked the field goal after halftime. You know, we felt like we'd been in that position before. And, you know, it just slipped away from that point and got out of hand.

Q. Did the running backs wear the defense down, also the lack of rushing yards from LSU?

KYLE WILLIAMS: No, I don't think so. We knew that they were going to play all those guys and all those guys play well. You know, I don't think it wore us down. I just think they made good runs. Physical runners, got behind their pads. We knew that they were gonna do that. You know, we were prepared to do it. We just had times we weren't able to stop it.

ANDREW WHITWORTH: Yeah, I think, you know, as far as the rush part, we definitely put a burden on the defense. I think we've done that in a couple big games, that we haven't run the ball as well as we'd like. You know, same thing as the miscues and the penalties. Eventually it's gonna bite us. We got to be better for the defense and better for ourselves as a team.

Q. Kyle, I know you're considered one of the real leaders of this team. How much did you miss Jessie?

KYLE WILLIAMS: I think we missed him a good bit. I think when you have a guy who's experienced as he is back there, you know, kind of directing traffic for our guys, you know, could have made a difference in those two long plays; you never know. But the guys who were playing back there, they were prepared. They knew what to do. You just never know how it turns out if our number one guy is in there. I think it hurt a little bit. You know, he can direct traffic for us pretty well. You know, it's just, you know, would have, could have, should have. But those guys who were in there were prepared to play. Georgia just made good plays on the ball.

MIKE NEMETH: Any other questions for the student-athletes?

Q. Andrew, can you just discuss the struggles you guys had mounting a rushing game?

ANDREW WHITWORTH: You know, I think it was something that we were confident about coming in the game. I thought we had a good plan and, you know, all of us believed in the plan but didn't execute it. You know, didn't finish it off. Big key we talked about is finishing things. It didn't seem to happen for us tonight. You know, like I said, it's something, until we watch the film and get a chance to correct things, we don't really know. All we know is that we've got to be able to run the ball better and get some pressure off the defense at times and just execute overall, period.

Q. Kyle, you have any idea what Bowl you might go to? Have you heard any of that? I know you hadn't focused on it.

KYLE WILLIAMS: I have no idea. I have no idea.

Q. For both of you, I guess along those lines, it's going to be a long three weeks until you actually do play that Bowl game. Talk about letting this one sit in and soak in and moving on.

ANDREW WHITWORTH: I think it's key. I think it's key to get in there and correct it and move on and know that that's not the way LSU is going to play and to show how LSU plays football and how we want to be represented and seen. You know, when you see our helmet, what you know about us. I think it's going to be key for the guys to get some rest and, you know, get ready, get their mind focused for this next game and let's finish out this season and show the team that we should have been tonight and that we meant to be.

KYLE WILLIAMS: I just think that it's tough because it's not a normal week when we can turn around and play another football game. It's something that's going to sit in there for a while. So during Bowl practice, I think we definitely need to come out and step it up in Bowl practice and come out in the Bowl and play well, you know, for the pride of our football team, you know, because it is very disappointing tonight.

MIKE NEMETH: Thank you, Andrew. Thank you, Kyle. Appreciate it. Coach, if you would, go ahead and give us your thoughts on the game.

COACH LES MILES: First of all, I'd like to congratulate Georgia, the SEC champions. They certainly deserve the championship. Our start was not what we wanted. I agree and echo the sentiments of our players. Any time that you come into a championship game, you certainly want to play your best. None of us expected the way this one turned out, but the opening kick-off, fumbled, they get it. Our first drive, our first play, we get sacked. We operated and they operated with a short field. We turned it over to a pass interception to start. They had a long pass, and it's 14-0 so fast. We never got into the rhythm offensively that we needed to. We sustained some injury, but that's not -- that's certainly not the reason offensively we didn't play well. We should run the football better than we did. I think that we probably ran the football fairly efficiently; we just didn't get into a position where we could use those rushes to our advantage. Defensively, except for some big plays, I thought the defense would have played well all night. I think they wanted to -- they needed to stop the run a little bit better. But they bled yards against our defense, which is not common. And then in special teams, the battle between the punt returners really didn't show, but they get a big block, it leads to a touchdown on a punt, which is, again, uncharacteristic of us. So we didn't play our best. This football team certainly did achieve West Division championship. Started the season in a very difficult situation, and each scenario changed with each week. I'm probably saddest for our 21 seniors who are quality men, who have moxie and toughness and care about their school, and it's sad for them. They certainly didn't come into this game to finish second, or to play as poorly as we did as a team. I think individually, I think you can look at some of the play of some of our key players and understand that they did, in fact, come to play. Again, this team achieves. We didn't get the championship that we wanted, but it's been a darn good year and I'm proud of this football team. I'm proud of the guys that we were fortunate enough to coach. So any questions?

Q. Coach, it appeared the two long touchdowns early were blown coverages. What was supposed to happen on those two plays?

COACH LES MILES: Well, the first one certainly was man coverage, and, you know, we were -- the corner just misplayed the ball and misplayed the route and was wide open. It was a like scenario with the second one.

Q. Coach, neither one of your lines, offense nor defense, really had their best game tonight. You said you weren't expecting that. Were they just out-toughed, physical?

COACH LES MILES: The first play, for instance, the sack on JaMarcus, he steps up, we may get that ball off. It put us in a hole. Just never seemed that we were operating in a normal distance. And penalties also. Penalties just keep snapping us, and we get something going and, you know, guys you would never think come up with penalties. I think the officiating overall was fair. I took exception to two calls, I promise. But we can't have penalties. One drive was sustained by penalties, and if you look at, you know, early, early going, two long passes, a blocked punt and a drive sustained by penalties, I mean, you can't do that in a good game, against a good team. Well, you know, the tough thing is, it's three weeks until we play again. I firmly believe that our football team will really want to play well in the Bowl game. I can't imagine that we won't want to correct some of these mistakes and play like we play, like the LSU football team that has played all year long to get to this game. So it's a bad taste in our mouth certainly, but I think we'll look forward to the opportunity to play like we're used to playing next month.

Q. Could you just talk about your thinking and Skip's thinking of flying to Dallas to talk to the Cotton Bowl people Thursday.

COACH LES MILES: You know, it's -- Thursday night is my night off, and I know those people, I've played there -- was there with another club and felt like rather than get to bed early, I might accompany him along those lines with the idea that this is a great team. My question, whether or not I would go, is based on the fact that I had 21 seniors that deserve a great Bowl experience, a great group of guys. So I took the night away from my family and went. I certainly don't regret spending time for my football team. Until which time, championship game, the players -- the two teams that play are protected by a Bowl, a spot. Until that happens, I think you'll find that coaches, athletic directors, administrators, the like, when you have a great football team, senior-laden football team, they deserve a great Bowl experience. I promise you I'll do it again. Had nothing to do with game plan, had nothing to do with expectations of this football game. We certainly came in here with the idea that we would win.

Q. Can you talk about the performance Georgia had. Was that you all or was that more of them?

COACH LES MILES: I think they played well. I think they came in and played the game they were supposed to play. Shockley had a nice night, run and throw, really functions the offense well, very comfortable, cool guy under the heat. Run the football well with, you know -- they bled yards in there. I think their offensive line played well against a quality LSU defensive front. Their defense was always stingy. It was stingy tonight. Their teams came off the corner and got us. It was a pretty relatively simple assignment that cost the blocked punt. But they deserved to win, certainly.

Q. Coach, couple of questions. After your first season in the SEC, how do you evaluate it against what you were expecting? And, second, what is the extent of Russell's injury?

COACH LES MILES: The SEC, you know, from top to bottom, in my opinion, is the most competitive, most athletic league that I've been at, been through. I can tell you that our better teams in the SEC would compare and play with any teams in the country. I feel very comfortable there. The extent of Russell's injury, it's a left shoulder. I don't know to what extent it will keep him out, but certainly it's something that we're concerned about and we'll have to look into very quickly.

Q. How disappointed will you be if you don't get to go to that Cotton Bowl?

COACH LES MILES: You know what, it's a scenario that -- it's an "if come." At this point, I'm disappointed with this game. This football team will look forward to playing in the next contest, wherever that contest is.

Q. You mentioned JaMarcus. Could you just tell us about the other injuries sustained in the game, what you would know about them.

COACH LES MILES: Well, I think Early has got an ankle. He came out early on. Jessie Daniels got hurt last week, you know, after the game at Arkansas. We expect him to be back really when we start practice. I don't think there's -- I think Will Arnold will be back. I think the health of our team, you know, with exceptions probably would return for the Bowl game.

MIKE NEMETH: Coach, thank you very much.

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