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July 27, 2007

Les Miles


THE MODERATOR: We'll continue with LSU head Coach Les Miles.
COACH MILES: Really enjoy the momentum that was created by the way we finished the season. We won seven straight games, finished with a Sugar Bowl victory over Notre Dame.
The spring went well. We introduced three new coaches, Gary Crowton, our offensive coordinator, in my opinion, has done a great job getting to know the players and really adjusting his offensive philosophy to fit, you know, the talent, the guys that we have.
I think our offense will be what you would say is very similar to last year's offense, with a little bit of tweaks based on the fact that we have different personnel.
Feel like the summer has really gone quickly. I think our guys are doing a great job in the weight room and are really strong and fit and looking forward to reporting for the camp a week from today.
Expectations are high. I'm fortunate to coach at a place where we understand expectations, enjoy 'em, and look forward to a great season.
I think the schedule is one where you better start fast. Thursday night, on the road, SEC, you're playing Mississippi State, first TV game, you better be ready. I think Coach Croom is returning a very talented team. Certainly it will be a case we'll need to start fast.
Let me speak about the two guys I brought quickly. When you see Glenn Dorsey, when you see Early Doucet, you're seeing guys that could have easily gone in the NFL Draft a year ago. You're seeing guys that are quality young men, good students, leaders of our football team, and both will be tremendous players.
You know, it just seems to me that the best player, quality people, kind of come together. When you see Early Doucet and Glenn Dorsey, you'll see leaders, great players, and quality people. So I encourage you to enjoy their contribution to today.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Miles.

Q. Right now the SEC has Bowl tie-ins: Two at the Big-10, two at the Big-12, one with the Conference USA. The SEC and the PAC-10 haven't faced each other in a Bowl since 1989. Would you like to see the SEC and PAC-10 to meet each other in a Bowl game on a regular basis?
COACH MILES: I think that would be a very competitive match-up. I don't think there would be any problem with that at all.
I like our Bowl matchups. I like what the conference has in place. I can only tell you that we look forward to competing in this conference and getting to the back end and kind of seeing where we're at.
Whoever we would play we would enjoy.

Q. Since the arrival of Nick Saban, I've seen people have said some derogatory things about Alabama. My question is: Is LSU Bama's new rival, or is Nick Saban Les Miles' new rival?
COACH MILES: I didn't really hear everything you said there. I'll kind of address it.
I've given some thought to that. We really have enjoyed the accomplishments that coach had while he was at LSU. He left, went by way of another stop, now is back in the conference. I can tell you that's one game on our schedule, no more than one. I can tell you that we really have not changed anything. There will be no bearing on what we do that's different. We look forward to getting to that game.

Q. You talked about that's no more than one game on your schedule. How do you convince your fans of that? You talk to LSU fans, and all of a sudden Virginia Tech, Florida and Auburn don't matter. They want to skip directly to Alabama.
COACH MILES: Well, they'll figure it out when we open the season. They'll all wait. They'll understand.
They have to understand that it's just one game, and it's an important game certainly, but it's just one, counts as one. We'll get there. We'll be prepared. Look forward to that when we get there.

Q. A lot of people said you were the most talented team in the league but didn't win the league. Did you agree with that? Do you feel coming in this year you have anything to prove?
COACH MILES: The last three picks to win the conference have been wrong, so I don't know. You know, most talented? I guess there's another way to pick it.
What happens in every year is the team that wins the championship, they're the team that answers some questions about their team. They answer between now and when they get to the back end. There's work to do for every one of us.
We enjoy the compliment of being talented, but that doesn't necessarily make you a great team. We're going to work on being a great team and look forward to this season, the schedule, all that it presents to us.

Q. Glenn, he was projected as a probable first-rounder last year. What research process was there for you in maybe helping him see where he was going to go in the draft, if he decided to go that way? Did you recommend as a first-rounder maybe he do that? Ultimately, what was the reason he kind of gave for coming back?
COACH MILES: Any time you make a decision like that, it's a very personal one. It's one that he involves family and takes in a lot of information. I sat down in his living room and I talked about draft potential, different spots, where he might fit.
He had to weigh that versus another year at LSU, coming back to school, working to get his degree, and the enjoyment of being a college guy.
You know, those decisions are very personal. I sat down and gave him every piece. I never stand in favor of staying so hard that I push a point of view. Obviously I present that.
But, you know, frankly, JaMarcus Russell, first-round draft pick position and then possibly the first player taken, it was a great decision. No one could ever argue. I think each decision is made personally and specific to that situation.
I think Glenn, in my opinion, just said, I enjoy where I'm at. We can wait a year. Let's go see if I can't improve my draft position. I think the same thing's true of Early. Early elected an early opportunity to evaluate his draft status with the NFL and came back very highly ranked. Really just said, Another year is what I need to do.
He's improved, is continuing to improve. I think those are great decisions for both of those guys.

Q. Do you regret saying, F'ing Alabama at that rally? And who wins in a boxing match, you or Nick Saban?
COACH MILES: I can tell you that at the end of a recruiting season where there was a lot of hearsay and innuendo, there was some heated exchanges, I can tell you that I did have emotion, and I certainly regret any choice of words that you described that I made.
No, I am not in any way derogatory towards Alabama. I look forward to competing with them and their coach.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about Matt Flynn, getting the job finally as the quarterback. What are some of the obstacles he faces as he takes that role for the first time?
COACH MILES: Any time you have a quarterback that starts in really his first season as a starter, there will be some period of adjustment. I think it will be minimal with Matt Flynn. Matt Flynn is a guy who is really deserving, really has competed for the opportunity to play against a quality quarterback in JaMarcus Russell, and now it's his turn. He has done great job in leadership.
In my opinion, we're all looking forward to seeing him to play. Again, this is his first year. He may not play just perfect, but we'll like how he plays and see if we can't -- if he can't help engineer a tremendous season.

Q. Can you talk about some of the position battles on your defense.
COACH MILES: Position battles on our defense? We lose two safeties. We like Craig Steltz, will return, part-time player, will end up being a starting player for us. Strong safety. Curtis Taylor, the other safety, appears to be the starter.
Yet there's Danny McCray, a young freshman, you know, Chad Jones might see some playing time, let alone Stefoin Francois. There's some guys we might throw in there that might have some ability and will be good enough there at those safety spots.
Both those two veterans I mentioned, too, are really looking forward to spreading their wings a little bit. We're not going to have a LaRon Landry. LaRon Landry was the sixth player taking taken in the NFL Draft. But, you know what, we may have a really good safety, so...

Q. Do you think Coach Saban's return has kind of helped your image amongst LSU fans?
COACH MILES: I haven't really given much thought to that, to be honest with you. Like I said, my image is not something I really have focused on much lately (laughter).

Q. How healthy is Will Arnold on the offensive line? Can you talk about some of your young receivers.
COACH MILES: Will Arnold is a guy that's gone through some off-season surgery and has really worked hard to rehabilitate. I'm not ready to say that he can take on a full-fledged, two-a-day practice schedule. I think his playing time will be limited. Kind of wait and see, see how that goes.
The second part of that question was?

Q. Young receivers.
COACH MILES: Young receivers. Brandon LaFell, kind of the veteran that would return, in my opinion, is going to do a great job for us. Had a great summer, very strong, capable player. The two Mitchells: Jared Mitchell and Chris Mitchell, both guys that are fleet footed, could step in there and make plays. I wouldn't be fearful to send Terrance Toliver in there after he knows what to do, a true freshman.
I think the receiving core, even though we graduate two first-round draft picks to the NFL, will be very talented.

Q. You've had to change as your offensive coordinator. The first part of the question is, was there any difference in philosophies between you and Coach Fisher? Now that you're bringing in Coach Crowton, how do your two philosophies about how an offense should be run, how do they meld together?
COACH MILES: The first question, the difficulties or the philosophy differences, were ironed out over two years, two very successful offensive years, ones that really make no difference at this point.
I think you look at Gary Crowton and what he brings. I think you'll see a very similar approach just as we've been in the past in certain issues, yet we'll bring some expertise in the throwing game that will allow us to maybe attack opponents a little differently than we've attacked in the past.
I don't think that there's been, in my time at LSU, any real differences in philosophy.

Q. A lot of these coaches say there's a camaraderie among the coaches in the league. In your mind is that true? Are there guys that you just like and guys you don't like?
COACH MILES: I think the coaching profession is one where everybody understands where you're at, the responsibility of the position that you hold, the opportunity to compete in a fair game over time, recruiting, on the playing field.
I think there's a very honest respect for those men that hold that position at all the schools in this conference.

Q. A few weeks ago did you mean to call out USC at that luncheon for WWL, or did you get caught up in the moment?
COACH MILES: I don't think I called out USC in any way. I think it was a feel of a strong SEC conference, enjoyment, the competition, how difficult it is to come through a tremendous schedule, an SEC schedule, then play a championship game, and then go on and have an opportunity to play in a nationally significant game.
I just think it's a little easier to come from a conference that there is no championship game. Whoever the champion is from the PAC-10, I think they'll be a great football team. We'd look forward to meeting anybody in the post-season.
No, I wasn't calling out USC in any way.

Q. I'm sure your players now have seen or heard about the magazine predictions, the polls coming out. How much of a concern are expectations to you that can weigh on a team in general, and how do you think this team in particular, given the experience they've had with success over the last couple years, will be able to deal with it?
COACH MILES: I think we understand what we have to go through week by week. I think every player on our football team understands what we're going to ask of them, to take their role, make it the most important role on the team, play it and do it as best as they can, make themselves a significant contributor to their team.
That's how championships are won. It's a question that you answer over time. It's not something that you can be awarded. There's no ranking that makes a difference. There's no prediction that's ultimate. That just sells papers.
The only thing that you can do is earn what you get, work hard, come to work every day, work for your team, and see at the end of this year if we can't be in a position where we can see a championship.
I don't think our guys playing at LSU, the success they've had, in a great university where there are great expectations, read the paper or play much into that. I think they all understand whether you're ranked, you know, fifth, first, second, that at the end of the year you will have earned your position.
Hopefully we'll get to the back end of this thing and find all those people that made the prediction about us finishing first are right.

Q. Back at the SEC meetings in May, you were one of the few coaches that was really in favor of this early signing period. Looks like right now you have a pretty good list of commitments for the class of 2008. How important is it for you to get these kids committed in July/August, before the season starts? How does that affect your recruitment of them for the rest of the season until February?
COACH MILES: There was a piece there I didn't quite hear. Did you talk about an early signing date?

Q. Yes.
COACH MILES: I just needed to ask that question.
Yeah, I'm for an early signing date because I think it makes sense. I think there was a poll taken several years ago where they polled all of that class. About 38%, 36% of that class said they would have signed early.
If the student-athlete wants to sign early, they can get this out of the way, then in my opinion that should happen because it saves wear and tear on the assistants. Certainly the student-athlete would like to know that his scholarship is put away. You can then turn your attentions to the recruiting position that you need. It just makes great sense.
The pretense of if you made an early signing date, you would have to have visitations, is not necessarily true in any way. You could put in an arbitrary date of December 1st. Because everybody is coming on unofficial visits all through basketball season, all through the summer, they're getting the feel for that school that they have real interest in well in advance.
If they want to commit, which we, like other schools in this conference, like other schools in this country, have an early commitment list, if they would like to sign, I think it just saves our school, our schools, the NCAA, a lot of wear and tear to just pick a date, let those guys that want to commit early sign, and then let's go forward from there.
It just makes sense to me.

Q. How will you and your staff change your recruiting strategy in anticipation of the ban on text messaging going into effect on August 1st?
COACH MILES: Well, I think there will be an adjusted regulation comeback. I think it will end up being maybe banned to start, but eventually they'll come up with some common-sense use of a very effective way to communicate.
If the guys aren't picking up the home phone, dialing the cell phone. If they're not picking up the cell phone, want to communicate by text, it's a very convenient way to get very specific information, and information the student-athlete can keep because it's given to them in a text form.
I think there will be a common-sense feel there. I think it's right to limit it. I think it's exhausting to the student-athlete. I think the assistant coach can be worn out. I think there probably should be a ban on text messaging in the times where you cannot call the student-athlete.
Right now we can't call our student-athletes that we're recruiting. There might be a ban on text messaging until that time we could use the phone to pick them up. If you would call them one time, you might be able to text them one day. Unlimited call, unlimited texts. I think there would be a common-sense adjustment there. I just feel like that's the way our country's going.

Q. A question about special teams. Where do things stand right now with your kicking game? On the receiving end, the change in the rules, are you giving a thought to moving Trindon around, a little bit, changing your entire return scheme?
COACH MILES: The kicking game, we think Patrick Fisher will end up being our punter. We're going to let some competition take place there. We have two freshmen that will come in and vie for kicking and punting chores.
I think Andrew Crutchfield might have a decent opportunity at a kickoff position. But we're going to look at our guys. We have guys we feel can step in and compete. That will be a competent that will be more further answered through two-a-days.
The return game is one that it's very interesting with the ball being placed at the 30 and kicking it off. On defense when you're kicking it off you better have a very talented, fast coverage core going down ready to tackle.
You need to have a guy that can kick it. If he can't kick it in the end zone, he better kick it way up in the air. If it landed on the 3, 5, or 10 for that matter, have a hang time of four seconds, 4.4, for instance, we will have plenty of guys down by the ball. It will have little effect.
If you have a guy that line drives the kick, can't kick it out of the end zone, the strategy of that position will have changed and you'll see maybe some squibs and some pooches and some skies and some punches in a completely different feel. It's going to take more time. Our practice time has allotted a little bit more time so we can look at that.
I think the return game obviously is exciting for us. We think we'll have great returners. If we can get a hat on a hat in the block we have an opportunity to go get some yards.
It's a definite -- there's definite impact with the rule change. This is not a rule change that everybody will yawn through and not notice. This will be, in my opinion, you'll see teams with great return schemes and teams that are benefited by the return game use that to their advantage.
Those teams that understand how to kick the ball, cover the ball, you know, there will be an advantage.
I think it's an interesting piece.

Q. In the hiring process of Coach Crowton, how much did he express an interest in taking or getting back into head coaching and how much did his prior head coaching experience factor into hiring him as an offensive coordinator?
COACH MILES: I followed him really -- I was in the Big-8, Big 12 Conference when a LaTech team took a Nebraska team that was most recently a national champion to the ropes. I always mistake the statistic, but 490 yard, some ridiculous amount of yardage, and how he did it.
I studied that film. He went to BYU as the head coach. I watched their offenses there have success. He was the coordinator at the Chicago Bears when I was with the Dallas Cowboys. I watched him do miraculous things with Chicago as he coordinated there for two years. I think their offense was third ranked in the NFL with not necessarily a very talented offensive team.
He's most recently went to the PAC-10 at Oregon. Oregon may not be just the most talented PAC-10 team, yet their team lead the PAC-10 in offense.
I researched him and I knew him. I met his wife and himself at a function, knew that he'd be a great fit. With his LaTech background, Louisiana, he would understand crawfish and gumbo, he'd be very comfortable.

Q. How important a recruiting ground is the state of Mississippi? Given the kind of struggles that those two teams have had, is that a place you can go and get a blue chip guy?
COACH MILES: Well, I think Mississippi has real quality football. I don't think there's any question. I'm pretty comfortable recruiting a proximity to LSU. I think there's an opportunity for the guys in Mississippi to evaluate our opportunity and come down and see a great education and a school that might have some differences.
I think those two schools do a good job recruiting in their state. I think you go in there, you fight like heck to get their kids. But we want to recruit really as wide as we can get to, the I-10 corridor is really important to us from Houston into Florida. We certainly enjoy our state first and pan out thereafter.
We think we have a pretty special place. It's a place that we think has everything. We're going to give those opportunities to guys that are good students and quality athletes no matter where they're at.

Q. The kickoffs, is there a balance that you have to have on kickoff coverage and that you want your best athletes because it's going to be such a weapon, yet you keep throwing them out there on kickoff coverage, likelihood of an injury to a starter. Is there a balance you have to play there?
COACH MILES: It's a defensive play where the change in ball placement can be extreme. So I think it's like the punt, you know. The punt, generally you could say between six and eight times in a game you may punt the ball.
If you're going to change the position of the ball by 40 yards, how important is that play? It's tremendously important. You look at your starters and you say, should you have a starter on a punt team? Absolutely. I think people will understand that when they go to kick the football off, the guy that goes down there, if he's not a starter, he better be a very, very good player. He better be a great player.
I think you will evaluate your starters as that is an important play and we'll need them. Now, will there be injury? I think the more snaps that you take, there's just a greater chance that that will happen.

Q. Is there anything new on the status of Ryan Perrilloux, Ricky Jean-Francois? If not, any change between now and the start of camp?
COACH MILES: I have a couple of personnel issues I'll get to probably sometime between now and when camp arrives. Ricky Jean-Francois will be at camp, going. We look forward to his participation. I don't know how soon he'll be ready to play, but we'll evaluate that as it goes.
Other issues, we'll look at those individually, and a decision will be forthcoming.

Q. In your opinion, why did Alley Broussard go from a guy that led the team in rushing in '04 to a guy that didn't want to play football anymore? Where does that leave you as a runningback group?
COACH MILES: We're sad that Alley got hurt. It's one of those things that life's not necessarily fair. A guy that has very talented ability to run the football, a guy that has some success, just could not have gotten beyond that injury.
I think he worked hard at it. I think the young backs: The Keiland Williams, the Charles Scott, Richard Murphy, Jacob Hester, are really pursuing the field so hard that I don't know that he felt like he could overtake that position. I think he just is focusing on his academics.
It's sad. It's sad when a guy feels like maybe an injury cost him an opportunity to compete. But, again, it's a personal decision. I'm right with that decision. If he could not get that leg to a position where he felt like he was very comfortable or if he felt like, for whatever reason, he was not going to be able to compete with strength, then maybe the decision is a quality one. Certainly he'll get his degree.

Q. Do you think there's any way Alley could change his mind and transfer to even a Division II school, play this year? Is he definitely done?
COACH MILES: I really wouldn't want to speculate there. I think it's the kind of thing where with time, you know, he might even pursue the NFL. You really don't know. It's just one where it's a personal decision, one that's made with what are his personal considerations.
I don't really know.

Q. What is Ryan Perrilloux's status?
COACH MILES: Ryan is currently suspended from the team. We'll look at his matter in this next week, you know, make a decision whether he returns.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.
COACH MILES: Thank you.

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