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November 30, 2007

Les Miles


THE MODERATOR: We'll begin and ask Coach Miles just for some opening comments on his team's preparation for the game during the week and then we'll take questions. Coach?
COACH MILES: I enjoyed the team's resiliency coming off a difficult game. It seemed that the speed and the quickness of the practice week came together very quickly.
I like their preparation. Health appears to me is coming back to significant members of our team. I think Glenn Dorsey is probably fresher than he's been in quite some time. I think our defense, Darry Beckwith who was limited a week ago certainly will be ready to play. And it's kind of nice to see those guys ready to play.
Matt Flynn, just to let you know, took snaps and threw balls during the week of practice, and really took part much more on Thursday. That will be a game-time decision. We'll take him to the field and warm him up and see how that feels. But you know, if, in fact, he is ready to play, we'll play him. If he's not, he'll watch. But I would expect that he may well play.

Q. What worries you most about Tennessee?
COACH MILES: Well, I know that they have improved as the season went on; that they found ways to win. You know, they are just a very competitive football team and they have all of the, you know, all three phases are quality, offense, defense and special teams. They have a nice return game. They have a tremendous defensive front, very physical front, and an offense that has balance, both run and pass.
So, it will be a formidable challenge.

Q. You said Matt Flynn is going to be a game-time decision. Is the decision is to play No. 15, are you going to need a big game out of him? The last time he was on the turf at the Georgia Dome, he was the Peach Bowl MVP.
COACH MILES: I didn't really hear your question, but I'm going to kind of go with it like I did.
I expect that Matt, if he plays, will play extremely well. He's a veteran now. He's much different than the guy that played, you know, last time we were here. He's much more like the quarterback that played in the Peach Bowl, and I would expect that he would have every opportunity at success. We wouldn't put him out there if he didn't.

Q. Obviously your kids hear things. What have you told your team about the Michigan talk?
COACH MILES: I just told them, honestly -- through reports, I have no firsthand knowledge in any way that they have, you know, contacted -- certainly they have not contacted me and I have not contacted them.
The reports are that they have asked for permission to speak to me. I'll allow that after this game, but I'm the coach and I'm preparing to play this game fully and there will be no distractions.

Q. Were you worried at the start of the week that your team might not be resilient and bounce back, or once you were on the practice field you could kind of see that it came back pretty quick?
COACH MILES: You know, any time you run hard at victory and you expel and expend every piece of energy that you have, it doesn't come back just, you know, overnight. It takes some time.
And you know, as the week wore on, you know, certainly Monday was, you know, a very tight day, as preparation ensued on Tuesday and Wednesday, the bounce in their step and the feel was certainly there.
We have a veteran team, 25 seniors; the winningest senior class in school history. If you looked at the percentage of victories that the senior class has had and compare them with any other five-year senior class, they are ranked third. USC senior class, fifth year, and the Boise fifth-year senior class, and then LSU; it's the winningest senior class in SEC history.
These guys have been through some difficult outcomes and have responded, and I would expect that again this Saturday.

Q. Does it flatter you that your alma mater has asked permission to talk to you?
COACH MILES: I have to be real honest with you. I will only be flattered by the opportunity to play well and perform as this team is capable this Saturday. I'm not giving much thought to anything else.

Q. As far as Matt goes, I understand that Brett Favre was quoted as saying that a shoulder injury is something where with some injections, you can play through the pain and through the difficulty. Matt has seemingly responded to that before; is that the kind of game-time decision you'll be making?
COACH MILES: No. I think it will be the strength and the feel of the ball in his hand, period. If he's throwing the ball well and without hitch and comfort is there, I think that we don't want a tender quarterback that's trying to get a ball there. We want to be able to sling it. We want to be able to have some strength on the throw, and if he has that, we'll go forward.

Q. Earlier in the year, your defense made the opponent earn basically everything that they got. As the year has gone on, you've been given up more and more plays over the course of maybe the last five, six games. Can you talk about what the product of that is, and is that a concern going into this game?
COACH MILES: I think over the length of the season, in different games, different units perform extremely well and different units struggle. I think if you look at those defenses that played against Arkansas when Arkansas was extremely healthy, had a great receiver in both Felix Jones and McFadden, I think that you'll find that those defenses gave up a lot of yards because of how successful Arkansas was.
I think our team, you know, goes through both the ebb and flow of any championship season. I think our defense has had that, as well.
Am I concerned? Absolutely. But I think as I look to this game, it appears to me that we're becoming healthier, more like a defense that has started the season. And I would like to think that that's how they will perform.

Q. With all of the speculation and all of the rampant rumors flying around, we talk about how it affects the kids perhaps. How has it affected you with everything going on?
COACH MILES: It's not affected me. And I can tell you, I've probably spent 15 minutes allowing a personal thought along those lines. And I've worked toward this championship fully. It will affect me if it affects this team; that's a fact. But I promise you, I'm in early, and I work late, and the game plan is as good as it can be and my coaches have done the game. So it's not had any effect on me.

Q. Do you like the current overtime format, and do you think it could be too physically demanding?
COACH MILES: You know, I'm just telling you, it's not 60 minutes. You can't play a second game, you know what I mean?
So any time you go to a format, something has to give. There's some piece of the football game that's left on the drawing board because it's all got to be decided in a short amount of time. I certainly think it's imperfect. I don't know that I have the answer. I think it's perfectly deciding ends of games and I don't know that I'm complaining.
It's that way for every team. I think it's fair, certainly. But I don't know that in a sure field, in limited time frame, if that's a real -- if it's representative of a victory.
But, again, I don't have any answers. I can only tell you that that's a system we have, and I want to perform in that system. I want that system to work for our team.
So if there's a better system, I haven't given a lot of thought to it to be honest.

Q. Seeing the way this season has played out in terms of the benefits of an off-week, and seeing what you have endured and seeing what Tennessee has endured over the past week, do you feel like it would behoove this conference to possibly push this game and give both teams an off-week in preparation for such a great game as it is?
COACH MILES: I have always felt that off-weeks give an opportunity to get health back and return your team to the style team that it's been.
If you're healthy, certainly you don't want the off-week and want to keep the rhythm of the season going. But if you have a guy with a nicked ankle or a bruise here or that's slow in some way, you would like to return that team to speed.
I think that that's part of the enjoyment and the wonderful feel of football, because it is -- it takes time to endure injury and it takes a season of that style of overcoming adversity and creating games like this.
Yeah, I'd like to have an extra week, but I'd like to play in this game whenever they have it.

Q. Would you talk about getting No. 90 back and maybe the pent-up energy that you're expecting from a culmination of setting on the sidelines for a season; are you expecting it to explode?
COACH MILES: I hope he relaxes to be honest with you. He's a high-strung guy and loves to play, and he's very talented, but I want him to get into the flow of the game in a nice, easy, comfortable fashion. He may go out there and, you know, play the first seven plays, and that could be the end of the day. I want him to understand that we are going to go a long distance here, and we would like to have him the first quarter and right on through.
But yeah, we are looking forward to his run in the game. He is one of the reasons that we will have an extra healthy body at the end to tackle or spell some of our guys.

Q. I've asked you about this a couple of times during the week and just trying to get a sense of each day how it progresses. The guys on the team, the senior class, doesn't have a conference championship of their own that they play significant minutes. Are you seeing that each passing day more of a realization on their part what they are playing for tomorrow?
COACH MILES: Yeah, I think we all understand that as you sit down the beginning of each season and you look at the goals that a team puts down for themselves, there's how you play and how you perform and what you expect.
And then you have outcomes. I think this team understands very comfortably that the SEC Championship, that that outcome in that game is why you work so hard in the summer, why you perform admirably through the year, and now it's right in front of them. I think they understand. I think the leadership of our football team certainly does.

Q. Your favorite subject. Trindon Holliday, you didn't mention --
COACH MILES: Trindon will play. He's had a good week of practice and he'll be pretty fresh when it comes to game time.

Q. Perrilloux being talented but young, is he the kind of guy that could make both sidelines nervous if he plays a lot?
COACH MILES: Well, I can only tell you that if he takes snaps for us, he'll be doing the things that he can do, both run and pass. And so I'm certainly not going to be anything but anticipating him doing the things that he's capable of doing. As long as he doesn't try to do too much, I suspect that he'll do fine for us, if Matt's not playing.

Q. Tennessee's success on offense, especially the second half of the year, do you attribute that more to the people that are playing, their talent, or the scheme that they are able to use?
COACH MILES: Well, they have a very fine running back in Foster, a quarterback that, you know, gets it out of his hands very accurate, good receiving core, Lucas Taylor and the like.
It's got great balance. Any offense that has the ability to run the football and throw it, you know, that's the kind of offense that's difficult to defend. And I think that offenses have the opportunity to come together, you know, later in the year and maybe that's the case here. But they seem to be hitting on all cylinders there.

Q. Over the last few games, there have been plenty of conjured-up circumstances, a lot much controversy going on right now. Talk about the ability of your team to be able to push some of that stuff to the back burner and the maturity level that you've exhibited.
COACH MILES: Well, I think they all understand what they are playing for. I think the ability to avoid distraction, keep your eye on that goal and the task is based in many ways what you put in to earning the position that you're in, and they have worked awfully hard to be where they are at.
For them to be distracted or, you know, detoured in their approach, I just don't see that happening with this group. I think they know why they came to LSU. They want to play in games like this. They want to play in championships. This is going to be a very competitive game and I think we'll give a great effort.

Q. If West Virginia and Missouri would both lose, do you think you would have a strong case to be in the National Championship game?
COACH MILES: Well, I think beyond this game, you could -- there's a lot of things to be said. I really want to look first and foremost to playing well and finishing this season and winning the conference championship. That's really the focus.
Beyond that game, I might be able to comment a little bit further.

Q. You said you would talk to Michigan after the game; is there a meeting that's been set up?

Q. Let me paint a picture for you. You win the SEC Championship; you go to the Sugar Bowl; you win the Sugar Bowl Championship. Do you even talk to Michigan after that?
COACH MILES: You're talking about a scenario that I'm not entertaining. This is about this team. I promise you, if you think that it's a conversation that I can have with my wife, I can't, okay. It's not something I talk about. It would be certainly a distraction to me and be cheating my team. I wouldn't do it. So we'll get beyond this game and we'll see what happens.

Q. When you have so many talented defenders on that side of the football, can you talk about how your unit would have been without what Craig has done for you this year?
COACH MILES: He has called our defenses; he's led our team; he's made any number of plays in the open field, has a tremendous break on the ball and can judge direction he has soft hands. If the ball goes up in the air, he'll have a great opportunity of intercepting it. And he makes play after play in the open field with really little support at times. So he's a leader. He's got to be the finest safety in the country, and we're -- he's meant a lot to this defense. If he's not on the field, you know, it's a concern to all of us.

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