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January 1, 2010
Penn State Â– 19
LSU - 17
THE MODERATOR: Coach, if you wouldn't mind kicking it off with an opening statement, please.
COACH MILES: I just want to say that we enjoyed competing in this bowl game, and certainly against a very quality Penn State football team.
I thought it was a well-played game by both. And congratulations to Coach Paterno and Penn State.
The inability to get anything going in the first half offensively, two turnovers led to points. We had what certainly was a completed ball that passed through our receiver's hands into our opponents' possession and cost us a 3-pointer and a fumble cost us a 3-pointer.
So we're in the position to win the game late, a couple of good drives, throw some balls and go down the field and score and take the lead. Unable to keep the ball, and Penn State marches down the field and kicks a 3-pointer and takes the lead. And Trin Holliday, who played big in my opinion all day long, returns the ball back to about mid field, moving the ball it appears, and we get an unfortunate personal foul.
What was happening was our player was trying to help up the Penn State player to get him off the pile so that we could snap the ball and clock the ball. And that was called a personal foul.
I certainly understand the officiating not allowing LSU to take that into their hands, but I don't know that lifting a guy off the ground could possibly be misconstrued as a personal foul.
But I certainly understand the impact on the game that that had. So the opportunity to go down there and have a chance at a field goal late in the game certainly would have been what we planned. It didn't work out that way. And congratulations again to Penn State.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for either Coach Miles or Kelvin Sheppard.
Q. Less, did the refs say anything to you about it? Did they explain the call on the personal foul?
COACH MILES: No, it was a personal foul. That was the call. So I didn't -- if lifting an opponent onto his feet is a personal foul, then it would be interesting -- I don't quite understand the call.
Q. For both of you. Could you please comment on, Kelvin especially, what it was like to play on the field today.
KELVIN SHEPPARD: Obviously you could see the turf was messed up. It slowed down our speed. But like you said, Penn State was out there on the same turf, so you can't for one second use that as an excuse. They came out and both teams gave it their all and they left it all out there.
I take my hat off to Penn State. They had a great scheme and they came out on top.
Q. Kelvin, can you just talk about was it hard to keep your footing on the field? Were you guys very conscious of taking your steps and the things you were doing out there just because the field was so bad?
KELVIN SHEPPARD: Towards the beginning of the game guys were concerned about that. You had to get a feel for it. But as the adrenalin started pumping and game started going and guys started hitting, that went all away. You were worried about playing for victory. Coach Miles emphasized that you play for victory. Today we did that. But unfortunately we came out on the second hand.
Q. Les, I think it was with 38 seconds left you called a center screen to LaFell with no timeouts left. Did you think that would pop for a really big play? You must have.
COACH MILES: We expected certainly that there would be a pass rush, and an opportunity to get up the field and get a first down. What we thought we would get there. But we got tackled certainly short of the first down and that cost us maybe seconds there.
Q. On third down and your ability to get up the field on defense seemed to bite you.
KELVIN SHEPPARD: Like I said earlier, Penn State, you've got to take your hat off to them. They had a great scheme and great players over there. Daryll Clark, I think he managed the game. Under the field conditions, he did a great job managing the game.
I mean, you can't make excuses now. They got the victory, and I take my hat off to them.
COACH MILES: I thought Daryll Clark did a great job late in the game keeping the ball in his hands and making some runs that were key.
Q. Coach, two losses now with time management issues right at the end of the game, do you feel like time management is still a concern or an issue with your football team?
COACH MILES: I think we'll look at the -- the want to clock the ball and have the ability to clock it, certainly we understand that. You know, there's a chance on that screen that we'll not get a first down.
I think the issue of the personal foul is also -- plays a big part in that. If we allow to clock the ball, and certainly we use some time, but it's a positive play. The thing that hurt us, in my opinion, was the penalty.
And even if they -- they will eventually call, you know, if they impede the progress in marking and spotting the ball, it's the responsibility of the officials, then, to make a call against our opponent to allow us to snap the ball.
So what was happening there was time was running off the clock, and it was our intent to get it clocked. And the penalty ended up costing us not only the seconds but the field position.
Q. Les, I counted about ten drops today even by your receivers or, in a lot of cases, by your defensive backs. Talk a little bit about maybe that frustration.
COACH MILES: Early on, it just appeared that our defensive backs were in position to make some really big plays. And I just -- I really just anticipated that we'd end up getting a couple of those in the second half.
I don't know that any ball was hit right in the hands of the defensive back, but it was always a close [indiscernible] ball nearby, and I didn't -- I just figured we'd end up getting some of those in the second half.
We did have some drops in the offensive side. Ball goes to a completed ball, ends up being an interception. And that was -- and certainly there was a long pass in the first half, if we could have put a handle on it, could have been a big-time play.
Those things happen. Certainly on a wet field. So that's not something we enjoy, I can tell you that.
Q. Not that it would have made a big difference in this game, but you said several times during the year we'll see more of Russell Sheppard and again we didn't see him today. Is there a disconnect between and you the offensive coaching staff?
COACH MILES: No. We'd like to have gotten Russell Sheppard in the game. We felt like 8 was doing a really good job, and we didn't -- not only on returns, but taking the ball from scrimmage, some of the runs that he had, and those would have been Russell Sheppard snaps. It ended up we played him more at receiver in this game and didn't get him on the field, and his snaps at running back were curtailed by the fact that our opponent had the ball for the length of time they had.
Q. Coach and Kelvin, three times in the middle of the game you held them to field goals inside your own 10, giving you a chance to win. I wonder if you can comment on your defense stepping up in those three situations.
KELVIN SHEPPARD: We take great pride in zone defense. It's something we do well all season. I mean, the D line, I mean, I believe in those guys 100 percent. They've done a great job all year keeping linemen off of me. That's what they did. Making plays, shooting through the gaps. Those are just plays we have to have in a big-time game like this.
COACH MILES: Yeah, two of those times there were turnovers in the short fields, and so that defense on the field with a short field and played really well. And, again, I agree with what Kelvin says. We counted on the defense to play big in those situations, and they do.
Q. Could you talk about P.J. getting a start, also Hurst coming in for a while but then going out while committing that penalty?
COACH MILES: I think T-Bob Hebert's little nicked ankle, knee, and I think P.J.'s getting better and playing better, so I think that's the reason, certainly. And Hurst, Hurst is getting better. He's a big, strong young man. He's going to play a lot of football here. And I think the plan was all along to sub in there at the right guard with Lyle.
So it just so happened that Lyle was in late.
Q. Coach, bowl wins, lopsided scores were all indoors, do you think it would have made a big difference if this game was indoors, and what did you think when you saw how bad the field was in the rain going into the game today?
COACH MILES: I can tell you this. Our focus was to make some strategic decisions on how to approach the field. I think we did that to a point. I think we did a good job. But after the game, certainly the footing was different. Certainly you could argue it benefited one or the other. I'd like to have had a little better footing. I liked the second half. The second half was just markedly different than the first half.
We had more ability to move our feet, and so I don't know. Again, I'm like Kelvin Sheppard. I don't want to think about it during the game. Certainly post-game, you know, that's speculation.
Q. Coach, you kind of touched on it just there. When you went into the dressing room, two first downs for the entire first half, virtually no productivity, what were you looking at? What was the problem you tried to address?
COACH MILES: Well, we wanted to catch it and run it a little better. And get the ball to Ridley a little bit and see how he did. And felt like we had some advantages with the receivers and the catching and the throwing. Felt like on the perimeter that that would have been an advantage for us.
We have to balance the run and the pass. Until we do, we'll be a little bit easier to defend.
Q. Les, can you comment on Penn State's front four and their linebackers and what you saw from them today?
COACH MILES: They're extremely disciplined. Very, very good football team. That front seven, those big three techniquing ends, they're nice to watch. I enjoyed watching them play. The linebackers never seemed to be out of position there. We hit a screen or two and felt like that was a good opportunity for us and came right back. That linebacker makes a heck of a play. Certainly I would have like to have that one screen call called back.
Q. You touched on the time of possession, particularly in the first half. Were you optimistic in the first half even though you were down 10 points that you guys were hanging around? Were you optimistic at that point?
COACH MILES: I thought we would win the football game. I felt like we'd come back out in the second half and we'd get a turnover or two and have the opportunity to -- I didn't think that they were going to sustain the second half against our defense, and I felt like our offense would get on track.
So, no, I felt like we would come back and win.
Q. Less, you said a moment ago that you would like to have that back. Was that the only call that went into Jordan?
COACH MILES: No, that was the call that went into Jordan.
Q. Going back to the first half, there seemed to be a reliance on running the ball. Was there any talk during the first half of getting away from that a little bit to try to get Jordan some chances to throw down the field?
COACH MILES: Reliance in the first half on running the ball? We relied on it, you're saying? I hadn't had that feeling in the first half. I would have liked to have called more runs and had some more productivity in the run.
We threw the ball a ton. Not only in the first half, but certainly in the second half.
Q. Coach, at Arkansas last year you have a senior lineman that gets a gigantic 15-yard penalty after the whistle; today you have a senior lineman, gets a gigantic. Is there a discipline problem on this team?
COACH MILES: I don't know that helping a guy off the ground could really be considered a discipline problem. Had he punched him, certainly, I probably would have come unglued. But I sit there and I watch it and I'm going what's he going to call? He's helping the guy off the ground.
I mean, what's he going to call? No, I don't think there was a discipline problem.
Q. Has it been offsetting?
COACH MILES: You know, certainly the officials, the responsibility to officiate the game. I guess if you're helping a guy off the ground, it would be difficult to call that a personal foul. But I don't know. You know, I guess if you intend to lay on the ground and you're being lifted off the ground, I guess that could be a personal foul. I don't know. But it just didn't seem right to me.
Q. What did he see? Did he tell you what he saw?
COACH MILES: I'm only telling you what I saw. I saw a guy lifting him up off the ground. It was pretty obvious. It was 11 laying -- would not get up off the ball and off of the quarterback. And tried to create a time issue for the spotting of the ball.
And so Lyle picked him up, tried to help him up off the ground. He didn't hit him, pound him to the ground. He didn't jump on him. And it was pretty clear. And so I figured, when the flag was thrown, it was going to be an interesting call.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach and Kelvin.
End of FastScripts