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November 27, 2011
CHUCK DUNLAP:¬† While we're waiting on questions from the media, could you talk about the season thus far and your team as you prepare to play Georgia for the SEC title, please, sir.
COACH MILES:¬† We'd like to offer congratulations to a great Georgia team for winning the East.¬† I know they started slowly but got it in gear.¬† Mark Richt has done a great job there.¬† I can tell you that our football team is looking forward to competing against them, the opportunity to get through the regular season and get to a game that is representative of the conference championship is really the goal of our football team.
We'll look forward to playing extremely well in that game.¬† Any questions?
Q.¬† Hey, Coach.¬† Can you just talk about your team's ability to go on runs this year.¬† I think the Auburn game was like 7‑3 20 minutes in, and then 20 minutes later it was 42‑3.¬† You closed that game the other day on a 41‑3 run.¬† Has there been a common theme that has gotten those runs ignited for you guys?¬† Obviously, you can sense your players just feasting on it once they start.
COACH MILES:¬† There's a real competitive energy, if you will, that really just starts early with my team.¬† It's one of those things that you can feel a want and a desire.¬† Different spots in these games, it just appears to show.¬† I think the times that you mentioned are certainly those times.
I think it's a mark of a very good football team.¬† I think, when we're called upon to raise your level of performance, not to exceed that of your opponent to win the game, that's competition, and I think our football team does that.
Q.¬† I know this is kind of a question you could elaborate on forever.¬† Kind of in a Cliff Notes version, you went from the '07 national title and took a little two‑year dip there.¬† Georgia's had a little dip the past few seasons.¬† What caused that slippage there from that double digit win level you maintained for so long, and what have you all kind of done to regain that, would you say?
COACH MILES:¬† I don't think we've done anything differently.¬† I think that there's an issue that takes place after you've won a National Championship, and it's one of those things that, as a coach, I probably did a very poor job managing it.¬† There's an entitlement and want and expected to and all those things that really take in some way away from your competitiveness.
I think there's a piece that happens there that I didn't do a great job with in the '08 year and the '09 year.
Q.¬† Could you sense that it was coming back last year, though?¬† The way you finished, especially with that Cotton Bowl, could you sense that you'd regained a lot that have?
COACH MILES:¬† I felt like during the season last year that our football team was really, really catching speed.¬† I think the guys that we recruited in the youth of the secondary was really evaporating in the experience and the good plays and the confidence were coming of age.¬† As we got to midseason, I felt we were really strong in the secondary even though we were playing freshmen.
As we went through the back end of that year, we felt like we were going to have a very, very good fall this fall.
Q.¬† Hey, Coach Miles, is there any team you played this year that Georgia kind of resembles to you?¬† And my second question is you have four running backs, Ford, Ware, Blue, and Hilliard.¬† Could you describe the style of those guys, who's more elusive and sort of the power guys and so forth.
COACH MILES:¬† I think that these teams that we play are all different, and I think there's‑‑ you look at them, and you see strengths, and you see how your matchups are going to go.¬† You look at where you would think there might be a vulnerability, and I don't necessarily see any of that in Georgia. ¬†They kind of used their personnel in a different and kind of very productive way.
I think they're similar in design but not necessarily that style of team by personnel.¬† So making a like another team, I just haven't been able to put that on there.
And our running backs‑‑ Spencer Ware, to me, is our tough, hard‑nosed, athletic tailback.¬† I think, when you have four, that gives you the ability to come downhill and run between the tackles with great speed and toughness and the ability to get to the perimeter.¬† Hilliard has all of the abilities that those two, Ware and Ford, have in a bigger package and just kind of growing into his ability to contribute.¬† And then Blue is just a slasher with great hands and, again, is a guy that's both very comfortable inside and outside.
So we're fortunate there that we have guys that can step on the field and give us some advantages.
Q.¬† Les, going back to the running backs, how important has it been to generate that powerful downhill running game in your offense this year?
COACH MILES:¬† I think it's tremendously important.¬† We're capable at fullback.¬† We're capable any time you have those kind of guys.¬† It allows you to run the football effectively.¬† You have to have that matching tailback that can take a pitch and go speed or come downhill into a tight space and run with physical ability.¬† I'd have to think that our running back group gives us that.
Q.¬† And also, we see a quarterback like Aaron Murray of Georgia, he's been one of the hottest ones in the league since the Florida game a while back.¬† What do you have to do differently if you're a defense?¬† Do you do anything differently at all?¬† And what has really impressed you about him?
COACH MILES:¬† He's the kind of guy that you have to make sure you're responsible.¬† Your coverage, you have to focus your eyes and make sure you're over the top.¬† The guy that can move the ball around to as many receivers as he gets it to, you have to have the ability to play coverage and certainly play coverage with the ability to get some pressure on that quarterback without necessarily calling extra guys in the rush.
Q.¬† My question was kind of similar to that.¬† Just wondering if you could compare Aaron Murray to anyone else you faced.¬† I think Tyler Wilson immediately.¬† Do you think he's doing the kind of thing that would give him All‑SEC consideration?
COACH MILES:¬† I don't think there's any question a guy in this game should be considered for all conference honors, and certainly a guy that's meant as much to his team as Aaron Murray has to Georgia.
Q.¬† Does he compare in any way to Tyler Wilson and what they're doing at Arkansas?
COACH MILES:¬† Absolutely.¬† Tyler is a very talented thrower.¬† I mean, he makes all the throws, very capable quarterback, and he's had a great year.¬† I think Aaron Murray is like that in the ability to throw the ball, maybe a little bit more headsy, appearing a little bit older and more confident in the pocket.
Q.¬† Coach, how are the number of games on the big stages this season and against high profile opponents, how does that factor in in terms of this week for you guys since you've had a lot of games like this?
COACH MILES:¬† It's interesting, I've always heard it said that you only have so many of those games per season, but what's happened to us is that we started that way.¬† We've had six games on the road.¬† It's been the kind of experience for us.¬† I remember we were a little dead getting off the plane in West Virginia, and I remember we walked in the stadium, and it was just live.¬† I mean, it was a big time environment and a wonderful night.¬† Our guys just had come to life.
To me, it's been real‑‑ I guess what I'm saying is we're used to playing in that environment.¬† We're used to being on the big stage.¬† I think our guys translate the glare of the lights to making plays in the game.¬† I think that they did that against Oregon in Dallas, and they've really done it right on through, including Alabama at Alabama.
So we're kind of comfortable in domes, and we'll look forward to seeing if we can do the exact same thing this Saturday.
Q.¬† With Georgia's defense, what's jumped out at you with what you've studied with your coaching staff so far?
COACH MILES:¬† They deploy extremely well.¬† You can seldom get an advantage in not having them in alignment that would benefit you.¬† You're going to have to get what you earn.
We certainly understand quality defenses, and it will be a great challenge to our offense, one that they'll look forward to.
Q.¬† Les, when it comes to quality depth and how you coach some talented, deep football teams, is this right up there with any you've ever coached in terms of being able to go into second and third units and put guys on the field who can play just about anywhere?
COACH MILES:¬† I don't‑‑ I think it's a very important piece.¬† The thing with this team is we recruit you.¬† You come in to make a contribution, and we put you on the field, and we give you an assignment and a place.¬† If you're talented and you're capable as a freshman, like a Tyrann Mathieu or Patrick Peterson, or for that matter, an Anthony Johnson or a Kenny Hilliard, we send you to the field, and we expect you to play big.¬† We expect you to play as you've been trained to play.
I think that's the strength of certainly this team in the fact that our guys that are playing in a backup still play and are trained and capable.¬† If there's a need to arise, that they need to go to the field, they play to the responsibility of the position.
So Mo Claiborne played opposite Patrick Peterson.¬† Now it's Tyrann Mathieu playing opposite Mo Claiborne.¬† There's an implied peer pressure, if you will, that says this is how we do it, this is what we do, and come of age when you step on the field.¬† This year certainly it's happened.
Q.¬† Saw your players yesterday and even a couple of your coaches and talked about their ability to navigate some of the things you guys have faced this year.¬† They're going to have issues.¬† How have you thought about this things you've had to deal with in making decisions on your team with some of the things that have happened this year?
COACH MILES:¬† I think I do it all the time.¬† My team gets bored if I tell them about one of my sons that I've had to kick their tail with some issue that happened around the house.¬† I think that that's how you operate.¬† I think there's a point in time where they deserve real strong discipline, and it's something that's very serious.
I think there's a point in time where once they have served, like your son in your family, you point them in the right direction, and if they take guidance, they're back.¬† You bring them in, and you love on them.
Certainly, we all are fortunate, and I can look back on my time in high school and college, and I'm very fortunate that I lived beyond my youth, that I learned that some of the things I was doing back there were mistakes and not to be repeated, and hopefully college is a time for guys to learn the way to operate so they can better themselves as they go forward in their life.
I think that this is‑‑ I think it's happened on a yearly basis in a number of programs across this country certainly, maybe a little bit more visual at LSU this year.
Q.¬† Would you tell me a little bit about Jarvis Jones and what you do when the opponent has such a big play maker on defense, how much that affects maybe what you do and what adjustments you make.
COACH MILES:¬† Well, he's a very athletic man, very capable.¬† We recruited him.¬† We know him.¬† We'll look forward to lining up against him and playing well, and you certainly have to know where he's at and what his abilities are.¬† We'll try to run our offense and take care of wherever he's at.
Q.¬† With all the recent success you've had at LSU, some people are putting your name up there with some of the best in LSU history.¬† What kind of honor is that to you to be put in a class with some of the greatest LSU names?
COACH MILES:¬† I've been very fortunate to be here.¬† I think it's a very special community and college, and I think the opportunity that I'm able to offer to a prospective student‑athlete allows me to have advantages.¬† I think our teams are very, very capable and very good.
I think this school, this place, this opportunity would afford a coach the ability to achieve.¬† To compare me with other great coaches that went before me here, I don't know that it's fair.¬† I think that McClendon and the great names that have gone before me are in a class all themselves, and I'm very fortunate to be mentioned along with those guys.
Q.¬† To follow up on a different note, how do you think your defense played with the absence of Eric Reid?¬† Do you expect him to go this week?
COACH MILES:¬† I think the secondary played very well.¬† I think there's a nice natural adjustment when Tyrann Mathieu steps back to the middle.¬† I think you'll find that Austin will be really more ready than he was last week, and Eric is expected to play.¬† He went through warm‑ups and was really pretty good in warm‑ups this last Friday, but we decided not to use him.¬† It proved to benefit us as we got through the game without it.¬† I think that he'll be ready to play.
Q.¬† Les, I asked Mark this a couple of minutes ago.¬† He said that‑‑ I was talking about Georgia's attempt, at least, to get prospects out of Louisiana.¬† It seems like you all lock down your state pretty hard and pretty well.¬† Can you just talk about how you all do that or what is the magic, so to speak, in doing so?
COACH MILES:¬† I think there's a great loyalty in the state to file into Tigers Stadium and root for the Tigers.¬† I think LSU over years has developed a very, very loyal fan base.¬† You use fan base because you really don't know really the words to describe it, but it's probably a historic family tie to the people of Louisiana that's a little bit more personal, a little bit more intimate than maybe some other places.
I think that, when a young man grows up in a community in Louisiana, that he rightfully looks to playing with the Tigers in Tiger Stadium as a natural place to go to college.¬† So I think we've done a good job in evaluating.¬† I think the guys that we go after here in this state are absolutely the best guys.¬† And they know when they come here, they get to play.¬† We expect them to go to the field.
So it has been a real advantage for this school and for our team.
Q.¬† Les, a little off topic.¬† You've seen Trent Richardson live.¬† He had a big game over the weekend.¬† Do you think he's cemented himself as one of the top Heisman prospects over the season, and what do you think of him as a player?
COACH MILES:¬† I think he's a very good player.¬† He's physical, has ball skills.¬† Runs with great vision.¬† Has good balance.¬† I think he's earned his yards the hard way.¬† I'm very respectful of his abilities.
Q.¬† And also, do you think that Tyrann Mathieu, with the way that he's played and especially Friday, deserves to get any sort of Heisman hype this late or to be in the conversation for the Heisman?
COACH MILES:¬† I think that Tyrann Mathieu is a very special player, and I think, in the national award that might get viewed of him, would have to understand how important he is to our team.¬† So that being said, he plays special teams, he plays defense, and he just seems to make plays.¬† I would think that he could be in consideration for any national award, including the Heisman.
That being said, it's so hard for me to measure our players versus the view of the country, and it's not something that any coach has at his beck and call week in and week out.¬† Having been around some very, very fine players in my career, very fortunate to have been around them, Tyrann Mathieu matches as well as any.
Q.¬† Coach, just wondering, what do you make of Georgia's running back situation?¬† Is that problematic in terms of preparing for them?
COACH MILES:¬† I‑‑ we're going to prepare for their best, and certainly their guys will be in‑‑ will run the plays that they were‑‑ that are designed and that they've run before.¬† I suspect that every able bodied man will be ready and able to take a snap.¬† I would think that they would be as healthy as they need to be to compete.
So we're just watching their film, doing the things that they've done in the past irrespective of who carries the ball.
Q.¬† Coach, wanted to see if you could comment on the fact that obviously you have four very good running backs that could probably start anywhere in the nation, which pretty much means you can have a fresh set of legs on every down, and on the converse, Georgia has one of the top rushing defenses in the nation.¬† Does that play at all into your game plan as far as how you plan to balance the run versus the pass?
COACH MILES:¬† Yeah, we're going to do the things that we do, and we're going to challenge that very capable Georgia defense.¬† The need to have a variety of backs allows a fresh ball carrier.¬† I think it's a mistake to fatigue your ball carrier.
So we're going to keep fresh legs in the game, and we're going to continue to do the things that we do.¬† See how it plays out.
Q.¬† And a quick followup, Coach.¬† Everybody talks about a championship moment or a Heisman moment.¬† I think four years ago the Les Miles moment was the speech where you talked about your damn strong football team and have a great day.¬† Do you anticipate another moment like that in any speeches to your team or to any of the media to kind of just put your stamp on this season as you move forward to try to get an SEC championship and another National Championship?
COACH MILES:¬† Let's hope we don't have any more need for a coach to have to speak to the media before he plays a championship game.¬† I don't think there's anything that the coach needs to say to put a stamp on the season that would be any better than come to go Atlanta and playing great football and playing for the championship in our conference.
I think most coaches, me included, are more comfortable with letting his football team speak for him rather than he speak for them.
Q.¬† Coach, I know you've had to talk a lot about Tyrann Mathieu, and Eric Reid probably made the play of the college football season so far, but I want to get your take on Claiborne and the year you think Mo Claiborne is having for you.
COACH MILES:¬† I think Mo Claiborne is doing everything we've asked him to do.¬† The opportunity that the other half of the field is giving on their receptions is based on the fact that Mo Claiborne is on that half, and there's a real want to throw away from him.
If you watch those completions in and around Mo Claiborne, he is very close to that ball, and he's made special teams plays.¬† He is a tremendous team player.¬† Like I say, I'm very fortunate to have guys in that secondary that play outstanding.¬† Mo is good, if not better, than any.¬† He's been a leader, and he really is exactly what's good and right about college football, putting himself in position to get his degree and just a wonderful young man to coach.
Q.¬† And even though Mathieu has probably garnered more headlines, especially nationally, is Claiborne still considered‑‑ you mentioned leader.¬† Is he still the overseer of that group for you?
COACH MILES:¬† You know what's interesting, I think Tyrann leads in a way but always, always finds out kind of where Mo's at and where Mo's take is on everything.¬† I think Mo is certainly the leader of the secondary.¬† I think Eric Reid has a place.¬† I think Tyrann Mathieu has a place.¬† Certainly Brandon Taylor.¬† I mean, it's a position of wealth for our team.¬† I think not only in skill and ability but in leadership.
Q.¬† Coach, kind of like A.J. Green did last year with Georgia, do you see Rueben Randle, 6'4" and ability and everything, sometimes creating mismatches with shorter guys in the secondary?
COACH MILES:¬† I think Rueben has great ball skills and the ability to get deep.¬† I think there's opportunities to throwing the ball to Rueben Randle as well as the other men that we have on our team, Odell Beckham and Russell Shepard and DeAngelo Peterson and really just a number of guys that would fit those spots.
CHUCK DUNLAP:¬† Coach, that looks like all the questions today.¬† Thank you for your time.¬† We'll see you Friday in Atlanta.
COACH MILES:¬† Beautiful.¬† See you guys.¬† Thanks.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports