Baton Rouge, La. - After a heartbreaking 44-41 loss at Georgia, the LSU Tigers must bounce back and get ready for a trip to Starkville, Ms. to face Mississippi State.
The following are coach Les Miles' comments to the media, as transcribed by LSU Sports Information:
After a game like that, hard fought, et cetera, we need about 48 hours. About 4:00 this afternoon, we'll go on to the next opponent. I insist that we do that. It's certainly best for us.
The good news about the Georgia game is we played awfully hard. Guys gave everything they had.
If I could pinpoint, I think we had guys trying to do too much. A simple assignment on the first play of the game, defensive end should have contained. The ball breaks inside of him. Instead of just asking him to do the things we've asked him to do, he's going to do an exceptional play (break in audio).
Just make one more play. One more play and we win. That's certainly for the coaches to address and get prepared.
You know, the good news is, it's in all three phases. It's not just one side of the ball or the other. We give up four sacks, one on the last drive, that really cost us. Special teams certainly tied 27 27 with a stop, opportunity to go ahead by 7. We miss handle a punt, it's certainly very costly. Not only does it cost you the 40 yards of the punt, but the possession of the ball.
We had some blown coverages. Again, there needs to be a comfort and a relax that all you have to do is play your assignment and basically we would have had two touchdown passes covered extremely well.
Again, we're in this thing together, coaches and players. Coaches are not without fault. Certainly I take my share, and we'll be better.
Offensively fifth straight game over 400 yards. First time in school history. The storyline was going in, what we minimized, was that Zach was returning to Georgia. Now beyond a visit there, think about the emotion that must have been going through that young man's mind: a place that he committed to, wanted to play, where his mom works, where his family goes down the road to see him play, that he doesn't have real emotion there.
What he did is he put on the back burner his personal views, what was important to him, and said, No, what's important to me is that I play quarterback for the Tigers and I do a great job and help us win, and he did. I think what he did, how he played, gave us every opportunity at victory.
He had a career high of 372 yards passing, three touchdown passes. The total of 13 touchdown passes more than through all of last year. Boone had a big night with two touchdowns. Landry, again, a great contribution in number of receptions and yardage. Odell Beckham, again, quality performance on offense. Jeremy Hill ran for 86 and a touchdown. Kenny Hilliard came in and gave us great effort, nice rushing touchdown as well.
Played a lot of young guys on defense. That's the way it's supposed to be. We've got to get them ready. When you're tested by your best opponents, that's where you find out more.
I think we got the right guys. I don't think there's any reason to put guys to the side. But we got to get better. I think we'll all kind of reach in and get that done this week.
You have to give credit, again, to Aaron Murray. If you make a mistake, he's going to feel it. He's going to instinctively look at that secondary and make the nice adjustment and throw. The mistakes certainly are all correctable.
Now, special teams. Field goals of 13, 49 yards. The one he hits for 49 probably would have been good from, I don't know, 55. I enjoyed what they did.
That being said, Mississippi State is going to be a great challenge. We're looking forward to kind of turning the page, getting to that later this afternoon. They're a team that's 2 2 overall, 0 1 in SEC, lost to Auburn, but nevertheless continue to get better.
You can watch their film, have great respect for their talent. Dan Mullen has done a really great job there. They have two quarterbacks. Prescott is their leading rusher. Rushed for five touchdowns, threw for three. Just a play maker for them.
Defensively they're allowing 14 points per game, 310 yards. Big, capable defensive front. They're number one in the SEC in turnover margin, number two in total defense. So we recognize that going there and playing another very, very quality SEC opponent will be a challenge to us, but look forward to it.
Their punter is averaging 45 yards per punt. They lead the conference in kickoff returns. That will be a nice matchup. We think our kickoff team is pretty special. That will be a nice challenge for the week.
Some things that we're really looking forward to preparing and getting ready. Again, about 4:00, 5:00 this afternoon I'm ready to turn the page.
So any questions.
Q. Defensively you do have some young guys, but there are a lot of veterans, too. With those guys in particular, is the change that needs to be made defensive personnel, give young guys a chance, or coaching with the veterans?
COACH MILES: One of the things we're going to want to do is get some fresh bodies out there with the veterans. If we can get some young guys ready to take more snaps in games like that, the veterans get to play a little bit fresher, more ready to play.
We're looking for those guys that can come in and give five snap breaks, if you will. If we can get that done, that will make the whole defense a little bit fresher.
Q. Talk about the importance, when you lose a game, of not overreacting and remaining who you are, getting better at what you do, rather than trying to change? Also, why are you so much better on third down on offense this year?
COACH MILES: We're a team that is pretty confident in their approach. I think we recognized that we played a very quality opponent. I don't think there's any reason for wholesale change yet.
I think there's the opportunity now to maybe address some things that needed addressing and turn our attention more fully to them this week. I think we're confident in the things that we do, yet there's some things we need to get accomplished and be better at. I think that will put us in the right frame of mind.
We've always given great time to third downs. I think the play calling and attack is much cleaner. I think anytime you get to a third down situation where there's run and pass that you have to deal with, it makes both the run and the pass easier and more efficient, if you will.
Q. You're throwing the ball so well now, what role can Zach and Jarvis and Odell play at practice in challenging your defense at practice each and every day?
COACH MILES: We always go against each other a good segment of our time. They see that our passing attack and those receivers every day as it is. I don't know that we can do any more that way.
But what we're going to try to do is focus on maybe another time segment if we can where we can get some of these young guys some reps, let them see a different passer than maybe the guy that they see down on the scout team.
It won't be Jarvis and it won't be Odell anymore because we already spend maybe 20 minutes, 25 minutes a day at practice just throwing the football versus those guys.
Q. You mentioned the pass rush on Saturday after the game. Has that become a bigger concern after this game? How can you address that?
COACH MILES: Well, it's always a concern when the team can have the success they did throwing the football. There's a couple ways to approach it. Certainly add guys and add numbers to the rush, or continue to prepare the guys that would be your best four pass rushers to do the things that they're capable of doing and getting better at it technically.
I think those are the things that we're really kind of focused on, both of those pieces, to get us a little bit more rush.
Q. When you talk about the young guys, trying to get them ready, is the biggest thing to get young guys ready more of a talent issue?
COACH MILES: There's a place we need them to be. Those are the things we have to teach them.
Q. On Saturday, a couple of players mentioned after the game they had a lot of communication breakdowns on defense. Can you go into detail where were the breakdowns?
COACH MILES: Without much detail, I can just tell you there was a signaling issue and a player to player communication that there was difficulty in. There was at least one player sideline difficulty.
Without being very specific, those are places that we can obviously make improvement.
Q. Two touchdowns on Saturday, Kadron Boone, do you see him as your third receiver going forward?
COACH MILES: I have always seen him as a talented guy. I think he and Travin Dural are neck and neck.
In a game, the size of Georgia, Kadron Boone is a tremendous, experienced guy for those kind of games. I think there is a chance he may be that third receiver.
Q. In a series with Mississippi State that's been pretty lopsided in LSU's favor, how do you prevent your team from looking ahead or coming out flat?
COACH MILES: There's not a chance that we'll be looking ahead. This is a program, like most college programs, when they get to the end of the week, they really need to have victory. The work they put in is so significant, this will not be a difficult week for us to get our eyes open to how quality the opponent is.
Q. You alluded to the possibility of bringing more people to generate pass rush. When you do that, it puts more pressure on the back end, maybe play man to man without safety help. Is there hesitation because of the youth in the secondary?
COACH MILES: We're probably as comfortable with man to man coverage with our young guys as we are zone coverage, to be honest. I think many instances a very capable cover guy breathes a sigh of relief if he just sits on a guy and takes him man to man.
Q. Did you say anything specifically after the game to Odell regarding the muffed punt return? He makes so few mistakes. Was he at all extra upset about that particular play?
COACH MILES: Well, I can tell you that we discussed it very briefly twice. As you would say, he's a gifted football player, maybe the best return guy in the country. I have not seen him all, but I like him.
He will continue to be that guy for us. Sometimes he wants to make that great return. If he would have fair caught that one, no one would have complained in any way.
He'll have plenty of opportunities from this point forward to continue to do the things that he's done here to make us successful.
Q. After looking at the tape, what is your greatest need, biggest inefficiency that you see on defense? All three levels of it really have question marks.
COACH MILES: Well, certainly we can't have blown coverage. I mean, no matter what, whether it's player to player, whether the player knew exactly what he was doing, or whether it was player coach, those are the fastest way to get you beat, play against a quality opponent and not cover a segment of the field. Fastest way to get you beat.
Our attention as coaches certainly is there. We have to make the point to the remainder of the defense, Just do the things as we ask you to do them, you'll be great. Not just good, you'll be a great defense.
Q. If memory serves, y'all were involved in Dak Prescott's recruitment. What have you seen from him?
COACH MILES: I think Dak is a guy that can run it, throw it. Very bright guy. We liked him. He chose to go to another direction. Certainly we wish him the best.
Q. You said after the game John Chavis was sick. What is his approach coming forward?
COACH MILES: The great thing about John, he's such a veteran guy, been through so many different scenarios like this, so he's going to know just how to approach it.
We have good players. We like our players. Our coaches are in it with our players. We're not going to get other guys. We're going to coach the ones we got. I think the review and the view will be good. I think John will be great.
Q. I understand you stay more on the offensive side of the ball. When something this glaring happens, you look over a little more. Do you find yourself more involved at all?
COACH MILES: I watch every snap of every game and every special teams snap. So I always have been involved in that regard.
I can tell you that when we find things that we would have interest in changing, for instance, Chief, he knows it before I get to it. When I get to it, it's done extremely well. The questions I have are addressed. If I can add to it, I do. If I can't, I say, Well done, Chief.
Q. When you sit down with the players this afternoon, do you address big picture with them? Do you actually sit down and address that with them?
COACH MILES: I think I'll make reference to that. More than anything, the short term, the most immediate need is to get us squared away and looking forward to this next team.
I think on a Saturday like we just had, I think everybody will recognize that all the things that we want to do are still in front of us, and there's no reason at this point in time to approach it any differently.
Q. Coach, this is kind of a dumb question, so why ask it? But this isn't basketball. In basketball you score, go ahead, you can stall them all. What I mean is, you go right down the field, you score, and you leave them 4 minutes and 14 seconds. Do you ever think about maybe just slowing it down a little bit, eating more of the clock?
COACH MILES: Yeah, the interesting thing is having to convert on third downs are a key piece to the thought process of where you're at in the drive. If you're moving the ball on first downs, first downs, first downs, that's one specific piece that is different.
But if you get to third downs on a drive that you need to score to take the lead, it takes the ability of running the clock out away from you. We get down to the goal line, I want to say we're at about the four, should we have taken 45 more seconds to score? I'm not certain, right? It's the kind of thing where, we got the ball back with two minutes to go in the game, and a timeout, we had plenty of time to go down the field and win the game.
Maybe we scored too fast. Maybe we would have liked to have eaten those four minutes up. I don't know that we could have. Then maybe they score too fast. Frankly, we had plenty of time to go down the field the back end.
Then it was a three point game with a field goal making a difference, and a seven point for the winner, so...
Q. Could you talk about your run game, specifically running between the tackles. How important is it to have those runs in there, even if they're for no gain? Do you stress to your backs to press the line and bounce it outside like they were able to do or is that their own vision taking over at that point?
COACH MILES: Some of the style of runs that we called gives you a natural progression, a gap to expand. As the defense continues to cancel gaps, that bounce becomes just a nice, natural piece. So, yeah, we've talked about it certainly. I think our guys see it that way, too. (Loss of audio.)
Q. Your impression about what's going on in the conference?
COACH MILES: I think the quarterback position in this conference right now is as salty as it's been, as capable a group of quarterbacks as there is. So I think that's one of the reasons.
I also think there's probably some youth on the defensive side that's reflective of real quality defenders leaving early to go to the NFL Draft. And the quarterback position, generally speaking, is improved greatly by staying.
You have quarterbacks that stay and continue to apply their trade. Possibly some of the more skilled defenders going on to the league. So it's still very hard for me to believe that in the back end of this year we won't be a very quality defense and a much better defensive league.
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