Baton Rouge, La. - Following LSU's third loss to Ole Miss in six meetings, coach Les Miles is taking the blame for time management decisions at the end of the 27-24 loss.
The following are Miles' comments to the media, as transcribed by LSU Sports Information:
Good afternoon. We're into nine straight weeks of playing. We're the only BCS major college conference team to do that. The only time we exceeded that number was in 2005, 11 straight weeks in a row. We're really looking forward to a break in the future.
Now, disappointed with Saturday's game. The Ole Miss team, I really felt like the players gave great effort. There's a number of reasons why we don't win that game, but in my opinion it's me. I did not get it across to them. I made the points, I spoke the words, but I need to teach better. I challenge myself that way.
It's hard to admit as the coach of a team that's best and better that they finished second, and I'm doing that today, and I'm going to tell my team the exact same thing, that in fact I've got to do a better job. I've got to get their attention.
If you watch this film, you're going to see a quarterback who's trying to win the game with three or four throws that he shouldn't have thrown, and all we have to do is fit into the scheme, do the things you need to do and check it down or make the play that's just described, and we're good.
Defensively we have guys on rushed, on their quarterback, on blocked I should say. We have guys that are supposed to have coverage on the exact area that the ball is thrown, and again, it's a confidence and a comfort that you just within the scheme, and to play like we play.
One thing about this program and the teams that I've been fortunate to represent, they have all had great confidence and swagger, and they go out and they play within the scheme, within the play that's called with great confidence and with great ability. That's all they needed to do. If they would have done that on Saturday, we'd all be very fortunate.
Didn't protect our quarterback just perfectly and dug ourselves a hell of a hole in the first half. Defensively they came out in the second half and played much better, got us a couple turnovers, one a must punt and one a turnover that led to points, and so we're really back in it, and we kick the ball off, and really the last drive of the game, even in the very last drive of the game, as poorly as we played to that point, if the defense can get off the field on 3rd downs, we have a chance to drive down the field, kick a field goal and win it.
You know, I just think there's a way to improve this team, really, offense, defense and special teams, with just a commitment and a comfort of playing the play that's called and understanding your responsibility within that. I think the opponent was 11 of 18 on 3rd downs, which is certainly not like us, and again, I think there's a number of ways to get off the field late in that game. I think there's a number of ways to win it. And again, offense, defense and special teams.
Now, I look at the back end of the game, and on the field goal, they drive the field, they're lining up to kick the field goal, and the initial strategy was going to be to ice the kicker and block it. Well, I liked it. I figured that I'd save the time out for that, and then I said, hey, wait a minute, we have already blocked this team. This team we could not be in any better position to go onto the field, and at that point in time I wished I had every one of those seconds back.
Again, the plan was to ice and block, and we should well have, in retrospect, gone after those 20 seconds that we could have got at the end of the game.
That being said, we have to move on, and we're looking forward to taking the field again. On to Furman.
I think Furman is I just look at them and they're a very capable team. They're tough. They play hard. You know, there's guys on that team that could play for any SEC team that we play. I just want our guys to know they're not the best team that we've played, but they can play very, very well. We're going to have to play well to beat them.
The thing that we have to do more than anything is to get back to work and recognize that this is a very good football team. They're a team that can and will achieve. They just have to recognize how that happens. Coach Miles has to do a better job, and we'll look forward to a lot of finishes in these next couple of weeks. First and foremost, improve and get back on track against Furman.
Q. With a program that talks so much about winning championships, now that's out of your control, is motivation an issue with your team now?
COACH MILES: Well, it has never been, so you know. You would have to think that going into the last game that Coach Miles could have got them ready to go. I think our guys are they're ambitious. I think they want I think they're in a lesser position than they could be today, and they recognize it. I can't imagine that they won't want to play hard. I can't imagine that they won't want to this football team has the ability to win and play against any team remaining on our schedule, and we need to recognize that. We need to play like that, and frankly, that's what gets me up and sends me to the building every day.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH MILES: Well, again, and I appreciate the way you asked the question. First and foremost it's about victory, and that will not be overlooked. Our second team quarterback is always that guy that's in position to play and play a lot of football should something happen, and we would like to see Anthony Jennings specifically, not the second team because we think the second team will be watching most of the day, but we would expect that Anthony Jennings would want to see some action, and we'd like to have him see some action in this game.
That may not have been quite enough of an answer. Do we want to develop him? You betcha. Do we want him on the field? You betcha. Do we think he's a guy that will have to provide us with a lot of snaps in this season? Yeah. I don't know how much more if you want to narrow it down, I'll answer it again.
Q. I think save the Florida week you talked about guys, especially on defense, buying into the scheme and playing in their position. Clearly that's a struggling point for this team and it hasn't happened yet. Does that make your job, you talked about getting this team ready, do you have to look to different people now? Is that a process that's going to have to happen?
COACH MILES: You know what, I would like to tell you that it's this guy or that guy, and I'd never come to this meeting and tell you that anyway, but I don't really see it that way. I see it as there's some collective focusing that needs to take place, okay. That's done best by the head coach. That's why I challenge me, for us to have the number of mistakes in that game. Coach Miles, step up, make the call, let us know why, fill me in. I'm a team that can, and I want to know, Coach, what you want from me. I'm going to do better.
Yeah, do I think that we will look at each guy? Yeah, we'll look at each guy. But I think we've got the right guys.
Q. I'm getting the impression that this loss has bothered you more than maybe some. I know you suffer all of them pretty hard, but I get the impression you think one thing could have been different, one thing you could have done differently. Have you been dwelling on this a lot since Saturday, more than usual?
COACH MILES: There's a play in every room in that building, from the head coach, all the assistant coaches and all the players' rooms, offensive line, defensive line, secondary, right, it's to play doesn't need to be two. One play, a play, and the game changes and the outcome changes. One play. Obviously in the quarterback room we can all say I'll tell you what play that is, and you could go to the defensive back room, you can go to the ride along, and it's just one play. It's one play. And we have to play it that way. We have to play our style of football one play at a time and take it seriously start to finish.
Q. Zach seemed to take a lot of ownership for the loss, as well. How do you expect him to bounce back, and with those early interceptions, was that on him just continuing to force the ball down the field? Did he think they would result in touchdown plays?
COACH MILES: Well, there were one of those plays moderately was open if he just heavy armed it a little bit, throwing it out there. Again, and here's our strength: Our strength is a team that thinks they can make every play. They can make every play. I'm just letting you know, this football team is talented and they go to the field with the idea that they can make every play. Our weakness is, in this game, was that they thought they had to make every play and that they needed to win the game with that play. And to me, all they had to do was play the scheme, check it down, in his instance basically play leverage on the route and others make a tackle. It's just you're in the backfield, just tackling. And those kinds of things are the things that hurt us in that game.
Q. Late in the game, you talked about the seconds ticking away. Are there other coaches in the headset saying, hey, we need to take a time out?
COACH MILES: Yeah, we went through the staff pretty much and we talked about the different strategies. It was me that came off the strategy late to call the time out. I said, no, I don't want that, and then I only had six seconds left, so that was did I like the idea of the ice? Yes, I did, and I bought into that for some amount of time. The problem with it is you really have him in the position that you want him, he just was blocked. Your football team had just blocked him, so that when I came off of ice as a likelihood, I wish I had all my 20 seconds back. That was the issue.
Q. And McGaughey typically sets up the block, you felt the magnitude, you needed to do some more input with him
COACH MILES: Well, the good news is should we have taken a time out at 20 seconds or with that point in time that we could have, we would have had time to set up the block anyway. That's the piece. But it was ice in combination with block that put us in that position. Had I dropped the I'd much rather have had any amount of time on the clock at the back end, and that's kind of...
Q. We saw you pretty quickly after the game Saturday night. Did you speak to your team at all? What did you tell them about the end of the game and the outcome?
COACH MILES: I told them virtually what I told you guys in the press conference, that I internalize this thing and that I'll do better. That's what I did. I told them that I'm going to watch this film and we're going to make corrections and we're going to do right things. I did not make the point, man, you're just going to go here, play hard nosed, tough, LSU football, play within the scheme and win one play at a time. See, the one play at a time is a real interesting thing. Sometimes you get teams that say, listen, it needs to be 21 0 in the first quarter, I'm letting you know we're going to go in here and wear these guys out. That philosophy is all well and good if that kind of game presents itself. The idea that we need to put 21 on them at a fast, hurried pace, sometimes the game doesn't play that way. You win that game over 60 minutes. We do that, we basically take the opportunity from the opponent away from them. If we do that, we'd all be much different today.
Q. Is there a common theme in your opinion to why this defense is struggling on 3rd downs, especially 3rd and long?
COACH MILES: I wish there was. We'd go fix it. It's a bit here, it's a bit there. I thought we had good pressure. I thought we got into the backfield. I thought 3rd downs were called extremely well. I thought the 3rd down, the leverage on routes, the quarterback that breaks out of the pocket, I mean, we have guys in position to make those plays. I don't know that you can call it any better. Just a simple 11 yard out for a 1st down is based on leverage of the defender that plays throughout, and we have outside leverage designed, and it's thrown outside and he takes the inside leverage.
I mean, those are the kinds of things that drive you on this kind of game, and that's where we, me, I've got to do a better job. I've got to describe it best.
Q. On the time outs, are you the only guy on the sidelines that can physically call a time out?
COACH MILES: No yeah, yeah, virtually. I'm the only guy.
Q. And that's kind of your rule?
COACH MILES: Absolutely. No, it's a conference rule. The guy that calls the player on the field can call a time out, any and all, but the coach on the sideline, it's my responsibility.
Q. None of your assistants can do it?
COACH MILES: No.
Q. The last, I guess, four losses dating back to Bama have all come down to the very end when you guys have lost in the last minute or two. Does that wear on kids? Have you seen some resiliency built? And how much of an emphasis do you put after a game like that on that two minute drill when you're on defense?
COACH MILES: We do two minute on Mondays and we do it on Thursday, and we do it extensively. It's described and talked about. I think maybe there can be a greater emphasis put on it in the fact that how fortunate we are to be in the position where most of the time those games come down to the last possession.
Q. It may be hard objectively to separate yourself, but if you look at the results across the league on Saturday, I don't know if that's an important lesson maybe for your players for the future, or do you think it's kind of a strange day in the SEC or a strange year?
COACH MILES: Yeah. Yeah, you can see Tennessee beat Georgia, right? And you saw A & M go down. Yeah, that's all well and good. It doesn't happen to LSU. That's the problem. It doesn't happen to us.
Q. Is Corey Thompson hurt? It didn't look like he played at all.
COACH MILES: Yeah, we would have liked to have gotten Corey Thompson in the game to be honest with you. I think he played a series, and it may well have been we needed to get him in the game more, so you know. I think he'll play more next week.
Q. You're talking about the chance for a lot of teaching points for your guys coming off of a loss like that. I'm wondering how quickly can guys learn those teaching points? How much did they learn after the loss to Georgia that was turned around after that, and now after this loss how quickly would you expect them
COACH MILES: Yeah, I honestly think we have good people, and that being said, good people make change, and they're a it's an amazing thing; sometimes we get spoiled in the fact that some of our players come in here as freshmen and play like seniors, and we expect them to play that way. I mean, I have to be very honest with you: I am spoiled by guys like Eric Reid, and I expect that the approach is the same with all these young players, and it's not. Each guy is individual and each guy takes time.
The experience that a young player gets after going through a season or for instance a loss like the Georgia game is a great teaching opportunity. It's something that the young player needs and grows on, and as much as I'm pained, I think that that's the case here. I think our guys will learn, improve and understand the position they're in.
If I thought I had guys that could not, I'd tell you. I don't. I think I've got a good football team.
Q. And how quickly or slowly does that happen, or it's different for everybody?
COACH MILES: It's different for everybody. The good news is we play you watch film, and this team will hit you, this team will run to the ball. You're going to have to play football against them. They play a unique scheme.
So that being said, there will be reasons to improve, and they'll look at this film today and they'll recognize, oh, my gosh, oh, of course I knew that, and they'll recognize that they can be taken out of their game because they're in a loud stadium or a different venue. It's the same call that you use on our practice field. It's the same technique, just be confident. You've got it, you've got this, just go play.
We'll hopefully learn that after this game.
Q. In J.C. Copeland's absence on Saturday, how did you think the fullbacks did, and what is J.C.'s prognosis going forward?
COACH MILES: Conner Davis did great. We put Melvin Jones in sparingly. I think he will also be a very good fullback. I think he'll be tremendous. J.C. Copeland was missed. We would have loved to have had him. He is much better today. We would expect him to improve. I guess the word would be probable for Saturday.
Q. One of the lessons that may have been learned at Ole Miss is guys that were on the bench obviously played very well for them. Are you at a point with your defense where some of the guys who maybe are on the field aren't the right guys and you just have to see what some other guys can do, maybe Louis, Beckwith, guys like that?
COACH MILES: Yeah, we like Beckwith and we like Lamar Louis, who played awfully well in that game. Do other guys get more snaps? You betcha. It doesn't mean that we're wholesale change and it doesn't mean that we're throwing anybody out, but what it does mean is some of these young guys played well enough to deserve playing time, and they're going to get it.
Q. Jeremy Hill fumbled on the first snap of the game, recovered, and then spent large portions of the first half on the bench. Do you have some kind of policy where if a guy fumbles you sit him for a while?
COACH MILES: It's really not a hard, fast fumble rule, if you will, but that was the first play of the game, and you have to think the first play of the game you'd have ball security. So it was a little bit it was an indication, if you will, that we needed to get his attention. I think it was exactly the right call, and we watched film and we understood what was there and what wasn't, and I think it was best that he played exactly how he played.
Q. Could you give a handful of guys, freshmen or sophomores, that have kind of stepped up, maybe not to the naked eye but have done some things that have really impressed you?
COACH MILES: Kendall Beckwith would be the first. I really think he's a guy who's got the athleticism and the ability to play defensive end for us at a very high level, also at Mike backer. I just really think there's a guy who has the ability to play both, and right now I think his looks help us best at end. So that would be the one Tre'Davious White played well in that game. One of those one plays in that room, if you were in the secondary room you could pick maybe 12 plays. But if you had to pick one play for White, it would be glove the interception and score and win the game. But it was a great play to get there, and it was a very difficult grab. I'm not calling that a bad play, I'm calling that a great play.
But he's a guy who's going to get nothing but better, and for my money, Rashard Robinson is the same style of guy. I think he's going to be time and time again, he'll end up being a big tall cover corner that will tackle you. How wonderful that is.
I mean, I think I'm at three, right? You want to steer me at all? Offensively I like this young center, offensively, Pocic. I think he's going to be a dynamic player, true freshman in the backup position at center and played in that game. The good news is by the time he gets around to playing, he'll be veteran and knocking the heck out of guys.
I think if I had to pick another one, Josh Boutte is a big strong beast. If there's a guy who has a big density I think Lyle Collins has density. I think body density, I don't know that there's a measure for that anywhere, pound per square inch, but I think that he is one of those guys that's kind of a short truck, and I think that Boutte is a train. If he can get going in the right direction and then change his direction a little bit to get contact, he will knock the living dog out of people. I mean, he's lethal.
I guess what I'm saying, the youth of this team is going to be very, very good. So we've just got to grow them up.
Q. Who is your fastest back, and we assume that you're going to resume throwing the ball to a fullback out of the backfield.
COACH MILES: To the backside of the backfield? The fastest back is probably Jeremy Hill or Blue, Alfred Blue, would be the two that I would pick. Yeah, those would be the two in my opinion that would be fastest.
Q. Faster than Magee?
COACH MILES: I don't think they make cuts as fast as Magee, but yeah, I think I think if we were in a 40 yard dash, they might be faster. Although as you mention that, I'm not saying by much and if, but it would be my guess.
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