Baton Rouge, La. - LSU's football team had the weekend off but a date with top-ranked Alabama this Saturday night in Tuscaloosa looms large.
The following are coach Les Miles' comments to the media, as transcribed by LSU Sports Information:
Afternoon, all. The football weather kind of perfect. It's the way it's supposed to be in November, a little cool. Looking forward to the back end of the season. This weekend in an open week, I did some football work and had some fun.
I followed Macy Miles. Macy Miles had two goals in a soccer game on Saturday. Long legged, runs well. Seems to defend. Can't use her left foot as well as she'd like, but very enjoyable.
Watched Manny Miles play with the U High Cubs on Friday night, and Bowser, who was a senior nose tackle, made a great interception.
Ben Miles, a ninth grader at Catholic, is playing ninth grade anD junior varsity ball and enjoying his experience in fall. That was kind of my open week, except that I watched a couple of football games on Saturday night, very much like most of America.
I can tell you this, the open date came at the exact right time. We're a little nicked and we needed it. This will be fun to re-gather the troops. And we had three good practices last week. We'll certainly approach the Alabama game plan and looking forward to making it ours this week. And again, we think we'll get some freshness back in our team and some health and look forward to playing.
I think the Furman game was I haven't seen you guys since then. I think that no matter what the coach said, it was Furman. I could not get them fired up until halftime and at halftime, we ended up with the 672 total yards and we rushed for 300 and threw for 300 plus. Again, I kind of felt like the second half, we did the things that we were supposed to do. And thought that Kwon Alexander played an extremely capable game in the fact that he led the team in tackles.
We look forward to preparing for this next opponent. Very talented Nick Saban, who coaches in Alabama, does a great job there. They are well prepared. They've allowed few points and they are a team that's given up 10 points or less, 280 yards. They are a very difficult team to move the ball on the ground against and they're a press coverage on the perimeter. So we recognize it will be a great challenge to our offense. Their offense with A.J. McCarron averaging 41 points, 460 yards, 210 rushing and 250 yards passing. Again, I think A.J. McCarron is a great, within the scheme play maker. I think he sees it. He makes all the throws. I think he's a tremendous leader and they have quality running backs in T.J. Yeldon. I think they are nine players with at least one touchdown reception, so there's balance in their offense.
In teams, they've returned a punt for a touchdown and a kickoff for a touchdown. Their punter is averaging 46.4. They have missed two field goals. They are a very, very talented team, very prepared.
I look forward to preparing against them. I can tell you that our guys are in college football for these kind of games. We look forward to playing in them. It's a great opportunity for all. Any time you line up against Alabama, there's a rivalry. There's national prestige. And the want to make plays against a very quality opponent is there. I think the greatest compliment that we can pay an opponent is our best efforts, and certainly Alabama will get that.
Q. Just looking back at that Alabama game a year ago and then Clemson and Georgia and Ole Miss, how have you changed the way you defend a lead in the final few minutes in the game?
COACH MILES: We certainly have looked at it and work on the opportunity to maintain the ball. I think there's some differing strategy pieces and I think there's some different personnel in effect. But it's something that certainly we hope to have that opportunity again this year.
Q. Not that you don't always, but in a game like this, how much emphasis do you put on your big guys up front on both sides to set a tone at the line of scrimmage?
COACH MILES: In any game and really in every game, there is a point of you know, your defensive front must, you know, take the line of scrimmage. Your offensive front must take the line of scrimmage.
This will be a great challenge. Alabama has got a great style of play. And certainly on offense, they are a very talented offensive line as well. So yeah, these games many times are won in the trenches. Sometimes you can see it and sometimes you can't.
Q. From your perspective, what is Bama week like and do you enjoy this type of week?
COACH MILES: What it's like is just a little more energy in the step of your team, their attention to detail is greater. Their attention to watching film and extra time is something that they put in. And yeah, I enjoy it very much. I've always enjoyed the competition with some of the better teams in the this country and certainly Alabama is that.
Q. A lot of your life you've been involved with the Ohio State Michigan rivalry, how does that compare?
COACH MILES: I suspect that there's some similarities there. It's just very difficult for me to kind of look back on that, because I was the player so many times in that rivalry.
I can tell you the similarities of closeness in proximity, certainly the league, your play annually goes through, you know, that contest. And certainly both teams desperately want to win. So I suspect there are some great similarities, including very active and loyal fan bases.
Q. Last year's game against Bama, Zach had a great output and propelled him to finish strong the rest of the season. Will this team need a similar performance in order to beat Alabama on Saturday?
COACH MILES: Yeah, I think our quarterback has to play well. I think we have to have balance, both run and pass, so that it becomes something that he can do routinely or without having to make great plays. And I think that it'll always be balance that allows us to really have the best quarterback play.
Q. What's the, I guess, concussion status of J.C. Copeland? And what's been bothering Connor Neighbors? He didn't finish up the last game. In a game like this against Alabama that's grinded out, how important is the health of that fullback position? And do you trust a guy like Melvin Jones if those guys can't play?
COACH MILES: Really probably J.C. could have played last week, if we had had a game. I think we've done everything that we can to ensure that he has time off and heals. I think he's ready to come back to practice. He'll be practicing with us today.
I think Connor Neighbors is also it was really a contusion, bruise, if you will. He'll be back ready to roll.
I think ole Melvin Jones is a very, very talented, young freshman and a guy that we'll count on as he continues to improve. He'd be third.
Q. When you look at Alabama on film this year, last year, year before, whatever, what are some of the things that sets them apart that makes them who they are?
COACH MILES: I think they have real comfort in how they play defense. I think there's a team that can communicate with signals and a team that really puts themselves in an optimal position.
I think defensively you know, for a (indiscernible) defense, they build a flat line, a flat wall. They are very good.
Q. In a game like this, what is mental toughness mean, to believe you can go in there and win? And how do you convey that to your team during the week?
COACH MILES: Well, you have to have a confidence in your preparation. You have to know what you're going to see. And the good news is we've been down there every other year, and we play Alabama every year. So the understanding of who we're playing, I think we get that. I think the enjoyment and the want to play in this game kind of, you know, is the individual piece and kind of fits a team philosophy.
We're looking for those guys that want to go down there and play just in this game and look forward to playing in games like this. I think our guys have that.
Q. Given what happened in Houston last night with Coach Kubiak, do you and your staff do anything consciously to relax when you have time other than on a buy week? And also, did you watch 60 Minutes last night?
COACH MILES: I did not watch 60 Minutes last night. I did hear about Coach Kubiak. I can tell you here's what happens. I work out when I get beyond football. The interesting piece for me is I want to have every bit of energy that I have can muster for my job and doing the things that make my team best and entertain that thought process from early until late.
I suspect that there are a lot of coaches in this country that put themselves behind team in preparation. I certainly understand the physical need to take care of yourself. It makes you when something like that happens, it makes you question, you know, how you're living, what lifestyle you're actually living. I like to see if I can carve out 30 minutes in a day to get a workout in.
Q. Coach, when you watch Alabama's defense, particularly their corners, what do you see in their ability and what kind of advantage might you have with two talented receivers that you have going head to head with them, forcing them into some things they don't like to do?
COACH MILES: We like the matchup. We think that we kind of give them some challenges on the perimeter. We got a quarterback, first of all, that can make the throw and several receivers that can get open in space.
Again, once who we're playing, they are a very good team, but we think there is a matchup there that benefits us.
Q. You talked about having the confidence in your preparation and seeing what you expect to get, how much of that was present in the national championship game and is that one reason maybe for the performance by your team and how much of that tape are you watching in preparation for this game?
COACH MILES: I didn't quite get that question. Try it again.
Q. How much did the game preparation for the national championship game throw you guys? Do you expect to see that? Most of your games have been tight against Alabama except for that one. Do you expect a similar game plan from them this time?
COACH MILES: I think each game that you play in an opponent, even though it's the same opponent or different games, I think they use their strength. We use ours. They used A.J. McCarron to start that game out offensively in a series of throws. We don't see that necessarily being their tack, but then again it could be. It's kind of what they did at that their place several years before.
So we've watched it. We're preparing for their best. And whatever order they call it, I think we'll ready for. Every time you play an opponent, it's a different year. Same opponent, even same guys, but rightfully a different year.
Q. Both losses this year have been tight games on the road. What specifically does this team need to do in terms of preparation for the traveling and all the things that come in with a road game to get a different result than the previous two road games?
COACH MILES: I think there's an opportunity to win those games on the road as well. And so it's not necessarily what we didn't do, it's what we need to do this week. And it's a different opponent and it's something that we're going to look forward to preparing for. I don't think that the road game is an insurmountable task in any way. It's just we need to play better at times.
Q. Recently you outlined your support for hyperbaric chambers to treat concussions and injuries, why do you support this method of treatment? Have you used it before? How can this treatment help your players perform?
COACH MILES: The question is about hyperbaric therapy. Without taking a lot of time, there's existing documentation and research that suggests that concussion is a lack of oxygen. In other words, a bruise on the brain. Then with the healing that takes place in that area, the blood that rushes to heal also restricts the oxygen to that area below the injury. So what we're saying and what's been suggested to me is that oxygen is the way to treat some of those injuries.
We're really trying to put together a fast, hard operating relationship, if you will, with one of local hospitals, Our Lady of the Lake. But as to this point, we have not been able to do so. You know, again, we're operating so that we can give our guys the best answers for those kinds of injuries. Currently it's not optimal. We've not set up the arrangement in a fast, easy working, convenient manner.
Q. Dr. Paul Harch out of New Orleans, how did you get in contact with him and what's the status of using this? I think you just answered that question.
COACH MILES: Well, what we've done is it was Dr. Vanmeter and Dr. Harch both are guys that are pioneers in their field, when it comes to hyperbaric oxygen therapy. And so we sought them out. They are Louisiana medicine, they are Louisiana guys. They were very serving, very helpful. Hopefully they will continue to be a resource.
Q. Colby Delahoussaye, does he have a chance to play Saturday? And did you just keep him off his leg last week? And Taj Jones, does he have a chance to play?
COACH MILES: I think both of those guys get to come to play in this game. I think Colby is much improved and Taj is again, I think he's in position to play.
Q. What are your thoughts on your opponent's coach, Nick Saban? What makes him so successful? In your opinion, do you think given the numbers in his success, do you think that he's currently the most successful coach in college football?
COACH MILES: Yeah, I'm certain that there's an argument to be made for Coach Saban and the things that he's done certainly in the national title games. I think he does a wonderful job recruiting and he puts together offense, defense and special team in a very efficient manner.
Q. The team that had the most success offensively against Alabama was A&M. They are little bit more spread than y'all. Can you learn anything from watching that film and fit it to your personnel?
COACH MILES: There are some things to learn there. It is a much different personality. A quarterback that can pull it down and go for 50 is an unusual weapon. You can see some of the throws and some of the spots there where we've studied some.
Q. How is T.J. formed into a feature back? Can you compare him to Jeremy in any instance?
COACH MILES: He's a big back that has nice touch, good vision. And to me, again, very talented back.
I kind of like our guy personally. I think our guy has a similar ability as Yeldon. But our guy seems to wear purple and gold, and I kind of favor those guys.
Q. At the beginning you talked about your team being excited for a game of this magnitude. Do you have any idea, have they been looking towards this game all season? You couldn't have said anything to get them up for Furman. Obviously you won't have that challenge this week?
COACH MILES: I think this team, kind of historically at LSU looks forward to playing Alabama. I think it's the same this week. I think our guys refresh beyond the open date and really looking forward to, you know, playing the best against our best opponents.
Q. In the last couple of games, do you feel Zach maybe got away from some of the fundamentals that some of the stuff that Cam had been pounding into his head during the off season?
COACH MILES: Yeah, I think there was some impatience there that was evident in the last couple of weeks, if you will. But I think there's a need to recognize the style of defense we're going to play and some of the throws that you take and some of the throws that you don't.
I think that this week, you know, it's just Monday. I think that this week will be a honing of the game plan for him in his mind. We'll make improvements. Certainly that's the design.
Q. Does this game have the same feeling as the last, you know, four or five Alabama games? And then you guys are a 10, 11 point underdog, do you use as motivation at all?
COACH MILES: I can tell you that this team does not take on an underdog's mentality. It's a team that really feels like it can play with any. And so I don't know that we use it as motivation. It's certainly not been something that any rallying cry that we wanted to make. I can just tell you that we look forward to playing.
Q. When you look at your defense, a few weeks back we talked about changing personnel and scheme and your approach. With the Alabama game, what are some of the answers there?
COACH MILES: Well, I think you'll the good news is you will see Craig Loston back in the center of the secondary. You will see Cory Thompson back in the secondary. I think Ronald Martin will be healthy, and for that matter Rickey Jefferson will probably see some time back in there as well.
To me, in the secondary, those guys are kind of the future, kind of where we're headed.
Q. When you look at Alabama's blitz packages, who do they compare to? How frequently are they blitzing compared to other teams you've played? Is there anything sophisticated about what they do?