LSU Coach Les Miles was real chirpy today, and the media didn’t have a lot of questions to ask today, kinda of tongue-tied if I may say. Les said, we had a very nice practice, A team with a great attitude. Les likes his team, in position to play a very formidable football team. Les asked about any talk about Miss State, I brought up the Miss State rant, from a Paul Finebaum caller, who considers Scott stadium the new Death Valley since they went 18-3 in the last three years which LSU gave them one of those loses. Les just says Manny Diaz very talented coach. Tuesday and Wednesday practice very good, didn’t change the practice schedule. Coach Miles was asked if he had heard any cow bell music lately, as far as getting ready for this weekend in Starkville,Ms, Miles response, I did not listen to any cow bell music, and couldn’t find it in the stores.
LES MILES PRESS CONFERENCE LUNCHEON 9-8-2015
Questions from the MEDIA
Q. You mentioned your team has certain advantages to not having played the other night. Do you think they outweigh the disadvantages of kind of not getting that experience and some of the young guys getting their feet wet?
COACH MILES: We would loved to have played by far and away. With the idea that now, at this point in time, that’s not possible, then what are the advantages? Well, there are some. We’ll enjoy our preparation, and we’ll be fresh, and we’ll look forward to Mississippi State with the enthusiasm of getting to play the opener.
Q. Les, will Sione Teuhema and Deondre Clark, will they play? I know they weren’t dressed out last week.
COACH MILES: I’m not certain. It depends on if they earn their way there.
Q. How about Mickey Johnson and Chidi Valentino-Okeke?
COACH MILES: Valentine. Valentino is a real kind of a swinging spot you put him on. I think Chidi will be redshirted. Who else did you ask?
Q. Mickey Johnson.
COACH MILES: Mickey Johnson, I don’t think Mickey is going to play.
Q. This week or this season?
COACH MILES: This season.
Q. Followup to the first question about the advantages. As a coach, if you have no film to watch on Mississippi State, obviously, they have no film to watch on you from this season, is that also — to what extent is that an advantage for LSU?
COACH MILES: It’s really not, but your body of work is small. So they get to see what we have, and certainly we share — we didn’t have the weather, certainly we’d have played it. They would have gotten the entire game.
We’ve seen their first game in its entirety.
Q. What’s Brandon’s mentality as he prepared for his first start, then it doesn’t happen, and now he goes on the road?
COACH MILES: I was miserable for him. He was one of the guys who didn’t take his shoulder pads off the whole time. He just really wanted to play. You could see the disappointment in his face.
Obviously, I was gone Monday, but he’s going to play, and he’s going to play well. He just needs to relax and look forward to playing with a very talented team.
Q. Coach, as you game plan for a mobile quarterback for your first couple of games, do you find that Kevin Steele has brought new ideas to the table in how to combat that?
COACH MILES: Yeah, he has a very quality — both he and Ed Orgeron have a very quality view of a mobile quarterback and kind of how to operate. I think, first and foremost, putting speed on the field is the most important piece, and we do that.
Q. We joked after the game that you were going to play ten freshmen on each side of the ball, but clearly you had a commitment early to get those guys on the field. Was that just their talent, or was it opportunity? Why did they kind of open it up a little early?
COACH MILES: That is talent. Those are guys that, frankly, we will see playing in virtually every game. I would guess that the number at some point in time would approach 15.
Q. Coach, you wait all summer for a first game, it gets cancelled, now you’ve got to wait until 8:15 at night. How are you going to keep the team from going stir crazy and keep them calm and everything before this game?
COACH MILES: We only spend two hours on site before the game. So we’ll be in there getting dressed and back out and warming up and taking punts and fielding balls and throwing, catching. So that time will go by very quickly.
Q. This is more of an SEC question. There are a lot of new quarterbacks in the league this year that — you know, new starters. People aren’t sure how reliable or consistent they’ll be. To what extent is that offset in the SEC by the quality of running backs? How much can a running back compensate for — on certain quarterbacks, and what do you think of the SEC running backs?
COACH MILES: It really depends on the offensive line and how good the running back is, and is he in position to carry the load for some time? I don’t know. I can’t answer some of those things for other teams. I think we’re pretty talented there, and I think our offensive line can block it. So we should pose a real issue to some defenses.
Q. Coach, will you use what happened last year as motivation for this year, or is that game long gone? What’s your take on all of that?
COACH MILES: I think our guys recognize, having finished second to a team in our conference, I think most teams recognize that the opportunity to play well and play best is here, and playing in our conference is awfully important to us. I don’t know that you use anything else other than that.
Q. Coach, last week there was a lot of thinking back ten years ago through Hurricane Katrina, when you first came to LSU and the loss of games being played here, then all of a sudden we start this season with a game that’s cancelled because of the weather. Can you draw on your parallels from them, and do you learn anything on how to handle this situation from the way you handled the Katrina situation?
COACH MILES: I think our team is not nearly disadvantaged as the Katrina team was with an hourly reminder with helicopters going overhead. I think that this, although certainly is a weather limitation, it’s certainly not, nor was it, life-threatening in any way.
It cost us the opportunity to play a game, and that’s darn important to us, especially at the end of the season, and it’s darn important to us as we develop a team, but in terms of the parallel, I guess, I think our guys recognize the situation that they’re in, are looking forward to improving this week, recognize that improvement must take place, and looking forward to playing Mississippi State certainly.
I think there’s — I don’t think there’s any fatigue. I think they’re well rested. They had a day off yesterday, and it’s a day off from school, I should say. I think they’re looking forward to playing.
Q. You said that Sione and Deondre have to earn their way back to dressing out. What did you mean by that?
COACH MILES: We play the best players. Certainly, if they’re the best players, they’ll step in there and go.
Q. So is it all performance based, or was it off the field that prevented them from dressing out?
COACH MILES: It’s all performance based. And Chidi’s being redshirted.
Q. Coach, I’m sure you’re aware of the Tom Brady issue with the deflated football. As an old sandlot passer from way back, I can attest that you can throw the ball, and slightly deflated is better than one that’s fully pumped. Is the college football, is the ball standard — I assume that everybody uses the same ball. Who is responsible for seeing the balls are inflated properly? Is it the home team, or who is it?
COACH MILES: The officiating crew. We bring 12 balls or thereabouts to the officials, and they check it. It’s got to be between 12 1/2 and 13 1/2. It’s an amazing thing, in my opinion, how a couple of pounds difference that makes that ball feel, like you’re saying. If you deflate it significantly, man, that ball feels — you have great comfort with the throw.
But good thing about Brandon Harris, he’s got big hands, and he swallows that ball up, and he throws it well.
Q. For Dak Prescott, facing him last year and the last couple years, what makes him so unique? And as big as he is, when he gets full steam ahead, what are the challenges of trying to take him down?
COACH MILES: He’s a big strong guy, and he really has nice command of the offense, does the things that that offense asks him to do. He really, as big as he is, he gets in the right hole and makes a nice cut.
Q. You mentioned Brandon Holloway in your opening statement, 5’8″, 165. Does he do things particularly well that help him overcome any inherent disadvantage in his stature? And do you, based on what you’ve seen, expect that you’ll have to prepare for him as a more regular role than he’s had in the past?
COACH MILES: I would guess that he would play a significant role in the offense. I would say that he would be certainly a kick return guy. But great speed. I don’t think stature has anything to do with it. I think he has a very good stature, very quality stature in terms of how he runs through the field.
Q. There’s been a lot of talk about losing a game and what effect long term that might have. Have you given any thought to playing 11 regular season games if the College Football Playoff Selection Committee, should it get to that, might look negatively upon your team for one less game?
COACH MILES: I have — there’s nothing that I can do about it. At this point in time, I want to prepare and play the season and certainly the season we have remaining and play extremely well and control our own destiny. We do those things, we’re a very talented team. We should control outcomes anyway.
Q. The freshmen getting to go through the pregame and get out there in front of the crowd, how much of a benefit can that be to those guys even in that little bit of exposure?
COACH MILES: The freshmen who get out in front of the team in the warmups?
Q. The freshmen who played for those couple plays and went through the pregame and all that this past Saturday, how much of a benefit can they take from that even though they didn’t play full game?
COACH MILES: It’s a huge benefit. By and large, it is a short game where victory was not determined. But they warmed up. They went through the pregame regimen. They understand what we expect from them from tests and walk-throughs. Then we expect them to get warmed up in a very specific manner. They did.
I have to be very honest with you, offense, defense, and special teams, we had a small number of reps but a very significant number because everything that we do is, and I think that those freshmen that played are benefited greatly.
Q. State had the most yards that LSU has given up since you’ve been here last year. Dak went over 100 yards rushing. What have you guys not been able to accomplish against them that you need to do on Saturday to win that game?
COACH MILES: There was a scramble touchdown that, frankly, we should well have covered, but Dak’s pretty talented too. He’s a guy that makes plays and gets up in the seam, and he doesn’t go down unless you tackle him. I think the key piece to what we’re going to try to do this week is prepare tackling. If we do that, I think it will make a difference.
Q. Coach, now that we got to see kind of what that starting defense looked like with Kevin Toliver on the corner, Dwyane Thomas at nickel, can you tell us about that competition at fall camp and maybe where Ed Paris falls in?
COACH MILES: Again, I think we’re a very talented group in the secondary. Ed Paris, in my opinion, fits right in that group. We don’t hesitate to put him in the game in any way. But Toliver at corner and Dwyane Thomas could also play at corner and a nickel spot. There’s a lot of flexibility with our players because they’re fast and very bright guys. So we think our secondary is capable of making adjustments and using personnel to benefit us.
Q. What kind of things did Toliver do to get a leg up?
COACH MILES: He’s a physical, fast, very — he’s a 6-footer at corner. He can play. He can tackle. He’s a talented man. Didn’t take much for the coaching staff to recognize it.
Q. How do you compensate for not having any game film, not playing at game speed. How do you compensate for that in three days of practice this week? How do you make up for all that?
COACH MILES: You would have certainly enjoyed that, but we didn’t have that game before we played McNeese. So in the exact same position where we’re going to play our best, and we’re going to expect our guys to do the things we’ve taught them to do in terms of block, tackle, and ball security, and let’s go get the ball.
Certainly, if you had a dress rehearsal at all, it would have been great. Thank goodness we didn’t. I would not have been for a lightning strike. I would not have been for finishing at 3:30 in the morning and having injury. And I would not have been for missing an open date before we played Alabama. So frankly, it’s not ideal, but you know what, we’re in pretty good shape. We’re going to look forward to playing this one. I like my team.
Q. Coach, you’ve been to Starkville a few times. What’s your take on cow bells? Is that kind of a unique crowd noise to deal with and rattling?
COACH MILES: I think we need to petition to get some cow bells in our stadium. I think it would be an enjoyable piece as well. Honestly, as much as I’ve been in loud stadiums, I’m not distracted by cow bells.