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LSU vs.Arkansas will be no turkey fight
Written by  // Tuesday, 22 November 2011 10:05 //

les-milesAt the time the Tigers are preparing for what could be a championship game against Arkansas, LSU is the No. 1 college football team in the country and several of the Tigers' players are getting national recognition like cornerback Patrick Peterson did last season. LSU cornerback Ron Brooks and offensive guard Will Blackwell have been named SEC Players of the Week for their play in LSU's 52-3 victory over Ole Miss last Saturday. Tigers defensive back Tyrann Mahieu has been named one of the three finalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award, which goes to college football's most outstanding defensive player. Peterson won this award last season. Tigers cornerback Morris Claiborne has been named one of three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, which goes to college football's best defensive back. Peterson won this award last year....

TRANSCRIPT OF LSU COACH LES MILES’ WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCE

Opening Statement…

“Happy Thanksgiving. We certainly have a lot to be thankful for. Good health, a quality team and an opportunity to have a meal that represents all the wonderful things that the Lord has made available to us in a Thanksgiving. I really want to express my condolences for my team and our school in recognition of the death of tight end Garrett Uekman. The loss of him to the Arkansas team and to his family is certainly felt. I put a call into Coach Petrino and could not get through to him, which is not unexpected in any way. I wanted them to know that we share their pain and their grief. I can also tell you that I was remised not to mention in the postgame Saturday that Oklahoma State lost two coaches in a plane crash. I have to be very honest with you. Those people are very special to me and that school is very special to me. Our families and certainly myself am very sad for those losses. I understand that there is a quality group of people there that are bound to do the things they needed to do certainly support those people that surround that tragedy.”

 

“With that being said, we get to move on to football games and the enjoyment of our day. We certainly enjoyed Ole Miss and the fan base that came to Mississippi and stayed. In pregame we looked at the purple and gold that may be in that stadium and the spots that would eventually be filled with purple and gold, and we enjoyed it. That crowd was a strong minority and very partial to LSU. The game started like it needed to. We were challenged by an opponent that talked about a rivalry and they would play to it. We told our team that is how we would rather have it anyway and lets go play. They took an edge onto the field. It did not take long to take that edge into the end zone for us. We score two defensive touchdowns. I felt like that was the style of football that we needed to play. I like the ability to play for four quarters. I felt that we got some young guys in the game as well. Freshman Ronald Martin gave us three tackles and played in key snaps in the secondary. Derrick Bryant as well. James Stampley got his first rushing touchdown while taking advantage of the playing time. The offense rushed for 353 yards. We had six players that had over 50 yards of rushing. Defense forced three turnovers and held Ole Miss to 195 yards. Again, I felt that the team came out with an edge they needed to have and really played start to finish. Ron Brooks was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week. Will Blackwell was named the Offensive Lineman of the Week in the SEC. There were a number of guys in my opinion that played well.”

 

“We’ve already turned the page in our program and our building towards Arkansas. It is a very short week and we got started last night watching film. We will enjoy this game. This is a game that we really look forward to. It is a game of significance unlike other similar games we have played this year. This will be another one. We can’t help but enjoy those games that are most significant. Our team seems to look forward to those types of games. Certainly playing in Tigers Stadium is something that we will look forward to. Considering we’ve played in six away stadiums, this will be a very enjoyable big game at home. If you look at Senior Day, the idea that there will be 25 seniors walking out and I promise you they will be playing a very impassioned game in their last event in Tiger Stadium. I can imagine the emotions that will run through them. I will also encourage them to understand that they need to put them away because they are facing a game with its own impact. Arkansas is number three in the polls, a 10-1 team, 6-1 in the SEC and have won seven straight. They are playing very good. Coach Petrino has done a great job there. He has a team playing in all three phases very well. Offensively their quarterback Tyler Wilson leads them. He is a guy who is making a lot of quality decision and getting the ball out of his hands. They are scoring 39 points per game and really putting 300 plus yards in passing and 150 yards in rushing. They are a very talented offense. Dennis Johnson is a very talented runner. They have a very capable stable of receivers. I think that three of their receivers are ranked in the top-10 in the conference. Wilson has thrown for a number of touchdowns against five interceptions. We recognize that they are very efficient and that we will have to defend them. It will be a great challenge to our defense. Their defense has given up an average of 21 points and 360 total yards per game. They are a very good special teams unit statistically. They have a very capable punter who averages 44.6 yards per punt and an outstanding field goal kicker in Zach Hocker who is 16 for 23. This will be a great game and one we will look forward to. Our guys are poised to play a game of significance and an opportunity to achieve all the things they want to achieve.”

 

On Tyler Wilson…

“He gets it out of his hand very quickly, makes real quality decisions and has all the abilities. He makes all of the throws.”

 

On finishing the season with victory…

“This is a football team that is going to play for victory. It is an opportunity to play a very quality football team in our home stadium. It is another big time game on national television. A Friday game that is a little early. I think we’ll enjoy it very much. I can already tell that the preparation around the building is going well. Again, we’re looking forward to playing. This is what is good about college football.”

 

On Ronald Martin…

“He is a guy that continues to improve. We’ve put him in a position to play, learn and take reps in practice. He has continued to get better. We’re wanting him to have the opportunity to step onto the field, play and give us significant snaps as we move forward.”

 

On Arkansas’s receiving core…

“There is a responsibility in the area that you play and possibly the man that you play. Those things really effectively challenge any defense. It spreads the field and spreads you a little thinner. The thing you have to do first is play your assignment and make sure that you tackle crisply. I think that we will be fine.”

 

On winning the majority of game handily…

“I think that we play the style of football that if we do what we are capable it makes it very difficult on our opponents. We move the ball efficiently without turnovers. Our defense does not allow an opponent to go down the field routinely. They get turnovers. If you play down to field position, special teams frankly makes the amount of time a graver opportunity for victory. No it does not surprise me that we have been able to have success. With that being said, this is going to be a big game against a quality opponent. We’re playing for victory.”

 

On Arkansas’s game against Alabama…

“I think they played a quality opponent in Alabama. That was a difficult contest for either team. We watched that film as well as the others. Again, it is one of those things where they played a quality opponent.”

 

On why previous Arkansas games have been close…

“I think it has been because we have played against some very talented Arkansas teams. Those teams at the back end of their seasons are also playing for something. The reason is not senior day in my opinion. Again, it is a game of significance.”

 

On the safety position…

“We think Loston and Reid will both be ready. Reid is a little bit more questionable. Things have gone well for him and we expect him back for play. I think there are a number of ways to go. Loston returns to practice and will be given every opportunity to be that guy as well. Bryant is a veteran and Martin played well enough Saturday to expect some reps.”

 

On this senior class…
“We’re going to miss some quality men that have been through quite a lot. They’ve always taken the direction of the program in hand and their want to compete and ability to put distraction on the perimeter is key. I just think they will be those kinds of men that once they graduate they will be excellent leaders in business, quality fathers and husbands. I think you’ll find that they will be successful in whatever endeavor they aspire to.”

 

On the quarterbacks not speaking to the media…

“I really have given thought to only allowing them to be comfortable in their competition and relax and not have to deal with the scrutiny of the perimeter. I really just want them to plan to handle the plays that are called and enjoy the back end of their senior year. I’m sure there will be plenty of time for them to talk later in the season. Right now I just want them to focus on the games.”

 

On stopping Tyler Wilson…

“You want to cover and make sure those receivers are covered. Then you like to get in his backfield just as often as you can. The good thing is that we think we have guys that can do that. Certainly that will be a challenge.”

 

On experiences with Garrett Uekman…

“He visited here and we thought the world of him. He conducted himself very well on our campus and I recall he came here with his mother. Again, it is very unfortunate. Death is never timely and certainly is most difficult when you are young.”

 

On the team’s kick coverage unit…

“Both return teams that Arkansas has are very talented. They have an ability to take the ball back. On the punt return and kick off return they do a great job of blocking and setting up those returns. The good news is that we have fast guys on that team for us. That will be a nice matchup. We will hopefully have a number of our punt team down there covering those kicks and those punts very well.”

 

On the big plays Arkansas can execute…

“We’re certainly concerned about big plays in any secondary. We think that our guys will be back. We’re not concerned about the lack of experience there in any way. We have a number of ways to go if we need. Right now we’d like to think that Reid will be back in the center of the secondary.”

 

On controlling the clock…

“As long as we have the ball and are efficient moving the football, that is a great advantage for us. That is something that plays into all three phases. When you have the ball you have to keep it moving and take some time of the clock and score. Let the defense go play defense and make it difficult for them to move the football. Play dominant on special teams and this team wins.”

 

On what Arkansas has done to keep games close…

“I think it is a very competitive matchup and one that is close by the nature of the teams. It will be a very competitive game again this Friday.”

 

On kneeing the ball four times against Ole Miss on the goal line…

“I think Zach really just didn’t get the hand off there and decided he needed to take it himself considering all the blocking was set up to the left. With that being said, that position down there pretty tight did not allow us to just run plays. The need then to make a decision of do we want to score this touchdown or not was imminent on the one yard line. We took a timeout to not take a five-yard penalty. We then sat on it. WE had victory and frankly did not need to make that point anymore. We really enjoyed the competition with Ole Miss and Houston Nutt. Once again the game was decided and I felt enough was enough. I only have one decision to make and that is for my team. I am not going to give great thought to how other people see it. For me, that was the right call.”

 

On LSU’s quarterback play…

“I just think that Jefferson started so hot and really was in control. He understood the plan and did the things we asked him to do. We really didn’t want to take him out of the game. We wanted to get Lee more reps, but certainly wanted to keep the good fortune that the starter was having.”

 

On the senior leadership in the secondary…

“I think that Brandon Taylor is that guy that puts everything together for us in the secondary. Ron Brooks is a guy that can step in and play at a very high level. Ron is really a starter. He is a guy that really can play corner and on special teams unit. He is one of those guys that when he is called upon to play, he really enjoys his time and wants snaps. With that being said, he’s made the most of them.”

 

On the BCS…

“I have to be real honest with you. I have not been able to internalize any of that. I can tell you one thing. We’re going to play this very talented team in our stadium on Friday. We’re going to enjoy preparing for them and looking forward to the matchup. Frankly, it is one of those games that you look forward to playing.”

 

On Joey Crappell…

“Joey came in and basically said, ‘I’m just going to compete for this thing. I want to stay here and I want to be here for this thing. I am an LSU guy from Louisiana.’ He stepped in and was the back up snapper when he first arrived and continued to compete while he got better. He made the position his. He really has consistently eye balled what needs to be done in special teams in his spot. People would identify his job as very important, key and instrumental. The idea that he is the snapper and has that job that nobody knows his name, is a wonderful thing and is a great character builder for his job. Knowing that it is going to be done well, not having to know his name is really an advantage for his team. He is a leader and one of my unity council guys. There is an example and I have told him this. He will have great success outside of football. He will go to some business or some opportunity and do a great job. He will do better than that an employee or employer would have asked him to. I think Joey’s leadership also gives him some stature that might be misconstrued as wisdom.” 

On the strength of the SEC West…

“We have a good division. I think it is a compliment to the member institutions in the West. We have a very talented group of teams, but it is all about Friday for us.”

SOME hither, others yon: While contract negotiations probably haven't gone as well as the two sides have hoped, there is not much at this point that can stop Brees from becoming paid as one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL...It doesn't look like Rich Rodriguez will return to Tulane, and the Green Wave's focus is now on former Minnesota coach Tim Brewster. Rodriquez had a successful run at West Virginia, but didn't fit in at Michigan. His scheme didn't translate to sucess in the Big Ten and it probably wouldn't mesh in the SEC. But there will be job openings at BCS programs at season's end and Rich Rod should be on the short list of at least a few of them. His name is still hot...

 Alabama would just as soon not play for the SEC championship because the Crimson Tide already has what they want. Even if Arkansas beats LSU,  for Alabama to win the tiebreaker and qualify for the SEC Championshjip Game,  No. 3 Arkansas would have tops No. 1 LSU in the BCS standings, and there's no guarantee to that. Let's say Alabama beats Auburn on Saturday, theTide would surely be sitting No. 2 in the BCS rankings with one week to go. But the team that represents the West in the SEC Championship Game, would have to face Georgia, which hasn't lost since Sept. 10, and would have to do it in the Georgia Dome. Alabama would already have a berth in the BCS title game, so why risk losing?...Dumb Sports Quote: "My sister's expecting a baby, and I don't know if I'm going to be an uncle or aunt." -- Chuck Nevitt. (If you aren't sure Chuck, I'm not sure the rest of us can be much help.)

by Ed Staton

(Visit Louisiana Sports Talk for your Saints, LSU jerseys)

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Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography.  

 

Website: www.louisianasportstalk.com

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