Tuesday, 19 October 2010 07:11
Les Miles: LSU Tigers Will Play Lee, Jefferson At QB Against Auburn
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LSU coach Les Miles said the Tigers (5 1/2- point underdogs) will alternate Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson when two undefeated teams, Auburn and LSU, collide on Saturday at The Plains.

The winner will take sole possession of first place in the SEC Western Division and will have an eye on the BCS championship game in Glendale. Here's what Miles told the media on Monday at his weekly news conference:

Opening Statement …
“We look forward to preparing this week. There is a lot of enthusiasm and energy coming out of the building that I work in. We look forward to preparing for a very capable Auburn team. Certainly at this point in the season, being 7-0 and No. 6 in the BCS is all well and good, but it really is about the next game.


“I felt like we did some good things with McNeese, and I felt like McNeese played very well. I thought they prepared and really gave us their best shot, and I commend their effort. We did some good things. We ran the football and we got some young guys some snaps. I was really encouraged by the performance of Michael Ford. I felt that we are looking for some guys to step in there behind (Richard) Murphy and (Stevan) Ridley, and some of those young guys may well have the opportunity to take snaps as we go forward. We got 10 touches to Russell Shepard, and anytime you do that it is going to benefit us. We felt that screen pass may well have been one of those questionable ‘right on the border’ calls would have added to his total. Both quarterbacks played, but they didn’t play perfect. I still believe that we need both skill sets and we need both quarterbacks. Whether we change the order or if we don’t change the order I truly do not think is of any importance. Both of them have played and both have played well against this opponent. The last two games we have played Auburn both quarterbacks have had good experiences.

“Offensively as a team we cannot turn the ball over in the short field and put that kind of pressure on our defense. I think we understand that. We did eliminate some penalties which is a nice sign, and I think we are heading in the right direction in those counts. It’s interesting that Patrick Peterson is such a good return man with the punt, they kick a bounding ball and he needs to relay the information and he is responsible to come up and field the punt. When the ball hits the ground and he isn’t going to receive the ball he has to echo that so everyone in that area would understand that we are getting an unusual bounce and need to clear this area. I don’t know if he made it but if he did he didn’t make it loud. That is something we can address pretty comfortably and feel like we will.

“The defense continues to play extremely well. They are the No. 1 defense in the conference. Drake Nevis and Kelvin Sheppard are having the kind of years that would lead to national awards. Both guys are team players and both guys are very much about the play of our team. I feel very comfortable recommending both for any and all national awards that they might qualify for.

“In special teams we asked them to get better in their coverage units. We felt like they did, more specifically with technique. I think we will be challenged greatly this week against Auburn. Their return team seems to be very productive.

“Auburn is ranked fourth in the BCS. They are undefeated, and there is great history between the two schools. It always seems to come down to a very close and competitive game. We recognize that this is a much improved Auburn team, and any team that can score 65 points in ball game is certainly going to be a great challenge defending. Cam Newton, as you see him progress through the season, is a dominant a football player as he has an intuitive way of running it and throwing it. I think they give him plenty of leeway to make decisions on the field and he does a great job. They have a great young running back in Michael Dyer and a receiving core that is very good and talented led by Darvin Adams. They have a good offensive line, and they are a very good offense. Beside Cam Newton, they have talent in all phases of that offense, but Cam Newton makes it work. Defensively they are allowing 360 yards, and to me, a lot of their yards are given up after the lead is secured, and they are really kind of managing the opponent’s offense. I think that Auburn defense is very talented and plays like they need to play to ensure a victory for Auburn. We will be challenged there as well. They have a very good kicker in Wes Byrum, and he rarely misses field goals. This game will have a lot to do with the SEC West. It is certainly important; we look forward to it. I can tell you there is a smile on the face of our guys as we go to work to recognize technique and assignments. The business of football might be a little more important this week.”

On the two-quarterback system…
“We need both skill sets, and we enjoy the fact that both guys will develop. I just watched the film where we scored 31 points against last year’s Auburn team when No. 9 (Jordan Jefferson) was the quarterback the entire day. The year before, No. 12 (Jarrett Lee) was the quarterback, so I like what we’re doing. I think we are going to stay that way. I think there is time for this to play out. I think both guys are benefitting right now from the fact that they understand their role, and I think we’ll continue to go that way.”

On playing the young guys against McNeese State…
“J.C. Copeland is, in my opinion, a tremendous young player and a guy who will play significant football from this point forward. I think we burned his redshirt with the idea that we wanted to get him some playing time before some of the bigger games on our schedule, and he responded very well. He’ll get some playing time in this game against Auburn. I think Luke Muncie is also playing significantly, and Justin Maclin is the most recent freshman that we took his year. We just think as thin as we are at (defensive) end and as capable as he is, again, these guys we are planning on playing in each game.”

On how conservative the offensive game plan was against McNeese State…
“It’s going to be a combination of those things certainly. There are some things we didn’t call in the McNeese game plan. It was something that we wanted to manage certain reps. We probably were a little heavy in some personnel groups where we aren’t naturally that way. What we’ll do is we’ll put together what we feel is the best plan against Auburn and let it play.”

On what makes this group of true freshmen special…
“They don’t play like freshmen. They’ve come really to campus to compete, and they’ve competed really right away. They show in how they pursue it in practice, and their want in how they pursue it in the game that they are deserving. Our veterans at the beginning of the year told them that we expect young guys to play like veterans, and they have. I think that this freshman class will win a lot of football games in their time.”

On if J.C. Copeland will get more snaps along with fullback James Stampley…
“I like Stampley. Don’t get me wrong. We are in no way saying that’s in any way an issue. It’s just that we want to continue to develop a guy there that will give us some advantages, and he will. If you watched him going into the game, he went in there with great enthusiasm. It’s fun for a coach to see a guy get his first reps and go at it with as much want as he did. Now that we can get him settled down, he will go to the right guy next time.”

On who will simulate Auburn QB Cameron Newton in practice this week…
“I don’t think you really stop a guy like that. I think you try to contain him, and you have to tackle crisply. You have to get more than one guy to the ball. It has to be a bunch of LSU helmets, and I think that will be the push. I don’t know who will have to demonstrate the skills that he has. He runs hard. He gives a blow like a fullback. He’s elusive like a tailback, and he has a great touch on the ball. As capable as he is running, he’s also that capable throwing. He makes great decisions with the ball in his hand. Legitimately, he’s a Heisman contender.”

On if he is concerned with the depth at offensive line considering that he has not substituted much there…
“I’m not necessarily concerned with the depth. We wanted to really see some of those young players and have the ability for them to play well. We wanted to see Michael Ford have some success, and we wanted to see a J.C. Copeland have the hole defined for him so that he would understand his responsibilities. That was really the reason. We didn’t feel like we had that kind of game where it was too much of a burden on a veteran line, so we kind of stayed with them for a while.”

On how T-Bob Hebert taking over at right guard has affected the entire line…
“I think the veteran mindset that T-Bob possesses has really helped the right side. I think he and Alex Hurst have enjoyed the ability to communicate about the scheme, and I think he brings a very aggressive mindset to his position and to his play. We look forward to that continuing.”

On the ‘sporadic’ passing game…
“Some of which is the situation in the game and one, to manage the game effectively and controlling the ball on the ground. Certainly you’d like to throw the football better than we have. In the McNeese game, I would have certainly thought we would have hit a post or two, but they did a great job. Sometimes you have to give credit to the opponent. They did a good job defending us. We’d like to throw the football better. I guarantee you we are practicing it well.”

On the pressure to respond after Auburn’s offense scores…
“You’re going to be able to do the things that you can do, and I think we’re talented enough when called upon to have the passing game operate. I think that will happen. I think when called upon to control the ball on the ground, that’s certainly the piece that we also have to continue to do. When you get into a game against your best opponents, you’re certainly challenged best. We’ll certainly see how it matches up.”

On if he is eager to watch LSU Defensive Coordinator John Chavis match wits with Auburn Offensive Coordinator Gus Malzahn…
“I think the Auburn offense is a very, very explosive offense and really takes advantage of the field, both wide and inside. The quarterback can throw it and run it. I think it will be exciting. I think it will be a great matchup. I think our defense will be looking forward to it, and I know John Chavis is as well.”

On if he feels throwing the football with Jordan Jefferson at this point is a good idea…
“We’re seeing the ability to throw the football in practice. It just needs to manifest itself in the game. It needs to show up. I think both quarterbacks will eventually get there. It would be timely certainly this weekend.”

On the injury status of Joe Barksdale and if there will be in change in personnel when running the option…
“I think Joe Barksdale is fine. He’ll practice today. I don’t think we’ll miss him in any way. I think we didn’t execute once and hit three for 10-plus yards. I don’t know that the personnel will change much.”

On comparisons of Cam Newton to Tim Tebow…
“I thought Tim Tebow was one of a kind, and I think Cam Newton is one of a kind. He has speed and size, runs hard, is very competitive and he just seems to make good decisions with the ball in his hand, whether it is to throw or when to run. I think the coaches have given him a lot of leeway for a young player, and certainly he’s very comfortable. He’s very talented.”

On if the two-quarterback system has helped keep QB Jarrett Lee focused…
“I think that Jarrett Lee is really improving. I think the position that he’s in right now, he enjoys coming in and contributing like he is contributing. I don’t think we are really trying to reign him in, in any way. I just think we are trying to allow the development to continue and to do so that would benefit our football team, but he’ll have his chances. I promise you, and we look forward to those. We think he’s improved, and again, I think it will all play out.”

“I don’t think there is any question with both guys knowing that they are going to get on the field, they are both responsible to the game plan. They are both responsible to the style of plays that we are going to call with them in the game. I just think it’s healthy. Would like to have one guy? Yes, but honestly I like the two that we have. They just need to continue to improve, and knowing that they are both going to see action gives them great incentive to do so.”

On if he tries to downplay how significant this game is to the team…
“I can tell you that games are meant to be played with a natural enthusiasm, some want, some ambition to take the lead and win. I think to minimize that is wrong. I don’t think that you’ll find that anybody in our building will see it any differently. We work very hard. Our team, our guys, our players, they spend it and they come off the practice field wet from sweat. I think these weeks are why you come to school at LSU. If you don’t enjoy playing an undefeated opponent on the road in the SEC, then maybe you should have picked another school. I think our guys all look forward to this style of game. I think this game will be the kind of game that we play best in.”

On Auburn defensive lineman Nick Fairley…
“Nick Fairley is a big guy out of Mobile. We recruited him and looked at him very, very closely. He has really improved. He is a big, strong, very capable man. He has quickness, and he was a dynamic high school basketball player. He is a 300-pounder that is athletic and a very, very capable man. We’ll have to know where he’s at and make sure we are blocking him well.”

On having to be more aggressive offensively if they fall behind to Auburn…
“We are going to recognize that we may need to score some points in this game, but that’s what we try to do in every game, and we are going to work in the same way that we have, aggressively as needed certainly. Any time you play a real quality opponent, the match is the key. If our defense can play well as it has played, our offense now has to match their defense, and that will be a nice matchup as well. I think we’ll do well on special teams, and how it plays out will be for us all to see.”

On what Mississippi State did well to control Auburn’s offense…
“I think Mississippi State tackled extremely well. They held the ball on offense. They moved the ball on the ground and did not necessarily turn it right back to Auburn. Very early in the year, I felt like Mississippi State was up to that challenge and played well.”

On if he has seen similarities to how LSU’s and Auburn’s seasons have unfolded…
“I don’t think either one of us are looking for any greater respect at this point. It’s all about the game at hand, and I think Auburn is a very talented team. They’ve won in close games, and that’s a great characteristic of a team. We obviously have the same characteristics, so it’s going to be a heck of a matchup. I don’t know if a ranking makes a hill of beans right now. It’s all about just winning the game at hand.”

On the running game playing up to expectations against Auburn…
“We have to move the chains. Whether it’s run or pass, we have to be efficient. The good news is we’re healthy, we brought another fullback to bear and we should be able to do the things we’ve done.”

On if he is surprised to be undefeated at this point in the season…
“I anticipated that a season could go the way it’s gone. I felt like the freshman class was going to have to come in and play big, and they did. The quarterback position is going to continue to evolve, and certainly if it does, we’ll be happy there, but any different outcome will always be based on how the SEC team does in their conference. We are playing in the (SEC) West, and if you look around, there are some great teams in that Western division. If you hold serve, if you can win out, if you get to the championship game and you win it in this conference, I will stand right there and defend that team’s right to play for a national championship every time, but I think it’s way early for us to make any statement along those lines. I can only tell you that it’s one game at a time and a long way to go.”

On playing ball control offense against Auburn…
“You are going to have to throw the football. We are going to be balanced. We are going to come to the line of scrimmage with the ability to throw it. We are also going to have to depend on the running game at certain times, but that’s it. There is no difference. That’s the same offense that we are trying to coach, and we are going to get coached, and we’ll see on Saturday.”

On what Auburn head coach Gene Chizik has done to make Auburn special…
“I think coach Chizik has done a great job. Certainly the addition of Cam Newton to the offense has just been a tremendous piece. Everything that they do on offense, defense and special teams is well prepared and well coached. They are giving their players by scheme every opportunity to win. Coach Chizik has done a great job.”

by Ed Staton

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