After dominating Texas A&M Saturday 34-10, LSU head coach Les Miles talked about the victory, Arkansas, Senior Day, Tiger Stadium and much more.
Here's the head coach's transcript from Monday's press conference:
COACH MILES: Happy Thanksgiving. Did it come quickly? I don't know what happened. I don't know how it happened. I mean, really, it just seemed like months flew by and suddenly ‑‑ maybe it didn't where you're at but where I'm at, it just (snapping fingers) happened so fast. We have a lot to be thankful for: The health of our families, relationships that we've built over time. I think we all need to take stock.
This is Senior Day, as well. I can tell that you every time that I go to a final home contest, and I turn to say good‑bye to seniors that have been involved in the style of seasons that we've had, the hard work that they have put in; it's sometimes very tough to say good‑bye.
The fifth‑year seniors: Been a part of 51 wins, an SEC title, 13‑0 regular season and in 2011 played in the National Championship Game. Fourth‑year seniors been a part of 42 wins, again, SEC title and 13 regular season victories.
These classes continue to raise the bar for future classes that come to LSU. Very proud of these guys. Going to miss them.
So kind of recap the A&M game, watching Tre'Davious White and Rashard Robinson be named Players of the Game was really a wonderful piece for them. Certainly their team lets you know that we need to cover and we need to do some things to implement in a game plan that our guys can step in and play.
Minus the 11 penalties, I think that may well have been one of the more complete games that we've played. I felt that John Chavis did a magnificent job in implementing what we needed to stop a very, very talented A&M offense, and I want to say there were five three‑and‑outs and two picks. When you have that kind of defense, certainly, you're going to have an opportunity at victory.
Really enjoyed how our players took to the challenge. Look forward to it greatly, and for that, Rashard Robinson was SEC freshman Player of the Week for his contribution. Certainly he was really on Mike Evans a lot of the day and he was a great, great receiver and I thought they completed extremely well.
Offensively, we needed to be efficient and Coach Cameron did a great job in calling the game and implementing a game plan that allowed to us do just that. Challenged the team to be a 300‑yard rushing day. Certainly it was. When you hold the ball for 40 minutes, and of that 40 minutes that you hold the ball, 23 of those came in the second half. So you have the ball 23 of 30 minutes in the second half, it really gives your opponent very little chance at mounting a comeback.
Offensively, we scored 34 points, 517 total yards, 324 yards rushing and 193 yards passing. Terrence Magee was the Offensive Player of the Week in the SEC, and again, rushed for a career‑high 149. Just seems that he's got a real diagnosis to play. Hits the hole, runs hard. Really runs with ball security.
Four backs touched the ball and I think they all played extremely well. The offensive line gave up no sacks and was a part ‑‑ contributed very greatly in the running game, and I thought that Zach threw the ball well. We didn't necessarily ‑‑ the style of game, he had to make some plays on third down, but we gave him some opportunities on first, as well. I thought he threw the ball well. I thought our guys caught the ball well. Considering the conditions, I thought that that was very significant.
The Arkansas team is a very good football team. They are a team that has talent and they are a team that can run the football and they are a defense that flies to the ball, as well. Coach Bielema has done a great job at getting them to play. They play hard every week.
They are a very specific challenge. Our football team will go no further than watching their film to figure out that they are very capable and that we are going to have to play well.
I hope that the stands are full and that they enjoy a Friday afternoon game in Tiger Stadium and make plenty of noise and celebrate that Thanksgiving meal that they just had by sitting in that stadium and enjoying the company of friends and family in the efforts of a fine football team.
Q. When you recruited Terrence out of Franklinton High School, obviously every guy you recruit, you have a vision for where you would like to see them as a junior or senior production‑wise. Has he given what you thought he would give you at this point in his career? And my second question is: Assuming you get two more wins to close out the season, what would a ten‑win season mean in your mind for this program? What does it signify?
COACH MILES: Terrence coming out of Franklinton was a leader, was the offensive Player of the Year in the state. Came from a state championship program. Was tough‑minded, disciplined and very talented. Really was not a tailback and you just could watch him run and know that he could do that. Yeah, he's probably exceeded my expectations.
To be honest, I always thought he could run like he could run and I've always thought that he could gain yards. Don't get me wrong. My expectations of him were very high. But what he's done in special teams and how he conducts his business and who he is as a person, those kind of guys, they make this football team special.
Basically what you ask Terrence Magee, is, hey, Terrence, I need you to do this. He says, "Yes, Coach, "and he just does it and does it with everything that he has and every ability and talent. I think he adds to this team greatly.
I really don't want to get into what happens if and when, okay. I certainly understand the opportunity to win the ninth game and how important the ninth game is; and to understand that this is a western division opponent and a very talented one and one that's playing better and better. Our guys understand that. We're going to have to play a very quality game and be competitive and fight.
So that being said, I don't want to go to ten wins and Bowl games and all those things. Joe Alleva is in the back of the room; he's taking care of all that business, and I'm good with that. I know this; that with victories opens opportunities, and it's just that simple. We're going to pursue that victory as hard as we can.
Q. With Coach Bielema in his first year at Arkansas, do you still get excited getting to take on a new competitor for the first time? And what are some of the difficulties of having to prepare for a coach you've never seen before like that?
COACH MILES: Well, you can see a lot on film, and you can tell that teams are well prepared, offense, defense and special teams. He has a little different slant on how he sees things. You can tell he's a very talented coach, very capable. Provides very specific challenges to us.
And yeah, the first time you see a coach, there's some excitement. But we've always kind of ‑‑ here, got more excited about how the team plays, and they play pretty good. That Arkansas team's talented.
Q. With Friday's game being the final home game for the seniors and also a handful of juniors who may declare, what's the message to the younger players, if it is their last game at Tiger Stadium, as well?
COACH MILES: Well, I don't get the ‑‑ if this is your last, because I suspect that that decision is made later, so I'm not giving that talk.
I am giving the talk that with 15 seniors, that the responsibility of every underclassman ‑‑ I've never come to this game where the seniors didn't play best; that they recognized that this is their last time. And that I have always really challenged the underclassmen to play to that level, to play alongside the seniors; the ones that will lead you, you play like they play.
We have generally done that. It's kind of been my feel for the day.
Q. You're used to playing this Arkansas game on a Friday and next year you'll finish the regular season at Texas A&M on a Thursday. If it were up to you and you had your druthers, would you want to play these non‑Saturday games?
COACH MILES: I like the traditional week. It's one of those things that a coach can get used to, the schedule.
But I also have been around short weeks and I've been around, you know, Thursday games, as well as Friday games. So basically you do the things that you've done, do you it in an abbreviated fashion and you prepare a team to take the field.
So obviously there's not a lot of time to get health back, and if you've lost health in that game, especially for that Thursday game.
New challenge. I think our guys look forward to it. It's a, let's‑play‑quicker kind of thing.
Q. After hearing from the players Saturday night, how much of what we saw Saturday was about pride, and how much or which guys did maybe you see that in the days and weeks leading up to the game?
COACH MILES: I think our football team is very proud of what they have done and how they have operated in this season. I think there's been disappointments, but I think there's been very high watermarks, as well. I think Saturday was something that, you know, individually, they kind of pointed at it and said, listen, it's important to us; let's play well. And all they have to do is play well, and generally, we'll all certainly love the outcome.
Yeah, I think it was something that they will look back on in their time and talk about that game: A Heisman Trophy‑winning team and a team that was really good on offense and the necessity to do what we did and how they pulled together to do that; that experience, in my opinion, will be something that they will use the rest of the season.
Q. There's a lot of energy on the sidelines. One of your assistants was jumping around like a crazy guy all game. Was that something specific to the game to give some life to the team and do you feel that ‑‑ Anthony said you relaxed the rules, let them pick their own music. Is that something that you will use going forward?
COACH MILES: Pick their own music? Was that ‑‑ you think the stadium music was unusually different? Not to me. And in the locker room ‑‑ yeah, I don't know exactly what Anthony's in reference to.
But I'm certain that we've allowed guys to pick music for some of our motivational videos in the past. I think that's probably what it's in reference to. Yeah, that's fine. I think the energy in that game was based on our want to play, period.
Q. With the season nearing its end and given what happened after last season when your defense was disseminated by all the early defections, have you taken a different approach to talk to players about making those decisions? Are you concentrating on it a little bit more so you don't lose maybe guys that you could convince to stay?
COACH MILES: Yeah, I think it's always going to be their decision, and I think their friends and family certainly have input.
The thing that we have done, we have kind of suggested that the advice that they get back from the NFL be taken into account and that they need to give vision to what's accomplished, what can be accomplished here, what can be accomplished there, and the reasonable chance of staying there is how important that is, as opposed to getting there with possibly an early departure.
And again, I think that's a personal decision and it's one that, frankly, we'll be used as a recourse and we'll certainly give our opinion. But it's really their call.
Q. Does it change ‑‑
COACH MILES: Yeah, I have to be very honest with you. I thought that I have been forthcoming with information, just as often and as quick as I can get it. I don't know that I've change a minute, not a second.
So I think there's a different consciousness, if you will, based on the guys that departed and the experiences that they had, than I think that there has to be their personal position to be taken into account. So I don't know collectively if you can do it. I think it's ‑‑ each guy is rendered a differing opinion, and each guy has personal criteria that he holds significant.
So I can tell you that I have been as animated and as opinionated and as forthcoming as I could possibly be, and frankly, it's their decision.
Q. Talk about the satisfaction for the entire coaching staff when you put in a game plan players learn it, and you watch it be implemented and executed as well as Saturday; it almost has to be like a teacher seeing a class respond well.
COACH MILES: It's a piece for the program. You know, it's something that those that contribute to our program, whether they are a trainer, an equipment man, a coach, a great performer, player; a guy that plays in anonymity and nobody knows his name; that's the kind of victory and the kind of game plan that you look around and you go, okay, that's what this means. That's the recipe.
It's one that, you know, collectively, the program can recognize. That's just how we do this. It's a great time for Jack Marucci and Shelly Mullenix and Andy Barker and that group and Greg Stringfellow to say, hey, this is my team, and how wonderful it is to have moments like that.
Q. I wanted to ask you about one of your seniors, James Wright, maybe not as involved in the offense has he has been in years past. But a fan told me earlier this year, it seems like no matter what, he's always down there on the special teams and making tackles on kickoffs and punts and everything.
COACH MILES: James Wright is a guy that you look for to finding something in a game plan that's specific to him.
We like him. He is a hard‑working, motivated, very talented guy, and we're looking for ways to get him on the field in a variety of positions. And so guys that have the spirit and the want and the ‑‑ it's like high school practice in certain guys practice to a very high level, and certain guys are moderate in their approach.
He's a guy who flies around, who is working his technique so that when he gets to the game, they can play, and play extremely well, and for me, he's a great lesson to many people.
But that's why. That's why he has in my opinion, evolved in, again, coaching staff and offense, defense ‑‑ not defense necessarily; although, his name was mentioned in last week's game plan. That's just how we're looking at him. He's good and we enjoy him.
Q. You have a chance to finish unbeaten at home for the fourth time in five years. You've said things in the past like this is where Tiger Stadium where opponents dreams go to die and other things about how tough it is to play in Tiger Stadium. Do you consciously want those things to filter back to your opponents do you want them to hear you say things like that about playing in Tiger Stadium?
COACH MILES: I don't ‑‑ I don't really buy what the opponent's head coach or ‑‑ excuse me, what I would say to an opponent there. I think it's just what happens and it's a fact. It's based on fan base and based on, I just made an observation. It's not necessarily what I say.
COACH MILES: It is a great place to play for the home team. It's a place where the fan base comes in and they are tide very closely to that team. And every play that takes place, there's a cheer and a groan and a want for victory, and it's a place that when we take the field in Tiger Stadium, generally the crowd feels like we're fixing to wear somebody out, and the football team tries to play to that expectation.
Q. Stepping away from football for a second, what's your favorite dish at Thanksgiving, and why?
COACH MILES: I am the easiest man to please when it comes to food.
I have to be honest; I think it's definitely the turkey with a warm gravy. Maybe it's the last spoon or fork of food on the plate, you know, that has a little bit of salt and pepper and maybe a little bit of the turkey and gravy and some of the stuffing that would be there and maybe just a smidgen of that cranberry stuff, right. Not like a big ‑‑ not like an overwhelm, the last bite. But that right there, oh, my goodness; that last bite's worth a lot.
I might add that the turkey sandwich with mayonnaise, mustard and onions and a little salad and a little lettuce kind of makes for good eating later, too, doesn't it.
Wish you hadn't mentioned that. I haven't had my lunch yet.
Q. Going back to Coach Bielema, with you and Alabama in his division, he comes in and he's trying to build a program that does things a lot like you guys do; physical, runs the football. Do you think it's easier or more difficult considering you guys are there, when you look at the success that Malzahn is having at Auburn and comes with a different approach.
COACH MILES: I think every guy approaches his program how his style of play ‑‑ I think that being true to yourself more than anything is what you're looking to do. And it's not necessarily, I'm looking to accommodate other styles of play in the league, or to be different, to be different than other styles of play in the league.
So I just think it's be true to yourself and I'm certain that he's doing that.
Q. You've been very emotional the couple of times we've mentioned Senior Day. What do you remember from your last game at Michigan and your Senior Day?
COACH MILES: We ran out underneath a banner that says the alumni association supports you. You got your name called aloud and you looked in a crowd where your father and mother sat, and it was a cold day in November, and it was a wonderful time in Michigan Stadium for those seniors that would graduate.
That was the last time that I played in Michigan Stadium and that's really the similarity of Senior Day here. The similarity is this will be the last time that they will play at Tiger Stadium, and it will be emotional for a number of guys, I promise.
Q. Is Beckham going to be held out a little bit for his back and is he going to be all right for the game?
COACH MILES: It's a contusion. I think there's a quality bruise back there, and I think we're probably going to give him some time. Although, he's the kind of guy that loves to get out and practice. He's a great practice player. We'll have to hold him back some.
Q. Connor gets to the fifth year of eligibility, he's been playing a lot of snaps, certainly more than J.C. the last game; his development and what can he mean to the future of the program next year?
COACH MILES: I think Connor is a guy a lot like Terrence Magee who basically says, how can I help, what do you want me to do. And then whatever you give him to do, he does it as well as he can. He is a physical participant, both in the kickoff, kickoff return, and offense.
I think that it's wonderful that he's got a another year. He's a guy that came on as a non‑scholarship player, and really just fit in and worked hard and continued to improve. There was a time where we would say, I don't know if he's quite big enough to do that, and now he's not only big enough, strong enough and fast enough.
So we are thrilled with the extra year and I think that it just allows us to carry over a lot of knowledge from that position from one year to the next.