LSU head coach Les Miles was unusually subdued in his weekly press conference Monday in Baton Rouge – humbly shouldering all of the blame for the Tigers surprising 27-24 loss to Ole Miss Saturday in Oxford.
Miles says LSU was the better team, but that he failed properly prepare his players for a battered Ole Miss team missing 9 starters.
“I really felt like the players gave great effort and there are a number of reasons why we didn’t win that game but in my opinion, it’s me,” Miles said. “I did not get it across to them, I made the points, I spoke the words, but I need to teach better. I challenge myself that way. It’s hard to admit as the coach of a team that’s best and better that they finished second and I’m doing that today.”
LSU has now tumbled down out of the AP Top 10 to No. 13.
One thing Miles would change – convince his Tigers that they don’t need to make every play and force things.
Example: quarterback Zach Mettenberger had just one touchdown and three interceptions, completing 19 of 33 passes for 274 yards.
“When you watch the film you see a quarterback trying to win the game who made three or four throws he shouldn’t have thrown,” Miles said. “All we have to do is fit into the scheme, do the things you need to do and check it down or make the play that’s just described, and we’re good.”
Miles is confident the Tigers will recover. They’ll probably achieve that more quickly than not since LSU hosts Furman for Homecoming this Saturday.
“One thing about this program and the teams that I’ve been fortunate to represent, they have all had great confidence and swagger,” Miles said. “They go out and they play within the scheme, within the play that’s called with great confidence and with great ability. That’s all they needed to do. If they would have done that on Saturday, we’d all be very fortunate.”
However, Miles is saying all the right things to make sure his Tigers don’t overlook the challenge against Furman.
“They’re a very capable team. They’re tough. They play hard,” Miles said. “There are guys on that team that could play for any SEC team that we play. I just want our guys to know they’re not the best team that we’ve played, but they can play very, very well. We’re going to have to play well to beat them.”
LSU is one of the lucky handful of programs where, for fans and players, the season centers on making it to the national championship game, not a bowl game or a winning record.
Those chances are now much dimmer after LSU’s second loss of the season, but Miles says he doesn’t expect motivation to be a problem.
“Our guys are ‑‑ they’re ambitious,” Miles said. “I think they’re in a lesser position than they could be today, and they recognize it. I can’t imagine that they won’t want to play hard. This football team has the ability to win and play against any team remaining on our schedule, and we need to recognize that. We need to play like that, and frankly, that’s what gets me up and sends me to the building every day.”