AP: Coaches Look Ahead to LSU, Alabama Game

AP VIDEO: Head coaches Les Miles of No. 1 LSU and Nick Saban of 2nd-ranked Alabama look ahead to Saturday’s eagerly anticipated matchup. Below you will find a transcript of Les Miles Monday press conference. You can see the entire video of Alabama football coach Nick Saban and read the transcript of his press conference here.

Transcript of LSU Football Coach Les Miles previewing the big game with Alabama. (Transcript courtesy of SEC an LSU Media Relations)
The open week kind of hit us just right. I felt like the team needed a little bit of a break and they got fresh. They did a bit of work on rehabilitation, weight strength development and certainly had some very fundamental practices. I think the coaches needed a nice weekend. I watched football all weekend minus a soccer game, and here is how it went. Friday night I went to high school football. I watched three prospects: Kragthorpe, Cooper and Miles. It was the University High Cubs game, I hope this is not an NCAA violation, but I noticed Kragthorpe to Miles and I feel that this is a good tendency. On Saturday morning I watched Ben my 13 year old, a dominant youth football player by all accounts. The U High Cubs and Ben’s team are undefeated. Saturday morning before I saw Ben play, I saw Macy who is taking place in soccer and is part of an undefeated soccer team. I like the position of my family as I do my team.

Again the feel that this team has, they have the right mental and physical approach to big game. They are looking forward to working hard and preparing. We take some advantages into the game. We recognize that we are playing a real quality opponent. Our defense will be challenged against a potent running and passing attack. Trent Richardson and AJ McCarron are very efficient and dominant players. Their defense is statistically as good as there is. We like the matchup. We think this will be a great challenge to our guys and a game of note. Any time you get into a game that is a big game, the piece that you want to do is to allow your guys to focus and prepare. That can be a distraction from within or a distraction from the perimeter. It is my job to eliminate any of that. I would like to minimize the media requirement on my players. I will understand the responsibility on me in that way. I want our guys to continue doing what they have been doing. I want them going out to practice wide-eyed, playing hard, having fun and playing as well as they are capable of. I think that is enough.

On interviews Miles gave as a player: No one wanted to interview me when I was playing. Are you kidding me? Did you check my career? I traveled and played. They didn’t need to talk to me. I wasn’t nearly articulate as Russell Shepard or nearly as a capable of T-Bob Hebert. I was a team guy that wanted to contribute. They didn’t really ask me my opinion. I would’ve given it to them.

On both LSU and Alabama running conventional offenses: When you have advantages of personnel those are the things you try to do. There is not necessarily a necessity to outman your opponent. You can play. It allows you a comfort of play call and fundamental that allows you to execute extremely well. That is probably the similarities between the two teams.

On the psyche going into big games: Since I’ve been here and not necessarily through my doing has enjoyed all the glare of the lights of the big stage and the opportunity to play for a very significant victory. The thing that I do and the way I look at this thing, once I have prepared the team and I feel like I have done a quality job, I want them to play with a freedom. Read their keys and do the things they are supposed to do. At that point in time when we play, go make that play. For me, I have great anxiety and worry all the time until about 10 minutes before the game. At 10 minutes before the game, I feel like I have said the things I needed to say. I talk to the quarterback, the safety or the guy that I feel might need my piece of information. Than it is time to play. I enjoy that feel if you will.

On managing the two quarterbacks: I don’t know if it is my management skill in any way. I think it has to do with guys that recognize that they are part of a whole and realize that their contribution is significant. Whoever is on the field roots for the one taking the snaps and whoever is off the field is involved as that guy who is taking the snaps. I think it is the character of the kids and the young men that I am fortunate to coach and represent that has allowed that to happen.

On the game itself: How wonderful it is in college football that you have two quality teams that represent two great institutions that will take their best effort to the field to decide something that is difficult, clean and pure as a contest. How wonderful it is for the region to be able to look and enjoy the time of celebration of hard work and team values. The school wins, the team wins and the state wins. It is a beautiful time. I am very fortunate to have such a great institution to represent and I look forward to a great afternoon and great evening in college football.

On Jordan Jefferson’s success against Alabama last season: We have a different starting quarterback and the things he will do will focus on other aspects. Jefferson will play a key role in Saturday’s contest. How much he will play I am not certain. I can tell you the things that he does and that he does well will be oiled up and he will be ready to play.

On if players will be withheld: There will be no players withheld from this game. They will be allowed to come to the field and play when capable. There is no one on this team that is suspended.

On the two quarterback system from 2007: I can tell you that you need two quarterbacks. The idea that you go through a season without injury to one guy, you’re going to have the need for the second quarterback to lead the offense and be capable. We’re fortunate to have two very quality quarterbacks that way. The 2007 team was that exact example. Matt Flynn got hurt before the Middle Tennessee game and we brought in Ryan Perrilloux and we won. Flynn was injured again going into the Tennessee-LSU SEC Final. Perrilloux again stepped in and earned significant victory for us in the SEC Championship game. I think you have to have that. You need two guys that are ready to tee it up and play.

On the role conditioning and depth will factor: We’re not going to change anything at this point certainly. We think that rotating guys gives us some freshness. We’re fortunate to have some depth at a number of spots on the offense and defense. We will continue to do that. Our opponent is also very deep and talented there as well.

On comparing Tuscaloosa’s tornado to Louisiana after Katrina: I don’t think there is any question that there is an attachment to a community where a team gives that community a distraction or a pleasant turn if you will from the rebuild and the heartache that can be a current situation based on a storm, and certainly the terrible twister that hit Alabama is that situation. It is a lot like Katrina that hit Louisiana. I did not understand it until I went through it. I realized how many people went out of their way to say, ‘great year coach and we really needed that.’ When we ended up in New Orleans that year, for us to be the first team to play back in New Orleans in that game, to represent Louisiana our home state and the largest town in our state, was absolutely wonderful. I have great memories from that. I am certain this Alabama team is enjoying representing their state and college football in a like and similar fashion.

On the similarities in the talent of both teams and the need for a trick plays: I can tell you that the play that you run 50 times that you prepare 50 times and know all of the adjustments and are most capable, that is the play you win with. No matter what you institute as the wrinkle, you get to call that once. So you’re not going to call that one again. It is over. So what are you going to call because you didn’t win the game there? Those teams that prepare that next call efficiently, effectively and well, those are the teams that can play in the fourth quarter.

On being too jacked up for the game: I always worry about things until I get to the game. I want our guys to play with emotion and passion. Frankly, I don’t know how high too jacked up is. I’m not seeing it. I’m not seeing a time where our guys have been unable to play a thinking man’s game because of excitement.

On the loser of this game participating in the National Championship game: Let me answer it this way. I think that this conference, if you are the champion of his conference, you should be able to stand at a position logistically to argue that you deserve to play for the national championship. The responsibility is for every other team and every other conference to produce their champion. In some way the guy that finishes in a position left of the championship in the SEC, if he can demonstrate statistically by what kind of team he has, I am for the SEC. I look forward to playing in it all.

On benefit of the experience in LSU’s quarterbacks: Every game that you line up you look at what you think are your strengths as a team. I think certainly we have spots where we can lean on to have success. I think that is the game plan and how you call plays. It is specific to your guys. The experience at quarterback will give us certain advantages in running our offense and doing the things we want to do. You only get to play one quarterback at a time. If you can come up with that formation where you can play two, I might consider it.

On the team running out of the tunnel and coach having fun: It happened first at Oregon in Dallas. I had not run into it before. The Dallas Cowboys Stadium tunnel goes down and then comes up. It looked like I was holding them back and down. They moved in a way that was unchoreographed and it just happened. I don’t know if I ever ran into a team that came out of the tunnel quite like this. There are times as the coach that you enjoy the enthusiasm of your team. If you can’t recognize youth, happiness and the want to play and if that doesn’t make you smile, for me that is not right. We get up early as coaches and go in early and work until late. At some point in time it is time to play. Playing denotes something that you need to do and at some point it needs to be fun.

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