Les Miles Had Some Splainin’ To Do

Yesterday Les Miles had his first press conference since arriving home following the beat down:

“I have a difficult time bemoaning my team’s effort, the coaches effort and the want to win,” Miles said of the game in which LSU was outgained 384-92 and totaled five first downs. “They did everything they could, everything that they were asked to do. I don’t think they played perfectly. I don’t think anybody would say that this was representative of our best play. I can tell you our guys gave everything they had.”

And also mentioned this guy:

“We gave great thought to Jarrett. Hindsight being 20-20 I’d call the first play differently and the 15th, right on through. We did what we thought was our best opportunity at victory and we did it as a staff.

“It has nothing to do with a personal slight. I admire (Lee) how he handled his career here and I wish him the best. Root for him greatly.”

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Bobby Hebert “Questions” Les Miles

Bobby Hebert, father of LSU player T-Bob Hebert and member of the Louisiana “media,” rattles Les Miles’ cage with this “question”:

Dang, lose 21-0 in the national championship game to one of your biggest rivals and folks start jumping off the bandwagon.

This might help you feel better today, coach:

Bama – LSU II: “Edge in Preparation Time”

While reading up on the competition, this nugget caught my eye:

The Tigers also have an edge in preparation time. Alabama just started practice this week, but LSU has been at it for a week and has been working on tackling drills.

The Tigers went back to work less than two weeks after winning the SEC Championship. Alabama, meanwhile, had a three week layoff before resuming practice this week.

I’m not sure having 37 days off to prepare versus having 44 days off gives LSU an “edge in preparation time,” but each Les Miles and Nick Saban are taking slightly different approaches to preparing for the game and it will be interesting to see which is more successful.

Alabama spent three weeks conditioning (I hope), while the Tigers resumed head-knocking less than two weeks after beating Georgia.

Some Sanity from the Other Side

And the Valley Shook offers some perspective on the Nick Saban / Les Miles rivalry:

People will always have their preferences between the two coaches and their respective styles. Chances are that preference will be shaped by each individual’s personality and his fan allegiance (often times whether they will admit this to themselves or not). The each have their strengths and weaknesses, as we’ve seen the last few years. One will rule the day in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Jan. 9, but the reality is that both styles work, always have, and will continue to do so for both LSU and Alabama.

I agree with these comments (and most of the others in the post).

However, on January 10th, one of these coaches will wake up knowing they lost the national championship to the other.

LSU’s Adjusted Defensive Thinking

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal posted this interesting article concerning the LSU defense.

The gist is that when Oregon was added to the schedule in September 2010, Les Miles and co. began plotting defensive adjustments to stop the Ducks.  One obvious adjustment was to improve his team’s conditioning so they could keep up with the Ducks.  Another was to change part of the team’s strength and conditioning regimen – especially for his defensive line:

LSU’s four sophomore linemen—the ends Mingo and Sam Montgomery and defensive tackles Bennie Logan and Michael Brockers—were all red-shirted in 2009. This gave Tommy Moffitt, LSU’s strength and conditioning coach, the chance—as he put it—to “experiment” with them.

Moffitt stressed plyometric training. He had them flip tires and push sleds, varying the resistance based on what he called the coefficient of friction. He charted how much each player moved at every practice, down to the yard. He went online and searched for new exercises, he said, until his “eyeballs bled.”

One of Moffitt’s favorite metrics is relative strength—a measure of how much work a player can do per pound of body weight. Defensive backs, he said, should score in the upper fives, defensive ends in the low fives and defensive tackles in the mid fours. If a player has a too-small number, Moffitt said, it’s a sign that his “non-functional” mass is slowing him down.

Moffitt believes that if a football player can lose 10 pounds while improving his relative strength, he’ll be more efficient in games. “We’re not going to roll a bunch of skinny minis out there on the field; that’s not our goal,” he said. “But we want every ounce of weight to be force-generating.”

Brockers, the tackle, said it took some convincing for him to buy in. “I was afraid that I wouldn’t have the strength or size” to take on 320-pound offensive linemen, he said. But after trimming down from 315 pounds to 305, he said he feels just as strong as he did last season—in addition to having more speed and stamina.

To simulate the rapid pace at which Oregon snaps the ball, Miles came up with a novel idea at spring practice: He had the defense work against two offenses. As soon as one offense finished running a play, a fresh new one trotted out. Miles liked it so much he carried it over to the preseason. “I want you to imagine practicing against a hurry-up Oregon offense in the middle of the summer,” Montgomery said, “in Louisiana.”

The adjustments obviously worked, at least where Oregon is concerned.  The Tigers beat the Ducks 40-27 in the season opener for both.  With the trend toward fast-paced, hurry up offenses, I can’t say this is a bad strategy.  It will probably come in handy on October 22nd when LSU hosts Auburn and their 90-play-a-day offense.  The idea of 240-pound defensive ends probably has coaches like Nick Saban licking their chops, though.

Please, No

This cannot happen:

Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com has a column suggesting that Les Miles is the hottest commodity for NFL teams that might need a head coach after this season.

Could the same team that pried Nick Saban from LSU also do the same to his successor?

Freeman quotes some NFL executives as saying that teams were skeptical of Miles a few years ago, labeling him as “goofy.”

Now, some are comparing him to Jimmy Johnson – a successful college coach who became a successful pro coach.

Freeman says no one in college will pry Miles from LSU, but someone in the pros just might try.

Maybe somebody will get a pay raise out of this.