11/20/14 6:00 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
First of all, it was great hearing from many of you yesterday about Part 1 of the Q&A I posted with Mike Detillier on the topic of the LSU football team’s offensive woes. I’m not quite ready to post the second half of the Q&A, but I should have it formatted and ready to go for tomorrow’s report. In it, I get Mike thoughts on the defense and on potential early departures. It’s good stuff, but we didn’t wrap it up until late last night and I need a little time to format it. Look for it in tomorrow’s report.
Last night Coach Miles met with the media for the first time since last Saturday’s loss and spoke a bit about injuries, among other things. Based on what I gathered from media tweets, it seems likely that center Elliot Porter, who suffered an ankle injury last Saturday, will be out for next week’s game against Texas A&M and possibly for the bowl game as well. Ethan Pocic is expected to fill in for him at center, and Ethan Washington will likely play right guard. The good news is that Vadal Alxander, who injured his hand in the loss to Alabama, will return for Thursday’s game. As for cornerback Rashard Robinson, he remains indefinitely suspended. Another interesting tidbit from the presser is that Miles said Arkansas did not pick up any signals in the game against LSU, but his statement seems to be contradicted by this vine video posted by Ross Delanger of the Advocate where Arkansas linebacker Martrell Spaight appears to be alerting his fellow defenders to the play call. Hmmm….
A little later Coach Miles fielded questions during his weekly call-in show from TJ Ribs. Below is my recap:
• Before going to the phone line, Miles and Gordy Rush (filling in for Jim Hawthorne who is traveling with the men’s basketball team) discussed last week’s loss. Miles said the offense never got in a comfortable rhythm in any way, and he credited Arkansas for having a great game plan. He also mentioned the changes in the offensive line which led to the quarterback being under duress all night, and said there were three significant drives in the game - one that ended in a fumble and two that ended with missed field goals. Miles called it a terrible offensive day, but said the good news is the problems can be corrected.
• The first caller of the night was Sadie from Denton who asked what the offense is working on the most for the game against A&M. Miles’ answer was, “protection of the passer and throwing the ball.”
• Jeff from Baton Rouge pointed out that LSU ranks 115th in the nation in number of pass attempts and asked if the lack of run/pass balance was acceptable to Coach Miles. Miles answered by saying, “It’s certainly not where we’re headed,” and added that they are accommodating an o-line with injuries, a wide receiving corps that is young, and a quarterback who is having difficulties. In the end, he assured the caller that there’s a want to be more balanced.
• Rickey from Birmingham called to comment on Jennings always sitting alone on the sidelines between offensive series. He asked Coach Miles how Jennings is going to get better if they’re not taking every opportunity to coach him up. Miles answered by saying that they talk to him very effectively on the headsets between every series.
• Bailey from Denham Springs asked Coach Miles if his feelings get hurt when people talk badly about him and his team. Miles said he has thick skin, but that he feels badly for his players and coaches and their families.
• John from Lafayette asked about the running backs and whether Leonard Fournette would be the “top man.” Miles said Fournette has had a great freshman year but that they have a very talented group of backs who all deserve to get reps.
• James from Baton Rouge called to politely comment on Anthony Jennings struggling at quarterback and ask when Miles and Cam Cameron would give another quarterback a try. Miles said that developing a quarterback always requires a guy to immerse himself into the position and that sometimes it takes time. He added that Brandon Harris may be a more explosive style of quarterback, and he’s certainly better than he was against Auburn, but right now Jennings remains the guy who “gives us the chance to make the other 10 players best.”
• Jason from the live audience asked Miles how he will enjoy Thanksgiving with his family and his team. Miles said he and his family will celebrate with a big meal on Friday. As for the team, they’ll say a prayer and give thanks for the many good fortunes in their lives and then take the field and play their best. I thought it was a great answer.
• Jim from Central commented on the defense making a significant turnaround since the beginning of the season and asked what was the biggest reason for the improvement. Miles said a few defensive tackles stepped up, the secondary has played well, and the linebackers have improved with Beckwith in the middle.
• The Evil Twin asked about the two O-linemen who were hurt. As mentioned above, Miles said he expects Alexander to be back for the A&M game, but that they are not certain about Porter. He added that they should know more about Porter next week.
• Toward the end of the show, John from Metairie expressed his condolences to Coach Miles and asked how he’s doing in dealing with the loss of his mother. Miles said his mom did a great job of raising her son and taught him to have faith in God, and that, along with support from his family, has allowed him to get through the difficult time.
• The last caller I heard was David from Baton Rouge who said he thinks Leonard Fournette’s potential won’t be fully realized until they spread out the offense a bit. Miles said Fournette’s abilities will improve in a number of ways as he grows, and that he can carry the ball out of a number of sets. As for moving more toward a spread offense, Miles said there will be a number of small changes and a wrinkle here or there in the next game, but that they’re not going to move far away from their traditional style of play.
In other news, yesterday USA Today published its 2014 NCAA football coaches salary database which shows that Les Miles is the 3rd highest paid coach in the SEC and 7th highest paid in the nation. According to the data, Miles’ total 2014 salary was $4,369,582. As expected, Alabama’s Nick Saban was first on the list with a total salary of $7,160,187, which is considerably higher than every other coach’s salary and 64% higher than Miles’. Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin was third overall and second in the SEC with a total salary of $5,006,000. Below is a look at the top-10. To see how all 128 coaches rank, click here.
2014 NCAAF Coaches Salaries:
Alabama, Nick Saban: $7,160,187
Michigan State, Mark Dantonio: $5,636,145
Oklahoma, Bob Stoops: $5,058,333
Texas A&M, Kevin Sumlin: $5,006,000
Texas, Charlie Strong: $5,000,270
Ohio State, Urban Meyer: $4,536,640
LSU, Les Miles: $4,369,582
Penn State, James Franklin: $4,300,000
Iowa, Kirk Ferentz: $4,075,000
South Carolina, Steve Spurrier: $4,016,900
Turning to basketball, it looks like it could be a trying season for the Lady Tigers. Last night the Lady Tigers fell to 2-2 with a 51-45 loss to Tulane. Coach Nikki Caldwell’s Tigers play with a lot of heart, but they’re undersized, have little returning talent, and are lacking in several regards. They’re also still playing without preseason All-SEC guard Danielle Ballard who remains suspended indefinitely.In last nights game, LSU was 17-of-50 from the floor and 2-for-7 from three-point territory. The Lady Tigers struggled at the charity stripe, going 9-for-17. The Lady Tigers hauled in 19 offensive rebounds and collected a 35-27 edge on the glass, but was only to able to convert the extra opportunities into 10 second-chance points. Meanwhile, Tulane was an efficient 17-of-35 from the floor and converted on 10 of its 17 field goal attempts during the second half. The Green Wave produced a 5-for-13 mark from triple territory and was 12-of-18 at the free throw line.