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November 21, 2012Les Miles has needed to be flexible beginning with his first game as LSU coach.
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita totally disrupted the first month of Miles' Tigers coaching tenure. The North Texas game was postponed. The Arizona State game was moved from Baton Rouge to Tempe. Miles' home opener against Tennessee was shifted from a Saturday to a Monday.
Moreover, for the sixth time in his eight years at LSU, Miles is preparing his team to play Arkansas on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Under Miles, the Tigers have played seven games at the end of a short week. LSU has a 5-2 record in those games.
Twice, the Tigers have defeated Mississippi State while not having a full week of preparation - in 2005 and 2011. LSU has won three of its five day-after-Thanksgiving games against Arkansas. Miles has the schedule down pat.
"What happens in a short week is that you merge some of the responsibilities into other days," said Miles prior to conducting a team meeting Wednesday night. "We have no Monday practice. Then, we have a lighter Tuesday and a lighter Wednesday.
"I always speak to the team about our opponent Thursday after practice. My approach is to conclude my talk about our opponent in that meeting."
So, Miles was preparing some notes for that wrap-up meeting with his team following his brief press conference Wednesday night.
Even though Arkansas has a 4-7 record, Miles is not expecting an easy path to a tenth victory Friday afternoon in Fayetteville.
"As a team, Arkansas is capable," Miles said. "Our guys can see that. We are playing at their place and it is Senior Day. It is going to be a very competitive game. We have to play well to win. Our teams have always had great effort at end of the year even if they finished a little shy of their goals."
Just nine players will have started each regular season game this year - wide receiver Odell Beckham, left guard La'el Collins, tight end Chase Clement, quarterback Zach Mettenberger, linebackers Lamin Barrow and Kevin Minter, cornerbacks Jalen Mills and Tharold Simon and safety Eric Reid.
"This has been a team where guys have had to step in and play big," Miles said. "They understand what it means to play at LSU. It's easier when you keep everybody healthy. Every year, you throw guys into a big game. There are four or five guys who stepped in the breach this year and made plays."
Miles said that guard Josh Williford could play this week, but he is not making the trip to Arkansas due to a personal issue. Milles indicated that Williford, who has not played since suffering a concussion in the Florida game, will be in uniform for the Tigers' bowl game.