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November 5, 2012

Tough loss to handle




Like most football coaches, LSU's Les Miles has a 24-hour rule.

A team can celebrate a victory for 24 hours or can think about all the what-ifs in a loss for 24 hours. But, it was apparent that two days after the Tigers had dropped a heartbreaking 21-17 loss to No. 1 Alabama, Miles' thoughts were still on that game.

"I am awfully proud of that team," said Miles, referring to the LSU squad at his weekly media luncheon Monday. "We won every statistical category, but the score. That's unfortunate. I told the team I wish that I would have done a couple of things better. If we play like that in the next game, I'll be happy."

Miles addressed a number of situations which cropped up during the loss against Alabama. The Crimson Tide drove 72 yards in five plays in less than a minute to escape with the victory. AJ McCarron completed three passes to Kevin Norwood before T.J. Yeldon took a screen 28 yards for a touchdown.

"The defense played awfully well against a capable offensive line and quarterback except for two drives," Miles said. "There was the one long drive of about 90 yards and the last drive of the game.

"I watched every play of that last drive and I would not have changed one call. Chief (defensive coordinator John Chavis) would not have changed one call either. On the touchdown play, there was a drop in coverage. A guy was out of position. As a young player, he had one of his better games."

Miles has refused to identify the player who had the bust in coverage. The responsible person was true freshman cornerback Jalen Mills, who blitzed when he was supposed to stay in coverage. Yeldon had so much room because Mills was not in his assigned area.

The biggest mistake on offense took place in the first half when a late hit by fullback J.C. Copeland nullified a run by Jeremy Hill which would have put the ball at the Crimson Tide's 12. Pushed back by the penalty, the Tigers ended up with no points on the drive.

"The one thing I wished I could have had an effect on was the personal foul when we could have had a first-and-10 at the 12," Miles said. "Instead, it's first down on the 27 and we didn't get points on the drive. That was a costly penalty.

"J.C. made a tremendous line of scrimmage block. Then, he lost perspective. He is looking for somebody to hit. He is not a dirty player. He is a guy who gives great effort. We took him out for some period of time. We asked him if he was able to control himself. He said, 'yes.' Nothing validates those penalties."

Miles hinted that he probably would not have tried the fake field goal again. That play followed Copeland's penalty. Three plays lost two yards. On fourth-and-12 from Alabama's 30, the Tigers lined up for a 47-yard field goal attempt.

Holder Brad Wing took the snap and immediately flipped a pass to kicker Drew Alleman, who never got back to the line of scrimmage. Alabama had four defensive players in position to tackle Alleman.

"I would like to have one of those calls back," said Miles, referring to the fake field goal. "We liked what we saw. Maybe we were too aggressive."

After Hill's touchdown run pulled the Tigers within four points at 14-10 in the third quarter, Miles called for an onsides kick. LSU had no good fortune as the ball bounced up and hit kicker James Hairston just before it went ten yards.

"I liked the onsides kick," Miles said. "I thought we could steal a possession. That was the right time. Sometimes, the ball bounces the wrong way. That's what happened here. The ball bounced up and hit (Hairston) in the chest."

Miles was quite satisfied with the passing game which produced 298 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions. Zach Mettenberger completed 24 of 35 passes, including 14-of-17 in the second half.

"This was our most complete game on offense," Miles said. "Mettenberger and the receivers had great chemistry on his throws and their coming out of their breaks. We rushed the football okay though it could have been better."

LSU will now try to record another ten-victory season by winning its final three games against Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Arkansas.

"We watched the (Alabama) film and then we're done with it," Miles said. "We'll take the positives and move on. Our football team understands that we didn't get it done against Alabama. But, let's play like that again. Throw for 300 yards and run for 200 yards. Let's play with the same intensity on defense.

"It's good we're playing a good team this week. That's what our football team needs now. We improved last week. Now, we need to keep improving."


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