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September 23, 2013
Miles feels Tigers are ready for trip between the hedges
Les Miles press luncheon video
LSU is undefeated four weeks into the season, but its first pure road game is next on the schedule.
The Tigers will venture between the hedges of Georgia's Sanford Stadium on Saturday afternoon. It will be a big challenge for No.6 LSU. The Bulldogs, who are ranked No. 9 in the country, are the favorites to win the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division championship.
The Tigers have won three home games after opening the season with a 37-27 victory against TCU in the Cowboys Classic at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. LSU hasn't been tested the past three weeks.
"Even though Dallas is not far away and a lot of LSU faithful were there, we prepared for the road with that trip," said Miles at his weekly media luncheon Monday afternoon. "Week-in and week-out, we prepare for the road. We practice with noise (pumped in).
"We have a strong group of veterans and some young guys who understand what it takes to win on the road. We have been (at Georgia) before. (ESPN) GameDay will be there. CBS is televising the game. It will be a great environment. Our guys are looking forward to it."
Georgia is built around its offense, which is led by Aaron Murray. He will be starting for the 45th time in his career Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs have a 30-14 record in Murray's starts. Murray is No. 5 in all-time SEC passing yardage. He is just 83 yards away from being No. 2 behind Georgia's David Greene.
"You don't rattle Murray," Miles said. "You pressure him with coverage and disguise. Then, you pressure him (by getting) up the field in his face. It's a mixture. If they don't gain yards when they hand the ball off, the pressure goes back on the signal-caller."
Obviously, this game will be important for LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger. He is a Georgia native, who started his career with the Bulldogs. Mettenberger and Murray were both redshirt freshmen in 2009. They competed for the starting quarterback job in 2010 spring practice.
Murray probably had a slight advantage following spring drills. But, Murray became the winner when Mettenberger was dismissed from the Georgia football program after an arrest. Mettenberger spent a year at Butler Community College before signing with LSU.
Mettenberger has thrown for 1,026 yards and ten touchdowns with just one interception in his first four games. Obviously, Mettenberger will have to keep his emotions under control this week.
"Zach is so accountable and committed to this team," Miles said. "He is giving great effort and leadership. All he has to do is the things we ask him to do.
"Zach need not be impatient. We are not going to throw the ball downfield all the time. Sometimes the reads will keep him underneath. This will be a lot of fun for Zach. He is taking a group of men committed to him to play in that stadium."
Tammy, Zach's mother, is a secretary in the Georgia football office. Coach Mark Richt gave her this week off so she wouldn't have to deal with numerous questions.
"I was hoping to get the call sheet and several pieces of information from Zach's mom," Miles jokingly said.
Undoubtedly, Saturday's game could turn into a shootout. Such has been the case for the few league games played so far this season. Alabama beat Texas A&M 49-42. Georgia beat South Carolina 41-30. Ole Miss beat Vanderbilt 39-35. That's three games in which the losing team scored at least 30 points.
"This league has been a defensive league and it will be eventually be a defensive league this year," Miles said. "There are a lot of veteran quarterbacks who can throw the ball and they have a good receiving corps.
"You may not be able to control the clock if you have to give the ball back to a quarterback who can throw it. We are going to do the things on offense we need to do. We want to sustain drives, but we'll take out shots. We'll use our balance on offense."
Miles gave a promising injury report Monday. He said that both guard Trai Turner and defensive tackle Anthony Johnson will play against Georgia. Defensive tackle Quentin Thomas, who has missed the past two games, is expected to play. Miles refused to say that linebacker Tahj Jones will definitely play.
"Trai Turner will practice (Monday)," Miles said. "He was stepped on. It was just a contusion. Anthony Johnson basically had a bruise. He'll be fine. Both guys will play from the first play on Saturday."