BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Les Miles met with the media on Sunday and the questions centered around two areas, the quarterback position and the new defensive staff.
Below is a recap from media day:
Scheme wise and personnel wise, why should this defense be better than last year? What do you see that makes this defense better than last year?
I think our linebacking corps is more comfortable and more understanding of calls and more technical. I think it allows them to play even faster. I mean, they had great speed and ability to get to the ball, but now when they're comfortable in the call and understand what their responsibility is, you find that they're showing up sideline to sideline. I think that that's one of the reason the defense is playing better.
The interior guys are tough to block, LaCouture and Godchaux are horses. So we're not getting up on the linebackers very easily. So they're getting to plays.
You mentioned your quarterbacks came out of the green for scrimmage yesterday. Is it more important this year that they're kind of ready to take that running load on than maybe last year?
Well, here's the it was more for the passing game than it was for anything. You wanted them to understand that you just couldn't sit back in that pocket and throw the ball. So they felt what was actual pressure, and they made adjustments in the pocket, which I enjoyed and we needed to see. Then they scrambled out and went and made some big plays, both Brandon Harris and Anthony Jennings both.
How were the first string snaps split between the quarterbacks? Did somebody take the majority of them?
Well, Brandon Harris had the advantage there in number of snaps, by half a dozen or so. Statistically, we were 20 for 34 with five drops. So 25 for 34 would have been certainly a lot better, but five drops, I think our guys will catch the ball better beyond our first scrimmage. We rushed the ball 42 times for 193. So we're basically 200 yards apiece, both run and pass. That kind of balance is really what we were kind of looking for.
Are your quarterbacks that different in that you can maybe utilize a different offensive game plan for each of them? Or do you think they're kind of to the point now where they're very similar in what they can do?
I think there's more similarities than there are differences. I would not hesitate to make a call if it there was a real advantage to one over the other in a situation. Again, I think they're both competing towards that for that first game. Again, I think they're very similar. I think Brandon is obviously a little bit more explosive, but Anthony is a little bit more veteran.
Each of the last three years, your sack totals have decreased. How much of an emphasis has pressure been in this camp? And is there a reason that you see to believe that that number's going to come back up?
First of all, I think the awareness of our defense of that specific is very acute. I think our guys want in that backfield. I think there's an immediate pass rush that's taking place. I think it was addressed certainly early in practices, and it continues to be a point of focus and emphasis. I think they'll be in that backfield a little bit more regularly, and I think they have several ways to do that.
Back to the quarterbacks, have you guys been able to identify who would be considered a No. 3 guy?
Justin McMillan has really had a nice camp to this point. He was 2 for 3, and I think threw a 50 yard touchdown. He's in no way out of consideration. He's participating. We're just not giving him the equal snaps, and he's got a nice arm and making plays.
Can you tell us how it's gone so far with both Coach Steele and Coach O and what these guys have brought to this defense?
I think Kevin Steele has done a great job in orchestrating the step by step approach to bringing the defense together, and I think that we're really in good shape at this point. I think he has a pretty clear plan for implementing for the first game and thereafter. And, of course, Ed is full bore. He's got great enthusiasm. I think it rubs off on his players, and his players are playing at a high level.
Over the summer, Cam said that maybe he wasn't as relatable with the quarterbacks as he maybe could have been as far as teaching. He came in more at a pro level than a college level. Have you seen him alter that, or has just another year under the quarterbacks' belt helped them understand better what you all want to do?
I think the NCAA rules prohibit too much aggressive coaching, if any at all, in the summertime. So it's hard to have hands on a guy in a drill you're not watching. Basically, a meeting that would occur that was orchestrated by the player. Again, I see his frustration. I'm sure that most of our coaches have that. But I think there's more again, we're going to stay with the things that we've brought into the game plan. These quarterbacks now are starting to feel real comfortable with it, and they understand reads and where they're going to go with the ball, and their mechanics are better. So I think that we're seeing just some real quality improvement.
In reviewing the everybody talks about improved play at quarterback, but in reviewing the passing game from last year, what did you all find? As much as improved play from quarterback, how much different will what you all do offensively look than it did last year?
I think there will be some differences if you sit there and watch it. I think you'll be able to see different scheme and different attack. But I think you'll see some similarities too. We don't want to lose the things that we do well. Looking back, Brandon Harris started Auburn. How much of a different player is he today? What do you think he learned by that? Do you think it humbled him? What are your thoughts from that day till now? I think it's night and day, to be honest with you. His experience, the things he's done thereafter, played a little bit in the Alabama game, came in and understands much more of what's required of a quarterback than he possibly could have known going into the Auburn game. There's no similarity with how he'll play as a quarterback and how he played against Auburn.
With Tashawn Bower back at defensive end, how does that change what Arden Key and Isaiah Washington have been doing, and how much are they factoring in at practice?
I think those guys will always factor in because of their ability. They're very quick twitch, very fast guys, good length, long arms, good pass rushers. I think both of those guys will stay in a close to the field position that allows us to get them in games. With all the defensive coaching shuffles, Will going to Auburn, you getting Kevin, and John going, does it make it easier or harder to coach and maybe disguise what you want to do? I think any time you move quality coordinators in the conference, you know somewhat what to expect, but, again, you'll also expect that they'll be very quality defenses and guys that can coach and understand when the offense has an advantage and how to align properly. It just says get ready to play a very, very quality defense, and when you line up against those guys, that's what you're going to see.
LSU opens the season at home against McNeese State on Saturday, Sept. 5 at 6:30 p.m.