Les Miles has trumpeted change for his LSU team in the wake of last Saturday’s loss to Mississippi State like a politician on the campaign trail.
The question for LSU fans is whether it’s change they can believe in.
There isn’t much faith in government these days, and frankly there isn’t a lot of faith that Miles is going to drastically alter his philosophy for Saturday’s New Mexico State game and beyond.
And yet there have been these repeated statements from the LSU Football Complex (Capitol Hill for the LSU Nation), campaign planks really, that have turned what otherwise has the potential to be the biggest yawner of the 2014 season (on top of the pillow pile of naps induced from the Sam Houston State and UL-Monroe games) into something actually compelling in a name-the-score sort of way. Miles is clearly trying to convince someone that things will be different in the wake of a stinging 34-29 defeat, though whether he’s trying to convince the fans or himself is debatable.
But what does Miles really mean when he says something? Fortunately, dear reader, after a decade of covering The Hat, your friendly neighborhood sportswriter happens to be fluent in “Milespeak.”
Let’s take a look at the week that was with the quotable Les Miles (the hilarious website, TheQuotableLesMiles.com no longer seems to be working — pity):
Will Anthony Jennings or Brandon Harris start at quarterback?
Miles confirmed Wednesday that Jennings will again start over Harris, though he said Harris would get more playing time. He indicated on his Wednesday night radio show that Thursday’s practice would be, to use a Milesism, “a key piece.”
“(It’s) very important to how we see the week,” Miles said.
It’s logical to assume — though never certain with Miles, who enjoys being vague and may have minored in vague at Michigan — that Harris will get in before garbage time against the Aggies. But will that be in the first quarter? Third series? Who knows?
I do firmly believe Miles wants one quarterback to create some daylight compared to the other and settle the matter. Before he makes Harris the man, I think he would like to be sure he doesn’t have to unscramble that egg.
Whoever is the quarterback, will LSU throw the ball more and work less out of the Power I?
“I think you’ll look forward to seeing more balls in the air as we go forward,” Miles said, a statement open to as broad a spread of interpretations as you can invent.
Speaking of the spread, Miles addressed that, too.
“Our (offensive and defensive) lines were not good in that (State) game,” Miles said. “I think there’s some spread in our future considering both quarterbacks are mobile.”
If that’s true, this could be the sign doomsday preppers have been waiting for. Tommy Tuberville said on Tim Brando’s radio show this week that the world would end when “the guy in the crooked hat in Baton Rouge” starts running the spread.
Don’t leave the defense out of this. LSU has been cream cheese-soft up the middle against the run. Could we see more of Kendell Beckwith, the Tigers’ most physical linebacker, at the middle linebacker spot?
Miles said Beckwith will play “a lot of football in this game,” more than he played last week when he had six tackles. Miles stopped short of saying whether Beckwith would start over senior incumbent D.J. Welter.
This is an interesting piece — see, even I’m doing it now — as well, because Miles doesn’t ever profess to venture much into defensive coordinator John Chavis’ realm. Then again, Miles wasn’t shy about discussing defensive calls that didn’t reach the field or didn’t get implemented.
Defense is as big or bigger an issue than offensive philosophy.
Miles talked about coaching his players to play better. How does he propose to do that?
“I think I need to do a better job,” he said. “I think our coaching staff does as well. And are committed to doing so.
“Whatever we — if we need to teach in a different manner, if we need to — if the signaller needs to be more specific to the position, in any event, that’s what we’ll get accomplished.”
Sorry, folks, there are times the man is inscrutable.
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter: @RabalaisAdv.