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What is Les Miles Saying About Auburn?

LSU Head Coach Les Miles (Photo: LSU Athletics/Chris Parent)

LSU Head Coach Les Miles met with the media this afternoon, to discuss last week’s win over Mississippi State, and to look ahead to this week’s matchup on the road at Auburn.

This matchup is interesting for many reasons:

  1. The previous matchups have seen the home team win in blowout fashion

  2. Two assistant coaches were on the opposing sideline last season (Dameyune Craig-LSU, Kevin Steele-Auburn)

  3. This game always seems to produce “edge-of-your-seat” entertainment.

LSU enters the game with a 2-1 record. Their lone loss was to Wisconsin in Green Bay to open the season. Last week, the Tigers defeated Mississippi State in close fashion, 23-20.

Much like Auburn, LSU has found themselves in a bit of a quarterback controversy. Brandon Harris was expected to carry the team this season, but since the season opener, Purdue transfer Danny Etling has taken over. The bell cow for the LSU offense is running back Leonard Fournette, who has 285 rushing yards and two touchdowns in two games played this season.

Miles opened his press conference by saying that Auburn had a talented group of kids, and that playing Auburn will provide a challenge. He praised Gus Malzahn, and the way that he prepares his team to battle every Saturday. Miles also spat out stats while discussing Auburn. Saying that they are leading the conference in rushing

yards per game, and fifth in total offense. He could not leave the defense out, considering defensive coordinator Kevin Steele was an assistant for Miles last season. Miles believes that the Auburn defense is tremendous, saying that they have performed well after playing two quality offense in Clemson and Texas A&M. Miles and LSU also like the challenge of playing inside Jordan-Hare Stadium.

On Kevin Steele:

Auburn Defensive Coordinator Kevin Steele coached under Les Miles during the 2015 season. When asked, Miles said that he was surprised when Steele told him about his intent to go to Auburn. “We had just beaten Texas Tech(in the Texas Bowl). I was going back to the hotel to get a bite to eat and as I walked in I walked through what was a common area and Kevin called me over and said, "I need to visit with you." And he said, "I'm going to Auburn." And I said, "Huh?" So I was relatively shocked! I understood, and I really wish him well.” Miles is impressed with the Auburn defense under Steele.

About Danny Etling playing on the road in a tough SEC environment:

Newly named LSU quarterback Danny Etling will play in his first road test at Auburn on Saturday. Etling played in 13 total games at Purdue before transferring to LSU. Les Miles thinks that Etling is prepared to face Auburn in a tough environment, due to his time in the Big Ten. “I think Danny is going to be a mature guy. He's going to understand what he's supposed to do. Best thing to do for the road games is to connect with your teammates, connect with your coaches, make sure you are communicating with your partners, your teammates and make sure you are doing your job.” Etling has passed for 315 yards and two touchdowns in two starts this season.

On the Jordan-Hare experience:

Miles was asked about playing in Jordan-Hare Stadium. The question mentioned that even during the 2012 season, in which Auburn finished 3-9, it was still as loud as usual. Miles says that the crowd, and the fact that Auburn has a quality team, will make the difference.

On LSU’s defense:

A member of the media asked Miles about defense, and the changing styles that he has. The question referred to the Tigers going from a normal 3-4 set, to playing more 4-3 on Saturday against Mississippi State. He said it was all about strategy, and getting personnel into the right position.

What will be the biggest challenge in facing Auburn:

Miles seems to really like Auburn’s defense. Is it a bias towards a former assistant in Kevin Steele? Who knows. But he did say that the defense and playing on the road will be tough for the Bayou Bengals. “Kevin Steele has a very good knack with defense. I think he's certainly a challenge. I think the players that play defense for them are talented. It's going to take quality effort and to do so on the road, can't wait!”

On the effect that coaching against Auburn has on Dameyune Craig:

Former Auburn Quarterback Dameyune Craig is currently in his second stint on the LSU coaching staff. He served as a graduate assistant in 2004, and is currently coaching the Tiger wide receivers. Last season, Craig was co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach for his alma mater, and Coach Gus Malzahn. Miles shed some light on Craig’s situation, saying that Craig enjoyed his time at Auburn. But you have to separate it. Much like Kevin Steele said last week when he faced his best friend, Texas A&M defensive coordinator, John Chavis.

On preparing for Auburn’s quarterback situation:

During the Arkansas State game, it was all clear that Sean White was the guy for Auburn. But, the fourth quarter of Auburn’s loss to Texas A&M last Saturday, John Franklin III saw significant playing time. What does Miles think of the situation, and what are they doing to prepare? “I think the Auburn offense has a wide scope and I think what you will do is you will prepare for some of the things that some of these other quarterbacks that have come through have done and certainly the things that he's done this year are the kind of things that his players know. In other words, they prepared for three games, this style of offense, and these style of plays. And the experience is there.”

LSU visits Auburn on Saturday at 5PM inside Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Photo: LSU running back Leonard Fournette (Photo: Chris Parent/LSU Athletics)

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