LSU players quick to defend ‘Mad Hatter’ mannerisms
Posted: Tuesday, October 5, 2010 8:55 pm
By BRETT MARTEL
AP Sports Writer
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — When LSU receiver Russell Shepard hears fans refer to Les Miles as a bumbling fool who talks funny and wins through sheer luck, he wishes people could know his embattled coach the way players do.
“A lot of people don’t get his style of coaching, his style of pretty much just simply talking,” Shepard said. “But coach Miles, he’s a great dude, man. One thing people don’t realize is, he’s a great leader.”
Miles might be the least popular coach that a 5-0, 12th-ranked team could ever have. His 56-15 record in six seasons at LSU, including the 2007 national champion, haven’t bought him much goodwill
“It’s crazy how much negativity we have going on around Baton Rouge right now,” LSU running back Stevan Ridley said Monday before practice.
The negativity currently stems from the wacky ending of LSU’s 16-14 victory over Tennessee on Saturday.
First, after Jarrett Lee had driven LSU 68 yards in 13 plays, Miles inserted Jordan Jefferson at quarterback and called an option on second-and-goal from the two. The play gained only a yard and LSU, which was out of timeouts, could only stop the clock with a quick spike.
Instead, LSU started changing personnel while the clock ticked so low that the Tiger Stadium crowd became hysterical. None of the offensive players could hear each other and center T-Bob Hebert, seeing the seconds melt away, snapped the ball. Jefferson mishandled the shotgun snap and Tennessee defenders piled on him and the ball as the clock struck zero.
About everyone in the stadium, including both coaches, thought Tennessee had won, unaware the Vols had been flagged for having 13 defenders on the field. The penalty gave the Tigers the reprieve they needed to punch in the winning score on Ridley’s run.
It was a win, but fans on call-in shows and Internet chat boards were furious.
LSU had been favored by two TDs, and not only needed a do-over to pull out a victory, they nearly lost in the same infamous way they did at Mississippi in 2009. That game ended with LSU recovering an onside kick and getting into Ole Miss territory with plenty of time to get into winning field goal range, only to lose yards, waste crucial seconds getting plays called, complete a desperation pass to the Ole Miss 5 with one second left and then fail to get off one last play.
Miles had promised to get that fixed, but it appeared to most of those watching Saturday that he’d failed.
There had also been other games LSU won despite seemingly risky clock management, most notably a 2007 victory over Auburn when LSU completed a touchdown pass with one second showing on the clock.
On Monday, Miles said he was at fault for the botched play against Tennessee that ran the last 28 seconds off the clock.
Published in The Messenger 10.05.10