Miles accepts blame for costly miscues
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Les Miles said the past two days have been difficult for him and his football team.
The LSU coach said he understands the criticism and accepts the blame for a series of gaffes that resulted in the Tigers' 25-23 loss at Ole Miss.
"For 48 hours, I've gone through the pain of this," Miles said Monday. "It was not something I enjoyed. I understand the criticism from the fans. I'm critical of myself."
A series of questionable play calls and suspect clock management short-circuited a possible Tigers rally against Ole Miss last Saturday. The game ended with the ball at the Rebels' 5 and LSU (No. 15 BCS, No. 17 AP) not getting off a play.
"As part of the process, I evaluate everything we do -- players and coaches," Miles continued. "I'm part of that process. I'm no different than anybody in this team room. I mismanaged the back end of the Ole Miss game.
"I'm responsible. I'm the head coach," he said.
LSU's two-point conversion attempt failed, but the Tigers still had a chance to win when Brandon LaFell recovered an onside kick and then took a screen pass from Jefferson to the Rebels' 32.
Rather than running the ball, the Tigers called pass plays. The results were an incompletion and a sack for a 9-yard loss. Miles defended those two play calls.
"The first pass was a deep ball," Miles said. "It was a throwaway. The second pass was very quick. It was able to go against any coverage. There's a sack. We have to do better than that. I defend the calls. Those calls came with my name on it.
"We can never back up when we're first-and-10 at the 32. We are in position to win the game. The quarterback should know to travel smartly. He should have been given that [instruction] before the play. We didn't give it to him," he said.
On the next play, a screen pass to Stevan Ridley lost 7 yards. Ridley was tackled with 26 seconds remaining. It took 17 seconds for LSU to use its final timeout.
"My mistake was I went on to the next play," Miles said. "I was reviewing quickly what needs to take place. It was fourth-and-26. I let the clock get away from me. That was my fault, my mistake."
In the timeout, it was determined that Jefferson would throw deep into the end zone. Miles didn't expect there to be time for another snap if the pass was completed on the field.
Jefferson completed the pass to Terrance Toliver, who was tackled at Ole Miss' 5 with one second on the clock. Then there was utter confusion on the LSU sidelines. Jefferson took the snap and spiked the ball. Officially, the ball wasn't snapped before the one second elapsed.
"It was a nine-second game," Miles said. "It was not likely we would get two snaps. If we'd get a first down, for us to run down there and snap it is not a likely scenario. We need 12 seconds to get the personnel on the field for a field goal.
"The other option is to have a play called. It would be very difficult to get a play off in one second with the clock starting after the official walks away. The thought process was that we had to score on that play. We had no second play called prior to the Hail Mary," he said.
The signal-caller on the sidelines, graduate assistant John Dunn, told Jefferson to spike the ball.
"To try to get the ball snapped with one second was certainly our greatest desire," Miles said. "There was a possibility of Ole Miss having 12 men on defense. That came down from the press box.
"That's the reason the [spike] call came from the press box to the signal-caller. ... Ole Miss made a substitution. There weren't 12 men on the field. At that point in time, I had lost the opportunity for the team to win by squandering seconds," he said.
LSU (8-3, 4-3) closes out its regular season at home against Arkansas (7-4, 3-4) on Saturday before moving on to an undetermined bowl game.
Since winning the national title two seasons ago, the Tigers have lost eight of 15 Southeastern Conference games. The eighth defeat was the most difficult one.
"I have an opportunity to represent a great school and a great state," Miles said. "I understand the mistake the head coach made. That will not happen again. I have to get it right. It was my fault.
"I hold the players accountable and I'm accountable to the players. I spoke honestly to the players about my mistake. The strength of a team is a group of men committed to each other. We have a great group of men. This is a difficult time," he said.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press