Gambles, physical play pay off for Miles, LSU Print
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Sunday, 21 September 2008 12:53
NCAAF Headline News

 AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -Les Miles and No. 5 LSU are up to their old tricks, taking gambles, running trick plays - and winning big games.
It doesn't seem to matter who's playing quarterback.
Jarrett Lee's clutch performance running the offense, Charles Scott's pounding runs and a defense that continually smothered No. 15 Auburn's running game were the biggest keys in Saturday's night's 26-21 LSU win.
A little risk-taking didn't hurt, either.
A successful onside kick and a halfback pass for a touchdown helped set the stage for Lee's winning 18-yard pass to Brandon LaFell with 1:03 left in a finish that might help resolve the team's quarterback question.
It was just a dose of Miles' bold - or brash, depending on the perspective - playcalling that helped LSU (3-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) win the national championship last season.
Miles still has the touch, and so does LSU.
``We did not play great football,'' Miles said. ``We are much more capable than how we played.''
e, though. It's why Miles delivered a halftime message reminding his players, ``We have been here before.''
Down on the road, 14-3 at halftime? Seemingly stymied on offense? No sweat.
``Everybody was pretty down when we went into the locker room at halftime and he came in there and kept us motivated,'' LaFell said. ``He kept talking about how we have been there before and then when we got back on the field, he kept giving us opportunities to make big plays as receivers.''
It started with the defense. Auburn was pushed back out of field goal range by a suddenly dominant front line after taking the opening second-half kickoff to the LSU 19.
When Andrew Hatch was shaken up, Lee promptly drove LSU to Chris Mitchell's 39-yard touchdown catch.
What did Miles do with that momentum? He called an onside kick that was recovered by LSU.
``We felt like we had a decent call there,'' Miles said. ``Our guys really pursue excellence in those types of plays. When I have someone who has skill, it wouldn't be right for me not to call those types of plays.''
The offense couldn't do anything with it, but the tone was set and Chris Hawkins picked off a Chris Todd pass on a fourth-and-1 play on the next possession.
Time for another trick. Mile let running back Keiland Williams pass. The result was a 22-yard touchdown to Demetrius Byrd that sent LSU into the fourth quarter up 17-14.
elatively tame gambles compared to some of Miles' risk-taking of last season.
LSU beat Auburn at Death Valley last season on a touchdown pass in the closing seconds, a throw that almost didn't beat the clock, which came with LSU in range for a potential winning field goal.
Miles' Tigers was went 5-for-5 on fourth-down in a win against Florida.
Despite Saturday's tricks, LSU gave up the lead again on Todd's touchdown pass to Robert Dunn.
``We are a team that doesn't really get down,'' LSU defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois said. ``Other teams would, but we don't.''
Lee didn't either, despite an early interception returned for a touchdown. He passed for 182 yards and two touchdowns after that.
Miles wouldn't directly say if Lee's performance earned him the starting job against Mississippi State.
``I can only tell you, obviously football's merit-based, and he had a hell of game,'' he said.
That position was the biggest question mark concerning LSU.
``Won't many people beat them if they play quarterback like they played last night,'' Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said Sunday.
LSU also got the best of the front-line battle on both offense and defense.
The 233-pound Scott churned out 132 yards that he called ``the hardest 100 yards of my life.''
Jean-Francois and the defense held Auburn to 70 yards on 36 rushes.
``Our tight ends are real physical and our offensive line is really big and powerful. When you try to make a tackle on a 230-pound back, it's really hard. There's a physicality that we take a lot of pride in.''
The latest classic in the LSU-Auburn rivalry was only the first of several major challenges for both teams that could shake up the SEC West race. LSU still must visit Florida and host No. 3 Georgia and No. 8 Alabama.
Auburn has home games left against Tennessee next week and Georgia and travels to West Virginia and Alabama.
Miles is hoping this win is a game to build on.
``The pride is enjoyed with victory and enjoyed with seeing your team come of age and play really good, competitive football against a quality team on the road,'' he said.
 

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