LSU coach Les Miles said the Tigers offense has arrived after its two most productive games of the season.
After passing for a season-high 296 yards against Alabama two weeks ago, LSU passed for 273 against Mississippi State last week. The Tigers will try to continue their new-found passing success against Ole Miss on Saturday afternoon in Tiger Stadium.
“This is us,” Miles said Wednesday morning during his turn on the Southeastern Conference coaches weekly teleconference. “We’re going to be the team that throws the ball and is balanced. We’re going to make the defense that lines up against us defend the pass and the run on the same down and distance.
“We’re throwing it better. It takes a little time to get the chemistry, the route depths and be comfortable with the reads and the ability to throw with confidence. We’re there and it’s something we want to continue to be and continue to improve at. I think this offense is much more representative of what would be our goals maybe than even early in season.”
Miles said it took time for the passing game to develop with a first-year starter at quarterback (Zach Mettenberger) and a relatively inexperienced receiving gorps led by sophomores Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. Additionally the offensive line went through a transition, replacing three starters during the first six weeks of the season.
“It just takes experience,” Miles said, “run that route again, run that route again, gain the ability and confidence to execute in key games. Our football team has that and we look forward to running and throwing it and catching it and being better on offense this Saturday.”
Miles acknowledged that the Tigers’ primary goals – winning the SEC West and overall titles and reaching the BCS Championship game – “may be a little out of our grasp.” But he said eighth-ranked LSU is still hopeful of receiving the help it needs to still accomplish those goals.
“Our football team has taken stock and the need to improve and the opportunity to be a great football team is still there,” Miles said. “We need to play well against a quality opponent in Ole Miss this week and and improve and pursue being a dominant team.”
Miles said whoever winds up as SEC champion deserves strong consideration for a berth in the BCS title game even though there are no undefeated teams in the league and Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame are all undefeated and ranked higher than all of the SEC teams in the polls and the BCS rankings.
Each of the last six BCS champions has come from the SEC.
“I have an appreciation for what this conference has accomplished over time,” Miles said. “I would think the champion of our conference should be given tremendous consideration. I think there should be a quality view of every conference and every team.
“Over time this conference, when given the opportunity to play in the national championship game, has played very well.”
Miles said a one-loss SEC champion might be more deserving than an undefeated team from elsewhere because of strength of schedule.
Guard Josh Williford, who hasn’t played since suffering a concussion against Florida on Oct. 6, might be able to play at Arkansas on Nov. 23, Miles said.
Miles spoke highly of defensive tackle Josh Downs, one of 15 seniors who will be honored prior to playing their final game in Tiger Stadium on Saturday.
Downs, who has been injured for much of his career, has been a significant contributor on the line this season.
“He’s a guy who has given great effort in every situation,” Miles said. “I think he has improved tremendously. He has a very fast motor. I know our opponents know him and respect his play.”