By CODY WORSHAM
Tiger Rag Editor
The last FBS team in college football to take a bye is making the most of it.
Les Miles jumped on the SEC teleconference this morning, saying his team isn’t getting too ahead of itself during the bye week that precedes a Nov. 9 matchup with Alabama.
The Tigers are looking ahead, said Miles, but not too far ahead.
"We’re a team that’s come off a good lengthy stretch,” he said. "There’s a need to have some rest. There’s not any team that will get ready too early for a game of the magnitude. They’ll understand the timeframe.”
This marks the fourth year in a row LSU has had a bye ahead of the clash with Alabama, and the Tigers stand 2-1 in such games. Miles said his program will draw from those prior byes for preparation schedules.
"I’ve not seen them in any other times we’ve prepared for this team with an open week to have the likelihood to prepare too early,” he said.
That said, the Tigers are already looking at what it will take to beat the Tide, who stand No. 1 in the country and need only a few more victories for a fourth title in five seasons. Alabama again boasts one of the nation’s top defenses, ranking first nationally in scoring defense with just 9.8 points per game allowed.
Unlike years past, however, LSU has a proven passing attack under new coordinator Cam Cameron, and Miles hinted that the aerial route will often be the path of choice for the Tigers against the Tide, who rank eighth in the country in passing defense despite giving up 465 yards and 5 TDs to Johnny Manziel earlier this season in a 49-42 win over Texas A&M.
"I think what you’ll see is a very competitive run and pass and the mix of run and pass and every down and distance,” Miles said. "The ability to throw it deep, short, run the football. That’s the best way to work against a quality defense. You have to make them defend the pass in every down and distance.”
One player who will try to defend the LSU pass is reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Week Landon Collins, who forced a fumble and returned an interception 89 yards for a score Saturday against Tennessee. Collins is a Baton Rouge native who picked the Tide over the Tigers on national television in 2012, when he was the nation’s top ranked safety.
"We recognize ol’ Landon,” Miles said. "I remember his announcement, but I don’t know that I remember much after that.”
The Collins storyline is one of many heading into Nov. 9’s matchup, but from a bigger perspective, Miles knows the next four weeks will be critical to this team’s ultimate outcome. An SEC West title is still mathematically possible, though LSU would need to win out and get help, probably from Auburn (by beating Alabama) and Georgia (by beating Auburn).
"Those are the things that make November best,” said Miles. "Late in the season, the schedule that’s been here for the last nine years, you play the best teams on the back end. It’s an exciting piece of time because it puts you where you’re going to finish. If you run the table, you have a chance to be in the championship game. If you falter, it still affords you an opportunity in the next game. It’s always difficult in the conference, but it’s the month champions are decided.”