With LSU’s 14 seniors being honored on the field before Saturday’s kickoff against Ole Miss (2:30 p.m., CBS), LSU coach Les Miles was asked to reflect on his own Senior Day game back in 1975 against archrival Ohio State.
While Miles recounted a few details — though he said he couldn’t remember that the Wolverines played (and lost to) the Buckeyes — he said his final game in January 1976 Orange Bowl against Oklahoma made the biggest impression.
“For me, it really was the last game,” Miles said Wednesday. “That carried more emotion with it than the last time I played in my home stadium. The recognition of the likelihood of a 6-foot, quarter-inch offensive guard (not) playing any more football, that last snap was really the last snap.
“Some guys have that in high school and it catches them after the high school year. Me, it got me right on the field.”
Miles was in at left guard at game’s end with Michigan trailing 14-6, when Wolverines quarterback Rick Leach threw an interception to Oklahoma strong safety Scott Hill.
On film, Miles can be seen getting within about 5 yards from Hill, hoping to make a tackle as Hill returned the interception. But Hill slid to a stop as time expired on the game and Miles’ playing career.
“I knew I was going to go down there and separate the safety from the ball, and we were going to get the ball and have a chance to win the game,” Miles said. “I was running down there and the safety slid. The game was over. I was like, ‘Oh.’ That really was kind of the end for me. People were taking flash pictures of the game and I said, ‘That’s it.’ That was really kind of a pointed time.”
Miles brushed aside talk of any juniors who will turn pro, saving that until after the Tigers have played their bowl game.
But, Miles said, he already has a “plan” for when he discusses the future with players like Sam Montgomery, Barkevious Mingo, Eric Reid and Spencer Ware.
“After the season, I’m going to gather up those very talented guys and have a quality discussion with them,” Miles said. “Or beg. Either of those two will work.”
While LSU’s passing game has made what looks like rapid strides the past two weeks, to Miles’ eye, quarterback Zach Mettenberger and the offense have been gradually improving week after week.
“I really think he’s had it for some time,” Miles said of Mettenberger, “but he and the receivers are in the right spots now. The speed of practice is where it should be. I think you’re just seeing better execution based on how they’ve performed over time.”
Mettenberger has thrown for 571 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions the past two games, completing 43 of 65 passes.
The Alabama game marked the first time since the 2010 Auburn game that LSU had 30 or more pass attempts. The Tigers had 30 or more pass attempts in back-to-back games for the first time since the Alabama, Troy and Ole Miss games in 2008.
ESPN the Magazine brought a staff of nearly 50 people to Baton Rouge to cover the Nov. 3 LSU-Alabama game, a game which will make up the entire content of the publication’s Nov. 26 issue.
Miles hadn’t seen an advance copy of the magazine as of Wednesday, though some features have already appeared on ESPN.com.
Miles, who opened up his office, home and locker room to the magazine for the issue, said the exposure for LSU and LSU football is invaluable.
“Any time somebody wants to look inside the program and do a story, it’s a great slice of college football,” he said. “How wonderful it is that it is also reflective of our program.
“Those times are good for the public and tremendous for LSU. It gives us a premier spot, which is how we kind of see it anyway.”
The Tigers and Rebels will meet Saturday for the 101st time, with LSU holding a 57-39-4 series lead. The Tigers are 5-2 against Ole Miss under Miles, with the teams splitting the last four meetings.
Most of the games in this series have been played in Baton Rouge — the teams played in Tiger Stadium all but four times from 1936-64 — with LSU holding a 37-23-1 edge. LSU won a 43-36 shootout here in 2010 and routed the Rebels 53-2 in Oxford, Miss., last season.
This will be the fifth year the game is designated as the Magnolia Bowl.
It’s not “Go to hell, Ole Miss!” but a sign Thursday in front of a restaurant on the north side of LSU’s campus read:
“OLE MISS BEAR-LY AN SEC TEAM.”
The sign is a reference to the fact that in 2010, Ole Miss replaced its longstanding “Colonel Reb” mascot with a “Rebel Black Bear.”
Copyright © 2011, Capital City Press LLC • 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810 • All Rights Reserved