Miles likes No. 8 LSU's resolve, mindful of errors


Miles likes No. 8 LSU's resolve, mindful of errors

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) Les Miles understands rivalries as well as anyone, having played for Michigan against Ohio State back in the 1970s.

He has been around college football ever since - long enough to be comfortable with the idea that it's OK to celebrate a close comeback victory against a more than two-touchdown underdog when the matchup consists of conference foes meeting for the 101st time.

As far as Miles is concerned, the reason No. 8 LSU still has hope, however slim, of winning the Southeastern Conference - and perhaps even a national title - is because the Tigers demonstrated unshakable resolve in a ``wild and woolly'' 41-35 win against an inspired Mississippi squad that desperately needs one more victory to solidify its own postseason hopes.

``Man, that is special,'' an exuberant Miles said after LSU twice erased fourth-quarter deficits in the so-called Magnolia Bowl on Saturday. ``There isn't a question about it.''

LSU (9-2, 5-2) will end its season Friday at Arkansas (4-7, 2-5), a team that has not won much but can still move the ball. The Razorbacks have routinely given the Tigers fits over the years, particularly in games played in Arkansas.

If the Tigers win, they will at least have a shot at winding up in a BCS bowl game.

If next weekend also brings an Auburn upset over Alabama and a Texas A&M win over Missouri, then LSU will wind up in a three-way tie atop the SEC West and hold the tiebreakers to go to the conference title game against Georgia in Atlanta. That scenario also could open the possibility of LSU playing its way back into the BCS title game for a second straight season.

It sounds far-fetched, though perhaps no more so than the unanticipated combination of results in the last week of the 2007 season that helped a two-loss LSU squad get to - and win - the BCS title game against Ohio State.

Before the Tigers start dreaming about such scenarios, though, they'll have to address breakdowns against Ole Miss (5-6, 2-5) that nearly took them out of the SEC and BCS conversations entirely.

Rebels sophomore quarterback Bo Wallace had his way with LSU's normally stout defense most of the game. The Tigers entered the contest ranked first in the SEC in yards passing allowed at 165.7. Wallace threw for 310 yards, including touchdowns of 56 and 30 yards.

``We're going to spend six days in between now and the next game in pass coverage,'' Miles said. ``This is the kind of film that will be truly beneficial to our secondary.''

Ole Miss also gained 147 yards on the ground. Bo Wallace scored on a career-long 58-yard run and would have finished with nearly 80 yards rushing if not for three sacks that reduced his net to 54.

``Ole Miss came out, they were feeling a rivalry and the tradition,'' LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery said. ``They probably came out and probably played the best game of their life.''

For a third straight week, LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger moved the ball effectively through the air, completing 22 of 37 passes for 282 yards, although his performance was marred somewhat by two interceptions, the first time he'd been picked off since the Tigers beat South Carolina on Oct. 13.

``He's functioning our offense. He's doing the things we ask him to do. We expect him to play big in games like this,'' Miles said. ``We threw the football pretty well and stayed with it.''

Mettenberger also found a new target in sophomore tight end Travis Dickson, who made his first five catches of the season for a team-high 69 yards.

``It was actually the plan to involve me all week in practice prior to this game. Some of the deeper routes we saw on film that I had we could take advantage of against those guys,'' Dickson said. ``The other ones were just opportunities that opened up during the game.''

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New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

Alex Smith in, Kirk Cousins out.

That's certainly the headline, but there are plenty of other questions for the Redskins, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

For the last two seasons, most of the questions going into OTAs for Washington came from the defensive side of the ball. After consecutive drafts with a first-round defensive lineman selection, the defense should be much improved. 

On offense, however, there are a lot of new parts. 

  1. The headliner - No position in sports is as important as NFL quarterback. This will be Alex Smith's first action in a Redskins uniform with media present. The 34-year-old veteran is coming off the best season of his career, and if he can continue that level of accuracy and play-making, the Redskins could be poised for an explosive year.
  2. The speedster - Washington's wideouts lacked separation in 2017. It was apparent through much of the year, and likely played a roll in some of Kirk Cousins' reluctance to make tough throws. Free agent addition Paul Richardson is supposed to help, immediately. He has elite deep speed and the 'Skins brass hopes he can bring a similar element to the offense that DeSean Jackson provided a few years back. Time to prove it Paul. 
  3. The injuries - There are big reasons for concern, namely two very large men in Jordan Reed and Trent Williams. Reed will not participate in OTAs, and has been dealing with a foot/toe injury for the better part of a year. Williams, who seems highly unlikely to attend OTAs, underwent knee surgery in January. Beyond Smith, Reed and Williams are probably the two most important offensive players on the Redskins. OTAs aren't important, Reed and Williams participating, or even attending, OTAs is not important. Both men being healthy and ready to go in September is quite important. 
  4. The Rookie - Has Derrius Guice become the most popular player on the Redskins? Maybe. The dynamic rookie running back, with an interesting draft weekend slide, has the charisma and ability to be a star. The "off-field concerns" that hurt his draft status seem like myths at this point, but there was some injury concern his junior season at LSU (see video above). Guice has an opportunity to be a huge part of the Redskins offense, and all eyes will be watching the rookie. 
  5. The leap? - In 2017, Josh Doctson showed flashes of the player that warranted a first-round pick in 2016. Will 2018 be the year he proves it, week after week, game after game? Getting off to a good start with Smith should help, and even more important would be an injury-free offseason. 

There are questions for the defense too, particularly at cornerback after Josh Norman, but this year, the offense has more new parts. 


— Contract years: Redskins face 5 tough decisions 

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Don't forget to subscribe to the #RedskinsTalk podcast, hosted by JP Finlay.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line


Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

The Eastern Conference Final is going the distance!

After losing three straight to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Capitals won Game 6 to force a Game 7 in Tampa Bay. Can the Caps beat the Lightning one more time and advance to the Stanley Cup Final?

JJ Regan, Tarik El-Bashir and special guest cameraman Mike D break it all down.


PLEASE NOTE: Due to schedule and time constraints, this podcast was recorded by phone and the audio quality is not up to our usual standards.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.