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Coach Mike Shula Press Conference: LSU Game


Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Coach Mike Shula
Coach Mike Shula

LSU Game Press Conference
Opening Comments & First Five Questions Transcript


"LSU week as we all know is a big week. SEC games late in November--last time at home. Last time for our seniors at home in Bryant-Denny playing the third-ranked team in the country, a team that's ranked high in just about every category offensively and defensively in the SEC and deservedly so. They are well coached. LSU's got real good athletes. They are big, big good athletes on both sides of the ball up front. Offensively they can score in a lot of ways, running the football, they've got receivers who have got good speed and size and can take a short pass, a short screen pass which they like to throw a lot of and get that in the end zone. And then they can go deep on you.

"Defensively, they've got a lot of different packages. A lot of different blitz packages that present a lot of problems. We've got to make sure we do a real good job in practice emphasizing all the things that we are going to see and how important it is it to be ready for the blitz. Special teams wise I think they are leading the SEC in both kick off returns and punt returns so it's a big week for us. Our guys--inn getting to know these guys over the course of this year, their eyes light up. The higher the ranked team we I think the bigger their eyes get and the more they light up to play. I think that was evident with the Oklahoma game earlier in the year and of course during the season Arkansas coming in and then Tennessee coming in later.

"It will be a great challenge for us. We've got to have three good days of preparation and get ourselves ready for Saturday night for our last home game."

Mike, it seems like every other week you're playing a great quarterback. Can you talk about Matt Mauck and what problems he poses for you?

"He's done a nice job. He's the field general so to speak and he's got a strong arm. He's accurate. They do a lot of checking at the line of scrimmage so you can get a feel. A lot of times when you watch film as a coach of opposing offenses you can kind of get a feel of a guy. He's very similar to Casey Clausen at Tennessee and how well they understand what they're doing and get themselves in good positions. Their offense puts themselves in good positions to be in the right play I should say. It's a challenge for our defensive backs. We need to obviously get pressure on them. I thought we did that last week fairly well. If we can do that again this week with our defensive line without having to blitz so to speak, I think that's going to be a factor for him as it would be for any quarterback."

You've sometimes gone back to your time as a player here. Can you go back to your last game as a senior? What do you remember from all that?

"It happens fast. That's what I remember. All of the sudden you are here as a freshman trying to find your way to the bookstore and the next thing you know, you're playing your last game. We've talked to our players about memories. You're always going to remember your last few games, especially your senior year. Some of them because of the teams we play, some of them because of it being your last game at home. I think that will go through their minds a little bit this week and they want to go out with a win. Obviously everybody does, but when you turn the tape on and you watch LSU, I think you're going to get focused in a hurry on what we have to get done as a team and as individuals because these guys are very good and worthy of their ranking in my opinion."

Mike, Shaud's (Williams) got a chance to have the best single season rushing season ever at the University of Alabama. Could you talk about how he's accomplished that and what he means to this team?

"I think the number one thing that's been surprising to me is his durability. And I've been around some smaller type backs so to speak but not one that's carried the ball as much as he has and continued to be successful. I don't think he's missed any practice time.  A lot of it has to do with his ability but there's almost just as much because of his instincts. He understands the running game. He understands running with the football. And he always seems to be one step ahead of the guy who's trying to tackle him. That's going to be another thing: guys have talked about that, and him being close to this single season rushing record, obviously it's going to be a huge challenge this week. They're first I think in rushing defense, given up 60 yards per game. They've got big guys up front and speed. And they'll do a lot of things, too, to try to keep an extra guy so to speak as we've all talked about up inside for the running game. And they can afford to do that because their corners are good. They've got real good cover corners. They allow their corners to go play one on one with receivers and not give them as much help as a lot of teams would have to give their corner."

Did you see anything in last year's game that could help with this year's game plan or has too much changed over the course of one year?

"We've looked at that game, and y'all know better than I do that that was a close game all the way up until right at the two minute drive right at the end of the half where Alabama was down and they backed up and they went and took the ball down the field. There are certain things we can look at and, really in all three phases. Some of it is personnel from the guys that are returning and the other part is scheme. I not sure what percentage of that stuff we'll actually put into what we're doing. Some of it's similar. Some of it's different."

Coach, how valuable will Charlie Harbison be considering he was on the LSU staff last year? You talked about Sparky Woods on the Mississippi State staff last year, how about Coach Harbison?

"I think it's very similar. The first thing is personnel, just getting a feel for what their players do obviously much more so than we would any other week. What certain guys do well? What certain guys don't do well? Experienced guys, young guys. What they'll come in (with). Defensively they'll have different packages with different personnel, and what certain guys do when they come in the game--in Coach Harbison coaching the secondary last year there. So there are some things there. But they're aware of that, too. And if they feel like there's something that he has tendency wise, I'm sure they'll try to do things to break those tendencies. You've still got to go out there and play the game. It's our players against their players. But hopefully it will give us a little bit of knowledge, more so personnel, than anything else."