Clemson's pass rush, sack attack changed the game, says LSU's Les Miles

'It's a tough to figure that our pass protection was as poor as it was. If that was a strong part, this would have been a different game'

Clemson defensive end Malliciah Goodman sacks LSU's Zach Mettenberger during the fourth quarter at the Chick-Fil-A Bowl at the Georgie Dome in Atlanta, Ga.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson defensive end Malliciah Goodman sacks LSU's Zach Mettenberger during the fourth quarter at the Chick-Fil-A Bowl at the Georgie Dome in Atlanta, Ga.

LSU coach Les Miles

Opening comments: "First of all, I want to commend Clemson. I thought they played a tremendous game. They did the things they needed to do to win.

On our side of the ball, frankly, our football team played so well on defense, and I thought we had the edge on special teams. But offensively we couldn't protect our passer. When you can't protect your passer, then it becomes very difficult to run because, frankly, there's an extra man in the box because you're not throwing the ball.

"There for a while, we ended up about six sacks, we'd get a first down and get sacked, get a first down and get sacked. We had a nice plan, just couldn't execute it because we couldn't protect our quarterback.

"I went into a locker room where there was a group of men that really just played a hundred plays, gave everything they had, and with an opponent who really snapped the ball about 50 times more than our offense, they had to kick a last minute field goal to beat us. Our defense played their butt off. There's young men there that are spent, gave everything they had. To me, I'm really proud of them. Thought they played as hard as they could have.

"We have to improve. Offensively we really just could not protect tonight, and that was really the mark of the game. If we protect our passer a little bit, he hits some balls. Now they have to play some coverage, the running game comes to life, it's just a completely different game. That wasn't the case tonight. Again, congratulations to Clemson."

On what he would do differently: "Call runs that get first downs. I don't know what those are. Call passes that we can protect our quarterback. I don't know which ones those are either. We threw a couple of balls, got them batted down. I can't blame Zach (Mettenberger). I thought Zach played really, really hard, but frankly, he was under duress from the first series on."

On Clemson's playmakers: "Well, I think (DeAndre) Hopkins had a big night. Certainly a sure handed big receiver. But I have to be honest with you, I don't know where the MVP award goes, but to me, (Tajh) Boyd. To me, I don't know how many yards he got rushing, but every yard he got, he got drilled. He just kept getting up and made plays for Clemson and scrambled out and kept the ball alive and made a pass. I just want you to know he played extremely well in this game. Very, very, very big night for him."

On Clemson's ability to stop the run and rush the passer: "It's really, risk/reward, to put guys a lot of guys up in there. They extend, and if you block it, it's a big play. That's kind of what happened.

"But there were a number of guys in there. They got extra guys in there that we can't block. Simply put, if we get a couple balls, they have to take those guys out of the box, it's a different game...

"We were not running the football. They were in a position where they out numbered us in the run. The opportunity to make the throw, certainly we start out about an eight yard gain, really it's the same scenario. If we had another one to get a first down, it certainly makes a difference in that game, so..."

On linebacker Kevin Minter's problem with cramps: "Kevin Minter is an all in guy. For those guys, the shame is you couldn't have finished in front. Kevin Minter was all out. I think he was out for two series, then cramps, then back in. He's just a great leader, great player. Instinctive. Big hits. That's where I have to give Tajh Boyd, I saw a number of our men really hit him clean shots. It's amazing how he continued to play as well as he did."

Did he sense that LSU was on the verge of a knock out in the third quarter? "I liked our chances when we took the ball over. Get a couple first downs, run the clock out, the game's over."

On the difference made by Clemson's pass rush: "It's a tough thing to kind of figure that our pass protection was as poor as it was. I mean, it's a misleading piece. If that was a strong part of tonight, this would have been a completely different game. That's the piece that needs fixing. Frankly, we got some young players that we'll address, will improve, take some strides as we go forward."

On TV commentary about LSU stopping for cramping and injuries late in the game: "You think they were upset. How about the coach who said that they were cramping, a hundred plays, what a miserable event for them. They were the guys in pain, okay?

"There was no advantage to LSU to lay down on the ground there and allow them to gather their play and call their play with no duress. It was certainly not a ploy in any way. They can get upset all they want. The reality of it is, one team played a hundred plays on defense and one team played 50."

On Clemson's possession dominance in the fourth quarter: "Well, I don't think there's any question that in a position to win the game, you have to be able to control the ball. The issue there is, you know, there's a need to improve our protection. I think we all understand that. I think that can be done.

"I'm certain there's some young men back there in that locker room that are willing to work hard to do that, as well."

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Comments » 6

Grinch10 writes:

What a great ball game. 2 secs left. 2 points difference. Field goal to win. Took it down the field including the 4th and 16. The line did the job so Boyd could have the time to throw and Nuk did what Nuk does.

Congratulations to all the players from both teams. Happy Clemson won.

Hopefully the injuries are minor and everyone can play again soon. Sammy and Timothy come to mind. It is sad for them they couldn't play the whole game.

KIMOSAMI writes:

Don't want to call Miles a liar, but I don't believe that LSU had that many legitimate injuries/cramps/whatever during the game. No way.

It seemed that they came (wink,wink) conveniently after a long play by Clemson that (wink,wink) prevented Clemson from going straight to the line and running another play.

Bigboots writes:

O-line actually played much better once Giff Timothy went out. He was getting his tail kicked.

Xander5000 writes:

Its like I've always have said, It don't matter what conference you play in or what conference you play against, you still have to try to win the game. Wish Ellington could have scored one, Goodman finally came to life, Blanks played real fast, and I knew we could shake up Mettenberger, if we could get to him once or twice. Les Miles left us an opening and we took it and never gave up. GREAT WIN!!

FlopEye writes:

Clemson won a hard fought ball game. They went
out and outplayed LSU on BOTH sides of the
ball. I congratulate them.

TrevorT writes:

Clemson really showed what it's capable of in this one. Even a great defense like LSU's gets tired. If our defense just gets good enough to consistently keep our O on the field like they did in this game, we will be very tough to deal with next season. Can't wait to see it!

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