Monday, November 19, 2018

During time off, new KU football coach Les Miles thought about adapting offensively

Newly hired University of Kansas football coach Les Miles speaks to the media Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, at Hadl Auditorium.

Newly hired University of Kansas football coach Les Miles speaks to the media Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, at Hadl Auditorium.


When Louisiana State University fired Les Miles as its head football coach a little more than two years ago, the athletic department’s action came on the heels of some late-game clock mismanagement in the Tigers’ 2016 SEC-opening loss.

His critics at the time pointed to similar game management instances and Miles’ reliance on a traditional run-heavy, pro-style offense as other college programs embraced spreading the field with innovative passing attacks.

As Miles officially made his return to college football Sunday, when Kansas named him its next head coach, Miles insisted during his introductory press conference his time away from the sidelines included plenty of reflection.

“I did very much look to myself and what I needed to change to make us, me, more successful as an offensive coach,” Miles said, when asked whether he would reconsider his offensive philosophies.

While some may think back on Miles’ time at LSU and see nothing but running backs churning for tough yardage and busting through at times with long runs, the Jayhawks’ new coach said his old Tigers teams leaned on the passing game more when he had a quarterback he could trust.

In 2013, Zach Mettenberger’s senior season, Miles pointed out, the QB threw for more than 3,000 yards, while running back Jeremy Hill rushed for 1,300 and receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. both topped 1,100 receiving yards.

“So when we had passers, we threw it,” Miles said, going on to reference successful LSU passing attacks with Matt Flynn (2007, when the Tigers won the national title) and JaMarcus Russell (2005-06) at quarterback.

“When we had guys that could not throw the ball well, that were not — couldn't process under the heat of the game — we ran the football and won 10 a year,” KU’s football coach added, referencing LSU’s average number of victories from 2005 to 2010.

The talent levels and abilities of the players he coaches, Miles said, ultimately determine what type of scheme he will embrace on both sides of the ball.

During most of Miles’ time in Baton Rouge, La., the SEC was associated with defensive fist fights. Now, after some time off, Miles finds himself in the Big 12, where spread offenses and gaudy passing numbers tend to be king.

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Les Miles is really KU's next football coach

Moments after Kansas introduced Les Miles as the program's 40th head coach in team history, the KU Sports staff did an emergency podcast at Allen Fieldhouse. KU football reporter Benton Smith is joined by Matt Tait and Shane Jackson to discuss Miles' introductory press conference and where the Jayhawks go ...

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While he didn’t take a hardline stance on what the KU offense will look like in 2019, Miles said the Jayhawks will have to incorporate a downfield passing approach, regardless of their style of play.

“I think the opportunity to have balance and the ability to run it when you need to run it and throw it when you need to throw it is paramount to success in that league,” Miles said of the Big 12. “But what's happened is, they have gone to stop the run in that league and everybody's just chucking the ball down the field. So, I think a little bit of ball security and a little bit of controlling the tempo and the game clock will certainly benefit us.”

It could be much easier to pull that off next season if KU’s offense is structured around its running backs, including Pooka Williams Jr., whose 252 rushing yards on 15 carries this past weekend at Oklahoma led to the freshman winning Big 12 Newcomer of the Week for the fourth time this season. Pooka Williams, junior Khalil Herbert and sophomore Dom Williams all have eligibility remaining and could return to Kansas next season.

While Miles admitted he could see the advantages of running an Air Raid offense, he didn’t indicate whether his first KU team will roll with that specific system or anything similar.

“It's an interesting thing,” Miles said. “It's a finesse game at times, and then it's a slug-you-in-the-mouth game. So I think there's some advantages to it. I think our personnel would have to direct me more or less.”

LSU offense during Les Miles’ 11 full seasons

Season (record) — Rushing average | Passing average | Points per game

2005 (11-2) — RYPG: 150.1; PYPG: 224; PPG: 29.5

2006 (11-2) — RYPG: 165.8; PYPG: 251.7; PPG: 33.7

2007 (12-2) — RYPG: 214.1; PYPG: 225.3; PPG: 38.6

2008 (8-5) — RYPG: 166.8; PYPG: 201.3; PPG: 30.9

2009 (9-4) — RYPG: 122.8; PYPG: 181.8; PPG: 24.8

2010 (11-2) — RYPG: 185.7; PYPG: 155.6; PPG: 29.7

2011 (13-1) — RYPG: 202.6; PYPG: 152.5; PPG: 35.7

2012 (10-3) — RYPG: 173.7; PYPG: 200.5; PPG: 29.8

2013 (10-3) — RYPG: 202.3; PYPG: 251; PPG: 35.8

2014 (8-5) — RYPG: 224.5; PYPG: 162.9; PPG: 27.6

2015 (9-3) — RYPG: 256.8; PYPG: 180.4; PPG: 32.8


Robert Brock 4 years ago

Get rid of the Air Raid. It is a corny gimmick which promotes softness.

Randy Bombardier 4 years ago

Well, I'm reconsidering. Still thinking. Nah.

Brett McCabe 4 years ago

I think he’s trying to be respectful of Beaty my couching his words. With our stable of running backs, look for a smarter approach to the game next year.

Dustin Peterson 4 years ago

Calling it now. Offensive Coordinator will be Larry Fedora. And how about Mike Macintyre as the DC.

[''] 4 years ago

Fedora is an interesting choice. Miles' son signed with UNC, and Fedora has some good Texas ties.... MacIntyre got a quick hook. The challenge is -- although dipping a bit now, both could probably still get head coaching jobs at smaller schools for more $ than they would make as coords.

Dustin Peterson 4 years ago

Fedora's buyout is somewhere north of $12M. With UNC making up the differnce, he can take whatever job he wants! Although Miles and Fedora didn't work together, they both have Big 12 experience at OkSt, and as you mentioned, the connection through Miles' son. If UNC pulls the plug on Fedora, I think he comes to KU 100%!

[''] 4 years ago

Ain't no way KU pays a $12M buyout for a coordinator. I give it 10%

Dustin Peterson 4 years ago

Of course not! But that's only if Fedora were to leave UNC. If UNC fires Fedora, then UNC pays the buyout. I'm not sure how much time is left on his deal, but let's say it's 6 years. UNC would have to pay Fedora $12M over 6 years, or $2M/yr, if they fire him. If KU hires him as OC after he's fired, for say $300k/yr, then UNC would get to deduct that salary from the buyout and only pay him $1.7M/yr. Either way, Fedora gets his money, so doing an OC stint on what could be a really great staff with plenty of booster money rolling in may be just what he's looking for.

Brett McCabe 4 years ago

Slight change of subject....but I was thinking about what Miles' strategy would be for the first few days on the job? It would seem that he might start with the near-miss guys who haven't signed (the QB from Overland Park, for example). Though he can't really communicate too much with the current staff, I would think that the Assoc. AD would be able to bring all of the recruiting information directly to Miles. With his name, he might be able to get a handful of these guys to take a second look.

If he's keeping Hull, then he'd be able to get going quickly right after Thanksgiving with an ally.

Wondering what the best approach would be....

[''] 4 years ago

Has the big recruit Legendre QB from LA signed somewhere else yet?

Eric Eakins 4 years ago

247sports is still showing him as uncommitted with 22 school's he has expressed interest in. He's been offered scholarships from about every southern football program out there including bama.

[''] 4 years ago

He starts Day One here. At the other programs he has too much competition to play immediately. Right?

Andy Godwin 4 years ago

All Miles needed to due was watch the Rams’ and Chiefs’ defensive battle on Monday night to understand where football, both pro and college is going. I listen to Ray Lewis recently and he is disgusted with this direction, but most young players love this wide open style of football. The Big 12 has been emulating these high powered pro offensive for a number of years and now you can see that the top four contenders for the NC are passing more and scoring more. Years past if KU could score 40 on OU, I would expect to win. The rules have changed to favor offenses because more and more fans enjoy this style. However, I found it interesting that the first KU player Miles meantioned was on the defense, C. Harris. I still believe in controlling the clock and playing sound defense (KSU was success under Snyder but their fans are no longer satisfied); however, that is not necessarily the norm in 2018 for the younger generation of players.

Brett McCabe 4 years ago

When everyone else zigs, then it’s a good time to zag. Power football all day long!

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