LSU coach Les Miles and his players celebrate after a 12-10 win over Saturday. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Monday, September 24, 2012 9:23 PMNone of the nine penalties LSU committed against Auburn last week would be considered felonies in most states. But head coach Les Miles wants them cleaned up anyway.
He also said he didn’t doubt that any of them were legitimate. But he still planned to have a chat with the Southeastern Conference’s head of officials for some clarification.
“The good news is our team understands the position they’re in,” Miles said. “If they want to win the (SEC West) division or conference, they’re going to have to fix that.
“It’s sloppy and gives your opponent every opportunity to stay in that game.”
It was certainly the case Saturday as the Tigers, despite almost doubling Auburn’s total offense, had to hang on for a 12-10 nail-biter victory.
“We gave them 80 yards (in penalties) and they just barely rushed for that many,” Miles pointed out.
“We handle an opponent much more efficiently if we don’t make some of those mistakes.”
Most damaging were the four personal foul penalties, all of which had a big effect on field position for an LSU team that feeds off of it with its stingy defense and power running game.
All four came on change-of-possession plays, including following Luke Muncie’s interception at the LSU 44 — which backed the Tigers up to their own 29 start the drive.
LSU also got backed up to its own 6 following an Auburn punt and gave the War Eagles 15 yards to start their own possession after a punt had backed them up to the 20.
But maybe the most glaring came after the Tigers had forced Auburn to punt from its own 9-yard line.
LSU was guilty of holding during the punt return and, after it was over, was hit with a personal foul.
When it was sorted out, with both penalties stepped off, instead of getting the ball near midfield, LSU started the drive at its own 13-yard line.
“You’d have to say, (there were) no egregious fouls,” Miles said. “This was guys unpiling and trying to get somebody off of a teammate, not jacking somebody from behind. In my opinion. There were no cheap shots in any way.”
But, the game had gotten a little chippy and was being called closely to keep it from getting out of hand. And Miles did point out LSU had no penalties in the fourth quarter.
“Our guys have to recognize how the game is going to be officiated,” he said. “In several instances, there are good, clean honest mistakes. In several instances, it was getting a guy off of another guy. It’s always been the unfortunate position that the retaliation gets the penalty. That was true on some.
“I recognize the (penalty) calls, and the calls certainly are legitimate calls. I am not going to argue with that. I’m going to speak with the head of officials and kind of get his view again. I would not argue with the calls.”
Miles’ biggest question appeared to be on the personal foul that looked the worst of television — when defensive end Lavar Edwards leveled Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier following Muncie’s interception.
“It was a legal block,” Miles said. “It could have only been about the timing of the clock. It’s difficult to tell (on film) when the whistle is blown.
“It’s impossible for a guy like Lavar, who’s facing away from the play, blocking for an interception return that never came off because (Muncie) got tackled ... there were a couple of times where, whether the whistle was blown or not was certainly the key, right? Who was close enough to the ball to be necessary (to block) or not necessary.
“I’m certain that there will be a view of that from the conference and I will comply and listen.”
Regardless, Miles sees it as a coachable moment and wants it cleaned up.
“I’m just trying to make sure that our guys understand that it’s about victory, that it’s not about ‘I’m tougher or I got to show ...’ No, no, no, there’s nothing in a priority list that you would take onto the field that would stand above the word victory.
“You have to choose not to make that contact because of victory — not because you don’t want to, not because it’s not an enjoyable piece of the game, but because it could be illegal and we don’t want to be penalized.
“Guys that are making mistakes like that are really giving something to an opponent that the opponent is not entitled to.”