Miles says Tigers will keeping plugging away at passing game

By By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

It had been rumored, but LSU showed beyond any reasonable doubt Saturday against Texas A&M that the Tigers really can throw

the ball the deep.

That’s half the battle. Now, they just have to learn to catch the deep pass.

“If we’d hit some of them, it could have been a different (easier) game,” LSU head coach Les Miles said after the 24-19 victory.

“But we didn’t. We had to win another way.”

In the end, LSU, tried and true, had to

turn to its old reliables — a defense that, after some early struggles

of its own,

kept the Tigers in the game and hand-delivered five turnovers to

the offense, which mostly had to use its usual power running

game at crunch time.

But it wasn’t for lacking of trying other things.

Now, with a week off before the annual showdown with Alabama, Miles promised the No. 6 Tigers (7-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference)

will keep working on alternative means of offense.

It ran the gamut Saturday from turning quarterback Zach Mettenberger loose with the deep ball to splitting Mettenberger out

as a wide receiver (totally ignored by the Aggies) while his teammates ran LSU’s version of the wildcat offense.

The results were the same. The Tigers eventually ran for 219 yards and Mettenberger completed only 11 of 29 for just 97 yards

— not exactly the balanced attack Miles has been searching for.

Texas A&M’s defensive tactics weren’t exactly new for LSU as the Aggies, like most opponents, stacked most of its defense

up near the line, basically daring the Tigers to throw.

“I wasn’t surprised,” Mettenberger said. “Before this game, we hadn’t really taken many shots downfield. Everyone is going

to try to stop the run against us.”

The conditions at Kyle Field Saturday were hardly optimal for airing it out, what with a steady and strong north wind blowing.

Apparently, though, Miles had seen enough team portraits at the immediate line of scrimmage. He not only had Mettenberger

throw a season-high 29 times, he unloaded really deep passes on at least a six or seven occasions.

The only success came on a medium throw when Kadron Boone made an over-the-shoulder diving catch in the end zone just before

halftime that gave the Tigers the lead for good, 14-12.

LSU’s first touchdown pass against an SEC opponent this season actually was No. 2 on ESPN’s plays of the day.

Maybe it was the oddity factor.

But the lack of connections with the bombs-away philosophy has not deterred Miles.

“We’re going to hit some of those deep shots eventually,” he said. “It’s not only going to be enough, it’ll be way enough.

Problem is, we’ve got to him them.”

Miles said he liked the way Mettenberger “managed the game” — no turnovers while A&M’s more heralded Johnny Manziel threw

three interceptions — and still thinks his own quarterback can be a successful thrower.

“That’s why Mettenberger’s there,” Miles said. “Mettenberger can throw the thing. We have to throw it some more. We have to

practice it some more, and maybe we’ll hit it next time.”

“If everybody (on defense) is going to stand in around the ball, we’re going to enjoy opportunities to throw it.”

LSU receivers have also struggled at times, but Miles is also confident in their talent.

“We have a nice receiving corps, we’ve just got to get them comfort,” Miles said. “We have guys that can run and catch it.”

“Next time we have to capitalize on the deep balls,” Mettenberger said.