Miles refutes Spurrier's claim
By CARL DUBOIS
Published: Sep 27, 2007
LSU football coach Les Miles refuted allegations by South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier there were helmet-to-helmet hits by LSU blockers on a punt return Saturday in the Tigers’ 28-16 victory against the Gamecocks.
“There was no helmet-to-helmet contact,” Miles said Wednesday during a Southeastern Conference teleconference.
A few minutes later, Spurrier reacted to Miles’ interpretation of events.
“You guys need to go watch the tape,” Spurrier told reporters.
The CBS video of the play is inconclusive. Several LSU blocks, and the initial hit by South Carolina’s Captain Munnerlyn on LSU punt returner Jared Mitchell, are close enough calls at full speed to justify a closer look, but slow-motion replays reveal no clear helmet-to-helmet blows.
NCAA rules prohibit “spearing,” the use of a helmet to butt or ram an opponent in an attempt to punish him.
Spurrier made his initial comments Tuesday at his regular weekly news conference with reporters in Columbia, S.C.
After a reporter asked if LSU was guilty of dirty play against the Gamecocks, Spurrier replied with a long, meandering commentary. Before concluding the Tigers played “fair,” Spurrier brought up a series of plays that troubled him, and he danced back and forth across the line of calling LSU’s play dirty.
“No,” Spurrier said after his monologue, “LSU, I thought, played fair. There’s no problems except for that one punt return when they had a few clips there, but anyway … .”
An illegal block in the back against LSU negated Mitchell’s 78-yard punt return into the end zone midway through the second quarter.
“They had a couple of helmet-to-helmet hits on that punt return,” Spurrier said in his initial response. “They had about five (penalties) on that one.”
A handful of penalty flags littered the field during Mitchell’s return.
Spurrier said it looked like the Tigers took liberties with what he called a “penalty play,” thinking they could take some free shots once they knew they’d already been flagged for an infraction.
“They knew that one flag was already thrown there, so one guy caught (punter) Ryan (Succop) in the back of the helmet,” Spurrier said, “and then he gave his NFL thing (crossed-arms celebration) on the flag.
“That was a little ... but I’ve never, well, I guess I have accused some teams of playing dirty,” Spurrier said.
“They did a little bit on that play, but the others — no, they were OK.”
He said the Tigers saw the first flag thrown and concluded “well, they can’t penalize us any more. Let’s go take a shot.”
Spurrier said, “They had about, what’d they have, about four or five clips on that play? It appeared that way. I’m sure it was an accident.”
Miles acknowledged LSU’s Jai Eugene was guilty of a block in the back, for which the Tigers were penalized 10 yards after Mitchell’s run was nullified.
“The one that the flag was thrown on was a push in the back,” Miles said, “and the second clip was a helmet-to-back, helmet-to-shoulder (hit), but there was no helmet-to-helmet contact, in my opinion.”
Miles said the Tigers were guilty only of poor fundamentals.
“The issue,” he said, “is we need to correct our technique. There’s, in my opinion, poor technique being employed, and it’s something that we’re going to work on again (Wednesday) in that phase of our special teams.”
Miles on Monday said better technique could help tackle Marlon Favorite avoid the type of face-mask penalty he incurred after sacking South Carolina quarterback Chris Smelley. Spurrier seemed bothered by Favorite’s “little celebration” after the play, during which Smelley’s helmet flew off his head.
Spurrier acknowledged the official “did throw the penalty” flag. Favorite said he didn’t know at first he’d pulled off Smelley’s helmet.
Favorite also said the Tigers don’t play dirty. He had another explanation for the ongoing discussion in South Carolina.
“I think it just comes from us being so aggressive,” Favorite said. “We practice hard every day out here, work hard in the offseason during the summer, have extremely good conditioning coaches and stuff like that.”
He said his aggressive style of play dates to his childhood in the Greater New Orleans area.
“Me, personally, ever since I was small, I can remember being, like, a real small kid on the West Bank, just going out there, and it could be 40 degrees outside and I’d go out there with no jacket, snot running all down my nose, still playing through a football tackle,” Favorite said.
“Not only me ... We have other guys on our defense. Our offensive players run tough and stuff like that. I think it’s just people just think we’re going to play dirty because we’re showing up aggressive. I think it’s more of an aggression than being dirty.”
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