Miles’ playcalling sorcery rears its head again

Published 10:30 am Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Les Miles is a necromancer. There’s no other way to explain it.

If Gandalf coached SEC football and liked to eat grass, Miles would still find a way to beat him in the fourth quarter on a play that would make you believe in magic. You shall not pass on the Mad Hatter.

LSU pulled off another one of its signature primetime victories Saturday night in Houston’s NRG Stadium, combining an outpouring of points in the fourth quarter with a little bit of dumb luck and a whole lot of raw talent to complete a 17-point comeback over No. 14 Wisconsin. And the whole thing was started in vintage Les Miles fashion, the kind that makes LSU fans throw their Miller Lite cans at the TV in disgust before lapping up the puddle on the ground so as to not waste alcohol.

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The Tigers’ first half was “Hangover” sequel bad. Wisconsin jumped out to a 17-7 lead behind the legs of Melvin Gordon, and LSU had more penalties than rushing yards after two quarters. To make things worse, Wisconsin’s Heisman-contending running back broke off a 60-plus yard scamper to start the second half, extending a lead that would have ended the night of any mortal man.

But not Les Miles.

The sorcerer of the SEC just dusted of his spell book and picked his potion, this time deciding on a fake punt from his own 45-yard line after going three-and-out while down 17 points. LSU lined up with the wrong personnel in place, and the Tigers ran the fake with a middle linebacker, who promptly rumbled past the marker for a first down. The only way it could get any more Les Miles was if the ref threw a flag for delay of game and he called a timeout anyway.

The fake punt completely swung the game’s momentum, and even though LSU only managed to kick a field goal because of it, everyone who had seen this episode before knew it was the beginning of the end for Wisconsin. The Tigers continued to chip away at the Badgers, eventually ending with 20 consecutive points to secure the W and add yet another chapter to the Les Miles Wins Somehow Playbook.

After the game, Miles talked about his decision to run a fake at what seemed like the most inopportune time with the wrong players in a game that was all but over.

“We felt like we had to make a play and we didn’t have the right personnel in the stinking game,” he said. “I was madder than hell.”

Well, Les, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Cory Gunkel is a reporter. He can be reached at 601-636-4545, or by email at