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Colleges

LSU’s Miles may use tricks at Outback Bowl

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Published:   |   Updated: January 1, 2014 at 12:41 AM

TAMPA — You might see the LSU holder flip a blind pass over his shoulder to the kicker during this afternoon’s Outback Bowl game against Iowa.

Or you might see the Tigers go for it on fourth down once, twice, three times.

Or a tight-end reverse.

Or anything, really.

With LSU coach Les Miles, the possibility of trick plays, bold plays, head-scratching plays are always in play.

“It’s always good to have that on your side,” LSU linebacker D.J. Welter said.

Miles is known as the “Mad Hatter,” a nickname given to him as much for the ball cap he wears on the sideline to his method of a little bit of madness.

Fake punts? Why not.

A pass to the end zone with the final seconds ticking away when a field goal would win the game? Once worked against Auburn.

It’s a trait that drives LSU Tigers fans crazy when they work and crazier when they fail.

It also keeps opposing teams on their toes.

“For someone to make a big play like that doesn’t look good for your team,” Iowa linebacker Anthony Hitchens said.

The Tigers converted five fourth downs in a 2007 game against Florida. They once scored a touchdown against South Carolina off a field goal when holder Matt Flynn flipped the ball over his head to the kicker, who ran for a touchdown.

Miles may try some tricks this afternoon for Iowa. Or, he may not.

“I think everything has a percentage play for victory,” Miles said. “I think all those are specific to each game. It’s not something we carry into every contest. Those calls are really a game-day decision.”

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz will have the Hawkeyes prepared just in case.

“You better be sound. Bowl games are like early season games, you never know what you’re going to see,” Ferentz said. “There are coaches who like to use gadget plays and trick plays, and he’s been very successful with those things and we have to be aware of that.”

The offbeat plays are a part of what makes Les Miles Les Miles.

Compared to a number of college football coaches, Miles is, well, offbeat.

He has a Twitter account with more than 123,600 followers.

To bring awareness to adoption in Louisiana last summer, Miles rapelled down the side of a 24-story building in Baton Rouge.

In 2006, Miles took part in a USO Tour and visited troops in Iraq and Kuwait.

It is well-known that Miles eats grass.

During games, Miles will grab a few blades of grass and chew it, a habit that he said humbles him and allows him to become one with the field and the game. He also said LSU’s Tiger Stadium has the best-tasting grass.

It was revealed during a September interview with the New York Times that Miles listens to the Zac Brown Band, Toby Keith and Lil Wayne, that he loved the movie “The Wolverine,” and that he keeps his fingers spread when he hunches over and claps during a game so as not to injure his fingers.

There is also a website, “The Quotable Les Miles,” with more than 600 quotes that would make Yogi Berra proud.

One example: “Louisiana has a heritage of great players that play their high school football within the boundaries of Louisiana.”

Miles once led the Tigers in the “The Harlem Shake,” a clip that drew nearly 2 million views on YouTube.

So it seems to reason that a coach this relaxed away from the field would be willing to try the unorthodox during the game.

“At the end of the day, you never know what we’re going to do,” LSU right guard Trai Turner said. “We don’t always know what we’re going to do.”

Of course, Turner and the rest of the Tigers love this.

“I think there’s an enjoyment in making a play that takes more skill to execute,” Miles said. “I think our team likes to be challenged that way, enjoys that.”

Welter said he gets a kick out of the attention Miles receives on national TV and loves the threat that goes along with the “Mad Hatter” mystique.

“Whenever he does pull off something like that, it kind of sparks up the media,” Welter said. “It’s kind of good to have. It works in our favor in the game. The other team doesn’t know what to expect.”

 

rmooney@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7227

Twitter: @RMooneyTBO

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