MORGANTOWN - Les Miles may have a national championship on his resume, but that hasn't stopped the LSU faithful from placing a target squarely on the sixth-year Tiger coach's back.
Yes, LSU was 34-6 in Miles' first three seasons. Yes, the Tigers won a national title in 2007, thanks in great part to West Virginia (the Tigers never would have reached the title game against Ohio State that year had the Mountaineers beaten Pitt in the final game of the regular season).
And yes, there are coaches all over the Southeastern Conference that would give their headsets for Miles' resume.
The fact of the matter is, though, LSU was just 8-5 the year after that title and unranked. The Tigers improved to 9-4 last season, but lost a bowl game to Penn State and finished "just'' 17th in the country.
Worst of all, in those two seasons Miles lost as many SEC games as he won, going 8-8.
So with all of that in mind - and knowing full well that expectations in Baton Rouge are higher than most other college towns - Miles certainly isn't crowing about his team's 3-0 start to the 2010 season. Shoot, if the No. 15 Tigers beat No. 22 West Virginia Saturday night at home, it will be the fourth straight 4-0 start. Look where the last two got him.
No, until it is quite obvious that LSU has regained its swagger, Miles is going to downplay every success.
"I felt like we improved. We are not there. We are not in any way happy at the position we are at,'' Miles said. "But we are doing the things that we need to do to ensure victory. We are playing great defense and making sure we are doing the right things with the ball on the offensive side and playing quality special teams.''
If this LSU team is going to break out of that two-year slump, it is probably going to be because of defense. The Tigers are, in a word, vicious on that side of the football. They are No. 16 in the nation in run defense, No. 25 in total defense and have given up just 34 points in three games, despite not yet playing a patsy (North Carolina in a neutral-site game and SEC games against Vanderbilt and Mississippi State).''
Yes, the Tigers are winning despite ranking No. 115 in the country in passing and 91st in total offense.