BATON ROUGE, La. – Les Miles has seen LSU win 100 games in all sorts of ways during his decade coaching the Tigers.
So while he praised the power running and clutch defense his team used to outlast Florida last weekend, Miles wasn't inclined to hint at whether Kentucky should expect more of the same this Saturday.
"My kind of game is any game that the Tigers win, so you know. I'll take it sliced and diced, and salad on the side," Miles said in his typically quirky way. "It doesn't make a difference to me."
Milestones aside, Miles' 10th season in Baton Rouge hasn't been his best.
The Tigers' first home loss to Mississippi State since 1991 was followed two weeks later by a blow-out defeat at Auburn, after which LSU fell out of the AP Top 25 poll for the first time since 2008. Such developments have plenty of LSU fans using terms like, "rebuilding year," over the air waves and on social media.
Yet Miles entered this week with the temperament of a man who knows he has had a good run, and who is hopeful that a season which has begun with a pair of early losses in the brutal Southeastern Conference still holds the promise of "something special."
During his regular Monday meeting with media, Miles took a moment near the end of his introductory statement to reflect on his record at LSU, which already guarantees him an average of at least 10 victories per season through 2014.
He thanked "the players that I've coached for these years, the assistant coaches that put our game plans together and the people on the perimeter of my building that really made a difference."
"Frankly, you don't have the opportunity to have the kind of success we've had without everything in place, and LSU gives us that," Miles added. "So to those people, I just want to say thanks, and 100 victories is a significant piece for me and one that I will remember."
Safety Rickey Jefferson estimated that he has known coach Les Miles for at least seven years, going back to around the time LSU recruited his older brother, Jordan, a former Tigers quarterback.
The younger Jefferson said it meant a lot to him to make a pivotal last-game interception in Florida and see his coach get a commemorative game ball from senior running back Terrence Magee after the Tigers had wrapped up their 23rd fourth-quarter comeback of the Miles era.
"He's a genuine person. And a guy like that, everybody loves to play for," Jefferson said. "He cares about his players. He takes care of us, and it was just amazing for me to be a part of that."
Veterans like offensive guard Vadal Alexander calls Miles "a great teacher," and said the coach has the admiration of upper classmen, none of whom on the current roster have experienced a season with fewer than 10 wins. He said veterans also feel a responsibility to make sure younger players don't lose faith in Miles' methods when the team stumbles.
"Definitely, one of the big things is to tell young guys, 'He knows what he's doing. He's been successful doing it. There's a reason he's doing it. Just trust him,'" Alexander said.
At 5-2, LSU still could reach double-digit wins for a fifth straight season, though it won't be easy. The Tigers, who need one more victory for bowl eligibility, close the regular season against Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Texas A&M.
LSU appears to have settled its quarterback situation for now, with sophomore Anthony Jennings playing the entire Florida game, though Miles said freshman Brandon Harris, who started at Auburn, could see action this weekend. The Tigers also are encouraged by the steady emergence of freshman running back Leonard Fournette, who had 140 yards and two touchdowns against the Gators.
Alexander alluded to LSU's two-loss national championship squad in the 2007 season when he discussed the goals the Tigers still have as they prepare to host resurgent Kentucky (5-1, 2-1), which is in contention in the SEC East race.
"We don't look at it as a rebuilding year. We look at it as a year to keep getting better," Alexander said. "Just because you have a couple losses does not mean the season is over with at all. ... A lot of great teams in LSU history have had two losses and gone on and had great seasons — and that's the kind of team we want to be."