BATON ROUGE, La. — Les Miles sent a bit of a mixed message Tuesday, explaining his reasoning for suspending offensive lineman Josh Boutte this week for a late hit on Wisconsin defensive back D’Cota Dixon following Dixon’s game-clinching interception in the Badgers’ 16-14 win. Miles said the play was uncalled for, but also refused to go so far as to say it was dirty.
“Josh made a mistake,” Miles said. “He certainly called their player, D’Cota Dixon, and apologized and spent time on the phone to let him know what his take of the play was, and really wanted him to know that there was no — he didn’t mean to hurt him. He didn’t want to hurt him. He asked if he’d hurt him, and he had not.”
So what, pray tell, was Boutte’s take on the play?
“Josh was protecting on the backside of a play and then turned, and it would be my thought that he saw him down. But this guy was not necessarily as big as Josh, and so you don’t know if that short guy is down or if he picked up that ball, okay, and that now, is this a live play (in Boutte’s mind),” Miles said. “It was an instinctive reaction when color went running by him with the ball carrier.”
The officials saw it differently, of course, given that Boutte’s reaction was a WWE-style clotheslining rather than a traditional tackle.
“I talked to the head of officials, and he says, the reason I called it egregious was because he didn’t try and tackle him,” Miles said. “Well, when you’re 6-6 and you weigh 330, you have a difficult time bending your body down to get anything on a guy that’s flying by there, so whatever you can get your body to do, you do. That’s why offensive line bodies don’t play defense.”
Despite his logical defense of why Boutte did what he did, there will be a consequence of sitting out this week’s game against Jacksonville State.
“He was very sorry, and then on the other hand, that kind of action doesn’t belong in football,” Miles said. “And we want to make sure that we are in that teaching mode, and so we suspend him for a game.”