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LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 4, 2019
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
ED ORGERON: What a great week for LSU. Excited to see the team. Last time I saw them was on Thursday, we had the Tiger Bowl. We had some young guys do very well. Older guys were coaching it. Had a lot of fun. Hopefully got to rest on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and come back today with a great attitude, I know this they will. Can't wait to see them. And we're going to get onto Alabama, a big game for our football team, big game for our fans, great week for LSU Tigers. We're looking forward to this week of preparation, focus on our football team and with our fundamentals on our tackling and get better.
A little scouting report on Alabama's offense, as you guys probably know very well. The offense is a spread. Return starters six. Almost 50 points a game, 49 points a game. 506 yards total rushing. 168, 338 passing. Tua's a fantastic player as well, a great competitor, we totally expect him to play. Harris is an outstanding running back, breaks a lot of tackles. Great wide receiver corps led by Jerry Jeudy, very fast, those guys make a lot of plays.
On defense they're basically a 4-3 only five returning starters only giving up 15 points a game. Top defensive players are Jennings, Lewis and Diggs. They're very good, very talented. Play smart football. On special teams they're very good, explosive, led buy Jaylen Waddle number 17, excellent receiver. Henry rugs, very fast, excellent receiver. Excellent return guys. Any questions?
Q. Could you give us an update of status on Michael Divinity and where he's at with the team and his situation?
ED ORGERON: Michael Divinity has left the team for personal reasons.
Q. And how does the, how do you see the outside linebacker depth filling in his absence?
ED ORGERON: K'Lavon Chaisson has been taking most of the reps. So Anthony is going to be there, Ray Thornton is going to be there, we should be fine.
Q. A couple years ago we were in Tuscaloosa and I asked you and you said, we're coming. What's prepared your team for this moment, where you feel maybe better equipped as one of the best teams in the country to take on another one of the best teams in the country?
ED ORGERON: I like our quarterback, obviously. I like the way our offense is putting points on the board. We have gotten better on the line of scrimmage on the offensive side of the football. I feel like our guys have been tested against Auburn, they have been tested against Florida, obviously they are going to be tested again this week. I do believe we have better depth on the defensive line. I think that our guys are equipped and this is the best football team we have had going into this game.
Q. How much of this game is psychology in terms of you're playing a game this week, you're not playing the previous eight games or the game you played last year against Alabama, and believing you can win?
ED ORGERON: It has nothing to do with it. Just like when we play Auburn or what happened in the past has nothing to do with this. This is a new game, new week, a new football team, so with new players on our side, new players on their side, has nothing to do with it.
Q. A year ago you said that the line of scrimmage was so key to that game and you're saying that you are feeling better about that. It's the same guys on the team. What do you think has made the difference?
ED ORGERON: Last year they hurt us in the run up the middle. I think Tyler is playing really, really well. He wasn't in shape last year, wasn't as good as his fundamentals. I think Rashard Lawrence is playing well, Glen Logan, we have some backups that are playing very well. So I feel good about our interior, I feel good about our corps, I feel good about our tackling since the Vanderbilt game. Again, we're going to be tested, they're going to make some plays but I feel that we're very well equipped.
Q. I know that you love D-line play. How would you evaluate Alabama's defensive line this year?
ED ORGERON: Reakwon, obviously, is an outstanding player. I recruited him, he uses his hands very well. They have some young players up there, they still play with great technique, still hold the line of scrimmage, still good rushers. Are they as dominant as they have been in the past? We're going to find out. There's some new players there, some new freshmen starting, they're good players, they just don't have the experience that they had years, in years past.
Q. When you took the job three years ago you cited Alabama as the benchmark for the SEC and for your program. I'm curious how much ground, how do you compare the programs, how much ground have you made up?
ED ORGERON: You can tell by the rankings it looks like we made up some ground but we still got to beat them. You still got to beat them, you still got to go through them to win the SEC west to win the SEC championship. We have had some tests this year, we've answered the bell. And I do believe we have tremendous leadership, I do believe we're well equipped to compete with these guys, I believe it's going to be a great game.
Q. Off the field the program in general, do you feel like that the staffing and resources, do you feel like y'all made up ground there?
ED ORGERON: No question. I think the hiring of the Joe Brady, I think the keeping Dave Aranda, having the analysts that we have, I believe that Greg McMahon's an excellent special teams coordinator. I'll match this staff on anybody.
Q. Have you ever seen this much wide receiver talent on a field in a game like this?
ED ORGERON: No. No.
Q. How do you feel like that plays in this game and how are you prepared for Alabama's talent there?
ED ORGERON: Well it goes to show you the direction of the SEC. The spread. All the top players in the country have an interest in coming to play in the SEC. So we basically can go anywhere in the country and get the top receiver. We have just been fortunate we have had great receivers here in the state of Louisiana. Which all three of our receivers are from the state of Louisiana, so we're excited about that. But you know what, we're able to attract top talent across the country. We have a great wide receiver recruiting class right now, so I think it's a tribute to having a great quarterback and a spread offense.
Q. Certainly talent and preparation matter in games like this, but does confidence, and if it does, does having that guy in Joe Burrow give you that advantage?
ED ORGERON: No question. He made some comments to me already right after the last game, so he's going to be ready, he's a leader, we have been looking forward to this game but we're not going to treat this game different than any other game. This is the next game in our schedule, there will be bigger games down the road for us. But we understand, we have respect for Alabama, we understand what they do well, we understand what we do well, it's going to be a great game.
Q. For the record, is there a possibility for Divinity to return potentially?
ED ORGERON: We are not going to close the door on that. But we'll see.
Q. And then a plan for Grant Delpit this week?
ED ORGERON: Yeah, Grant has a slight injury. We do believe that he's going to practice a little bit today, practice a little bit tomorrow, and we'll be totally healthy for the game Saturday.
Q. Now that you faced off with Alabama a few times as a head coach, just in terms in the way you prepare your team for it going into the week, have you learned any lessons, I guess, in that sense?
ED ORGERON: Yeah, you know don't over-hype it. There's going to be enough hype out there. Just stick to the fundamentals. Although there's great wide receivers, there's great quarterbacks, you still have to win the line of scrimmage here. Last year we didn't win the line of scrimmage, they ran the ball on us. The year before they threw the ball on us. So we are going to have to play well in every area and in every football team. But it just goes back to fundamentals and this week tackling is going to be a premium. They're very dangerous with yards after contact. That's where they make most of their plays.
Q. I think it is my turn. I know you want to treat it like another game. It's 1 against 2, man. How do you define what's at stake Saturday?
ED ORGERON: Well, SEC championship, SEC West, going to the SEC championship, having a chance to be in the college football playoffs, having a chance to win the National Championship. I mean, that's, but that's for us as every game in the SEC. I mean, to get to where you want to go, it seems like you have to go undefeated, you have to beat Alabama, you have to keep on going, and then you have to win the SEC championship. Then you have to get to the college football playoffs. So if you start thinking about all that stuff it becomes overwhelming for your football team. But we know what's at stake and we don't talk about that. Today is going to be tell-the-truth Monday. I'm going to talk more about the Tiger Bowl than anything, about the guys that played well, because I want our guys loose and relaxed and go play our football game.
Q. Do you expect Tua to play?
ED ORGERON: Sure.
Q. And that answers that question. And do you think that if either one of these teams gets to the end with one loss that the one-loss team deserves to be in the playoffs?
ED ORGERON: I can see that. Obviously that's not my, that's not for me to decide but I can see that. And obviously two very good football teams and you go through a conference like that, you got to play each other, you got to the top of the polls in each category, I think that they will deserve a shot, yeah.
Q. When you talk about LSU-Alabama, people around here talk about it so much it's like you can't see the forest through the trees. But Joe Brady's not from here, right? So what do you think, does Joe Brady, has he brought a new perspective on this game and how to attack it?
ED ORGERON: Confidence. He's worked very hard on Alabama. We started on Alabama last spring. First of all, we looked at our game last year, which we didn't do very well, some of the things that we can do better. I think Joe's very good at dissecting film, very good at looking at strength and weaknesses and putting our guys in the right position. Him and Steve have worked tirelessly all week last week. One went out on Monday stayed at the stadium all weekend. Steve stayed in on Monday. He went out on Friday. So they took turns. They have been in the office all week. Obviously, I believe we're going to put our guys in the best position, but as you know players got to make plays. And we went down there two years ago and we had a skinny post open three times, we didn't hit it. You got to make the plays, but I do believe we have the quarterback to do it now.
Q. You have the facilities now and you are winning now. Alabama and LSU put a lot of players in the NFL. When you recruit, how much do you pitch that and do you kind of maybe put that in the background because it's three years away or you go right for it?
ED ORGERON: No question. When we recruit we talk about the NFL a lot. We talk about how many players we have in the NFL, how many first round draft choices we have, and also about the success that our players have in the NFL. That they don't go to the NFL and just bomb out. They have a lot of success, they're MVPs and they play for years to come. Believe it or not this recruiting class that we have recruited, which is 1,2,3,4,5 in the country, it changes, we recruited them without these facilities because of the allure of the SEC, the allure of LSU, because the education, the type of coaching they're going to get. So these facilities are going to help us. Obviously this is a big game in recruiting. Everybody's going to watch it, but so was the Florida game and so was the Auburn game.
Q. With Tua coming off of a surgery on an ankle maybe limiting his mobility a little bit, how much more important is the pass rush and how do you without Justin and Michael now maybe tweak some of that third down packages?
ED ORGERON: Well, Steve has taken over and he reminds me a lot of what we did at USC. There's a lot of gap passes, there's a lot of max protection, taking shots, crossing routes down the field. So he's only got sacked nine times. A lot of people are getting to him. Obviously, on the RPO's maybe a power and a slant behind it. So the defensive line is playing the run while they're throwing the football behind you so there's not been a lot of pressure on him. Obviously last year I thought we did put some pressure on him, especially with the quarterback that's not very mobile. If he does play I don't know if he is going to be mobile or not so we'll find out.
Q. Talking about defending Alabama, these four wide receivers they have that run 4.4 or better, it seems like they run these quick slants, they catch it, and it's over. How do you defend that? And with your defensive backs you've talked about the best group you've been around?
ED ORGERON: We're talking about that at 6 o'clock this morning, to be honest with you. About the outside release slant. We saw other teams not playing it very well and they make big plays, we have all seen that. I do believe that if they're playing man coverage you're probably going to catch the slant. But it should be three- or four-yard gain, not for a 10- or 15-yard gain. I believe that the tackles that we make in the open field are going to be critical. We're going to have to take those things away. Obviously when you take those things away you give up something else and they're very good at finding it. So it's going to be a chess match. I do believe that Coach Aranda has been working on this for a long time along with our analysts and that we have a very good game plan. But it's going to come down to blocking and tackling, it always does.
Q. There's a lot of talk about quarterback play and wide receiver, but Clyde Edwards coming off arguably his best game of the season. How has he developed as a running back this year and just since he's come to LSU?
ED ORGERON: Very proud of Clyde. I said it many a times, Clyde is, when he walks in the room, he's 6'-4". He has a great mentality, he has a great pride about himself, he has great vision. Give credit to the offensive line, obviously in the Florida game. These guys started running very well. And the Auburn game they played seven DB's, was tough sledding on the pass and we found a little crack in the run. And so the biggest thing about Clyde is he takes care of that football. And the one of the things that we have to do in this game, we have to take care of the football, cause turnovers. Alabama's plus 13, we're plus four. So we have to do a very good job of taking care that have football.
Q. You guys have gone fast in games, slow in games, you've changed it up, formations throughout a game. How better this year have you seen your team adjust game plan during a game?
ED ORGERON: Yeah, I think our coaches have done a phenomenal job. We're cohesive as a coaching staff. One thing about Steve and Joe Brady and Dave Aranda and Greg McMahon it's about winning a football game, it's not about stats but whatever it takes to win the football game. Obviously we're going to go fast and we're going to switch it up. It all depends on the pulse of the game and we're communicating on the headsets through each series, should we slow it down, is the defense tired, should we keep it up, do we have to score more points, should we run the football. It all depends on the flow of the game.
Q. Is the communication in the middle of the game that makes that work best or how much of the off season analyst stuff kind of plays in that, like what's kind of at the center of that?
ED ORGERON: I think it's a combination of all that. We do have a lot of information and we know what's best, but when you get in a game, when the bullets are flying, things change and you got to make decisions on the flow of the game.
Q. How would you describe that environment that you're about to revisit once again in Bryant-Denny Stadium and for the large number of Tiger fans making the trip up there this week what do you hope to see from them on Saturday afternoon?
ED ORGERON: Every stadium I've gone to since I've been at LSU all I hear is LSU when I get in there. I guess I have selective hearing. But our fans will follow us, obviously it's an outstanding atmosphere, I do believe there's nothing like Tiger Stadium on Saturday night that could match it. Obviously this is going to be like a heavyweight fight, it will be loud. But you know what, we're used to doing that, we have been on the road and our team, we're going to have the crowd noise this week and we'll be ready to go.
Q. What do you remember about Alabama recruiting you out of high school? Did they call you?
ED ORGERON: Yeah. Bear was going to come to my house. My daddy said nope. (Laughing).
Q. What would that have been like in your hometown and in your family had you gone?
ED ORGERON: Probably big, it would have probably been big. I forgot the assistant coach that recruited me and he said, Coach will want to come home visit. Asked my daddy and he said, Nuh-huh. That's the way it should be. I wish it was like that today.
Q. A couple years ago you said probably the way to beat Alabama or compete with Alabama is to have as many big physical guys on the line on both sides of the ball as they have. Are you there yet?
ED ORGERON: We're going to find out. I do believe we're closer. You know when you look at Tyler Shelvin he's 6-2, 6-3, 355 pounds playing like he does it helps us out. Damian Lewis I do believe the offensive line is playing better. So are they as good up front as they have been in the past, on the offensive and defensive line, we're going to find out. I do believe we have made up the ground, we'll find out on Saturday.
Q. One of your players last week mentioned that Alabama has a lot of similar plays like you guys have, but they do it in a way where you don't know it's the same play kind of that you guys run. So how do you get your guys prepared for that?
ED ORGERON: I do believe that we're going to focus in on a lot of formations, there's going to be some tendencies, but as we know, when you get into a game -- like last year they had new plays for us. They ran an inside trap or whatever you want to call it, counter on us, and we weren't prepared for it. So I think that we're going to have to prepare for some new plays, they're going to have a new scheme or two for our defense. Obviously for our offense, defense is big. They're going to try and use stuff, maybe stuff that we haven't seen before. But I do believe that we're better equipped now to get on the sideline, draw up the new plays that we're seeing, with all the coaches that we have, and identify them and we have a much more veteran group that they can make adjustments throughout the game.
Q. You obviously won a part of this game in 2011 when the final score was 9-6, but over the past decade, the last eight years, how much have you seen college football change from that to now two of the higher scoring offenses in the country?
ED ORGERON: Yeah, the spread offense is here to stay, the play of the quarterbacks and the receivers and the athletes, the skilled athletes is much more, it's much different than 21 personnel. Back then it used to be two backs in the back field, be a huddle, they would take their time, they would come to the line of scrimmage, run the play. And it's totally different. It's like basketball on grass now. But you know what, that's the way it is. You have to score points now to win in college football.
Q. Can you just summarize what you make of the quarterback play coming into this game for both teams and maybe just your experience having watched this game since a child how unusual it might be to have Heisman front runners behind center or both.
ED ORGERON: Well I'm glad that we have a great quarterback. And the championship teams that I've been on are always led by a great quarterback. Whether he was very talented, whether he had grit and character or toughness. I think our quarterback has it all and obviously Tua is an outstanding quarterback, so it's good to see. It's really good to see.
But I think the one thing that you'll find with both quarterbacks that I know of because I recruited Tua too, they're team players. It's about their football team, it's about winning and they're unselfish. I think that's what makes both of these guys outstanding football players.
Q. Sort of a recruiting kind of angle here. You can't sign everyone in these classes. Some Louisiana guys choose Alabama, Alabama guys choose LSU. But when it happens to some of these guys, the Dylan Moses, DeVonta Smith, those type of local guys in your backyard. How do you process that when they choose Alabama and can you talk about your relationship after they choose Alabama moving forward?
ED ORGERON: Recruiting is a battle, just like football, it's a battle, it's a battle to the very end. But after it's over it's over to me, it's done. We wish those guys the best. Obviously we want guys to do very well and I don't wish anything bad about them. Am I going to call them up and have a conversation with them? No, no, I'm really not. But I really, I focus on the guys that we get. Those are the guys that want to be at LSU, those are the guys that we told them in recruiting, hey we're going to be where we are at right now and we are and we're about to battle for the national championship when we get the great players and we are getting the great players and we are battling to be number one. And where we're at we're going to find out, this is a big test for us.
Q. This summer Dave Aranda talked about all the different things he's added to the playbook, being more multiple I guess. Is there still a good amount that he hasn't quite shown this season that he still has left in the tank?
ED ORGERON: Yeah, I mean, if we would run all the stuff that he has up on the board today, it would take 350 plays a game. The guy has a mind and something, he's always working on new stuff. Sometimes I got to go in there and go, oh, wait a minute.
But he's always working on new stuff, he's going to have something new this game, he always is competing to be the very best. We have a tremendous defensive staff, we have tremendous analysts that have been coordinators, so there's a lot of new ideas every week. It all depends what they present to us so we can defend it.
Q. We just talked about every aspect of this game down to the small details, but just when you break down the film and look at it and look in the mirror or how much does this motivate you guys, the fact that they have beaten you the last eight times and when you look at it from that simple fact to say --
ED ORGERON: We obviously, in the back of everyone's mind that can be a motivation. But this is a new team, they haven't beaten this team yet. And this is a new team, this team has not been there. These are new guys, these are new coaches, and let's see what happens. So we treat every game as a separate game. If we would have won eight games in a row I wouldn't say, hey we're going to win because we won eight games in a row, it just doesn't happen that way. So is it a motivation for the fans, is it a motivation for me, yes, it is. But we're not going to use that at all. This is a new team, new game.
Q. Since '11 they have had McCarron, Jalen Hurts and now Tua. The perception has been that they have had a real edge at the quarterback position. Do you think what Joe has been able to put together not only narrows that gap but puts you Even Steven with them and is a big part of what's going to happen this year?
ED ORGERON: Sure, sure, no question. I think that Joe is, like I said before, I'm not going to say he's a single most important recruit in LSU history, but he's one of the Top-5 for sure. And there's some guys that have changed this program, although they have had great players here, Joe is the reason we're able to have the success we're having on offense with the spread offense because's leader on the field, he's a quarterback on the field, he's very talented, from what I'm hearing he's going to be a very high draft choice, he has all the makings of an outstanding pro. I do believe he's this good for sure or better than the quarterback we're playing. But the only way to answer that is on the field.
Q. Kind of going off of that, in a game like this, how much more important is for your best players to be your best players and elevate their game to the next level in order to come home with a win?
ED ORGERON: Yeah, you know, I do believe this, they don't have to play any different this game than they played any other game. They just need to play their best. I don't want a player to go in there and think, hey, man, I got to do something that I'm not capable of doing. If we go in there and play our best in all three phases of the game we're going to be fine.
Q. We saw earlier in the year where you guys really turned your attention to tackling during the practice week special teams was an issue in the last game. How much of that has been a focus and how much better do you feel I guess moving into this week's preparation?
ED ORGERON: Yeah, we looked at personnel on special teams, we looked at what we were doing on special teams, especially in our punt return game. I think that coach is going to still make adjustments this week, we have some fundamental things to get better at, we're going to get tested but Coach McMahon is going to have a great plan.
Q. When LSU played Alabama in the past there was this idea that if you shut down one player, Leonard or Derrius, the rest of the offense could pick up the slack. Now, I mean even your tight end is a big weapon now. How do you feel about your ability to spread the ball around and different people getting involved?
ED ORGERON: I feel good, I feel good about Ja'Marr Chase, feel good about Justin Jefferson, I feel good about Terrence Marshall, I feel good about our backups, I feel good about our tight end, I feel good about our quarterback, I feel good about our two running backs, those guys are going to come ready to play, I believe in those guys. I would not want anybody else in the country on our offense or our defense than our football team that we have right here. I believe in these guys.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports