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October 5, 2020

Ed Orgeron

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

Weekday Press Conference

ED ORGERON: Tell the truth Monday, really pleased for the performance of our football team. Went on the road to get a victory against Vanderbilt, and we did it. A lot of players played very well. Still some things to improve, but we made a lot of improvement from week 1 to week 2. Hopefully this week we make the same amount of improvement.

On offense, 41 points. We scored 30 or more points in nine straight games, 300 yards passing for 11 straight games, zero allowed sacks at Vanderbilt. Got to give credit to Coach James Craig and the offensive line, especially Cam Wire, who started at left tackle, played every snap, did very well. Very pleased with the play of the offensive line.

Very pleased to see John Emery have his career best 300 yards rushing. Johnny made some great cuts to the outside, made some good runs to the inside. The thing I'm most pleased with is zero turnovers, and he has done a great job of taking care of the football. He's becoming a complete back.

Myles Brennan, the first player in LSU history to have 300-plus passing yards in his first two career starts. Passing yards, 682, completions 50, TD passes 7. Most of any LSU quarterback in the first two career starts in school history. Pretty good start for Myles.

Terrence Marshall had another big game. Jontre Kirklin, two touchdowns. I was so excited to see Jontre have those two touchdown catches. He's done a tremendous job for us, an LSU Tiger, right there from Lutcher High School.

11 players caught passes versus Vanderbilt, spreading the ball around. We're plus 3 in the turnover margin. We have six take-aways in two games. Of six take-aways this year, four have led to points. A tremendous job by the whole team there.

On defense, very impressed with the performance of our defense, especially the yards after catch, only 60 yards compared to 383 the week before. Tremendous improvement on assignments. Tremendous improvement on getting to the football. We had three sacks, two interceptions, seven first downs, 63 total yards in the second half. Tremendous job of making some adjustments and coming back and playing 60 minutes of football. Two stops in the red zone.

Obviously, having Derek Stingley made a difference for us in the backfield. Flott had four tackles, two tackles for a loss. Second play of the game, when he came and made that tackle on that bubble screen, I knew we were ready to play just by the way we flew to the football and we tackled. Todd Harris, two interceptions.

Special teams, all three of Zach's punts were down inside the 20. 2 of 2 on field goals, a 53 and a 31-yarder. 25 yards on four punt returns, including a 48-yarder by Stingley.

Pretty good job by a football team. There's some things to improve. Too many drops. Still we've got to improve on our effort. We cut our load down by a half for sure, but we still have to improve on that and making in game adjustments. I thought our coaching staff did a tremendous job. We still need to continue to improve in that area.

On to Missouri. Missouri on offense is very, very complicated. Coach has a lot of shifts and motions, will run the triple option. First time I've seen a pitch in a while off of a dive, a quarterback in a pitch with a lot of different formations. So we have to play assignment football. Boot and waggle team. They run a lot of nakeds. Offensive line, good zone blocking team will cut you, and also run some gap plays.

On defense, they're a three-four defense, will run some bear. They'll blitz you. They'll bring pressure, or they'll play man coverage and play zone. Well coached football team in Missouri. We're looking forward to this week of challenges, of us getting better as a football team every day.

Q. Coach, obviously, you talk about week 1 to week 2 jumps. We saw that from Myles. Stats aside, the first week just getting comfortable, what made him, in your mind, much more comfortable when it came to the game plan and maybe how it played out with him in week 2?

ED ORGERON: We simplified it, obviously. We simplified it. And he worked all week on stepping up in the pocket, not scrambling to his right like he usually wants to once he feels pressure. Sliding up in the pocket. I made him a little cut-up myself of Drew Brees. I don't know if that worked or not, but I know he studied it.

I think we worked very hard on him staying in the pocket, stepping up, and making the right throw, and letting it rip. When he sees it open, let it go. That touchdown he made to Terrace, that free safety was sitting right there. That ball was right on the money.

Q. You mentioned Cam Wire. Looked like he had a good day. Could you maybe just go through some of what you saw going back on film, sort of assessing his day in a little more detail.

ED ORGERON: Yeah, I thought he was very good in his protection. Could finish his run blocks a little bit better. We were really worried about their defensive line. They had an excellent pass rush. We didn't have to give him as much help as we thought we had to, as far as chipping or sliding his way. I thought he handled that guy pretty good. Very mature. Cam has been in that program for a while now. He's gained weight, gotten bigger and stronger. Very proud of him.

Q. Ed, you mentioned the drops there with the receivers. What do you think has led to that? What things in practice are you all doing to work with that? I know you guys got real creative last year with that.

ED ORGERON: I do believe it's timing of the quarterback, and new receivers catching balls, nervous first game, taking their eyes off of the football, trying to get up the field before they catch the football. They're going to run today for some drops. All our receivers who drop the ball will run extra at practice, and will have extra catches on the jugging machine.

Q. Just to bounce off of Cam Wire, checking on the status of Dare Rosenthal this week. On top of that, obviously, you've wanted a defensive line that's more aggressive in attacking for quite a while. I guess how pleased are you the first two games of the season how far they've come in that sense?

ED ORGERON: First of all, it's fun to watch. Fun to be a part of. Travez Moore gave us a good pass rush, B.J. Ojulari. Ali continues to make plays. I thought Jaquelin Roy went in there and made some big time plays and some great pass rushes. It's good to see those guys putting the athletes in space and let them go make some plays. I really like at that.

I think Darren is going to play this week. He was questionable going up to it. We thought maybe he could do it.


Q. Coach, it was a bit weak for you guys on the secondary and just kind of the improvements in the younger guys. Can you talk a little bit about what you saw from guys like Elias and Cordale in their week 2 performance and maybe how Derek Stingley, how his presence kind of helps those guys.

ED ORGERON: I think Derek Stingley's presence helped everybody, including me, to be honest with you. It gave us a lot of confidence. He's one of the best players in America. Also, it took the pressure off of Elias. It took the pressure off of Cordale.

But you know what, that was their first time playing that many snaps in a game. So the second game, I think there was less nerves. They were a little more sure of the things that they had to do. I think they just stuck to the technique, didn't give up any big plays, which I was very pleased with.

Q. Do you think John Emery's performance can give him a little bit of an edge, maybe getting some more reps, or that lead back row even with Chris Curry coming back Saturday?

ED ORGERON: We'll have to see how healthy Chris is. Hopefully, those guys can share the reps back there, along with Tyrion. I still believe Tyrion Davis is an excellent back. I feel good about all three backs right now, and all three are equal in my mind.

Q. Hey, Coach. Two questions. One, what breakout players have you seen so far that maybe you weren't expecting that you didn't really think were going to be this good in fall camp and practice? Two, what big differences have you seen with your offense and your defense that you didn't see against Mississippi State?

ED ORGERON: You got to look at a guy like Ali Gaye, who had a tremendous camp but hadn't made any plays for us. You never can tell how they're going to play in the game, but he's played excellent the last two games. Now, he's got some things to work on, but he's a name that comes to mind right away.

And Jabril Cox, it didn't surprise me, who's having an outstanding year. It was good to have Todd Harris back, good to see him get that interception. He looked healthy. And what was the second question?

Q. Second question was what's the big differences that you saw on your offense and your defense in Vanderbilt that you maybe didn't see against Mississippi State?

ED ORGERON: We played more zone. We didn't give up as many big plays. We didn't have as many busts as we did in the first game. We didn't have as many missed assignments or got beat just one-on-one. We barely got beat one-on-one. Now, maybe that had something to do with Mississippi State and their team, I understand that, but it looked like we were more settled down.

We give the quarterback a lot more time in the pocket. We had no sacks compared to seven sacks. So that was the biggest improvement.

Q. JaCoby said after the game Saturday that he held a lot of the guys on offense and defense on punishment. Can you elaborate and give some more details on that? Is he becoming -- we already knew he was already emerging as one of the team leaders, but is he becoming that team disciplinarian that's starting to hold guys accountable on offense and defense?

ED ORGERON: I think he has great leadership qualities. I don't know anything about a team punishment. I don't know what you're talking about, and they might want to inform me of that. But as far as him being a leader, yeah, I think he's been a great leader.

Q. I know we saw with Myles about waiting your turn, and I know there's other guys on your team that maybe had a chance to transfer but just stayed in the program. What does it say about Jontre Kirklin that he's a senior and he's finally getting his due there, especially against Vanderbilt?

ED ORGERON: Perseverance. Jontre's come to work with a smile on his face every day. Like I said, Jontre is like one of my sons. I'm so close to him and his family. Him being from Lutcher and we recruited him. Outstanding young man. No one wants him to have more success in the program, and we all do.

It's good to see it, but he's waited his turn. We tried to get the ball in the his hand, played on wildcat, tried to play defense. He told me, you know what, Coach, I want to play receiver. I'm going to be a darn good receiver, and he sure is. I hope he has a great senior year.

Q. Cade went through a small slump last year, but he said there might be an open competition in preseason. He started the year 4 for 4 and hit that career long 53-yarder and nailed that kick. How much confidence do you have in him at kicker at this point?

ED ORGERON: A lot, and to be honest with you, I'm glad he's kicking well because Preston was right on his tail. There was some competition in camp, and the young man we have right behind him is an excellent field goal kicker. I'm glad to see that Cade's doing well. Cade knows that he has to perform well. He's done well so far. I think he's bigger and stronger and more confident.

Last year he was a freshman, and it's hard for a freshman to come in the SEC and not be nervous.

I think this time he has the steps down, he has the routine down, and he's more comfortable.

Q. Coach, when did you realize Curry was not available for the game, and was that the John Emery you recruited and have seen?

ED ORGERON: We were hoping all the way until up to game time that maybe Chris could go, although he didn't practice. We thought that maybe he'd be able to come around on Saturday and maybe give us some snaps. But Jack said he couldn't play, so I listened to Jack. If he couldn't play, he couldn't play.

Yeah, that's the John Emery we recruited. It took him a little while for him to come. It's just like any other freshman. Everyone grows at their own pace. John is a terrific young man, a confident young man, hard working. Like I said Saturday night, he's gotten bigger and stronger in the weight room. I think Kevin Faulk has done a tremendous job with his development. He knows his plays. He hangs onto the football, and he's very eager.

Q. How much of an advantage is moving Andre Anthony back down to defensive end with that pass rush and having his hand back in the dirt?

ED ORGERON: He was kind of like the tweener in the three-four. He wasn't a four technique, but he wasn't that outside linebacker type. In the four-three, he's perfect. I think he's a good end. He's very smart. He does a lot of things for us. Plays very hard, makes plays. Still has some assignment stuff to do to get better.

Also, on the cheater package, we can put him at the three technique and put more speed on the field.

Q. Plans still to play Glen Logan this week? If so, how does that affect the defensive line rotation? And does -- has he been practicing? Like is he going to need to get back up to game speed, or is he good to go?

ED ORGERON: He's good to go. He's been practising. We're going to have him starting. He's been practicing every day, hasn't missed a practice. Doing second team reps, running individual, doing extra on his own. He's ready to go.

I'll tell you, it's going to get a little tight there. He's going to have competition because Joe Evans is playing well, Neil Farrell is playing well. Ika had a sack, and then Jaquelin Roy is coming along. Jaquelin is probably the most athletic with the biggest upside of any of them, and he's only a freshman. I'm excited to see Jaquelin Roy playing the way he's playing. I think he's going to be an excellent defensive tackle for us.

Q. Coach, when you dominate a game, you win 41-7, is it easier to go back and clean up, okay, big kick return at the end of the first half, second half running back wide open, could have been a touchdown if he caught it, those kinds of things that could hurt you down the road?

ED ORGERON: Yeah, it grabs everybody's attention, especially the head coaches. Those are some things that we've got to look at personnel. I looked at it with Coach Mac this morning. What's happened is we got so used to everybody not taking the ball back, and I think we got a little lax. We need to stay in our lanes. We had four guys bust up right away. Some of it's personnel. Some of it's scheme. Some of it's technique. We've got to get it cleaned up, and we've got to expect every kick to come on out.

Those backs coming out of the backfield free, we talked about it on defense last night. I even said it on the headset. We've got to clean that stuff up. Now, it was a lot better from the first game. Again, it's a new defense. Some guys that are blitzing have a rule in the back, and they've got to take it. It was a short split when we missed it. It should have been a switch call. We didn't get that switch call. We're going to work on those things in practice this week.

Q. Hey, Coach, just curious. You talked about some of the adjustments that everybody is kind of making, playing with more confidence. Do you feel like your team is kind of getting back on schedule? Obviously, you lost the nonconference games, but do you feel about right for where you would be in a season in week 3 now?

ED ORGERON: Yeah, winning makes you feel good, makes you confident. You've always got to look at your competition, and we all know that the competition is going to be a lot stiffer coming down the road very fast. So I'm always looking at competing at the highest level in the SEC and where we're at in order to compete at the highest level. We've still got a ways to go.

We made a tremendous improvement over from week 1 to week 2. Now we've got to continue to make the improvement, and we cannot make the mistakes that we make and play the elite teams in the SEC and expect to win.

Q. Back to Joseph Evans. He's a guy who obviously went from defense to offense and just back to defense. I mean, one, what has that been like for him? Two, what have you seen in him along the way to keep trusting him, I guess?

ED ORGERON: He'll probably be starting at guard this week. Ed Ingram may be questionable this week. He'll probably be starting at guard. He's one of those guys that can play both ways. He comes out of his hips. He's very fluid. He's very smart.

I haven't seen Joe have a bad day. Joe comes to work every day with a smile on his face. If you tell him to run ten gassers, he'll say, yes, sir, I'll run ten gassers. He does a lot of things well, plays hard, and still has a way to go. He has a cast on that hand, and he's been playing with one hand and playing the position very well. So I can't wait until his hand is completely healed so he can start using his hands.

Q. To what extent would you say the SEC has evolved toward a passing league where defensive coaches maybe are spending more time worried about receivers, tight ends, and quarterbacks than they used to be?

ED ORGERON: Well, it has, because of the spread obviously. It seemed like to everybody who was in the spread now. Everybody has great athletes. Everybody's throwing the ball deep. I watched the SEC on tape. I watched them on TV. There's some great players and some great coaches and some great schemes.

But you know what, you can never lose sight in the SEC that in order to win the SEC, you have to be physical up front. The great teams are always going to be able to run the football. The great teams are always going to be able to stop the run.

Q. A couple of questions, please, sir. Do you think -- doubling back to what you said about Myles, that him being able to navigate around the pocket is a giant key for him moving forward? And, two, after watching the way Arkansas defends Mississippi State, do you wish in hindsight that you had gone back and played more three-man line and dropped eight?

ED ORGERON: First of all, yes. Myles maneuvering in the pocket with pocket presence, being patient and stepping up is something that we worked very hard last week on him doing it, allowing the routes to become open. Then when they become open, let her rip, throw it. Make a decision and let's go, and he did that. I thought he did that very well this week.

Now, it wasn't like he was in a whole lot of the rest, but you know, on the double pass, he got hit pretty good. He got hit pretty good, and that was a pretty darn good pass that he threw. So a lot of improvement there. Still some improvement to go. It's got to start with the offensive line also.

Obviously, when we go back and we watch the film, there's some things we could have did different. Number one, played the scheme better with better technique and better alignments, made adjustments within the scheme. Although it's man, sometimes you can switch stuff off because of splits and not switch stuff off and communicate better. We didn't do that. There's also some times where we could have played more zone.

I will say this. On that third down and 20, we dropped eight, and we rushed three, and they completed on that play. Hindsight's 20/20. This is the first time that we had seen that offense live as far as myself personally, and I know we're going to be better at it next year.

Q. I'm just curious about the receiver rotation. Do you foresee it being this deep all season, or do you foresee it kind of whittling down some of the guys?

ED ORGERON: We're going to try to play as many guys as we can. I'm pleased with the play of Arik Gilbert. Hopefully, we can play him some at tight end, some at receiver, as he learns the position.

One of these young guys -- I thought Kayshon Boutte made some good plays. As the play went on, he made some good plays, broke some tackles. Koy Moore has had an excellent camp for us, though he missed that crossing route. We've got to give him patience and give him time. So is Trey Palmer. Trey's got a lot of speed. As the season goes on, we've got to give those guys confidence and let them make plays.

Q. Coach, what was the difference between -- during this COVID, between a home game at LSU and then a road game? Were those things similar, or what do you think from a sideline view?

ED ORGERON: The home game at LSU, we're so dependent on the Tiger Walk and the energy, that it was difficult to match. Obviously, it's always going to be difficult to match. There's no place like Tiger Stadium.

Going away, when we walked into the stadium at Vanderbilt, they were playing very loud crowd noise. Again, I got a little worried because we didn't practice crowd noise all week, which we usually do going to play an away game. But they could only play, I think it's 75 decibels loud when we're out there, which is not very loud. So it didn't affect us at all. It was kind of eerie going into the stadium with no fans and stuff like that.

I think we learned our lesson from the first game that we have to create our own energy. I think the biggest thing is that you lose home field advantage.

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