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October 26, 2020

Ed Orgeron

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

Weekday Press Conference

ED ORGERON: Overall best performance this year obviously. We give the players credit. I asked them last Monday to stick together in adverse times. They did. Our coaching staff did a tremendous job coaching. We're not all the way there yet, but there was tremendous improvements.

On offense, 276 yards rushing. Tyrion Davis had his best game, 135, John Emery. I thought the offensive line was the MVP. No sacks. Did a great job.

Cam Wire went in there, did another fantastic job. Give James Cregg the credit. TJ Finley with an outstanding job of preparation by Coach Ensminger and the staff. Any time you can walk in the office on the weekend, TJ during the off-season was studying his playbook, studying film. Tremendous young man. 17 of 21, 265, two TDs. I thought he played excellent.

Terrace Marshall, six catches, two touchdowns. Having a great season. Eight of 10 on third down. We said we wanted improvement. We're eight of 10. Improving on the goal line offense. I like the (indiscernible) play, one of my favorite plays. I wish we would have had that in a little sooner.

On defense, we scored another touchdown. Eli Ricks. Five sacks. Three by BJ Ojulari. Overall best performance on defense, but still not enough. We still have some work to do there, especially in the coverage aspect.

Trey Palmer on the kickoff return, 93 yards. First one in a long time. So excited. No punts. Seven of eight field goals. Overall all best performance.

Going on to Auburn, Auburn is a very good football team. As we know, Auburn and LSU is always a great matchup. Sometimes comes down to the last play, sometimes will come down to special teams play. Whatever it is, I have a lot of respect for Gus Malzahn, his offense. The things that he does can give us problems. Already give us problems this year. I know we're going to have to have our best game on defense this year to be successful at Auburn.

On the offense led by Bo Nix, a runner, dual-threat quarterback. Strong, powerful runner, No. 4. We recruited him. I love his mom and dad, great people. I've glad to see he's having success. He's a tremendous young man.

Seth Williams is big and tall, No. 18. And Anthony Schwartz is a world class hundred-meter guy, always has speed. Defense, a lot of respect for Coach Steele. Worked together here. Excellent coach. Had an excellent game plan against us last year. In fact, Auburn played the best defense we saw all last year. Four-man front, 4-3. Owen Pappoe, recruited here. Outstanding linebacker. Zakoby McClain, outstanding linebacker. Going to be a challenge.

Any questions?

Q. With another impending hurricane possibly this week, any changes to your practice schedule? What does it mean to play for the state of Louisiana with so many people trying to recover from a hurricane?

ED ORGERON: Always going to think about praying for the people of Louisiana first, no question. Then the safety of our young men, the safety of our coaching staff.

We have an indoor practice facility. We can practice, we're going to practice. If we can't, we can't. I'm going to listen to what they tell me.

Hopefully we can prepare. I'm sure when the hurricane hits we're all going to be safe and sound. Hopefully it doesn't affect our preparation. It's all about safety first.

Q. This matchup, Bo Nix, one more year under his belt, Seth Williams, they've had their ups and downs. Last week you saw that game, came back and won. How important is it to make sure that doesn't happen against you guys?

ED ORGERON: Yeah, notice that all the time, a big-time receiver. We have some big corners. That's why you come to LSU. You can't always double them. You have to win some one-on-one matchups. They're going to win some. We're going to win some.

Q. Alongside Terrace Marshall you have a receiver in Jaray Jenkins, averaging 18 yards per catch. Talk about how big it is to have a receiver like that to complement Terrace with the way he's playing?

ED ORGERON: No question. He has done a tremendous job. He is one of our most improved football players. He has come here and done a tremendous job. I'm so happy about what he's doing.

I think we need to get him the ball more. I know he represents Alexandria, represents that area. He's very proud of it, a great young man. I'm happy for him.

Q. Obviously Finley praised Ensminger after the game. Also gave credit to Russ Callaway for prepping him. How big has he been for the development of Myles and the two young guys?

ED ORGERON: Here is what happened with Russ. He's an analyst, he can't coach any of the players. He does prepare all the stuff for Coach Ensminger. He prepares what they may see, prepares the Power Points, then Coach Ensminger is the one that does it.

Russ is in the background, does a tremendous job. He's a great young coach.

Q. What is the status of Dare Rosenthal right now?

ED ORGERON: He's suspended from the team indefinitely. I don't know when he's going to be back. That's it.

Q. We hear there's a chance that Myles might return this week. Can you update us on that? One other thing. Do you think it was necessary to make a renewed commitment to the running game based on what you did last week?

ED ORGERON: Night and day. Night and day difference. We have to run the football, especially on first down. I thought our offensive line had their best game. That helped pave the way for TJ's success. We couldn't put it all on his shoulders.

Myles is going to practice a little bit today. Jack is going to get him accelerated throughout the week. We're going to see. I don't know yet if he's going to play. He may play. It all depends how practice goes this week.

We're only going to do about 25% with him today, see what he can do, feel it. Probably going to be sore. If he can't play, obviously TJ has done a great job for us. Max is going to do a great job.

I'm not putting him in unless he's 100% ready.

Q. Is Finley kind of there for this week if Myles can't go? Secondly, third downs, seems like you guys made those adjustments. What kind of did you see that helped you guys fix that the most?

ED ORGERON: They played a lot of man coverage for us. Coach Linehan had a great plan. I thought TJ did a tremendous job of delivering the football on time. I told y'all he has a cannon for an arm. I was so pleased with TJ's poise. He looked like a veteran out there. I think that's what made the difference in the football game.

We're going to go ahead and practice Myles today, see what he can do. Him and TJ are going to share reps, and Max. We're going to make a decision on a daily basis who runs the team. Depends on Myles' health. If Myles is healthy, he's our first team quarterback, but I'm not putting him in unless he's 100%.

Q. Performances this past week from TJ Finley, Eli Ricks, they're all true freshmen. How impressed are you with their performances? Where do you really see their future going with this them?

ED ORGERON: Thank you for mentioning that. That's something we pride ourselves on here. We tell our freshmen, guys we're recruiting, I don't care if you're a freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, the best guys play. Those guys have developed, great young men. Also Arik Gilbert. You look at the job he's doing.

We're selling that to our recruits. If you want to play as a freshman, have success, come to LSU. I have to give credit to our coaching staff. They've done a tremendous job of preparing these young men getting ready to play.

Q. No secret what Terrace Marshall is doing so far this year. How have you seen him from an injured freshman through the last three years kind of develop into what he is?

ED ORGERON: He's turned into a team leader. He came to my office the last week, Coach, who is going to be the starting quarterback, man? I want to know. I want to know who he is.

I told him my feelings. They were right down the middle. I said, Hey, let's see this week, pick. He came in my office Thursday morning, let's talk about it.

He's become a team leader, vocal young man. He's the leader. He was in the background a little bit, kept quiet. I think the big thing with Terrace was to get healthy. Now he's healthy. He's confident. He comes off that field, Man, coach, I want that ball. You want that in all receivers. He's very confident right now and healthy.

Q. Obviously with Derrick now gone, do you expect that to be Cam Wire's job moving forward? What have you seen from him the last couple weeks?

ED ORGERON: I'm very impressed with Cam. We recruited Cam. He was probably my 270, 280. We knew he would gain weight. He has quick feet, got better and better and better. He's playing pretty well right now.

Cam is our starting left tackle. He's banged up a little bit also. He has to stay healthy. If Cam couldn't go, we'd have to put in Charles Turner would be our second team left tackle.

Q. Along the lines of the offensive front. 54 rushes this past week. Is that something that if TJ has to go again this week, that's something you want to use to relax him there, open up the run game?

ED ORGERON: Yeah. Most of those runs were RPO. The good thing about TJ, he's 6'6". He sees it really easy, man. He can see that slant behind him. It's all built in.

If they give us a box where we can run the football, we want to run the football. We have to. Going into the season, I thought the backs were going to be the strength of our offense.

Q. You rattled off a lot of positives you saw from TJ after the game Saturday. When you looked at film Sunday, you saw the effort he gave on the interception, helped get that guy down, that maybe saved a touchdown. I don't know if it's something you can coach that a kid can have that kind of effort after a bad play.

ED ORGERON: Thanks for mentioning that. He has some fire in him. He was fired up. He was on the sideline, Let's go. Vocal leader. A lot of things that Joe did, to be honest with you. He showed some toughness.

I have to work on his tackling a little bit. Kind of a shoulder tackle. I love his effort. TJ came alive, man. It was his night. He'd been confident all week. He's been confident since he came here. Not cocky, but confident. We love that about him.

Q. The knock on LSU for so long was that they couldn't develop quarterbacks. Was it really more a matter of running what they run in high school? You talked about the seven-on-seven. Is that why we're seeing freshmen have success across the country and at LSU?

ED ORGERON: No question. Running a spread offense. That's the way to go. It's here to stay. It's basketball on grass. Put athletes in space, let them make plays, let the quarterback make decisions, make the right reads.

The thing that helps TJ is his length. Being 6'6", he sees over all those linemen, he has a cannon for an arm. He lost some weight. He has quick feet. He studies football all the time. He's a football junky.

Q. Do you see where it would maybe make sense to not play Brennen this week so he'll have the extra week off, get ready for late in the season?

ED ORGERON: No question. If he's not 100% healthy, there's any chance of injury, I'm not playing him. TJ will be fine. TJ and Max will do a good job.

But if he's healthy, we're going to play him.

Q. The open week next week really doesn't have anything to do with your decision?

ED ORGERON: No. It's just a matter of if he's ready to play. At this point in the season we have to do what's best to win the football game. I can't think about nothing after but beating Auburn. Whatever we can do, whatever personnel we have to beat Auburn, that's what we're going to worry about.

Q. A couple of your really big plays in the game, what does it sound like out there with just 25,000? Do you notice it?

ED ORGERON: Yeah, it sounds like a spring scrimmage, a spring scrimmage. An okay spring game attendance. There is some noise. I got to say, I got to give our fans credit, there was a lot more noise than the first game. It's still never going to be what 102,000 are.

Q. Back to Terrace Marshall. Seems every game he's had two touchdowns to this point. What has been his biggest area of growth this year?

ED ORGERON: I think learning all positions. We can put Terrace anywhere. He knows the offense. He feels confident. Being healthy, I think that's the biggest thing. The yards after the catch, he catches that slant, goes for that touchdown, breaks those two tackles. I think that's where you see him making a bunch of improvement. He's tall, is a big target, has great hands. Yards after the catch has been tremendous.

Q. Offensively talk about just the game that Ty Davis-Price and John Emery had. First game where the running game has been dominant. Secondly, defensively talk about BJ Ojulari's three sacks and how you feel Damone is going to bounce back from this game?

ED ORGERON: I work with Jimmy Johnson, he told me one of his secrets: Get great players, get great players and let them play.

I think those guys that you mentioned are great football players. Ty, I'm so glad to see him have success. He's a big, strong, agile runningback. John Emery has been one of the best backs in the country. He and Ty work well together.

I met with Ty last week. I promised him he's going to have the same amount of carries as John. We're going to be equal. Two first-team starters. That worked out well.

BJ Ojulari is a 4.0 grade point average. Very smart. Hard worker. Three and a half sacks. If you watch his sacks, relentless effort. Very proud of them.

Damone, it's his first time, first time going out there. He has some improvement to make. The good thing about Damone is I know he will.

Q. The last time you went to Auburn, maybe the first really huge win of your career, they were highly ranked, you were a big underdog, the kick at the end, what do you remember about that day and your team coming through?

ED ORGERON: Relief (laughter). I was so happy that we won. But it was a hot day. We went there. We went with a great mindset, that whatever it took, we were going to win the game.

I remember at one point in the game Auburn had started running the football on us. We had to fight back. I remember that last drive, Sullivan making that play. When we put our kicker out there, I knew he was going to win the game.

It was just a tremendous feeling, a feeling of relief. There was a lot of stuff going on, people were talking this, people were talking that. I think that kind of quieted things down a little bit for us.

Q. You said you wanted a more aggressive attacking style defense. Right now even in four games you lead the SEC in sacks, tackles for loss, turnover margin, fumble recoveries. What have you seen from that group up front?

ED ORGERON: Very pleased. It's the 4-3, man. You're not playing four techniques. You got ends rushing wide. We have more athletic people on the field. It's LSU football. It's what I grew up watching. We did that in Miami, we did that at USC. It was time to go back to it.

I'm happy all those categories being plus six, leading the SEC all that stuff. But we still 2-2. We got to play better defense. There's no excuse for it.

Offense to me is playing well. Real disappointed in the third down. I was disappointed in the goal line. We got that fixed. We got to get some stuff fixed on defense to get where we want to go.

Q. If Finley had not played so well, would you be a little more rushed to try to get Myles back in?

ED ORGERON: No question. No question at all. I think if Finley wouldn't have played well, Max would have went in. I think Max would have done fine. He can do some things, he can run, he's smart, can throw the football.

Yeah, but it does factor in that we don't have to rush Myles. We feel that TJ or Max can do a great job.

Q. What was your reaction when Ricks shot the deuces? Is he aware that could have negated the touchdown?

ED ORGERON: He was made aware by the head coach as soon as he got to the sideline. I wasn't very happy about it. I don't like him taking his helmet and celebrating with the crowd. He could have cost us a touchdown. I don't think you're going to see that again.

He's a young kid. We got to coach him up. I'm going to give him a Mulligan on that one. But he ain't getting a Mulligan again.

Q. You want to correct that kind of behavior there. He's now got three interceptions this season. Is this the kind of player that y'all saw in recruiting, the reason you wanted to get him? How has he developed?

ED ORGERON: That's what he did in high school. He had picks and scored touchdowns. He has tremendous ball skills. I've known Elias Ricks since he's seven years old. Great family. He came to camp at USC. That's how I made the connection with him and his family at camp. We're so happy he came all the way across the country to play here.

I do believe that Corey Raymond has done a tremendous job with him playing corner. There's some difficult decisions he has to make. At the beginning he wasn't able to make those decisions just because of experience. Now he's getting better.

I think you're going to see a young man get better and better and better and be one of the top corners in the nation.

Q. You mentioned about Marshall earlier. Just seeing how many ways you got him the ball, different routes you ran. How skillful can he be that you can use him in so many ways? Do you draw things up for him?

ED ORGERON: First of all, he's smart. He is smart. He gets it. He knows football. Not like you need to leave him at one position, master that. He knows the whole offense. He probably could play quarterback. He has an awareness level, very smooth, good athlete. Does it help? Yeah. Like having three or four different receivers.

Q. You mentioned the offensive line was the MVP of this game. How much was Ed Ingram being back in the lineup an advantage for you this week?

ED ORGERON: Big advantage. We ran some gap plays, a power play where we pulled the guard. We had some double-team, knocking people off the ball. We were physical. We have to be physical. We saw South Carolina out-physical their opponents the last couple weeks. That big block that Ed had, he pulled to his right, was really good. Good to see him.

Yes, made a difference on the goal line when our offensive line came off the ball in a surge. Enabled us to get the points on the goal line, on the one yard line. The week before we didn't. That was a tremendous improvement.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.

ED ORGERON: Thank you, guys. Go Tigers.

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