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November 23, 2020

Ed Orgeron

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

Weekday Press Conference

ED ORGERON: All right, guys. Tell-the-truth Monday. It's a good day at the office. Great day to watch the film. So excited for our football players. I gotta give them credit. It started last Monday with an outstanding week of preparation. They had the will to win the whole game. It was a tough, hard-fought battle. Give credit to Arkansas. Excellent game. Here are some of the things that we did very well and we said we had to do well going into the game. Controlled the time of possession. We had the ball for almost 42 minutes. Outstanding job by Coach Ensminger of calling plays and managing the game. We were up 12 of 23 on third down; they were 0 of 10. That was a big part of the football game. T. J., I thought, played a good game. He had no turnovers. Had that game-winning throw at the end. Nobody was open. He executed the scramble rules. Jaray Jenkins got open, what a great play by him. Ty Davis-Price had one of his best games, over 100 yards rushing, brought some physicality to the game, exactly what we wanted. We wanted to be able to control the line of scrimmage, and it was a big part of his running. I thought our O Line did a good job. They gave up no sacks. Thought Jaray Jenkins had one of his best games. On defense we had a good plan versus their hurry-up offense. We deferred; we gave them the ball, we went three and out. That was big for us to get lined up, get had our cleats in the grass. We had a simple game plan and let our guys play. Again, I said they were zero and 10 on third down. Jabril Cox's interception, obviously a game-winning play there. Andre Anthony had his best game. The young players had to step up with the cornerbacks getting hurt. I thought our young secondary did a lot of good things. Jay Ward's stop on third down was a phenomenal play. Special teams, Zach had a great game, five punts inside the 10-yard line, the difference in the game was the field position; and, again, the blocked field goal by our special teams at the end. Texas A&M, real good football team. Going on the road. Well-coached team. Kellen Mond is a good player. They got a strong offensive line. Kenyon Green is a guy we recruited, probably one of the best guards in the SEC, if not the country. They have the number one defense in the SEC. I think they're twelfth in the country in rushing defense; very tough, very solid football team. But we're going to be ready for the challenge. It's going to be kind of a short week. Our players are going to go home for Thanksgiving. We had an early practice on Thursday morning; then come back on Friday and get ready to go to Texas A&M. Any questions.

Q. How often this year, I mean in comparison to last year do offenses try and run those rub routes, picking your secondary? It seems like you all got better at that against Arkansas. Is that something people have kind of honed in on this year?

ED ORGERON: Yeah. Sure. When you're playing man coverage, you're going to get that. And Bo has worked very hard. Some of our defenses are part man, part zone. It all depends on the formation. But when you get a slot like that and you get two guys rubbing you, it's going to be hard. We got better at it. We gave the first one was a touchdown, it was a rub route. You gotta put them on different levels and you gotta make adjustments and maybe help with the safety on top.

Q. And it seems like Micah Baskerville played well in those situations, too. I mean week to week has he kind of earned his spot there? What did you see from him in Arkansas?

ED ORGERON: You know, he was able to key and diagnose. Micah was the 5A Player of the Year at Evangel High School. That's why I recruited him. Excellent player in high school. When he first came here, was having a good year. As a freshman, showed us that he can key and diagnose. He fits in well in Coach Pelini's scheme. He gets to the football. He's a tremendous young man.

Q. We always hear the expression that losing hurts worse than winning feels good. But I imagine after three weeks winning felt pretty good on Saturday?

ED ORGERON: Yeah, it did. I was excited for the coaching staff. I was excited for the players, our team, the LSU fans. And, again, it took everything we had to beat Arkansas, and we did it. Hopefully it's a springboard for us to have a great end to the season starting with Texas A&M.

Q. Coach, you said before the season you thought Andre Anthony would be more of a natural fit playing in a 4-3 end. Now he's up there in the D line lead in sacks and tackles. What's sort of been key for him to settle in and now play like he's playing?

ED ORGERON: You know, playing on the edge, you want your best pass rusher at the right end. Him and BJ play that right end position. He gets a lot of one-on-ones with the offensive tackle coming on the blind side. He's got a nice what he calls a double-hand swipe. You know, one of the tackles for loss, we had a nice stunt on. It was a triple. He was coming around. We ran right into the mesh point of the quarterback. So I think the attacking defensive line is what you're seeing instead of sitting back and reading getting to the back field and making plays. He's perfect for that.

Q. We've seen it years past, and even this year as well, in Texas A&M's game where there is defensive pressure on Kellen Mond. He's struggled in the pocket. How important is it for this team to develop a good pass rush on Monday to make Mond feel uncomfortable?

ED ORGERON: Hey, makes sense. What you're saying makes a lot of sense. Last year we put some pressure on them. And we're going to have to, just like any game. But you know what, the good part about this team is that we can put pressure on a four-man rush. I feel comfortable rushing four and playing coverage. That's your best defense. Now, if we have to blitz them, we have to put some pressure on them, Bo has a bunch of blitzes. But I think the first thing that we need to do is be able to rush with four.

Q. Just going back to that pass rush, A&M comes into the game allowing only two sacks this year. Is this a game where you lean heavily on that pass rush and get more pressure from different angles, try to get more pressure on Kellen Mond?

ED ORGERON: We have to. He gets rid of the ball quick. A lot of play action pass. But you know what, I don't know much about them only giving up two sacks. I know that already. I don't know why I didn't study them that much. But I do believe we can put pressure on them. Now, Kellen is a dual-threat quarterback. He can avoid a rush and run the football, much like Feleipe Franks did last week. We have to be able to contain him.

Q. Do you now have an update on Derek Stingley? How is he doing? What's his status?

ED ORGERON: Derek's going to practice today. He's going to be in a gold jersey. He looks like he's going to be okay. He's not cleared totally yet, but he looks like he's going to be fine.

Q. Do you have an update on Racey as well? Looks like he pulled up a little bit in the game.

ED ORGERON: He's out. He's very doubtful for the game.

Q. Coach, with it being Texas A&M and your first trip back there since that 74-72 game a couple of years ago --

ED ORGERON: You didn't have to remind me.

Q. Sorry, man. I kind of had to. That and it being your first ranked opponent, is there any added emotions to this game this weekend?

ED ORGERON: You know, I think that you could internally -- I thought about it this morning, to be honest with you, when I saw the film and I saw the stadium, some thoughts came by. But you know what, it's my job to be able to prevent problems this week, have a great practice and not allow those things to happen that happened to us last time. And we're going to have to go and play our best game. I think Texas A&M is a much better team when they're playing at home than when they're playing on the road, at least our series. They're going to play their best football. They're going to have a great crowd. Probably the first time, but -- I imagine they're going to have a great crowd. Probably the first time this year that the crowd noise will be a factor. We're going to have to be able to handle it, be able to handle our emotions. They're going to be sky high; they haven't played in a while, but so will we.

Q. Coach, how much do you think the defense has improved? And do you think that Bo Pelini has steadied that unit, and are you pleased with what you see on that side of the ball recently?

ED ORGERON: Yeah. I'm pleased with the way we played most of the game against Arkansas. I thought that we had our cleats in the grass. We had a great plan for the hurry-up offense. But still not pleased with the deep balls, still not pleased with the rub routes. Still not pleased with the explosive plays, and definitely not pleased by the way we played most of the season. We need to improve to be a championship defense, and everybody knows that.

Q. Obviously Texas A&M comes in with a pretty high-powered run, rushing attack, and you guys showed some strides last weekend against Arkansas in that area. Through watching film, what were some of the things that you guys noticed that you did a little bit better in stopping the run?

ED ORGERON: I thought our guys dominated their offensive line. That's the first time I can tell you that. I think we had some little run stunts in there that we did very well. We played with good technique. We didn't let the ball run inside the tackles, and we tackled well.

Now, Texas A&M has a great running attack. Spiller is an outstanding player; they have some speed back there. They put different guys back there to run. Tommie Robinson, who coached with us, coaches the running backs, does a great job. You're going to see 21 personnel; you're going to see 12 personnel. They're a lot of pro-style stuff. Jimbo is a very good coach. They use their tight end well. They throw to their tight end. Very balanced offense, but their run game starts with their offensive line. I think that's one of the better offensive lines that we have faced this year.

Q. Coach, a couple of quick questions for you. Number one, how many scholarship players did you have available for this game? Do you have any kind of idea? And, second, in the second half Gilbert appeared to be running down the seam open and T.J. just didn't quite hit him. Are those the kind of plays that he is going to make moving forward?

ED ORGERON: Well, when I saw him in the hall today, I said, "Throw to No. 2." Okay? If all else fails, throw to No. 2. And I don't know the amount that we had. I don't check that. We traveled with 69, and that's what we had on the plane. We can travel with 70, but we were at 69 when we travel.

Q. Coach, you mentioned sending the guys home for Thanksgiving, and I was wondering if you had to preach any extra precautions because of the pandemic and telling them to be a little more careful this year or anything like that?

ED ORGERON: Yeah. Definitely. Go home and have it with your family only, know who's there. Obviously don't attend any parties or no big gatherings, but I think going home with your family, it's Thanksgiving. I think it will be fine. We test our guys. They're going to follow all the precautions. Shelly is going to talk to them about leaving, going home, what they should and they shouldn't do. I think we'll be fine.

Q. Coach, I wanted to get your thoughts on reviewing the film of Eli Ricks' targeting call; and, second, who replaces him for the first half on Saturday?

ED ORGERON: Yeah, you know, he did hit him with the head. He hit with the shoulder first, but the head hit. I thought it was targeting, so I got no beef with that. I think it was a good call. We haven't decided who is going to start for him yet. We have to make a decision between Cordale and Jay Ward and see who's available, and we'll make that decision toward the end of the week.

Q. The SEC did not release any TV times for next week's games. Obviously looks like there could be some shuffling of the schedule. How much are you involved or being looped in on any of those decisions? How do you prepare knowing your opponent could change from week to week?

ED ORGERON: You know, the good thing is we knew this season was going to be very fluid. We focus in on Texas A&M, but I sure hope that the rescheduled Alabama game, we want to play Alabama. That's a great rivalry, and we look forward to playing them. So if they can fit it in to where we can play Alabama, I'm sure they're going to do it. We have Alabama; we have Florida; we have Ole Miss left, and those are awesome great games, and we're ready to play every one of them.

Q. Knowing you've prepared ahead of time, is this something you have your analysts involved in doing?

ED ORGERON: Yeah. We're scheduled for Ole Miss next week. So we have analysts breaking down Ole Miss. We have already broken down Alabama. We were going to play them at the beginning, so that's done. And then we have already broken down Florida. So that's done. So as far as the analytical work, most of it's been done. Now, the last couple games haven't been done, but we have enough information that if we need to start new next week with anybody else, we're going to be ready to go.

Q. Scott kind of asked my question, but I'll follow up on it. What do you think is the hangup, it seems like a pretty simple solution to get the Alabama game rescheduled. What do you think they're waiting on?

ED ORGERON: You know, Scooter, that's out of my wheelhouse. I have no clue. But I know that my gut feeling is that it's going to be rescheduled, and I hope it is. And look forward to playing them.

Q. Coach, do you think that your team is maybe starting to grow up a little bit? Can you see that? Because on Saturday it looked like in a lot of respects the old LSU?


Q. Better defense, running the ball. Do you think this team is maybe starting to get it, whatever that is?

ED ORGERON: Yeah. It sure looked like it, Ed. It felt like it. You know, it not only felt like it during the game, it felt like it in those three weeks of practice. We was embarrassed by our performance at Auburn. I took the blame. We gotta get better. We gotta practice better. We gotta have better leadership. We gotta coach better. And we were not playing like LSU should play. Did we play like an LSU football team? We looked at it. At some time we looked like an LSU football team, but we still have a ways to go, but we have some young players that are believing, and hopefully making the last play of the game gave our guys some belief and some confidence to fight through it and they can win.

Q. Going back for a second whenever you talked about crowd noise being a factor maybe for the first time all year, how do you specifically help prepare T.J. for that atmosphere on Saturday?

ED ORGERON: As far as snap count for number one, how we're going to handle the snap count. That's huge on the road. We know we play music, Doug has a John Deere with a big speaker right behind it. And we play some music as loud as we possibly can. We get tired of hearing it on Tuesday and Wednesday. And then just give him the situation to where he's going to be calm and he can make the right calls.

Q. With Texas A&M being out a couple of weeks and really what you've seen out of what they've put on film, I'm wondering, especially offensively, how this team, you think, has grown from last year to this year?

ED ORGERON: Well, I think it starts with the physicality. I mean their offensive line is a lot better offensive line than we played last year. Their run game is a lot better. Kellen Mond is playing better; they're protecting him, only two sacks. Then you gotta look at their defense. They got the number one defense in the SEC. That's very impressive. They're tough against the run. Their defensive coordinator could dial up blitzes. They could play a 4-3; they could play a 3-4. The defensive line is playing very well. I just think they're playing overall good football and they've improved in almost every area since last year.

Q. Following up on a question from earlier, how will things kind of form behind Racey? Who fills in for him, and where do you all see that in the lineup?

ED ORGERON: Hopefully we can get Trey Palmer back. I don't know if he's going to be back this week. We have a lot of receivers that can go out there. Kayshon Boutte is a good young receiver, he can get out there. Koy Moore, another receiver. Jontre Kirklin, another receiver we can put out there. So we have a lot of choices.

Q. And I don't know if you saw yesterday. I'm wondering just your thoughts after Joe Burrow's injury and what you saw from that, what you think.

ED ORGERON: Yeah, it was tough. It was tough to watch. We all watched it and we felt bad for him. Joe's a competitor, I texted him today. I know he's going to come back. I know his attitude. He's probably working out today, getting onto next season. I thought he was having maybe Rookie of the Year season. We were very proud of him. We follow Joe, we follow everything he does, like we do all the players in the NFL.

Q. Coach, since it is Thanksgiving, I was wondering what you were most thankful for and maybe a side dish or two that is your favorite.

ED ORGERON: Well, I'm most thankful for my family and thankful for being the head coach of Louisiana State University. That's been a blessing in my life. And there's no question that oyster dressing is my favorite for Thanksgiving.

Q. Coach, what's the latest on Myles Brennan? What's he going through and what might the future be for him and his recovery?

ED ORGERON: We still haven't made a decision. It doesn't look like he's going to play. We still haven't made a decision on the operation if it's best to do it now. Jack is handling that with his parents and the doctors, and it's just not clearcut right now. So it's still probably status quo, but he's definitely not playing this week.

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