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December 14, 2020

Ed Orgeron

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

Weekday Press Conference

ED ORGERON: All right, guys. Tell-the-truth Monday. Outstanding team effort. I was so proud of our football team, the leadership. So proud of the older guys that stuck around and stayed. I'm so proud of the younger guys that stepped up, played very well. Proud of our coaching staff for blocking out the noise last week, and had a tremendous week of preparation. 26 freshmen, or sophomores, played. I think 48 guys that played. Every point scored on that field was by a freshman or sophomore. A lot of young guys playing. A lot of next-man-up. Great job by Corey Raymond and Bill Busch getting these guys to play the defensive back field that hadn't played very much. I thought for the most part they played excellent. On offensive back, Mack Johnson, three TDs, no turnovers. Kayshon Boutte, 108 yards rushing -- 108 yards catching the ball, one TD. Two outstanding freshmen. Three players rushed for over 50 yards. I thought we did a good job of running the football. On defense the three turnovers were critical. Great plays made. Goal line stance, phenomenal job of effort and belief. And then four sacks, sack fumble at the end of the game set up a field goal and six tackles for loss. Special teams, again, lights out, game-winning field goal, 57 yards, school record by Cade. So proud of him. I just watched it on film there. I don't know how he saw it go through there, but he knew it, and what a tremendous play. And then, again, on the field goal rush, Jay Ward, I don't know if he affected them or not, but it went wide left, and Jay had a great rush and it was a great scheme by Coach Mack. Great field position, again, by Zach, 5 of 8 were inside the 20. Just overall, gotta give credit to the football team. They did it. They decided they were going to do it on Friday night in the team meeting. Florida is a very good football team, and that was a big win for us in the swamp.

On to Ole Miss. I know Lane very well. Lane has done a phenomenal job at Ole Miss. He's got one of the best offenses in the country because he's one of the best offensive minds. He's done a great job with Matt Corral as quarterback. Jerrion Ealy, I tried to recruit, running back. Elijah Moore, I believe that's 82 receptions. He's very difficult to defend. He'll formation you. He's a great game day caller. The game slows down for him. His daddy is Monte Kiffin. He was raised on football. I have the utmost respect for Lane. Any questions.

Q. You mentioned the freshmen and sophomores. Two questions about them. But, first of all, I mean, is that the shape of your future at LSU, and what do you see from that? Is this the group going forward?

ED ORGERON: I really believe last year's recruiting class is phenomenal. A lot of guys are playing already. The sophomores are doing a very good job. We never talked about the future and what we were going to do. We wanted to finish this year strong. But as you look at it, all those guys are coming back. Maybe we can recruit some guys with the extra year eligibility. For next year we should have a very strong team, a very strong nucleus along with this recruiting class we're going to have this year.

Q. And it seemed like the numbers that you all played with. How many people that weren't available on Saturday will be available for Ole Miss?

ED ORGERON: We gotta see. We gotta see what's going to happen this week. It's early. I think we have 54 guys available or something like that. We'll see. Whatever it takes, but if we can do it in the swamp, we can do it at home.

Q. You got a few days until early signing day. I know this program has taken a lot of heat over the last month or so. How big was this game this past weekend to show the kids that the ship will get righted and this team will get back to where it needs to be?

ED ORGERON: I think it was huge. I think it's reassurance. And obviously recruits have a short memory what you did yesterday, and they all watched the game. But, you know, they've been seeing the whole time all the freshmen were playing, all the players that we lost. So I think the game had a lot to do with giving us some momentum this week, but we were on solid ground with most of our recruits before this game. But it does help.

Q. Followup to that, Ed, how many do you think will sign on Wednesday, or this early signing period?

ED ORGERON: You know, it's very fluid right now, and I can say minimum 15 to 16, maximum 20. I think in between those numbers would be a good range.

Q. Ed, just to kind of bounce off that, I think you've told us before sometimes that recruits don't think about wins and losses as much as we think they do. So what have you seen them respond to just kind of how the season has gone?

ED ORGERON: No. They've been very good. Obviously we've built relationships. Again, these guys saw last year one of the best teams to ever play in college football history, and they remember that. And they see all those guys going into the NFL and having a lot of success, and they see us having a young team. Obviously we've struggled in some areas that we gotta get fixed. But they know that. It gives them an opportunity to come in and play early, see true freshmen playing, two freshmen quarterbacks playing and having success. And especially skilled positions on offense, they know we have great quarterbacks coming. We're fixing to sign another great quarterback on Wednesday. So they see the future looks bright.

Q. Coach, I actually wanted to ask a little bit about the early signing period as well. With it being in the middle of a game week, what is that like for you guys to have these crucial couple days leading up to that and also be game planning for Ole Miss?

ED ORGERON: Just always have the phone in your pocket and I'm always available. We're talking to parents all the time. We're talking to players all the time. We have unlimited phone calls with them. It's kind of 24/7 and you gotta balance your time. And everybody's dealing with the same thing. So Ole Miss is dealing with the same thing. I'm sure Lane's got his time balance. We gotta balance it right down the middle 50/50.

Q. Coach, I know Damone Clark really, really played well in Micah's absence. Can you kind of give a timeline as to Micah not being available, not being able to travel, obviously not because of an injury situation?

ED ORGERON: Yeah. I think Micah's going to be available this week. He became ill, wasn't able to travel. And he's better now. He's clear. And I think that he'll practice this week and he'll be fine.

Q. Ed, you mentioned the respect that you have for Lane Kiffin. You all obviously are different ages and you come from different backgrounds but you both call each other close personal friends. What is it about the two of you that makes you close?

ED ORGERON: Well, you know, Lane came in as a young coach with Coach Carroll, our first year with Coach Carroll, I believe it was the year 2000. So I've known Lane for 20 years. And we became good friends. I respect him as a coach. There's no question. I respect his knowledge of the game. He got me to leave the NFL to go with him to Tennessee. He was going to come with me when I got the job. If he didn't get a head job, he was going to be my offensive coordinator. So he's a great recruiter. Me and him recruited a lot of great players together. We have a lasting bond. We won two championships together. I've coached with him at Tennessee. I remain close with him. We talk about personal things. We share things. I just have the utmost respect for him.

Q. My recruiting question has already got answered by you, so I'll ask about the weekend. Is there a memory or a moment when people ask about that game? Fans seem to already share all their memories of it. When you think back on Saturday night, kind of what's that first thought?

ED ORGERON: Yeah, to see those three flags on the field and see the shoe. And by the way, I've been asked to give a bunch of shoes for Christmas. I don't know why. My Christmas list has become shoes. I don't know why people want shoes from me. But just to see those three flags on the field and see a chance for us to win the game and see the joy in our players and our coaches face in the locker room. Love it.

Q. Coach, you said Kiffin has a great offensive mind. What makes a great offensive mind, and to kind of follow up to that, what would you say is his calling card? What's his go to?

ED ORGERON: Yeah. You know what, Scooter, the game is in slow motion for Lane on the sideline. He can see all 22 at one time, much like David Miranda could for us. I watch the line because I'm a line guy. Some guys are watching the defensive backs. He watches all 22 at one time and can tell what they're doing. He can change players on the line of scrimmage. You've seen him. You've seen him at Alabama whistling, changing plays. He played quarterback. He knows what to do with the football. He understands both sides of the football. So I think his game day calling and his preparation and his recruiting are excellent.

Q. Ed, now that you've had a chance to look at the film, were you even more impressed with Max? Seemed like he did a good job of looking off defenders and that sort of thing. And when will you decide on a starting quarterback for this week?

ED ORGERON: Yeah, we'll talk about it this week and see what the game plan is. We wanted Max because of his mobility, not that T.J. doesn't. And wanted to get Max the chance to start. T.J. had his opportunity to do it, and he did very well sometimes. I think that we're very impressed with Max's leadership, his toughness, his ability to run the football, his ability to make decisions under pressure. And the biggest thing is no turnovers, and going in the swamp, his first game, think about this. You're a true freshman, you go into the swamp. You're a 23-point underdog and you win. That tells you a lot about the young man.

Q. So since shoes have become a hot topic on your Christmas list, can we expect a new shoe deal for you, Coach?

ED ORGERON: (Laughs). I'm not worried about that. I'm just glad the three flags were thrown. That's enough for me.

Q. Seriously, though, Coach. You mentioned about Lane Kiffin and really his offensive prowess. How much do you think maybe his dad, Monte Kiffin has made him kind of the coach he is today?

ED ORGERON: I think be it has a lot to do with it. He's still with them. They're best friends. And Monte taught him football. The kid was always around football, always in the locker room, always listening to football. And if you're around Monte Kiffin, it's football 24/7. The guy is always on the phone, he's always talking, and Lane is just like his daddy.

Q. To ask about this early signing period again, I mean you've recently in years past you talked about these classes, you went national and went and found guys and were able to bring them to Louisiana. I mean, how is that a strategy going forward, and how do you approach that maybe once they get to Baton Rouge, that they stay in Baton Rouge?

ED ORGERON: Well, it all depends what we have in Louisiana. We're going to always look in Louisiana first, and like I think it was two or three years ago was one of Louisiana's best years. We stayed mainly in Louisiana and Houston or Dallas. I mean those are going to be the hot areas for us and always will be the hot areas for us. Now, if a young man from the state of California is a great player and he calls us and tells us he wants to come, I'm going to take him. If a guys from Washington I'm going to take him, Florida, Atlanta, whatever it is. Atlanta has always been good to us. So we're always going to recruit there. We spot recruit those areas because of specific needs. So it's always going to be Louisiana, Houston and Dallas and then specific needs around the country.

Q. Coach, it looks like you're going to get all your games in, the SEC is going to get most of its games in. What is going to be your lasting memory once this season started from COVID?

ED ORGERON: Yeah. You know, the players that stuck, the coaches stuck together. The adverse situations that all of us were put in. The unexpected, not having success like we wanted to this season. Having guys had to step up and stick together. I think we're all going to learn from having a week like we had last week where some teams or some men would have crumbled. And we decided to get stronger and fight. We stood up and we fought. And that's what I want this team to learn, that anytime in life you face adversity, you gotta stand up and fight. You can't crumble. And good things are going to happen.

Q. What was the craziest thing you remember happening?

ED ORGERON: That shoe. That shoe being thrown. It's fresh in my mind. I've never seen that. I've never seen that before in football.

Q. I meant COVID related, though. COVID related.

ED ORGERON: Oh. Just I think when we all had to go home and the roads, there was nobody on the road and I didn't see another human being, get to talk to another human being for two weeks.

Q. That was right after spring practice you're talking about?

ED ORGERON: Yeah, uh-huh. We all had to go home, and I'm in a home by myself, and just watched way too much TV. I hated it. I hate being by myself. I didn't like it. I love being with our staff and our team.

Q. Was there something that happened last week that made you all have this turnaround? You talked about a lot of speeches and stuff the night before. Was there something that kind of sparked this?

ED ORGERON: Yeah. I think you gotta give credit to the players. The players wanted to beat Florida. They dug in. They were not happy. Nobody was. Our performance against Alabama, give it to Alabama, they're a great team. But you still saw us fight during the week at Alabama. And then the guys decided, hey, listen, this is Florida. We want to represent LSU in the right way. We know what everybody is saying about us out there and all that. It's not true. We gotta show everybody. The only way you're going to do it is show them. And I think Friday night in the hotel was an excellent night. There was a lot of examples of a lot of motivational speeches, a lot of motivational videos. And I think our team caught onto it, and they believed. And, you know, I gotta say this to you. It was very quiet in the locker room before we went out for Florida. And I was a little bit concerned. And but they came out on fire, ready to play. So maybe that's the -- you know, the temperature of our team.

Q. Have you and Lane ever gone head to head like this?

ED ORGERON: In practice all the time. (Laughs).

Q. This will be the first game, though?

ED ORGERON: Yeah. It will be the first game, yeah. In practice we used to go after it all the time. And we were very competitive, and I loved it. But, yeah, it will be the first time.

Q. When did you all cut off communications?

ED ORGERON: You know what, I haven't talked to him much this season. He's been busy doing his thing, I've been busy doing my thing. I don't talk to any head coaches, rarely, during the season.

Q. And I know you're focused on this year, but last year exactly to the day, Joe won the Heisman. What are your memories of just that?

ED ORGERON: It's kind of funny, his dad texted me today. And I didn't know it. I just said, thank you. He told me thank you. I said, what? Thank you all. And it's just a tremendous family, tremendous award for Joe. But you know what, wasn't finished, and that was big for Joe, but he had his eyes set on a National Championship, and he was the leader of that team, and so did his team. So those are great memories.

Q. Ed, couple of questions, please. Max Johnson, on one of those scrambles looked like he was limping at the end of the game.


Q. Is that going to be a problem this week? And, two, the fact that his dad had so much success in the NFL, do you think that's kind of a bleedover to his game, that he's got that poise gene that maybe he learned from his father?

ED ORGERON: No question. No question. I think his dad trained him, and so did his mamma. His mamma was a great volleyball player. His mamma is Mark Richt's sister. There's a lot of football in that family. And just getting to recruit them and knowing Brad and Nikki, the type of people that they are, and also watching Max play. But I think all of that combined made him a very, very good competitor, just like T.J. is. T.J. has great parents. They're very similar in a lot of ways. He has a small injury. He's limited today, but I think by the end of the week he's going to be full speed. Thank you guys.

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