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December 23, 2019
Q. Rashard, after the SEC championship game, you said, we're mean, we're tough, and we're nasty. Is there something that changed in y'all's identity as a defensive line in that game against Georgia?
RASHARD LAWRENCE: Yeah, they had a great offensive line. They had top picks all across it, and, you know, we didn't want to go out there and get embarrassed, honestly, you know. And we got great guys on our defensive line.
So we had to set a tempo and set the tone for that game. We know they want to run the ball. So we're definitely trying to keep it going for this game.
Q. You face an offense where once again everything is predicated on the run. Jalen Hurts can beat you with the run?
RASHARD LAWRENCE: Jalen Hurts is like a running back there. He's almost like a running back back there with him. They use him as an extra blocker. We got our hands full. I think having the extra week definitely helped us, though, and we'll be ready to play.
Q. Rashard, how much comfort was it walking back into the stadium today, having some good memories of the SEC Championship?
RASHARD LAWRENCE: It felt good. Practicing there all week is going to be good too. We're just going to try to take a day at a time, you know. We don't want to make the game bigger than it is. When you do that, you kind of overlook the things that actually matter, which is the plays they're going to be running and what they do.
So I think we're going to keep it simple. We're glad to be back, definitely. But we got to keep it simple and, you know, go through a regular week of practice.
Q. Is this -- the week with Christmas and the playoff really tough to block out the noise, stay focused?
RASHARD LAWRENCE: Oh, Coach O ain't gonna let us do that. He came in the meeting today and he set the tone for the week of practice, especially with the defensive line. Thursday. We didn't have our best practice up front, and he came in the room and he came in the team meeting, and he set the tone. So this week is going to be a great week of practice, you know, great days, you know, great events and everything. But we came down here to win.
Q. How did he set the tone?
RASHARD LAWRENCE: He didn't say anything different. It's just his demeanor and how he came in and how he kind of, you know, presented everything on the table, you know. So we get it. We've seen it for three years now, and we know when he comes in like that that he means business and that, you know, we've got big things to do this week.
Q. The significance of having two Heisman finalists, transfer quarterbacks in a playoff game, really big game.
RASHARD LAWRENCE: Yeah, it's going to be really cool. Obviously, both of these guys took a different path to get here. You know, everything happens for a reason, and that's the ultimate testimony for these guys.
They trust the process, didn't complain, and now they're here and on the biggest stage in college football.
Q. What did it look like coming in this morning? You're used to it, but what does his intensity look like in there?
RASHARD LAWRENCE: It's just the way he says things. It's nothing that's hollering and screaming and doing anything different. But when you're around a coach long enough, you get how he is and you know when he's in a good mood and when he's in a bad mood.
Just with anybody. He wasn't in a bad mood, but he wasn't in a good mood. He was in a mood that, hey, we got things to fix and this week is about improving and getting ready for Saturday.
Q. (Indiscernible) spread offenses, but do you have a feeling this game is going to be played in the trenches, really won in the trenches?
RASHARD LAWRENCE: Well, you know, I think it's a narrative out there that Oklahoma is a spread team that wants to just throw the ball. But when you look at the film, you know, they do a lot of gap scheme plays, a lot of counters, a lot of powers.
And then they got probably one of the best quarterbacks back there running it. So for us, we know what we got to do. We got to stop the run. That's any game, but really important to this game. Because you let Jalen Hurts loose back there, and you've got a long game. So you got to keep it simple.
Q. What's been Aranda's message the past three weeks in preparing for this game?
RASHARD LAWRENCE: Preparing for this game hasn't been any different. But we knew and he kind of presented to us that looking at the film, this is something that we kind of saw against Ole Miss. But now they got a guy that can throw the ball, and he's thrown for 400 yards pretty much in every game.
So it's going to be a big challenge. But the biggest thing that he's told us is that we cannot let him run in between the tackles. Once that happens, that opens up the whole offense. So we just got to keep it simple and really focus on him, focus on the great running backs they have and keep it in a good manner.
Q. In your tenure and also his, Dave Aranda's, it seems like to be the first year there's been major questions about his scheme. Has he used that, has he talked about that, has he --
RASHARD LAWRENCE: What was the question again?
Q. It's the first time it seems like in his time as the defensive coordinator that there's been major questions about the defense in the season.
RASHARD LAWRENCE: Right.
Q. Has he used that at all? Has he talked about that?
RASHARD LAWRENCE: Yeah, multiple times he's brought in the leaders on the defense and we've talked about it and kind of how to address it.
The good thing about football is that you want to ascend as the season goes on. I think this defense has did that. We struggled. We had different injuries. We weren't playing well at all.
But now, with this time of the season coming around, with postseason ball, we're going in the right direction. And we got a big challenge Saturday, but this is a defense we've been playing good together. Everybody's healthy, everybody's feeling good, and I think we'll have our best showing Saturday.
Q. You went through that yourself, getting healthy. How big a difference is it before everybody, you know, not healthy and now what you have?
RASHARD LAWRENCE: Right. I think it's a big difference. Any time you got a guy like Grant Delpit out, kind of banged up, it shows. But when Grant's at 100 percent, you look at the past couple weeks, I mean, unbelievable, a game changer he is.
So I think that matters. K'Lavon Chaisson had an ankle injury earlier. Now he's playing his best ball.
It all matters. You want your best guys out there this time of the season.
Q. Three weeks have gone by since your last game. People say college football loses momentum a little bit. How do you guard against LSU losing their momentum in these three weeks?
RASHARD LAWRENCE: I think just trusting our process, how we do things. We keep things simple here. We don't make things bigger than they are. That's a testament to Coach O and how we do things.
We've been practicing hard. Not long, but hard. When we hit, we hit. When we lay off, we lay off. When we're in the film room, that's where we do most things right now, especially during this season.
Everybody's kind of banged up, but where we, I think, can get head is watching film, extended meetings. That's kind of how we keep the momentum going.
Q. Across the country, there's a lot of people on couches and in pajamas this week. This is as intense as you've got to be all year, right? How are you dealing with the dynamic of Christmas on the road?
RASHARD LAWRENCE: Yeah, we're going to enjoy each other on Christmas Day and on Christmas Eve. We enjoy practicing together. For us, we are excited to practice on Christmas. We've never did that before. So obviously, it's a good thing when you're doing that.
So we're going to enjoy it and just trust the process.
Q. The challenge of Jalen Hurts, Coach talked about it. He can double-team a wide receiver. If we do that, we free him up, Hurts to run. Talk about the challenge?
RASHARD LAWRENCE: The challenge is they've got a lot of great playmakers all across the ball. Look at CeeDee Lamb, Jalen, a great running back, and all the players they have, they can hurt you in different ways. We have to stay on our keys, trust what we see, and not try to overrun things and do too much. If we do that, we'll be fine.
Q. How much of the play book opened up with the health on the team?
RASHARD LAWRENCE: Pretty good amount of it. And looking at some of the installs we have, we have a lot more things coming IN this week. That's why kind of walk-throughs and meetings are so important, especially around this time. We've got a lot of different things going in, and rightfully so.
Jalen Hurts and that offense deserves the full menu to see, you know. So getting healthy definitely helped us out with extending things.
Q. Are there pieces of the play book that you have -- oh, wait, we haven't gotten to that yet? Do you prepare yourself that way?
RASHARD LAWRENCE: Yeah, there's definitely things we see that we don't call that much during practice. But in the game, we walk through it a couple times. We talk about it in the meeting, we call it. So we definitely do see things like that sometimes.
Q. You talked about the offensive line every day. What's the biggest difference you've seen last year compared to this year?
RASHARD LAWRENCE: Physicality and that guy over there, Lloyd doing things the right way. People have been talking about how they saw -- they talked about how they were there every Saturday. They really were, you know.
They're a unit now. They play great together. They love each other. And Lloyd, Number 18, made all the difference.
Q. What was it like watching that Cheyenne Trest award come into practice?
RASHARD LAWRENCE: It was special, man. They deserved it. A lot of hard work. A lot of dedication and just the mindset, you know. It was cool. I ain't never seen an award that big. I don't know how much it weighed, but I don't know how they move that thing around.
Q. Didn't they put planks across the turf inside to slide it through?
RASHARD LAWRENCE: Yeah. I feel sorry for whoever had to get that. But I'm glad we got it.
Q. A year ago at this time, you had the huge game in the Fiesta Bowl. You had a decision to make. Could have gone pro. Glad you didn't, I'm sure, huh? This is what you want --
RASHARD LAWRENCE: Yeah. It was a big decision at the time. It was a great decision I made. I look at some of the guys we brought back. Kristian had the same decision. He could have went pro. He was probably going to be a first rounder, to be honest.
So guys like Devin, we talked about it. Every time, he's like man, we talked about that, Rashard, Chris, and guys that have been around for four years, kind of seen it all.
So to come back and play for something like this, going forward, it's big.
Q. Kristian Fulton doesn't really get targeted at all. Therefore, he doesn't get any attention. What do you make the year he's had this year?
RASHARD LAWRENCE: Solid. Kristian, kind of like Derek Stingley, don't say much. They love to play football, they love to cover guys. So he'll get tested Saturday. They got a lot of great receivers. But we know him and Derek will handle themselves. Kristian, man, he's probably the most underrated cornerback in college football.
But the good thing about that is you don't want to hear a cornerback's name get called a lot, you know, getting picked on. People don't pick on Kristian. So solid season.
Q. Rashard, you may have answered this already, but you saw Jalen Hurts in '16 and '17, you played against him. What difference do you see in him now?
RASHARD LAWRENCE: I think the biggest thing is he can sit back there and throw it. They've got a lot of different designed runs for him, but he'll sit back there and throw it.
So it's going to be tough with all the different things that they can do. And then Lincoln Riley is, I mean, I knew about him before I even got into college football. He's a good offensive coach. He'll have some things dialed up.
So Jalen, he can throw it, he can run it, and he's also the heart and soul of that team.
Q. Does he seem like a more physical guy now? Has he put on some pounds?
RASHARD LAWRENCE: Yeah. There's been times guys have tried to tackle him in the backfield and he's dragged them two or three yards. Every yard counts. We've got to rally up and get to him. We've got to hit him often because if he gets a feel for the game, it could be a long night.
So us personally, we've got to hit him. We've got to hit him hard. He's going to pop right back up, though. That's what a champion does. We'll be up for it.
Q. Rashard, so much has to happen, like you were talking about coming back to school, going pro. You talk about Grant getting healthy, K'Lavon getting healthy. This is a broad question. Why did this season happen?
RASHARD LAWRENCE: You got to look at the head coach. Coach O, he set a tempo at the beginning of spring ball. He brought in some great coaches, Coach Brady. Brought in more analysts, more than we've ever had since I've been here. And he's the head of it.
We got a Heisman Trophy winner and many people didn't know about him at the beginning of the year. But I look at fall camp and how he shredded us apart. And when the defense is together and how we play, a lot of things have to happen. You have to kind of almost get lucky in college football sometimes.
It's a process and everything, but things have to go your way. And I look at all the things that kind of went our way with all the different hirings, guys coming back to school, and, I mean, ultimately Joe just taking over this program.
That's kind of how it happened. The quarterback starts it and the head coach starts it, and we go as they go.
The head coach, he's sometimes not talked about that much. But now he's had a chance to really be in the spotlight and show what he is and who he is.
So it starts with the head coach.
Q. Would you be able to tell Joe Burrow won the Heisman Trophy?
RASHARD LAWRENCE: No.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports