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December 26, 2019

Ed Orgeron

Atlanta, Georgia

Q. Ed, you've had an adventurous career. What does it mean for you to get the Tigers to this spot?
ED ORGERON: This is my job. It's not about me. It's about the team, it's about the state of Louisiana. When you come to LSU, the expectations are high. Obviously, when you have the amount of talent we have on this football team, and the great coaches that we have, these are expectations that you have to meet at LSU.

Obviously, proud of our football team. This is not our final destination. We came here for a playoff game. We're looking forward to playing a great Oklahoma team.

Q. Is this what you expected when you took over a few years ago?
ED ORGERON: Yeah, yeah. You know, you're expected to do this at LSU. I didn't know it would happen so fast, in our third year.

I think in your third year, any time you're a new coach, that you have to show that your program's going in the right direction, and we've done it.

Q. What does it mean for the state? The Louisiana people seemed to have embraced you because you're one of them.
ED ORGERON: It's been phenomenal. To me, it's one of my favorite parts. I'm blue collar, a lot like they are. I tell them I represent them in every way I can. All the former players, all the former coaches, all the alumni, we want them to make those guys proud of Cajun. I have a Cajun accent. They like it. I like it.

It's just been a wonderful mix of coming to LSU, coming back home, and us winning.

Q. What's the latest with Edwards-Helaire and his hamstring?
ED ORGERON: He hasn't practiced yesterday. He may practice a little bit today. We're not sure yet. If he is going to practice, he's questionable for the game. I do believe that -- if there's any shot of him being cleared to play medically, that if our trainers and doctors say that he can play, I think he is going to try.

I don't know what's going to happen. I hope he does play.

Q. Jalen Hurts has had an interesting 12 months. What do you make of what he's done since he got to Oklahoma?
ED ORGERON: I'm so proud of him. I got to know him going to the awards banquet and stuff like that. Obviously, I know his history. We've played against him twice. We still ain't stopped them, and he made some big plays.

We were talking about him this morning, the 10-0 game, it's 0-0 going into the fourth quarter and he makes two tremendous plays to win the game.

His character, his grit, his determination, meeting his mom and dad, getting to know a little bit about him and the way he fought, I couldn't be more proud of the guy, to be honest with you.

Q. Is he different than when he was at Alabama? What do you see?
ED ORGERON: Yeah, they're running him more. Believe it or not, they're running him more. He has 1,200 yards. He and CeeDee are the keys to the offense. Similar plays in some ways, but some plays a little bit different.

He's the key to the game. I think that the runs -- he's running inside the tackle, he's running outside, the quarterback powers, the lead draws. There's more runs in this offense -- the counters, the counter read -- than there were for him in the Alabama offense.

Q. You guys have gotten a lot of attention for your makeover on offense. What about Oklahoma's defense, the way they've made over the defense?
ED ORGERON: Outstanding. 24 points a game. That middle linebacker is one of the best guys we're going to see all year. They play good, sound, fundamental football.

The things that they do up front, they stunt a lot, they try to get you out of your gaps. They try to create negative plays, tackles for a loss. But, again, the 24 points per game says a lot especially in that league.

Q. What goes into something like that, Ed, when you're 114th in the country and you're beat down and you have to have a complete mental makeover? What goes into that from your perspective?
ED ORGERON: I think it probably -- just like us on offense, it probably started in the meeting rooms. It probably started with an attitude. It probably started about the way we walk through stuff, the way we do everything.

Probably a complete different change. I think schematically, players, their great coaches, and then you've got to go out there on the practice field and do it. Obviously, they have.

Q. Ed, what's Clyde's status?
ED ORGERON: Clyde has not practiced yet. He ran a little bit yesterday, ran straight ahead. Medically, hopefully, he's cleared to practice. I don't know if he will. It would be the first day he would. I think he may try something today. I'm not sure.

It's going to be a game-time situation. Knowing Clyde, if he can play, he's going to try. We're really not sure yet. Do I want him to play? Yes. Do I expect him to try to play? Yes. How much he can play? I don't know.

Q. Is he getting treated now instead of being here?
ED ORGERON: Um-hmm, yeah.

Q. You guys, obviously, this is the first trip for LSU. Oklahoma, on the other hand, has made a habit of this. Is there an advantage?
ED ORGERON: I'm sure they have the advantage. I'm sure they know to how to handle the situation, handle the hype. They've come from behind in big-time games. They have great players, great coaches. Probably gives them a little advantage of being here before.

But the newness also gives you an advantage. We're excited to be here, man. This is fun. When we walk into the Dome and we see College Football Semifinals in the playoffs, it means a lot to us. It means a lot.

We're prideful to be here, so it works on both sides.

Q. On the outside looking in, you're a double-digit favorite; they're the underdog. Do you talk about that with the players?
ED ORGERON: Not at all. We don't talk about that. We block out the noise. We focus on the task at hand. We don't pay attention to it.

Q. What have been your thoughts on Joe's return -- I don't know, the attention that Joe has gotten?

Q. Not just as the Heisman winner, but bringing attention back to Athens and things like that.
ED ORGERON: I think it's been great, to be honest with you. It comes along with it. Obviously, we all know Joe's a great team player. But to put him in the national spotlight, to win the Heisman, very deserving.

But typical Joe, he's going to help somebody else. I think he raised maybe half a million dollars for the kids of Athens, and it goes to show you the heart that he has, the character that he has. I think Joe's just getting started. I think the more Joe has success, the more he's going to help people. That's the type of guy he is.

Q. Ed, I know you've been around Edward Aschoff, he's been in your program for a while. Just thoughts on his passing.
ED ORGERON: What a shame. What a shame. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. Great guy. I loved having him around. I read his stuff, thought it was outstanding. When I heard what happened, I was really sad.

Q. If he isn't able to play, do you change stuff up in your game plan or plug and play with the next guy?
ED ORGERON: We have three backs. Clyde does it all. Now, we've got three backs that are strong in each one of those areas, so we're going to have to use them. Tyrion, John Emery, and Chris Curry.

You can expect all three of those backs to play in different situations.

Q. Ed, when you started this thing, how much of a focus was Alabama for you? Was it just them as an opponent?
ED ORGERON: We knew that we had to beat them. No question. It wasn't a focus every day. It wasn't the biggest game of the year or nothing like that.

I think that you can make those things too big, and obviously your players feel that.

But I knew that we had to get the type of offense that could score points on them. I knew we had to get the linemen to match the physicality of their football team.

Q. As a program, once you overcome that, what do you have to do to maintain it, because you know that they're going to come back strong?
ED ORGERON: You look at what they've done over the years. They've done a phenomenal job of staying on top. As they say, it's hard to get there. It's even harder to stay up there. We have to remain focused. You have to block out the noise. There have been a lot of accolades for this team already. That's not going to win the football game for you.

It's about fundamentals, it's about getting better, staying hungry with a great mindset. I believe we have the coaching staff and focus to do that.

Again, these guys are not satisfied. Although we've had success this year, they're not satisfied.

Q. You talked about how this is all exciting for your players, being here for the first time, seeing their names. What's kind of the coolest thing for them so far?
ED ORGERON: You know, I think winning the S.E.C. Championship, which was a goal of ours, to see them on the stage, happy and stuff like that. And then just coming here, being as a team.

I do believe, like I said, when you walk in the Dome and you see College Football Semifinals, it hits them. It's all on the line.

I think these guys are going to be ready. They've been fantastic. We'll see happens.

Q. Coach O, you mentioned that the guys are excited to be here. Especially here. You have Blake Ferguson, who is a hometown kid, right up the street in Buford. Can you tell me a little bit about him as team captain?
ED ORGERON: We had an awards banquet the other night, and he got every major award. Goes to show you what the strength coach thinks about him, what they think about him in academics, about his character, about his leadership on this football team.

You know, the deep snapper, he never gets any attention unless he gets a bad snap. And he hasn't gotten that much attention because he hasn't had a bad snap.

But, you know, Blake does a lot of things for SCA. He does a lot of things for the students. He's very involved in college football and wants to help in college football. He's a great leader, great young man, great family.

It just so happens that our snapper has been from Buford the last three generations and we're going to continue -- Will's from Buford. We're going to continue that.

Q. I guess that's a growing trend, they all come from up the street and benefit LSU.
ED ORGERON: Sure does. And it helps us in recruiting. It helps the parents to know that those guys can come from Buford, from Atlanta, come to LSU and have success.

Q. Coach, a lot of people talk about each coach has his own different philosophy on how they coach the team. You hear a lot of people say it's Coach O's way. Explain that to us.
ED ORGERON: Say it again.

Q. A lot of coaches say they have a factor or a way of coaching. A lot of players say it's Coach O's way. Explain that to us.
ED ORGERON: I've been very fortunate to be under some great coaches, Jimmy Johnson, Paul Pasqualoni, Dennis Erickson, and Pete Carroll. A combination more of what we did at Miami, what we did at USC, combine both of them.

Obviously, you've got to give your own flavor, be your own person. That's just the way we do things.

Q. Ed, you talked last year about the need to get more analysts, and you got a bunch and you added some more. Is it any coincidence that you guys have done better program-wise the last two years?
ED ORGERON: Good point. I think it's a direct result of our success. We were so far behind, and I knew it, and I didn't think we was giving our team a fair advantage.

Now we have the power, we have the knowledge, we have advanced scouting. We have analysts that are breaking down everything we're doing, breaking down our opponent. We have answers for our players.

Our coaches are able to get more information a lot quicker and put the game plan in a lot quicker. These guys have made all the difference in the world.

Think about the analysts we have. We have NFL coordinators, big college coordinators. We have guys who have been in the NFL. Just a tremendous amount of knowledge.

Q. And if I can ask specifically about Jorge Munoz. You brought him in from Lafayette. And Joe invited him to the Heisman ceremony. His role and what he's meant.
ED ORGERON: Jorge does a great job of setting up what we call our winning edge. Obviously, he can't coach it on the field, but he does a lot of game management stuff for me.

Also is involved in cut-off, also is involved in recruiting, also involved in setting up the daily meetings, setting up the drills for a coach without coaching on the football field.

He is very knowledgeable. He's like having an extra offensive coordinator in the room with thoughts. I know he breaks down protection with Coach Cregg. I think I get there on Tuesday morning at 6:00. They've been there since 4:00 figuring stuff out. Tireless worker.

Q. Ed, as part of juggling the bowl excitement and the business of winning this game, I know you've had this approach. You identified that pretty early, we need to focus in.
ED ORGERON: We started early. Listen, we're not going to the bowl. We're going to win a playoff game. I've got to give it to the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. They understand that too.

There's not been a required amount of time, too much required amount of time. But our kids had a couple of events. They had a Family Feud the other night, which was very interesting. And then last night, they had a little -- right before Christmas dinner, they had a basketball shoot-off contest.

So these guys have been great. I think it's been a nice combination of letting us have our meeting time, great accommodations, practicing in the Dome, focus in and then they've had about a half hour or so of events each night, which has been good.

Our guys, we've had 100 percent curfew every night. Everybody in for curfew. The focus has been tremendous. They totally get that this is a playoff game.

Q. You guys had a chance to play on this turf, and I remember the championship game and stuff like that, they were slipping a little bit. Did you switch cleats?
ED ORGERON: We had to change cleats during the week. We had guys, especially on Tuesday, when we had a tough practice. Linemen were slipping, outside linebackers were slipping.

So we continued to change the right cleats. Every guy needs a different cleat, different footing. So I think we've got it pretty good right now. It was an advantage this week of practicing on that turf.

Q. Coach, how have you evaluated the Oklahoma defense this week? A lot of people say they didn't really have a chance to stop the LSU offense because Georgia couldn't stop LSU's offense. In my opinion, Oklahoma is built for this type of spread.
ED ORGERON: Yes. They play the spread every day. They play the spread in their conference. They know what they're doing. The biggest accomplishment to me, for Oklahoma's defense, is allowing only 24 points per game in that league where guys are scoring 50 all the time. What a tremendous accomplishment.

But the middle linebacker is one of the best guys we've seen, obviously. He can run down, make plays in space. Their defensive line is very quick and agile, and what they do, they stunt almost every down.

So you got to pick up those stunts. If you don't, they're negative plays. I think a combination of that and outstanding coverage makes them a very, very good defense.

Q. Have you done anything differently to prepare your offensive line for the speed of that defensive front?
ED ORGERON: Sure, yeah. We have what we called our cheetah package, where we have four fast guys in there and we're going against -- I've brought them down there with Coach Cregg and I run the cord and we run the different stunts. Those guys try to pick it up to simulate the speed of game.

Q. How have you guys handled the bulls eye so far? You've played so many good teams. There's hype and talk about Joe Burrow and the Heisman, the good team you're playing. How do you handle the bulls eye?
ED ORGERON: We block out the noise. It's about focusing on the task at hand. It's about fundamentals. When we get in the meeting room, it's Tell the Truth Monday. It's Competition Tuesday. It's Turnover Wednesday. Today is No Repeat Thursday.

It's about focusing on the task at hand. We don't talk in our room about individual accomplishments. We don't talk about trophies. We don't talk about nothing but fundamentals and when the team does well and what the team needs to get better.

Q. Have you been able to enjoy this? 15 years ago, you're in the S.E.C., it doesn't go too well. You're back, you're the number one team in America. How does it feel?
ED ORGERON: Feels good. I'm happy for our team, happy for the state of Louisiana. You've got to win this game. There's no time to relax. There's no time to sit back. During recruiting, we had one week to focus on recruiting.

This is not our final destination. This is a big game for us, and we're here to win it.

Q. Ed, you talk a lot about (no microphone). What is it that makes guys pop like that?
ED ORGERON: We feel like Chris has come along. I really like his ball security. When we put him in there, in the games, he ran tough. He ran with an attitude. We think we're going to need some physicality in this game.

The thing that Chris does, along with John and Tyrion, they do a combination of everything that Clyde does. So we'll have to use all three of them.

Q. Does that help spread the ball around as well?
ED ORGERON: Yes, it does. They stay fresh, they stay hungry. They want to go in there and prove themselves. All three of them are good backs so they're going to be hungry to play. Obviously a big game in a big setting.

The number one thing for us is ball security.

Q. You talk about the leadership on the team. Almost like a coach's dream.
ED ORGERON: I go to bed, I don't even worry about it. I know the next day they're going to tell me 100 percent curfew. I see the guys. I watch them. I see them in the morning. I know they're getting rest. They're like my children. You can tell when your children ain't doing right.

When they're doing right, I have no complaints about the way these guys have acted.

Q. Get back to the trust that everybody seems to have.
ED ORGERON: I believe that one team, one heart beat. I think that has been developed. I think that's a culture. I do believe that everyone knows the task at hand, whether it be a third string guy, a second string guy, or the top guys. I think everybody has a vested interest in what we got to get done here. One team, one heartbeat, and you can feel it.

Q. Coach, LSU has always had loads of talent at the skill positions and they've have had talent at quarterbacks, but they've kind of managed the game throughout the years and fallen into the fold.
Now you have a quarterback like Joe Burrow, who you can say, go out and win the game for me. He's set record numbers this year. What's it like having a guy that's not just a game manager, but you can put everything on his back and say win the game?

ED ORGERON: Obviously, it's a big advantage. What we always wanted at LSU, having a great back. The thing that's made our offense go is the play of our offensive line. I mean, those guys have been the MVP. Obviously, Joe's an outstanding player. We have outstanding athletes on the perimeter. But the offensive line has done a really good job this year. And then Stevens (indiscernible) and Joe Brady. I mean, the type of offense we're running is exactly what fits our skill set.

Q. Joe said that defensively on the back end, Oklahoma is a little similar to what Texas does in the secondary. What up front have you seen from Oklahoma that they do a little bit different than everybody else?
ED ORGERON: Stunt every down. I mean, every down is a stunt. They do a good job of it. Sometimes, when you stunt, you get out of your gaps and you get gashed on the run. Think about this. These guys have only given 24 points a game. They're very solid, know what they're doing, very quick.

Q. Joe has taken on the larger-than-life personality on and off the field. Does your experience back in the day with the Leinhart years, have they achieved similar status?
ED ORGERON: Very similar, and it's very similar, helped me to see the way Coach Carroll handled it. Coach Carroll let everybody be themselves. Obviously, when it comes down to practice, we focus on the task at hand.

You can always tell when your team is focused. You can always tell when your team is distracted. I think we've been the most focused this week as we've been all year.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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