LSU COACH ED ORGERON - Alabama's Coming to Town
COACH ORGERON: Welcome,
everybody. We had a tremendous open date. Really loved the attitude of
our players on Tuesday and Wednesday. Came out to work. Gave us two
great days of work. We had a tremendous what we call Tiger Bowl on
Thursday. Younger guys got to show their talents. Had a lot of fun.
Older guys got to practice. Got to coach. We had a tremendous day.
our guys got to go home for the weekend, spend some much-needed time
with their families. I thought it was really good. Guys were excited to
go see their families and came back with a tremendous attitude.
looking forward to see our team today. Today is Tell the Truth Monday.
The truth is we got a great Alabama team coming into town. It's going
to be prime time football. It's why you to come to LSU, why you come to
coach at LSU. We understand the rivalry. I understand it. Our team
understands it. We understand the importance of this football game. But
it's really game four of a new season. That's the way we're going to
We're going to have a tremendous practice one day at a
time. The key is for us to explode Saturday night at 7:00. I know that
the Tiger Walk is going to be something special. I know that Tiger
Stadium is going to be something special that night. One of the
greatest venues in college football to play. We're looking forward to
playing Alabama at our home on Saturday night at 7:00.
talking about the Alabama Crimson Tide, 8-0, coached by one of the
greatest coaches in college football, Nick Saban. Done a wonderful job
with his staff.
I know you know Lane Kiffin very well. He's a
great game caller, game day caller. He can see things very fast. He
knows what the defense does and he knows the right play to call. You
can see him changing plays on the sideline. He's excellent on it.
was born with a football in his hand under Monte Kiffin, been studying
defense with Monte Kiffin his whole life. He knows defenses, he knows
what hurts it, he knows what to do on game day.
500 yards a game, 44 points per game, does a tremendous job. He has
freshmen in Jalen Hurts, like defending the wildcat back there. Another
tailback back there, you have to consider him as one, one that can also
throw the ball.
I really like their offensive line. I think it's
the best offensive line we've seen led by Cam Robinson who is a great
The thing I like about their offensive line is they
execute. It's nothing fancy, but they come off the football, they
double-team you, come off of blocks, and their backs hit the hole very
O.J. Howard is obviously the best tight end we've played
against. Lane knows how to use him. He uses him on the boots, waggles,
box very well and also can stretch the field.
obviously the best defense we've seen. Might be one of the best
defenses in college football history. We'll see at the end of the year.
thing that's is surprising, not surprising but amazing, they have 64
tackles for losses and 32 sacks. We have to protect our quarterback.
It's going to be protection first. We have to protect our quarterback
in order to get the ball down the field. We're going to have to do some
things with Leonard that enables him to be in space and run the
I think their defensive line is very well-coached.
Karl Dunbar is a great LSU Tiger here, played for Pete Jenkins, is a
Pete Jenkins mentor. As you know, we got Pete with us. Those guys do
the same techniques that we saw for all those years. On special teams
they're very explosive and they're very solid across the board.
thing that makes them win is they're efficient, well-coached, they're
plus four in the turnover ratio. They go get the football, they're very
opportunistic, and they take care of the football on offense.
back to our team, we're going to be excited to play. We're glad to have
Leonard back. We're glad to have Dave, the offense, doing the things
they're doing. Special teams. Steve is doing a great job, with our
whole offensive staff, of calling plays, getting the ball in the
play-makers' hands. We got a lot of work to do this week. We'll take it
one game at a time and we'll be ready to play on Saturday night.
Dwayne Thomas recently gave an interview where he said something along
the lines of dominating Alabama's offense. Some people may say that's
bulletin board material. People say LSU needs to have some swagger to
believe they can win this game.
COACH ORGERON: That's wrong. He
shouldn't have said it. You don't win the game in the papers. You win
the game on Saturday night. I'm going to have a little conversation
Q. What do you expect out of Danny Etling? What does he need to do for your football team against this defense?
ORGERON: First of all, we're proud of Danny Etling, what he's done, the
type of young man he is, what he's done for our football team. He's a
quiet leader, leads by example, hard worker. Takes hits back there,
doesn't say a word. Always wants to get better. Always in the office
studying film. The type of young man he is, we're very proud he's our
He has to manage the game. He's going to get hit.
He's probably going to get sacked once or twice. He needs to take care
of that football, set his jaw, come back and play again. Manage the
game, call the plays, do the things that coach asks him to do.
Q. Alabama seems to be a strong second half team. Do you think it's because of their adjustments, substitutions or conditioning?
ORGERON: I think it's a combination of both. They're very well-coached.
Like anything, I would imagine that they make adjustments right away
when it happens on the sideline, they fix things, just as our staff
does. I think they're well-conditioned. Excellent strength coach.
They're big, they have depth. All those things combine for a great
second half team. But so are we. We've outscored our guys 73 to 7. It
should be a battle.
Q. What makes a play caller great? You
talked about Lane having the anticipation. Is it just the feel for the
unexpected or mixing it up?
COACH ORGERON: I think it's knowledge. I
think Lane is very knowledgeable. He has a game plan. He'll call a
play, but he sees them in a different defense. He can change it. I
think his communication skills are excellent. He's a big fundamental
football coach. He has great players.
Q. Do you expect to play Toby, start him on the offensive line?
ORGERON: Yeah, we're going to see this week as it goes. But obviously
if he's ready to go, we're going to put him in. I think he's going to
be well. If he has a good week of practice, Tuesday is going to be a
big day, we're going to do one-on-ones, stuff like that, see how he
feels. If he's not too sore or anything. But if he's able to start,
we'll start him.
Q. What are the options for Maea?
ORGERON: Jeff handles that. He's the manager. I would be telling you
something that Jeff has a couple options there. We'll talk about it. We
talk about our personnel on Friday, how we're going to play everybody.
So we won't know till Friday.
Q. How do you think this game will impact your senior's NFL careers?
COACH ORGERON: Well, that's the furthest thing from my mind, I can promise you that. We don't discuss that.
I think those guys are motivated to play for the LSU football team and their team. We talk about that stuff after the season.
I know when you were still at USC, you were recruiting Leonard. What
did you think of him as a player at that point in time? Did you ever
feel like you had a legitimate chance to get him?
I'll answer that last one. No (laughter). Frank Wilson was recruiting
him. No, he came out to camp. Really liked him. I didn't know him that
well. I called him every once in a while. He'd be doing push-ups,
sit-ups. Talked to his dad a little bit. Just was amazed at the
high-character kid he was.
When he came to camp, we felt that he
would be a great player. But I had no idea the type of football player
he'd turn out to be. I think he's the best football player in the
country. I think he's one of the best football players I've ever been
Q. Last year Alabama all but shut down Leonard Fournette. What will change this week to make that different?
COACH ORGERON: Hopefully a lot (smiling).
going to do some things with Leonard that he's able to do. I think that
whatever happened last year is the past. We have a great game plan for
But I will say this to you. It's going to be very tough
moving the football on this defense. They're one of the best defenses
I've ever seen.
Q. How would you compare Alabama this year to some of the USC teams that you were assisting on?
ORGERON: Very similar. I think they're better defensively. They're
stronger. They're stouter. They play with great technique. They're very
opportunistic like I said. On offense, they're a spread offense. You
think about the great Alabama teams, great on special teams, great on
defense, maybe scoring 25, 30 points a game. This team is able to score
50 points a game with Lane in there. He can hit the long ball at any
time. He's great at making the (indiscernible) and the boots. He just
has the complete package.
Q. All the changes that you made
offensively, all the different things you were doing, your ability to
throw the football, how much better equipped do you think it makes you
to give you a chance to win the game on Saturday night?
ORGERON: I do believe it gives us a great chance of moving the
football, to be able to spread the field, to be able to take shots, to
be able to protect the quarterback first. That's going to be the whole
key of the game. To be able to get Leonard the football in some plays
that we think he runs very well.
And second of all to protect
the quarterback. We think we can get some receivers down the field, but
we got to be able to protect him long enough to be able to protect the
quarterback to get those plays down the field. That's going to be the
key to the game.
Q. We've heard you say since you took over what
LSU does here is not about you. I think everybody gets that. Yet how
can you reconcile that with the fact that the outcome of this game
could have a considerable effect on your coaching career and your
legacy as a coach?
COACH ORGERON: Last thing, that's way out there,
man. I don't even think about that. The focus is about these players,
the LSU family. To tell the truth, one day at a time. These next four
weeks are going to pass fast. My job is to do the best thing I can do
for this team today, let the chips fall where they may. Everything else
is going to take care of itself.
Q. No players on this team have beaten 'Bama. Can you sense the hunger for this group, especially older guys, to get a win?
ORGERON: I think it's a combination of both, respect. They do respect
this football team. They do want to have success against them.
think that two years ago, they felt they played good enough to win the
game, and some unfortunate things happened. Last year they handed it to
us. We know that. Similar like we knew that Ole Miss handed it to us
over there. We had a chip on our shoulder against Ole Miss.
expect those guys to come out hungry, wanting to win the football game
obviously. But they know that the type of football game we have to play
in order to have success against this team.
Q. Do you feel this losing streak wearing on the fan base, on the community, that wants so desperately to see LSU beat Alabama?
COACH ORGERON: Yeah, I went to my son's game this weekend. I kind of felt that a little bit.
hey, I'm from Louisiana. I'm a Tiger fan, too. I get it. Everywhere
I've been, I put on the LSU-Alabama game, whether it was Miami, New
York, USC, want to cheer for the Tigers. I get the passion. That's the
way it should be. I know the people are not satisfied with the way it's
gone. I get that.
So we understand that. But you know what, when
we walk in that stadium Saturday night, it's not going to be about
that, it's going to be about getting our cleats in the grass, playing
fundamentals, taking care of the football.
Q. Alabama's sack numbers, is that scheme or do they just have physically superior players?
ORGERON: Both, both. I think they have great pass-rush technique. They
have great schemes. They overpower you, they over-scheme you. They know
how to attack protections. We're going to need to be really good and
smart the way we protect our quarterback.
Q. Being a defensive
coach in college football, do you ever look at Nick as the gold
standard of what you can accomplish defensively? Do you then ever
marvel at his ability to roll classes through but still keep the same
COACH ORGERON: You look at the recruiting classes he's
had, top recruiting classes. I've tried to get a lot of these guys that
he's recruiting. I know the type of player he recruits. The guy does an
excellent job. He's a great defensive coach. He's been a great
defensive coach. He's had great defensive lines. That's where it all
starts. Very fast, big and physical at linebacker, then the right
positions. Lot of respect for what he does.
Q. Speaking of
that talent, when you look at your roster and Nick's roster, can you
make an argument that Saturday night's matchup, the talent that will
take the field on both sides, may be one of the greatest collections of
talent collectively that you've come across in any individual game?
ORGERON: Yeah, at some positions, no question. Some positions, yes. We
like our football team. We like the guys that we have. We think that we
still need to get better at some positions to get to where we want to
be. But obviously it's a great group of young men on both sides.
Q. How have you used these two weeks leading into the game to monitor Leonard's ankle, try to keep him in game shape?
ORGERON: Well, he did some things conditioning-wise not on the football
field, that we feel he's going to be in better condition. Obviously we
limited his reps. But he did get some good work. We kind of monitored
it as we went on. Jack Marucci and Tommy Moffitt do a great job. I
listen to those guys, and we do it.
Q. In the past you have been
a little bit of a slower-starting team being tied at halftime with
Southern Miss and Ole Miss. I'm curious if you are working on any
improvements to be able to start a little bit faster so what happened
to Tennessee doesn't happen to LSU?
COACH ORGERON: Well, you bring
up a very good point. But I'm going to tell you what my mentor, Pete
Carroll, told me. You can't win the game in the first quarter. You
can't win the game in the second quarter. You can't win it at halftime.
You can't win it in the third quarter. But you darn sure better win it
in the fourth quarter.
We're happy with what we're doing at
halftime adjustments, we're happy with what we're doing in the second
half. But you bring up a point, we need to start faster. We need to
make some good decisions on defense, some good decisions on special
teams and protect the quarterback to be able to play against Alabama.
We don't want to get behind against a great football team.
Because they're so good at turning turnovers into touchdowns on
defense, how do you balance that with your desire to be aggressive on
offense and try to balance that aggressiveness with taking chances but
not making mistakes?
COACH ORGERON: You have to be smart. It's about
protection first. It's really about protection first, make sure that
nobody's free, make sure that the guy is blocking the guy he's supposed
to, can block him, and he has proper technique. That's where it all
starts to me.
Then taking care of the football. Our guys have
done a pretty good job the last couple of weeks of taking care of the
football, the runningbacks. Don't make any decisions, don't force the
ball where you don't need to. Again, realize they're going to make
plays, too. This is going to be a battle. Those guys are going to make
plays. If we do make a mistake, we have to wipe it out and go on to the
next play. On special teams we have to take care of the ball, go get
it, make some plays on special teams and also continue to create
turnovers on defense. We have to match them.
Q. For this game it
seems like there would be a lot of nerves and pressure going into it.
What do you do to keep yourself and your team mentally prepared and
focused for this game?
COACH ORGERON: Here's the whole thing. Every
week brings a different distraction. So we stay on our regimen, Tell
the Truth Monday, Competition Tuesday, No Turnover Wednesday, No Repeat
Thursday, Focus Friday, and before you know it it's Saturday.
Saturday, in our hotel, we have a strict regimen of things that we do
to keep them focused. Obviously there's going to be College Game Day
there, guys are going to be watching. It's a 7:00 game. They're going
to watch those things. We can't stop that. They're going to be on their
Twitter. They're going to call their girlfriends. Everybody does that.
when we get them there, we have little drills. We have little sayings
that click them back in. Hopefully that regimen, that routine in game
four is going to pay off Saturday night.
Q. A few weeks ago you
talked about maturing as a head coach. You've coached against some good
teams before. Obviously this is a huge game for the team and the
program. Talking about yourself, what makes you think you're more ready
for the challenge now of leading your team against the No. 1 team in
COACH ORGERON: Well, we have a good team. We have
good players. I'm at a good school. We have a great coaching staff.
We're playing at home. We're playing in the best stadium in the world
All those things are an advantage. This ain't nothing
about me. I think I'm more prepared to lead a football team because I'm
able to delegate authority. I let guys do what they need to do.
when I took over this team, I knew we had a good football team. It was
our job to put them in position to make plays. As you see, we're
starting to play as one team, one heartbeat. That's my whole objective.
Kind of like the bulletin board material question earlier. When it
comes to changing the mentality, is there a balance you have to have
between the confidence and then the bulletin board side?
ORGERON: Yeah, I think it's the way we approach a football game. You
can go into a season and you can put red-letter games, you can say,
Hey, we're going to do everything we can do to beat this football team,
then not play good against this football team. I think that's the wrong
approach, I really do.
I think when you go through a season, if
you treat every opponent the same, you treat them the same in your
preparation, you are going to have a consistent effort with your
But obviously you need to be smart and know this
is a rivalry game, know that guys are going to be excited. The
motivation is going to come from within, so we'll be ready to play.
way I'm going to talk to the team today, they're going to understand
how much confidence I have in this football team against a great
Alabama football team.
Q. Can you recall your first impressions
of Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen and how you view his
development as a player?
COACH ORGERON: Yeah, yeah. I see him
jumping over that tailback that tried to cut him and hitting the
quarterback underneath the jaw. Great effort. Tremendous athlete. Good
hip flexibility. Great hands. Very well-coached. Plays with a motor.
I have a vision of him jumping over that tailback, hitting the quarterback (smiling).
Q. People debate crowd's impacts on games. Can Tiger Stadium really affect a game?
COACH ORGERON: Yes. No question it does. It's an intimidating place to play. I've been on the other side.
here is what I tell our guys. Big plays field emotions. Got to give
them something to cheer about. Obviously I know it's going to be very
loud. It's going to be hard for those guys to make adjustments and
calls while fans are screaming. It is an advantage. No question.
Q. You don't imagine anyone would leave at halftime this week?
COACH ORGERON: That's not my job. I know I won't be leaving at halftime for sure.
You said last week that you and Lane talk every week. You were cutting
it off. You said you might ignore one of his calls if he called you.
Did he call you?
COACH ORGERON: I'm not going to comment on that. He
knows we're not talking this week. He's a very dear friend of mine.
Wish him the best in everything he does except this week.
Q. (Question regarding injuries.)
ORGERON: Besides the players that are out for the season, we should be
at full speed come Saturday night. We're probably in the best shape
we've been physically and injury-wise this Saturday night.