Ed Orgeron Press Conference - MSU Preview
BATON ROUGE – LSU coach Ed Orgeron met with members of the media Monday to preview Saturday’s game at Mississippi St. and to review last week’s 42-28 win over No. 7 Florida.
The second-ranked Tigers travel to Starkville to face the Bulldogs at 2:30 p.m. CT on Saturday.
BATON ROUGE – LSU head coach Ed Orgeron met with members at his weekly press conference on Monday to review the Florida game and preview Saturday’s contest with Mississippi State. Here’s the full transcript of Orgeron’s press conference:
ED ORGERON: Welcome, everybody. Very excited for our football team with this win, something the players wanted badly because they beat us last year and we didn’t play very well.
Excited about the play of the offensive line. Zero sacks against a very, very good rush unit. Zero turnovers. We ran the football, we gave time for Joe (Burrow) to throw the football.
I’m excited about the play of our tackles. I thought Austin (Deculus) and Saahdiq Charles had their best game. After watching film, the interior was very solid.
511 yards of total offense, 218 yards rushing. There were holes in there. Clyde Edwards had a great game, a great run by Tyrion Davis-Price. 293 passing, 13 explosive plays. One out of every four offensive plays were explosive.
On defense we finished strong. Seven points allowed in the second half, forced two punts, interception, goal line stop at the end of game time.
We affected the quarterback. This is our best game rushing the quarterback with 13 hits, four hurries and two sacks.
Overall good game for the LSU Tigers.
A lot of stuff to improve on, Tell the Truth Monday. We went over some extensive plays, especially on defense in the first half this morning that we’re going to get fixed. A lot of stuff we can get fixed. They’re all fixable.
Moving onto Mississippi State, two years ago we went over there, did not play very well. This is going to be a loud crowd. They play very good at home. We’re expecting a tough battle. We’re going to get ready this week for a tough battle on the road.
Mississippi State’s offense is spread, seven returning starters, 32 points per game, 414 total yards, 228 rushing. This is a dual-threat quarterback. He wants to run the ball. RPO guys, Kylin Hill, is a good running back. Mitchell at wide receiver.
On defense they’re 4-3, only three returning starters. I think their biggest deficit, lost three first rounders on the defensive line. Giving up 27 points per game, almost 400 yards per game. Erroll Thompson and Cameron Dantzler from Louisiana are the two best players.
This is going to be about us this week, about us getting better, about us taking the next step, remaining hungry on our destination to where we want to go.
Q. With the run game on Saturday, looked like Thaddeus Moss was involved on that. How did you adapt in the run game?
ED ORGERON: We feel that we’ve gotten better. Obviously there are some choices that Joe can make at the line of scrimmage. He made some good choices. Not enough people in the box, we’re going to run the ball. Too many people in the box, we’re going to throw the football. That’s the way the spread offense operates. We’re doing a good job of doing it.
Q. A lot of people that went to the game said they were exhausted. So much energy. For the guys involved in the game, how do you get reenergized to play another game?
ED ORGERON: First of all, I’d like to thank the offense. Saturday morning was a special day when we woke up. We knew we were going to win the game, we felt it. We knew it was going to be a challenge.
When we got to the Tiger Walk, tremendous energy. I don’t know how many people, felt like 30,000 people there.
At the end of the game, to see that stadium, we needed them in the fourth quarter. Everybody stayed in their seat. It was a tremendous energy. You talk about a winning edge, that was the winning edge.
Always talk to Tommy Moffitt on a Monday. Our guys had a great workout. This morning they’re less sore, less fatigued than other Mondays. We’re going to have a tremendous week of practice.
Q. We saw Terrace actually suited up before the game. How close was he being able to play?
ED ORGERON: No, no, no, no. He’s going to do some individual this week, but he’s not ready to play yet.
Q. Eddie rotated a bit. What are you seeing between him and Adrian Magee?
ED ORGERON: Good 1-2 punch. Ed is in good shape, learning his protections. Ed had some good physical plays. I’m glad we have him.
Again, it gives us some flexibility. If we have to play Adrian at tackle, we can play him at tackle.
Q. Starting to get a lot of praise, high in the rankings, Heisman Trophy talk. Do you feel like you have to control the message with your team? Do you feel the maturity of your team will help them avoid getting the big head?
ED ORGERON: That’s what we want. That’s what we want. We want to be mentioned as one of the top teams in the country. I want our guys to get a Heisman. Inside our room, it’s about fundamentals, about the task at hand, and beating Mississippi State.
But it does do something for your program. That’s why you come to LSU. You want the expectations to be high, but you also want to meet those expectations. Doesn’t mean a hill of beans when you go to Mississippi State and not play well.
We have a lot riding on the line. It’s one game at a time. Mississippi State is in our way.
Q. When you have a program like Tell the Truth Monday, Tuesday, et cetera, is it for situations just like this, coming up after a win? Is that why coaches adopt that kind of thing?
ED ORGERON: Here is what has to happen. 18, 19, 20, 21 year old young men. Obviously they’ve been away for a while since Saturday night. We have to get them refocused today for the task at hand. We do want to celebrate our win. That’s why we don’t start the 24 hour rule till today. We’re going to celebrate our wins, show them the good things we did, the things we have to improve. After today, we have a 24 hour rule. We throw it in the garbage can, on to Mississippi State and we stay focused that way.
Q. Did you talk to Joe Moorhead before you hired Joe Brady? Having a guy like Joe Brady on the staff this week, do you lean into that at all when you prepare?
ED ORGERON: Yeah, it does help to have him on the staff obviously. He can give us the reads, he can give us the formations. Obviously, of course, Moorhead is going to do something different than he normally does.
I did not talk to Coach Moorhead, but as soon as I hired Joe, he gave me a call, I called him back, he said, Ed, great hire, Joe worked for me. I think he’s going to do tremendous things for you at LSU.
He was exactly right.
Q. The late hit you were called on late in the game that negated the interception, a lot of people say that’s a football hit, what’s wrong with that. What is your take?
ED ORGERON: We’re going to turn it in. I’m going to see what the officials tell us. It could have gone either way.
Q. Obviously the crowd noise worked. Up against Mississippi State, with those cowbells, it’s going to be an intense environment. Talk about that.
ED ORGERON: Here is what I will remind them. I will remind them that we walked into a hornet’s nest two years ago and I didn’t have them ready. That was one of the loudest stadiums we played in all year. Not only the cowbells, but the music, the fans were into it. Obviously they played lights out.
What happens with Mississippi State, they’re going to pick one game a year that there’s a target on. Always seems to be LSU. They’re going to play their best game. We’re going to expect their best football game. We’re going to play crowd noise.
I’m going to have them better prepared, not only the cowbells, the music, the fans in that stadium. Thanks for bringing up that point.
Q. In the fourth quarter, you got pressure on the quarterback. You had to be a little more exotic to do it. Are you concerned about that moving forward? Do you think eventually in a game where you’re playing a very good opponent that might catch up with you?
ED ORGERON: Sure, sure. Especially on third down and 10 plus. We got hit on some screens and stuff like that. We’re going to have to play coverage. We’re going to have to rush forward.
I do believe the addition of Marcel Brooks helped us put more speed on the field. Justin Thomas, turning into one of our defensive line pass-rushers. Michael Divinity in the middle. The sack at the end ignited the crowd. We’re going to have to find a way to rush those four and play coverage.
Q. You mentioned about Joe Burrow in the pocket being able to make reads and adjustments. You talked about how he had that responsibility going into the season, why you trusted him. As games go on, how has that fine-tuning gone?
ED ORGERON: He’s like coach on the field. He really studies the offense. He knows the game plan. He can probably call the plays before we call them.
But the good thing is, he, Steve, Joe are on the same page. I was really impressed. We knew Joe could do that. He extended some plays with his feet. We didn’t give up no sacks, but he avoided a couple sacks with his feet, made some big first down conversions on third down for us.
Q. Florida kind of got to Joe more than any team this year. From a poise standpoint, was that the most comfortable he’s been this year being uncomfortable?
ED ORGERON: Yes. We feel that Joe can be a dual-threat quarterback. We can run him a lot more with quarterback draws, quarterback runs. We don’t want to get him hurt.
We feel if there’s any time that he has to escape the pocket, he has great vision down the field, he has enough athletic ability to avoid the rush.
Q. Now that y’all are actually healthy along the defensive line, how much does that help y’all moving forward? What steps does that unit need to take to gel?
ED ORGERON: I’m really pleased with the play of Glen Logan. I think Glen and Tyler Shelvin are probably our two top performers right now. Glen played very well. The guys were a little rusty when they came in. Good to have Rashard Lawrence back in there to give us some repetition. He got the crowd fired up at the end, but a few things he needs to get better at. He hasn’t practiced in a while.
Justin Thomas coming in on third down. Our guys never got tired during the game. I told our coaches we have to be able to rotate, win the game in the fourth quarter. I was proud of our rotation. Our guys were ready to go.
Q. Against Florida in the first half, the Gators got long drives to counteract the Tigers. Do you see that as a formula that opponents are going to use against you?
ED ORGERON: Sure, sure. But you know what, surprisingly they got it passing the ball. They isolated a couple of guys, No. 84, excellent player. They split him out, had a great game plan. They ran some good routes with him, made some good choices. I thought their quarterback was on fire.
What hurt us the most is first and second down, the passes. We have to get better at it. We have to mix some things up that we do. I’m glad it happened this game and we still won.
Q. You mentioned Marcel Brooks. A couple big plays. He enjoyed himself after one of them, for sure. What did you say to him?
ED ORGERON: I said I didn’t want him to get a penalty. I didn’t even think he heard me. He was on Cloud 9, way up there, man (laughter).
Marcel brings that fire. On that long screen, if we would have turned the screen in, he was retracing. He has a lot of speed. I don’t want to take that away from him, I just don’t want any extra celebration.
Q. He’s somebody that spent time at safety, pass-rusher now. What has the process been?
ED ORGERON: First of all, we had Marcel Brooks at outside linebacker when he first came. He wanted to move to safety to try to win a starting spot. Obviously we gave him that opportunity.
As a staff we spent a lot of time on Marcel Brooks this summer. We felt as a staff his best position would be outside linebacker. But I want to give the players a chance to realize, Hey, this is the position I want to play, but this is the position I really need to play.
I think Marcel Brooks has realized that. He’s at home at outside linebacker. Only weighs about 200 pounds, needs to get a little bit heavier to be able to play on first and second down.
Q. You mentioned how Joe Burrow has responsibility with play calling. Do running backs make reads and decisions for plays?
ED ORGERON: I think the running backs make reads and protections obviously. Nickel, Mike, Will, they have to make protection there.
Q. What did you see from Farrell and Justin Thomas over the summer and in camp, how far they’ve come now with injuries?
ED ORGERON: Who was the first one you mentioned?
Q. Farrell, Neil Farrell.
ED ORGERON: Neil Ferrell.
Neil always has been a good player for us. Neil has gotten in great shape. Like I said, when we moved him to first team, it was going to be hard. Glen is good player, so we consider both of those guys first teamers. Bill Johnson saw some stuff on Justin he really liked. He’s sort of getting elevated.
Now, the injuries gave Justin a chance to play more and more. He’s been consistent for us. Now he’s turned into one of our best pass-rushers.
Q. What are your concerns about getting into a game like the other night, trading scores back and forth?
ED ORGERON: Don’t like it. Don’t like it, no. That’s not how we want to play football at LSU. We want to play great defense. That’s not acceptable. It’s not what we want to do. Our defensive staff, we had a meeting this morning, we’re looking at things we’re doing structural, technique-wise. We got to get better.
Q. When you look at the top two scoring teams in the country, both being from the SEC, how historically significant do you think that is? Is it harder to imagine a huge game between two of the conference leaders having no touchdowns the entire game? How much of the evolution do you think was a requirement schematically on the field and how much was a requirement in terms of recruiting?
ED ORGERON: First of all, the SEC is the greatest conference, in my opinion. I’ve been all over the country. The best athletes come here. I believe some of the best coaches are in this league. Every week is a chess match.
This coaching staff we just won against is a tremendous coaching staff. They had tremendous athletes on the football field. I think that’s where the best come to compete.
I do believe in order for us to get where we want to go, first of all we had to change our scheme to score more points. In recruiting that’s where the guys want to be. Quarterbacks want to come here, receivers, running backs want to come here. They all played in this offense in high school.
If you tell a guy to go to huddle, you’d have to explain what a huddle is nowadays.
Q. When it comes to the defensive side of the ball, this past week’s game, there may have been some opportunity for interception, maybe they didn’t quite get it, they still broke the pass up. What do you tell your players? Do you want them to get that interception or rather break up the pass?
ED ORGERON: You ask me on the fourth-and-one play. We should have batted the ball down. We talked about that this morning. Fourth-and-one right there. You got the ball in your hands, you battle with somebody, bat the ball down. It’s a Tiger’s ball. On that play we called a winning edge, bat the ball down would be a better situation.
The rest of them, if it’s third down, obviously we want interception.
Q. You look at arguably the four best teams in the country, all have elite quarterbacks. Is that kind of where the game is going? Do you feel Joe is a unicorn in that regard or can this be taught to whoever follows him?
ED ORGERON: First of all, I believe Joe is elite. We felt that in the recruiting process. It takes time to develop. I don’t think anybody comes to college football, not many guys, rips off their shirt, has an ‘S’ on the shirt and starts going. It takes development. You can see his development over last year.
I do believe in order to get where we want to go at LSU, you have to have a great quarterback, and it starts with the quarterback.
Q. Marcel Brooks’ penalty. Seems like last year we talked about high hits. Kind of a newer thing with the low hits. How does your staff teach tackling where you have to be conscious of high and low hits?
ED ORGERON: It makes it difficult. It makes it difficult. We used to say if you go late, go low. You can’t say that any more.
Obviously a young player like Marcel Brooks, the crowd is screaming, you just got a sack, you want to get another one. Your adrenaline is flowing. It’s hard to tell him to pull off. But you have to pull off right there. You just have to teach him to pull off in that situation.
I think the more experience you have, the better you can pull off. As a young player, it’s going to be hard to pull off.
Q. Over the years you’ve taken a lot of stuff from Pete Carroll. What did you take from Pete about as your team gained more notoriety, trying to focus but keep loose at the same time?
ED ORGERON: Block out the noise. Pete was phenomenal at blocking out the noise. Really focusing in on the task at hand, getting the team better, look at what’s real, look at the tape, what’s real.
I can say it right now. The five-technique has to get better. In a game where we may have eight to ten sacks, you’re always pointing something out that we got to get better, be constructive.
Pete’s teams got better as the season went on. That’s what I want our team to do, get better and better and better. Really the only ranking that counts is when you get in the College Football Playoff. It’s good right now, but doesn’t mean anything. You got to win consistently throughout the season.
Q. It seems like every broadcast they’re showing Joe and Steve together in the box. Joe and Ensminger, you’ve talked about the relationship. Have you ever been around an offensive mindset that they can work in that way? How much does Ensminger value that with Brady?
ED ORGERON: When we were at USC, Norm was there, but also Lane Kiffin and Sarkisian were young coaches. I thought they worked tremendously together.
Have I seen it? I’ve seen it before. Ended up being three pretty good coaches, all three of those. Offensive line. It can work together. But I think you have to have the right mindset. It all starts with Steve obviously, then Joe is eager, he wants to do well, he listens to Steve. There’s no this is me, this is you. It’s about the football team.
Those two guys are great team guys. That’s how it was at USC. Those guys had success together.
Q. If I had told you three months ago that on October 14th you’d be averaging 52.5 points a game, you would have told me what?
ED ORGERON: I’ll take it (laughter).
I never think of it like that, I really don’t. I just think about it as winning. Obviously the offense has exceeded our expectations at this point in the season. But there’s going to come a game where it’s not going to be so easy. We’re going to have to improve on defense, play better defense to win as a football team. We have been winning as a football team.
(If) our defense doesn’t play that way the second half, I don’t know what the outcome of this game is going to be. But scoring those points, that’s nice. But winning the game is the most important factor.
Q. Pregame and during the game it was a who’s who of recruiting. What does that game and environment done? Since all this attention, what is the recruiting like in the office?
ED ORGERON: First of all, having ESPN Gameday here, playing the Florida Gators, a team that all of us are recruiting the same guys, but the biggest thing that I thought was the difference and helped us in recruiting is you can tell them about Death Valley on Saturday night, but a lot of them’s first time in Tiger Stadium.
A lot of our recruits stayed overnight. My office was busy yesterday morning from 9 till about 6 p.m. with recruits rolling in and out of there, some of them unofficial, two of them on official visits.
To a man and to a parent, they said, Coach, we have never seen nothing like that. We’ve been around a lot of schools. We have never seen a crowd and atmosphere like we saw last night. What a fantastic job by our fans.
Q. You were talking about that fourth-and-one situation where you should have knocked it down. Y’all had a situation last year where there was a guy who could have scored, got him to get down. How hard is it to teach guys to go against their instincts?
ED ORGERON: It is tough, but just like we call that sniper, when he went down. We have not taught him to bat the ball down on fourth-and-one as far as I know. But Thursday we’re going to have a winning edge, we call winning edge, special situations. We’re going to go over that situation and we’re going to teach him to bat the ball down.
Q. Joe Burrow, some of his postgame comments, 22 years old, sitting there after the big Florida win talking about don’t let good enough stand in the way of greatness. As a coach, what is your reaction?
ED ORGERON: LSU standard of performance. That’s what you want your leader to do. I told him jokingly, I said, I’m glad you’re not the head coach, we’d be practicing tomorrow morning (laughter). He was kind of PO’d, but I like that. That’s true leadership.
Joe knows where we want to go. We all know where we want to go. We got to do it one date at a time.
Thank you, guys. Geaux Tigers.