9/29/16 5:15 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Excitement is in the air, not only because of the season’s first cool front which is making its way toward South Louisiana, but also because of the energizing effect interim head coach Ed Orgeron is having on the LSU football program. In today’s daily dose of Tiger news, I’ll recap for you the first ever Coach Ed Orgeron show which took place last night. But before going there, here are a half-dozen quick hitters to get you up to speed on other LSU-related news.
1. LSU defensive end Davon Godchaux was reinstated to the team yesterday after all charges against him were dropped due to inconsistent statements made by his girlfriend. As of now, it’s unclear whether Godchaux will play this Saturday, but my guess is he will. During yesterday’s SEC teleconference, Coach Orgeron said they will take it day-by-day and make sure they have all the information available before making any decision.
2. It’s also uncertain as to whether Leonard Fournette will play this Saturday. Orgeron said it will be a game-time decision. Fournette did not practice Tuesday and it’s unclear whether he did yesterday because practice was closed to the media.
3. Athletic Director Joe Alleva sent out this letter yesterday, encouraging Tiger fans to support the efforts of Coach Orgeron and the fighting Tigers over the next two months of the regular season and beyond. “There are no limits to what can be accomplished in the coming weeks,” he wrote. Alleva also briefly expressed his gratitude to Coach Miles for his “substantial contributions to our football program and for the first-class manner in which he always represented LSU and Louisiana.”
4. Former LSU Athletic Director Skip Bertman spoke on 104.5 ESPN and shared his thoughts on Les Miles, LSU’s coaching search and more. Bertman is not likely to have any influence on who Alleva hires, but it was interesting to learn that in the interview (which I haven’t had time to listen to yet) he denounced the idea of Lane Kiffin or Bobby Petrino landing LSU’s job.
5. LSU’s premier linebacker target, Dylan Moses, has pushed back his commitment date, presumably in response to LSU’s coaching situation. The Baton Rouge native was expected to announce his school of choice on December 15th but has decided to wait until January 1st.
6. The 2017 induction class for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame will have a strong LSU flavor with longtime gymnastics coach D-D Breaux, All-American golfer David Toms and two-sport star Eddie Kennison among eight coaches and athletes chosen for the honor. Congratulations to those three Tigers and the five other coaches and athletes chosen for the induction. More on that can be found in this article by The Advocate.
Now for a recap of the first ever Coach Ed Orgeron Show:
First of all, let me just say that Coach O’s style of answering questions was nothing at all like Coach Miles’. I don’t mean for that to sound offensive to Coach Miles because I always enjoyed his shows, though I’ve got to admit his answers were sometimes elusive and filled with “coach speak.” Coach O’s answers, on the other hand, were direct, honest, and sounded like they were coming from your buddy sitting across the table at a crawfish boil. I found that as refreshing as a cold Abita beer, but it’s too early to be thinking about beer, so let’s move on…
One more note about this recap: I wasn’t able to catch as much of what Coach O said as I would have liked. And no, that’s not because of his accent, which, by the way, sounds very at home to me. No, the reasons why I didn’t catch it all are two-fold. First, he speaks very fast and dishes out a lot of info without using a lot of words. Second, I’m nursing an aching lower back and was hurting so much by the time the show was done that I didn’t take the time to go back to my recording and fill in what I missed. Hope you understand.
In his opening statements, Coach O said what an honor it is to represent the Tigers and Louisiana. He also promised that they are going to do some things differently on offense like pass the ball around and spread it out a bit. He also introduced a theme that was returned to throughout the night: “One Team, One Heartbeat.” The idea is that it’s not about one coach, one player or one unit (offense, defense or special teams) but rather it’s about the whole team working together.
The first call-in question of the night came from Rickey in Birmingham who asked about improving field position and special teams. Orgeron said Coach Peveto is working exclusively on special teams now and that he is involved too. He said they’ve done some things this week that will be better, but that it will be a process.
Shannon from Lafayette asked Coach O how he thinks the defense will look this Saturday when they're not forced to stay on the field as much. Coach O said he’s hopeful that the defense will look really good, but then reiterated his theme of one team, one heartbeat, saying that it’s about the whole team.
Between calls, host Chris Blair asked whether the quarterback position was back open now. Coach O said Danny Etling has earned his role as starting quarterback by making good decisions and that he will only get better as games go by. He added, “Obviously, if he has a bad game we wouldn’t have a problem bringing in Brandon.”
Another interesting comment Orgeron made between calls is that the team has simplified some things on offense and only ran about 20 plays this week as opposed to about 80 in previous weeks. The idea is to master the plays you practice and run them with detail and speed.
Sadie from Denton, Texas asked what Coach O learned from his jobs at Ole Miss and USC. Orgeron answered by saying you can’t learn to be a head coach until you are one. He made note of some things from his days at Ole Miss that he wanted to improve and then did those things at USC.
The next caller asked if we will see LSU throw more to the middle of the field. Orgeron answered affirmatively, saying he believes in taking shots downfield, doing things like running four verticals, stressing the defense and not letting them bring their safeties up.
Mike in Baton Rouge pointed out that Brandon Harris was a great spread, option QB in high school but seemed uncomfortable in the power-I. He then asked if Orgeron foresees an instance where we spread out Missouri and run a read-option. Coach O said, “We will spread them out, for sure, but I won’t tell you if we’re gonna run the option or not.” He added that Harris’ development was not as fast as expected and right now Etling is playing well and that’s who they’re going with.
Joe from Lafayette asked if we would see more of freshman linebacker, Devin White. Coach O said we’re going to see White play more this week since Missouri runs so many plays, requiring them to rotate a lot of guys on defense. He added that while White will be an outstanding player, right now there’s a big difference between him and Kendell Beckwith and that it’s hard to take Beckwith off the field.
The next caller, Charles from Lafayette, who’s a member of the Gridiron Club, told Coach O that when he comes to Lafayette he’ll have some étouffée for him. He then asked if Coach O would be meeting with the GridIron Club on Friday. Orgeron answered affirmatively, saying, “Yeah, I’ll be there. You can bring that étouffée.”
Jennie from New Orleans asked about Malachi Dupré being wide open on that last drive against Auburn and whether that was communicated back in the huddle to Etling and to the coaches. Orgeron said yes, he’s sure Dupré let Etling know and that Etling needs to work on seeing all of his progressions. He concluded his answer with “Communication breeds confidence.”
Al asked if the team has been working on the two-minute drill. Orgeron said they have been practicing it extensively and that we should see some improvement there.
The Evil Twin pointed out that there are four seniors on the team who could have gone pro early and said we as fans have an obligation to never quit on them since they never quit on us. I agree 100% with that comment and was glad to hear it. He then said something else I liked: “For the first time, we don’t have a coach with an accent.” To which, Coach O quickly responded, “For the first time I’m someplace where they don’t think I have one.”
Wayne from Hammond said the kicking game and timing on pass routes seem to be a little off. Coach O said they did some research on the kicking issues. "I think it's going to take some time to fix them but you should see some results this week,” he said. As for the passing game, Orgeron said we will see a new philosophy on offense with regard to getting guys downfield as well as throwing to the tight ends and running backs, and that we should see some differences this Saturday.
Jeff from Ponchatoula asked how are we doing in recruiting. Orgeron said Sunday night they called all of their recruits and were very well received. The players and their families are happy that a familiar staff remains intact. Coach O told them to just sit back and see what happens and at he thinks they’ll like it.
The last caller asked Coach O what he has to do to keep the head coaching job after this season. Orgeron answered by saying the best thing he can do is bust tail every day and make this team play at a championship level. “We need to put excellence on the field, and if we do that, things will work out as they should.”
In the closing segment of the show, Blair asked what the team needs to do to be successful this week. Coach O’s stated recipe for success included being explosive on offense, spreading it around, and being unpredictable. On defense, avoid giving up big plays with busted coverages, and cause some turnovers. On special teams, be very efficient and exciting. I think that’s a philosophy we can all get behind.
In closing, I want to point out that I’ve updated our Ticket Exchange with several new listings.