10/20/16 5:50 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Coach Ed Orgeron held his weekly radio talk show last night and was notably excited about his team’s performance last Saturday and the upcoming battle against his old team, but before getting to that I want to start with a bit of basketball news.
During yesterday’s first day of SEC Media Days, the LSU men’s basketball team was picked to finish twelfth in the SEC, ahead of only Tennessee and Missouri. The voting was conducted among media members selected by each school and additional media from across the nation selected by the conference office. Considering the Tigers will be without Ben Simmons, Tim Quarterman and Keith Hornsby, it’s understandable that most expectations for this team are not very high, but I’m hopeful that what this year’s Tiger team lacks in star power will be made up for in team chemistry and energy. One player who will be key to LSU’s success is sophomore guard Antonio Blakeney, who was named to the preseason All-SEC second team yesterday and was named earlier this week to the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year watch list. Appearing on the SEC Network’s SEC Nation program, Blakeney and fellow guard Brandon Sampson spoke about the team being improved defensively and about some of the new faces on the roster (there are seven in all), while Coach Johnny Jones said his team might surprise some people. (See video.) The Tigers will play a free exhibition game on Nov. 7 against Reinhardt before opening in season on Nov. 12 against Wofford (Here’s the complete schedule on LSUSports.net).
Now back to the Coach O Show…
When I rushed to my computer at 7:00 to catch the show, I discovered there were technical difficulties with the live stream on LSUSports.net. By the time I came to the conclusion that the problem was on their end and managed to find a radio to listen to, I had already missed the first 15 minutes of the show. Based on what I found on Twitter, it seems I missed Coach O talking about the linebacker corps. He said there is a deficit at the position and that they are recruiting some of the best players out there to address the need. He added that freshman Devin White will develop into an outstanding middle linebacker.
The first two calls I heard were about fans leaving early, and I think that’s a topic that needs addressing. The Tigers give it their all and play hard for four quarters and deserve fan support from start to finish. Coach O addressed the situation very diplomatically, saying, “We’re appreciative of all the fans that show up. Glad they bring the energy that they bring. This is a process. Eventually we’ll get those fans there for 60 minutes.”
Before taking the next call, host Chris Blair asked the show’s special guest, defensive line coach Pete Jenkins, to describe the job the defensive coordinator Dave Aranda is doing. Jenkins was extremely complimentary of Aranda and called him a really bright, young football coach who prepares well, makes great adjustments and does an outstanding job of getting his players in position.
Blake from Midland, Texas, asked if the players are mentally prepared for this Saturday’s game. Orgeron said they’ve had tremendous practices but still have Thursday, Friday and Saturday to go. By the time Saturday arrives, he said his team will be ready.
Between callers, Blair asked Coach Jenkins how the team will offset Ole Miss’ up-tempo offense. Jenkins said you have to work fast and that communication is key. If you’re not lined up right, you give up big plays. He added that a big part of it is timely substitution.
Back to the phone lines, Kevin from Marshall, Texas, asked if it might be beneficial to really work on developing the passing game late in contests when the outcome is already determined. He also asked about the possibility of LSU running the option. Coach O patiently pointed out that his Tigers have indeed worked on the passing game for the full 60 minutes of each game, even in last week’s big win. As for running the option, Orgeron said that’s something they may use, depending on what the defense gives them.
Mike from the live audience asked Coach O what he can tell the fans and students who leave early about what it means to the players who put the pads on to have them there for the full 60 minutes. Orgeron said the game “ain’t over ’till it’s over” and that they play hard for 60 minutes. He added that the opportunity to play in Tiger Stadium is special and that the more fans they have at the end of the game the more energy it brings.
Also from the live audience, Gary asked how Leonard Fournette is doing and what can we expect from him in terms of playing time. Coach O said Fournette looks full speed and that they’ll give him as much as he can handle. “He looks like he’s hungry… as of right now we’re going full speed ahead.”
A well-known regular to the show, the Evil Twin, gave a humorous spheel that started off about a ninth planet in our solar system, transitioned to Oxford, Mississippi, and ended with a line in french – “Samedi soir c’est tout fini pour les Rebs!” (Translation: “Saturday night it's all over for the Rebels!” As a Cajun French speaker, I’m really getting a kick out of all the french being spoken on the show now that Coach O is the head man). Quand même… The Twin then pointed out that Donté Jackson is doing a really good job on kick off returns and asked if Coach O has considered letting him field punts, too. Orgeron said he would love for Jackson to field punts and that they’re working towards having him do so.
Before going back to the phone lines, Blair asked Coach O what stands out about the Ole Miss defense. Orgeron said the Rebels have a very strong defensive line, they’re very fast, and they’re going to come in wanting to stop the run by putting eight in the box. He also pointed out that they do a tremendous job of rushing the passer and that third downs will be critical for on both sides of the ball.
Mike in Independence said he noticed that some of the defensive backs are playing like NFL guys, trying to tackle with shoulder pads instead of wrapping up. Orgeron said that’s something that has been addressed since he’s been the head coach. They practice tackling every day and are getting better at it.
In what I think was meant as a joke, the next caller asked Coach O if he or Coach Jenkins will start mimicking Houston’s Tom Herman by kissing all of the players as they exit the bus. Coach O didn’t appreciate that at all and simply said “I think that’s a stupid question.” That was the end of that.
Jack from Lafayette asked Coach O if he could tell the public just how special Coach Pete Jenkins is. Orgeron said Coach Pete will be considered one of the best all-time football coaches to ever coach the game. He said he has tremendous passion for football and for LSU, and that they’re very blessed to have him.
The last caller of the night, from Clinton, Mississippi, said that five-star running back Cam Akers from Clinton High has recently called LSU his dream school and asked Coach O if they are recruiting him. Coach O wisely pointed out that NCAA rules prohibit him from answering the question. As you probably know from my previous reports, Akers is LSU’s top running back target and I’m hearing from sources in Mississippi that LSU is in very good shape with him at the moment.
Today’s closing tidbits:
• Congratulations to Kendell Beckwith for being named the Reese’s Senior Bowl Senior of the Week and to Arden Key for being added to the Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List.
• If you’re still looking for tickets to Saturday’s big game, please note that our Ticket Exchange was updated yesterday and several new listings were added.
• Tune in tomorrow as we continue our breakdown of this week’s game by looking at LSU’s offense versus Ole Miss’ defense and vice versa. Also, with cool weather on it’s way, I’ll be posting that recipe for Shrimp Stew that I tweeted about on Tuesday. Stay tuned!