10/27/16 5:50 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
First, thanks to all of you who commented on the stat comparison I posted yesterday. While most of you were pleased to see the breakdown of the numbers, many pointed out that LSU’s two close losses under Coach Miles were on the road against two quality teams – Wisconsin and Auburn – that are much better than many thought they were at the time. I agree with that 100%. As pointed out in yesterday’s explanation of the stats, those two teams also have the best rushing defenses LSU has faced to date, hence the comment about the true test of Coach O’s revitalized offense coming in November. Still, I remain cautiously optimistic and believe the stats provide many reasons to feel that way.
Last night Coach O held his weekly radio call-in show and sounded cautiously optimistic as well. We’ll get to our weekly recap of the show in just a bit, but first here are a couple of recruiting tidbits to pass along.
One of LSU’s linebacker targets, Will Ignont, is now apparently off the board as he announced his commitment to Tennessee last night. I use the word “apparently” because LSU will likely continue to recruit Ignont, just like they will continue to recruit linebacker Dylan Moses despite him committing to Alabama a few weeks ago. Linebacker is currently LSU’s biggest position of need in this year’s recruiting class, and the Tigers only have one publicly committed at this time in Patrick Queen of Livonia. Several linebackers remain on LSU’s radar, including Chris Allen, K’Lavon Chaisson, Levi Jones and Akileis Leroy, and I’ve heard that Coach O is searching the JUCO ranks for targets as well.
Speaking of the JUCO ranks, ex-Georgia safety Johnathan Abram, currently enrolled at Jones County JC, has reportedly said that he is considering four SEC schools, including LSU. The others are Alabama, Ole Miss and Tennessee.
Now for the Coach O Show recap…
One of the first callers of the night, Tremaine, said he was worried about the play of our offensive line against Bama’s strong defensive front. Coach O said he’s not worried and has faith in Coach Grimes and his guys. He joked that LSU had 311 yards rushing against Ole Miss so they must have blocked someone along the way. He then riled up the crowd by concluding with, “Bama is well-coached, big and strong, but so are we!”
Jay in Metairie asked if defensive line coach Pete Jenkins is going to stay with Coach O next season after Orgeron becomes the permanent head coach. Coach O answered with, “One day at a time. If that happens I’ll work my butt off to keep him with me.”
A young kid from Mandeville named Parker called to tell Orgeron they need to practice, practice, practice in order to beat Bama. Coach O told the young man to call him if he wants a job.
The next caller asked Coach O if he's pulling for the Cubs or the Indians in the World Series. Orgeron’s response: “I don't know who's playing. I just know it's Turnover Wednesday and we had a great practice.”
Between calls host Chris Blair asked about the job Coach Aranda is doing and the fact that they’ve outscored opponents 73-7 in the second half of the last three games. Coach O said things come to Dave Aranda really easily on the field and that he sees all 11 players on offense and defense. He concluded by saying he has the utmost confidence in Aranda adjusting and getting things right.
Carl from “The Big Easy” asked about hitch routes and the pronunciation of Coach Orgeron’s name. Coach O said we might see some hitch routes on Saturday and addressed the second question about his name by saying he doesn’t care how people say it, he just likes it when people say good things about him. He then gave the correct pronunciation of his name, confirming that the last “n” is silent.
Jim in Prairieville suggested that in order to slow down Alabama’s pass rush we need to throw short passes but also remember that they’re good at getting their “big paws” up in the air to bat down balls. Coach O complimented Jeff for bringing up a good point and said it will be key to protect the quarterback and give him short easy throws that he can make.
Jeff from Ponchatoula asked Coach O what we have to do to slow down Alabama’s offense. Orgeron said Bama is a north and south running football team with a very good O-line and that Lane Kiffin loves to take some deep shots once you crowd the line of scrimmage. He said the key would be to defend the deep ball and stop the run.
Jamie asked about the development of backup quarterback Brandon Harris, who she said has so much potential. Coach O said Brandon is doing fine, has a great attitude and is one play away from being our quarterback, but that right now Danny Etling is the man. He added that if Harris had to step in he would do a fine job.
Between calls, Chris Blair mentioned linebacker Duke Riley’s “career game” against Ole Miss, and this solicited some major props from Coach O. Orgeron said Riley brings a lot of fire to the team and called him “the Heart and soul of our defense.”
From the live audience, “Carl the Cat” asked Coach O about his system of naming practice days (i.e. Truth Monday, Competition Tuesday, Turnover Wednesday, No-Repeat Thursday, and Focus Friday). Orgeron said that’s something he picked up from his time coaching with Pete Carrol at USC but that they’ve tweaked it a little.
The Evil Twin started his weekly spiel with a Boudreaux and Thibodeaux joke whose moral was to always have a Plan B, then asked Coach O how he’s a different coach than he was at Ole Miss. Coach O said that in your first job as head coach its basically “on the job training.” When he left Oxford he said he decided to change some things, let his assistants coach, and treat his players like they’re his sons. He said he also believes in practicing less now to keep his guys fresh, like they do in the NFL, and evidence that it’s working can be seen in the fact that they’ve outscoring opponents 73-7 in the second half.
Josh from Pride, Louisiana, asked what kind of defense Coach O is going to employ to contain Alabama’s running game. Orgeron said it always comes down to the men up front. He added that Jalen Hurt is like a Wild Cat quarterback and that they must stay in their passing lanes and not give up the deep ball.
The next caller, T-Bird, asked about injuries on the offensive and defensive lines. Coach O said Toby Weathersby should be back at full speed and that this will be the healthiest the team has been all season.
Tommy pointed out that in the Missouri game the offense came out in a lot of four wide receiver formations and asked if we will see that again. Orgeron said we might see some of that against Alabama and that he’s confident offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger is going to have some good things set up.
Trey called to say North Louisiana loves Coach O and is rooting for him. Orgeron said to tell everyone in North Louisiana that he loves them too and mentioned that he went to school at Northwestern State and has lots of friends up there. He was also sure to say that North Louisiana is very important to him in recruiting, which I think was very smart (and truthful) to say.
Andrew in Ruston got the final call and said he believes Saban and his staff are sitting around trying to figure out a way to stop Leonard Fournette and that should provide an opportunity in the passing game. Coach O said they are going to have to get Fournette the ball in space then pointed out that Alabama has 32 sacks on the season and that it will be key to protect the quarterback.
In closing, Coach O said he’s having the best time of his life and couldn’t be more proud or more honored to be the head coach of LSU right now. Asked what he would be doing this weekend, Orgeron said Friday he is going to see some of best players (recruits) in the country, and then Saturday he’s going to McNeese State to see his sons play.
Today’s closing tidbits:
• I want to let you know that I’m working on a new Q&A with NFL and College Football Analyst Mike Detillier about Coach O and the big upcoming game that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.
• Lastly, I will be updating our Ticket Exchange today with several new listings. If you have tickets to sell or would like me to remove your current listing, please let me know.