LSU National Championship postgame news conference
ED ORGERON: Well, I want to thank our great fans for being here. We left the hotel today, what a phenomenal group we had. They gave us energy all night and they’ve been with us all year. Give the credit to our players. Those guys fought. We started working last year January 17th. They’ve worked their tails off with Tommy Moffitt. They did the right things, character, grit, determination. They had their player only practices this summer. I didn’t even know about them, led by these guys on the side. We’ve got to give the credit to our coaching staff, Jack Marucci, Tommy Moffitt, all the trainers, and just a tremendous night for the LSU Tigers, tremendous night for the purple and gold, tremendous night for the state of Louisiana. We are so proud to represent them.
Joe, the cigar, celebrating tonight. I guess could you take us back to the beginning of this game, kind of figuring it out as you guys make the adjustments throughout? Were you injured during the course of the game, and how did you respond?
JOE BURROW: I was fine. I was just fine. They had a great plan coming in. We knew they would. Brent Venables is the best in the country at what he does, and he was mixing up the looks. I honestly couldn’t figure out where they were blitzing from all night. We had great play calls, great coaching staff. This was a long time coming. I’m kind of speechless right now. This was fun.
Was it a point early in the game where you recognized they were underplaying Ja’Marr Chase and you were just going to keep going as long as they were giving you a one-on-one with him, you were just going to keep going there?
JOE BURROW: Yeah, the first couple series I didn’t think there was any way they were just going to play man with Ja’Marr, so I wasn’t really looking his way and then I got back to the sideline after the second drive and I was like they really are playing man-to-man with Ja’Marr, so we started going to him heavy and he plays so well, and that’s just the kind of guy he is. He’s worked so hard for that, all of our guys.
Joe, I know you said you’re speechless, but for you to – for what’s been made of your journey and for you to deliver on this stage, whether it was people in Louisiana, Ohio State fans or even the people in Athens, Ohio, what’s it mean to you to deliver this performance while all those people were cheering you on?
JOE BURROW: Feels good. I don’t know what else to say. I mean, there’s been so many people that have come into this, from people that have helped me along my journey from Ohio, Louisiana, everywhere. We couldn’t have done it with a better group of guys, not just football players but great, great men that I just feel blessed to be a part of this.
Joe, that first pass to Moss that was called back felt like it took some juice out of the offense, and then to finally get it back, what really kick-started that offense after that first penalty?
JOE BURROW: Yeah, we felt like if we had got that one we would have been rolling on that first drive and we would have kept rolling. It did kind of take the wind out of our sails for a second, and the defense stepped up all game until we started to get rolling. You know, we feel like you can’t hold us down forever. I think we’re too explosive. Our coaches are too good, our players are too good, our O-line is too good. They had a great plan coming in, like I said. Coach Venables is great at what he does, it just took us a while to get it figured out.
Joe, a Heisman and then a national title in just a few short weeks. Tell me what kind of emotions are you feeling now?
JOE BURROW: Some pretty good emotions. I mean, this is special. This doesn’t happen – this doesn’t come around every year. This is a special group of guys that really came together and it’s as close of a group as I’ve ever been around. I’m just so happy I was able to do it with Coach O, Patrick and the rest of the guys in that locker room.
Joe, you talked so much throughout this incredible season that you weren’t reflecting yet but you were going to do it when it was over. Is it starting to set in what you’ve accomplished?
JOE BURROW: Not yet. We’re still celebrating. Give us a couple of days. We’ve got tonight, we’ve got the rest of this week. We’re going to enjoy this one. A lot of work was put into this that nobody ever saw, Saturdays, Sundays, seven days a week for 12 months. This is special.
Joe, 10-point game, Terrace Marshall catches that touchdown pass, saying it was meant to be at this point. Did that championship feel meant to be?
JOE BURROW: Terrace, it took him a while to get going, but he made the championship play. I couldn’t be happier for that guy. He’s worked harder than anybody on this team, and he’s worked on his craft for a long time. Five-star coming in, had some bumps in the road, and for him to make that play, I’m so happy for him and his family.
Joe, you will be a hero in this state for decades. Can you grasp that?
JOE BURROW: You know, I think what we did tonight can’t be taken away from us. I don’t know about the whole hero thing, but I know this National Championship will be remembered for a long time in Louisiana. To do it in New Orleans is even more special. This is going to be remembered for a long time.
Patrick, at the end of the latter part of the first half and the latter part of the second half, the defense really kind of buckled down. Can you kind of talk about what you did to get rolling? And also, if you can describe I guess at the point in the last couple years where you felt like maybe it was Joe’s team to a degree.
PATRICK QUEEN: You know, at the end of the first half, Coach O sat us down, calmed us down. We was really anxious being out there, so we just all gathered together and played team defense. We always knew this was Joe’s team from the day he came in. He was competing in the sprints. So for Joe to be that kind of person to come out on day one and give us the best that he can, we already knew this was his team.
Ed, what did you think coming into the game about the potential of what a victory would mean? And how do you feel personally now?
ED ORGERON: You know, I talked to the team about the focus all week was just beat Clemson, not think of the magnitude, or hey, we’re going to win the National Championship, all that, what was going to happen. Our guys just followed it, and our focus has been one game at a time, one day at a time, and our guys did a tremendous job. Now I think that this team is going to be mentioned as one of the greatest teams in college football history, 15-0, one of the greatest teams in LSU history, led by some of the greatest players; give them all the credit.
But you know, that’s for you guys to decide. We’re national champs. We’re 15-0. Whether we’re mentioned as one of the greatest teams or not, that doesn’t matter to me. I think we’re going to get to work, we’ll go to class on Wednesday and we’ll start working on next year.
You forced Clemson into nine punts. What worked so well and did you think you could have that kind of success?
ED ORGERON: Yeah, I think the one thing is we stopped Etienne. I thought our guys did a tremendous job of not letting him run the football on us. We knew Trevor was going to make some plays. They made some plays downfield, but I talked to Coach Aranda, had a tremendous plan to give pressure, but we never panicked, and those three-and-outs and those punts were critical to the ballgame. This guy here Patrick Queen had a great game and we had to tackle in space. Had great athletes in space, and this guy made some great tackles tonight.
PATRICK QUEEN: Coach Aranda had a great gameplan since day one when we started studying them and we trusted him and went to work on it, and together, to be able to make those kind of plays, I want to give God the glory for it. I want to thank Coach O for believing in me to be able to play this position.
There’s so much talk about what this means for Louisiana, but for your small hometown on the bayou, no one really has ever heard of it. What does it mean for that community to bring this for them?
ED ORGERON: I remember growing up there and losing was not an option. It was not an option, man, you had to win, win at basketball, you had to win in the backyard. Cajun people took a lot of pride in who they were. LSU was obviously big, watching Rodney and them play, so it’s going to mean a lot to them. They’re very prideful and it means a lot to everybody in the state of Louisiana, everybody that bled the purple and gold. I think it’s a tremendous night for everybody.
3rd and 10 late in the first half, you called timeout or there was two timeouts taken, Joe takes that draw down to the 6-yard line. What went into that play call, and what did that show about Joe’s toughness to make that play?
ED ORGERON: Well, we didn’t want to have a penalty and go back to the 3rd and 15, and with the clock about to run out, we didn’t feel like we had the right play called and Steve said, Coach, I need a time-out so all I did was call timeout. And obvious Steve made the play, made the call. Joe was going to take the ball in his hands. Some of those plays were passes called that Joe ran. Some of those plays were runs that Joe passed. Just give great players an opportunity to make plays, and he did it.
Yesterday Joe got to meet Drew Brees. Winning this in the Superdome, talk about any of the added significance there. Do you think that is more impactful?
ED ORGERON: I think it’s magical, I really do. I think when we saw the National Championship would be in the Superdome at the beginning of the year we set our target on that, although we did not talk about it. We felt once we come in the Superdome we’d come out victorious because of the home-field advantage. It was great to have Drew yesterday at practice. I spent one year with him. He and Joe are a lot alike in a lot of ways as far as their work ethic, as far as their leadership on the football team. I remember watching Drew Brees, his 7-on-7, he ran it and it was the best 7-on-7 I ever saw and there wasn’t another coach out there. So Joe and he are a lot alike. I think Drew Brees and his wife are great representations of the state of Louisiana. We’re proud of them.
Coach O, ultimately what are you going to remember this season about? Going through the west, going through Texas, going through Oklahoma, now just this experience, what are you most going to remember this season for?
ED ORGERON: I just think the character and the grit of this football team. Jack Marucci and Tommy Moffitt keeping us together, keeping us in shape. I felt like we could have played for another month. We were not tired. This team was ready to go. They were enthusiastic. One team, one heartbeat, the character and the leadership, obviously led by Joe. We wouldn’t be here without Joe Burrow. We know that. The hiring of Joe Brady and the way him and Steve made it work together. The improvement of our defense throughout this game. I think the defense took it upon themselves and I think when – we didn’t talk about it, but when we changed from first to second or something like that because of the defense, I think that was an advantage for us. Our guys took a chip on their shoulder, said hey, wait a minute, it ain’t going to be on us, so all those things combined – but this team was competitive. But got to give Clemson some credit. They’re a good football team. Venables had a good plan. Great game.
Your career has had ups and downs, a lot of doubters, a lot of people never thought you’d be a National Championship coach. I’m wondering two things. One, at any point during that, did you ever doubt that you could coach at this level and lead a team to this level? And what does your story say maybe to all the people out there whose careers don’t just rocketship to the top and go similar to you?
ED ORGERON: Yeah, you know, I remember getting the job at USC and I thought that I was ready to be a head coach. I thought that I had learned from my mistakes at Ole Miss. At that point in time I wasn’t.
I remember sitting on the sofa at my house, I had a year to reflect. I remember watching SEC games, going I know I can compete with these guys given the right place. I mean, you’ve got to be at a place like LSU and have great coaches and great players to win it. I don’t think I could have been somewhere else and had the success that we had so fast. So I think it’s a combination of being in the right place at the right time. I think it’s perseverance, too. Man, people are going to talk and all that, but you can’t let it affect you. I use that as internal motivation. People, they tease me the way I talk, tease me the way I look, and it’s kind of funny, the things that I was doing at Ole Miss I was ridiculed for, and now I punch myself in the jaw and everybody at LSU likes it, so it just depends where you’re at. It’s been a great ride. I’ve got to thank my family. I’m in the right place at the right time with a great coaching staff and have all the resources we need. You come to LSU you just have to do it right, and you’re going to win.
2014 you’re at Mandeville High School games as a parent in the stands. Five years later you have delivered the greatest season in LSU history. And I know you have said all year it’s not about me, but will you let that sink in just for a minute, that arc from five years ago watching Parker play to today?
ED ORGERON: You know, God had a plan. I’ve got to say it, and it’s not me. And all I did was follow the plan. And without him, I wouldn’t be here. Without my family I wouldn’t be here. I’ve said it, I’m thankful for Coach Miles for giving me a chance. He hired me at LSU. It’s where I wanted to go. I knew I was going to coach. I didn’t think this was going to happen. When I didn’t get the job at USC I said, hey, maybe you’ll be an assistant the rest of your life. I just loved coaching. But everything fell into place, and we’re just getting started. This is not the finish. I want to be here at LSU for a long time and win many a championships at LSU, and this is just the beginning.
Clyde seemed to be the key that got the engine going. How critical has he been not just to your season but tonight?
ED ORGERON: He is the heart of our team. Man, he’s tough, and he’s 6’4″, 270. Clyde is going to take it upon himself. I’m glad he was healthy. Those runs he made at the end of the game were very critical. He’s hard to tackle. He’s got great balance. He’s got a great trunk. I don’t know if he’s leaving or not but if he does he’s going to have a great career, and he’s going to go down as one of the greatest Tigers ever.
Coach O, you’ve talked all season about blocking out the noise, but when you reflect, what was it that made this team so different and inspired you guys to just finish the season strong?
ED ORGERON: Yeah, you know, I do believe the leadership, the character, the grit. They wanted to win. They believed in our coaching staff. They believed in the work ethic. We started last January 17th. We were working for a year. All those things combined, and obviously I thought we had a great schedule this year, playing Auburn and Florida at home really helped us, having a great coaching staff, getting Joe Brady from the Saints, going to the spread. I think when we didn’t score many points with Ensminger we talked about going to the spread and I thought that was critical, and we got the right guy, the right quarterback to run it. We had athletes and the receivers the way they played. A lot of things had to fall into place.
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