Orgeron: LSU-Florida will be decided in trenches

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Watch head coach Ed Orgeron's weekly press conference, this week previewing the top-10 matchup against Florida.

Posted by LSU Football on Monday, October 7, 2019

LSU’s suddenly wide-open offense may be setting school and Southeastern Conference records, but when Florida comes to Tiger Stadium in a top-10 showdown Saturday night, Ed Orgeron expects more of an old-school type of game, decided up front.

More than once at his weekly news conference Monday, Orgeron referred to the play of the offensive and defensive lines as key against the seventh-ranked and unbeaten Gators.

“Controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides is going to be a key to this football game,” Orgeron said. “We’re going to have to win our blocks up front, win our gaps and tackle. We have to stop the run. I think that’s my biggest concern right now – stopping the run.

“This is always a physical football game. We have to do well at the line of scrimmage, we have to tackle, and tackle well in space.”

Florida’s defensive speed up front is something that concerns Orgeron.

“The biggest thing we have to do in practice is simulate the speed of their defensive line,” he said. “We’re going to put our fastest guys on the rush team.”

While Florida was defeating Auburn in an SEC showdown in Gainesville, LSU rolled up 601 total yards in a 42-6 victory over Utah State last Saturday.

Still, Orgeron still sees lots of room for improvement. “We weren’t as sharp on offense,” he said, “but it will give us some things to work on this week.”

With College GameDay in Baton Rouge and a night kickoff on ESPN, it figures to be an electric environment Saturday.

“This is why you come to LSU,” said Orgeron. “I watched every one of those (LSU-Florida) games (even when he wasn’t at LSU). It’s a great rivalry. The speed on this field is about as fast as you’ll see on a college football field Saturday.

“Their crowd last year (in Gainesville) showed up. That was probably the most hostile place we played. I know our fans will show up. I would expect our crowd to be a winning edge. Seven o’clock at night, they should be primed and ready to go.”

The Florida game starts a run of seven straight Southeastern Conference games to close out the regular season.

“We know what it’s going to be like in the SEC,” Orgeron said. “Every week is going to be a challenge. Our guys understand the challenge. We’ve been gearing up for this and we’ll be ready.

“There will be no gimmicks. We’re going to block out the noise. (Winning is) going to be a big, monumental task for us.”

Ed Ingram’s return against Utah State significantly improved the depth of the Tiger offensive line.

“He didn’t get tired,” Orgeron said. “He played well. We’ll see how the week goes. This is by far the best pass rush we’ve seen. Last year, we did not block their pass rush very well.”

Saahdiq Charles did not play Saturday because of a coach’s decision, Orgeron said, but will play this week.

The health of the Tiger defense is improving. Linebacker Michael Divinity of John Ehret and defensive lineman Rashard Lawrence are both expected to practice fully this week with the intent of getting them ready to play Saturday, Orgeron said.

Defensive lineman Glen Logan of Destrehan will be limited this week. “Hopefully he’s ready,” Orgeron said.

LSU started freshman Cordale Flott at cornerback and moved Archbishop Rummel’s Kristian Fulton into the slot against Utah State, but an injury to Flott has him doubtful for the Gators, Orgeron said.

Kickoff on Saturday will come just after 7 p.m. CDT. ESPN’s top broadcast team of Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit will call the game.

LSU COACH ED ORGERON PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT – Florida game week

BATON ROUGE – LSU coach Ed Orgeron met with members of the media Monday to preview Saturday’s game against seventh-ranked Florida and to review last week’s 42-6 win over Utah State.

The fifth-ranked Tigers host the Gators at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Tiger Stadium. The game, which is now sold out, will be televised on ESPN.

Here’s the full transcript of Orgeron’s press conference:

Opening Statement
“Welcome, everybody. A good win for our football team. Couple of things. Obviously 601 yards on offense, 248 yards rushing, 41 minutes’ time of possessions, third down we were 61 percent, kept drives alive and were 4-4 for TD’s in the redzone, and so we’re very pleased with that.

On defense three interceptions, held them to 19 yards rushing, which was our best output of the whole season on defense. We went 92 percent on third downs (defense), we improved our tackling and run fits and pass rush. We met as an offense today and we weren’t really pleased with our performance. Although we scored 42 points, there were some things, ball security things that we have to get taken care of. Some blocks that we missed, some balls, we missed some routes, our timing wasn’t exactly like it’s been. We weren’t as sharp on offense. So it will be good to give us some things to work on this week.

On to this week. Obviously, we’re excited about this game, excited about ESPN Gameday being here. 7:00 Saturday night, Tiger Stadium, LSU-Florida. It doesn’t get much better than that. It’s going to be a wonderful night for the LSU family of Tigers. This is going to be a big recruiting weekend for us. We have two big-time official visits coming in, as of now. We talked to most of our recruits last night, we’ll talk to more tonight. We are going to get as many recruits to this game as we can, so it will be a big night recruit being.

Dan Mullen has done a tremendous job. This is a well-coached football team. We have a lot of respect for Coach Mullen and his whole staff. I know most of those guys on the staff, they do great job, they’re good guys in football, and I’ve been knowing them for a long time.

On offense they’re scoring 34 points a game, 430 total yards for a game, 141 rushing, 288 passing. Kyle Trask is their quarterback. Perine had a big play, as you saw. Kyle Pitts is a good tight end. They got a lot of speed at wide receiver. Van Jefferson, he can make the big plays. Second in targets, 31 receptions. All their receivers are good and fast and they have a bunch of them.

On defense Todd Grantham is one of the best defensive coordinators in football. He is an outstanding defensive line coach, he knows how to blitz, knows how to attack and I think he’s a done a tremendous job everywhere he’s been. I’ve known him for a long time. They’re a four-three, they return seven starters, they only giving up 9.5 yards a game, 276 total yards. Outstanding against the rush. They have some great pass rushers up front, Greenard, Zuniga, C.J. Henderson is one of the top cornerbacks in the game.

Very solid on special teams. As always, have a lot of speed. This is going to be a very good week for us. This is always a physical football game. We went back and looked at our game against them last year and it was a physical football game. We have to do a well on the line of scrimmage, have to tackle and have to tackle well in space. But we look forward to this week. I can’t wait for this week in preparation. Any questions?

Q. So far it looks like Todd Grantham has been blitzing a lot less than in years past. Does that make it more difficult to prepare for being more unpredictable?
ED ORGERON: Yeah. We have to go back in his history, we have to look at the things that he’s done, we have to be prepared for line stunts, be prepared for four-man rush, be prepared for blitzes. We have a lot of work to do this week. There will be a lot of walk-throughs, there will be a lot of film study. We have to be prepared for everything that he comes after. But the biggest thing that we have to do in practice is simulate the speed of their defensive line. So we’re going to put our fastest guys on the rush team and rush our guys all week, obviously.

Q. On a similar note about their line, do you think this is the toughest pass rush you guys have faced this year and what did you think of Ed Ingram’s performance in his first game back?
ED ORGERON: I thought he played pretty well. He did well assignment-wise, he was good. He didn’t get tired. He played well. We’re going to see this week how he feels. I’ll go, usually go with his gut feeling on that decision, him or Adrian. We’ll see how the week goes.

This is by far the best pass rush we have seen. I think I’ve said it every day in our press conference that I can, that we’re going to be tested and this is just what I was talking about. I watched the game against Miami. It was a tremendous pass rush. Last year we did not block their pass rush very well. It’s going to be a challenge for us.

Q. Seems that Dan Mullen and Todd Grantham have had some success against LSU in recent years no matter where they’ve been. As your game planning, are there some things that you’re taking to mind that you maybe don’t?
ED ORGERON: We looked at the Mississippi State film two years ago, we watched it. We’re look at the history, we’re looking at — Dan is big formation guy, and he’s going to see how he lines up in a certain formation, and he’s going to try to hit you where your weaknesses are at, so that’s going to be a key for us this week.

But after looking at the film this morning, it’s going to come down to blocking and tackling. They ran the speed option on us, we were out of position. They ran the quarterback throw back, we were out of position. We just got to be in position and we got to make plays when we need to make plays.

Q. Last week you talked about how the warp speed offense helped you prepare for Utah State. You’re talking about the defense kind of doing the same thing for your offense this week. Is there anybody on the defense that kind of helps you get that good look?
ED ORGERON: Well, if they were they would be starting for us, I can promise you that. But I’m not going to put K’Lavon on against our first team every day. He’s the closest one. Justin Thomas, Justin Thomas can pass rush. Michael Divinity, hopefully he’s back this week. I’m going to see how he is today. Hopefully he can rush again, but guys like Marcel Brooks, Justin Thomas, those guys are going to have to help.

Q. Can you update us on the health of your defensive line and who might be able to make it this week? And was Saahdiq Charles, zero snaps, can you explain what happened there?
ED ORGERON: Saahdiq Charles is going to play this week. It was a coaching decision. Michael Divinity is going to practice this week. Hopefully he’s ready. Rashard Lawrence is going to practice this week. Hopefully he’s ready. Glen Logan is going to be limited this week. Don’t know if he’s going to be ready.

Q. We talk about the stars and everybody a lot. But is there anything you can say about the importance of those guys on like the scout team and in the practice squad and things like that?
ED ORGERON: Yeah, one team, one heartbeat. We made a highlight of those guys at the end of camp and showed it to our football team and told them how much we appreciate them. I always try to compliment them on the way they work. And assimilation is key for us, and the more we get into the season, the less hitting we’re going to be doing in practice or these walk-throughs, assimilating and being in the right spot the right time, gives our team a winning edge. So those guys are awfully important. And plus, those guys are friends with our starters. As you know, it’s about one team, one heartbeat. Everybody has a role, and their role’s just as important.

Q. You guys are really good at third down conversion, both you and Florida. You guys were phenomenal this past weekend. Is there a magic formula that goes into third down or is it really just down, distance, and play call?
ED ORGERON: I think it’s game planning. I think our guys do a tremendous job of game planning. And I think it comes down to protection. Third down is, to me is always about protection. It’s always about pass rush. If you can protect, I think that you give enough time for a quarterback to throw the football, there will be open spots. I think if you can pass rush and not give the quarterback enough time, you’ll win.

Q. You guys are No. 1 in the country right now in red zone offense. Last season you were disappointed in that. What has made the biggest difference?
ED ORGERON: First of all, No. 1 right now is good for out there (the public). It doesn’t mean nothing to us. We got to get better. The work that we do today, we do red zone on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning. So we work more in the red zone. I do believe that the schemes that we have and the game planning that we have in red zone have been phenomenal. And we have good players and our quarterback can get the ball to them.

Q. With a new offense it seems like you always have to prove yourself. People say we want to see you in the game. And then they say we got to see it at Texas. And now some people are saying this the first real legitimate tough defense you’re going to play against. Can you talk about that challenge and for Joe, especially, at quarterback?
ED ORGERON: Yeah, well, we know how it is in the SEC. It’s going to be like this every week from now on. It’s going to be a challenge but I think these guys are going to be up for it. Or are we going to score the same amount of points that we have been scoring every week? I don’t know, we may, we may not. The object is always to win the game and to play a full team.

So I think that our guys understand the challenge, our guys understand the teams that we have played. Some of them were not as strong as the ones we’re going to play, but we have been gearing up for this and we’re ready.

Q. You said Saturday you wanted to take a look at the film before you made a decision about Christian Fulton working in the slot, I guess, kind of after work, looking at that, do you like that?
ED ORGERON: Yeah, it looked pretty good but Cordale Flott is out, so. Stuff like that looked pretty good, but I hate to cut you short, but Cordale is injured. I don’t know if Cordale is going to play this week, so I don’t know if you’re going to see as much of it.

Q. Neil Farrell doesn’t get a lot of the hype as a lot of these defensive guys but he’s been quietly putting up a lot of really good numbers. What do you attribute that to and how important is he going to be?
ED ORGERON: He’s very instinctive. Neil’s tougher than an old alligator, man. He’s a tough young man, love him to death, from Alabama, great parents, great character. Has stuck with it. Now his opportunity has come. I told Coach Johnson, I said, once Neil becomes a first-teamer he’s going to be hard to sit down, and he is. And right now he’s still on first team. I don’t know if Glen’s going to play, but I expect Neil to start in this game.

Q. Florida’s offensive line has been a little suspect this year. And with Kyle Trask getting injured last week with the knee injury, is a pass rush really going to be important this week and really pushing the line of scrimmage?
ED ORGERON: No question. Controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides is going to be a key to this football game. Again, I watched that film this morning and it was a physical football game. We were doing very well but they did some good things too. So it’s going to be a battle. We’re going to have to win our blocks up front, we have to win our gaps, and we’re going to have to tackle. Florida has run the ball on us the last two years, very, very well. We have to stop the run. I think that’s my biggest concern right now is stopping the run.

Q. You got a lot more work for the two freshmen running backs last week. Do you feel comfortable enough with them for this kind of big game?
ED ORGERON: Yeah, yup, let them go. Let them go. I think they’re ready to play. And so is Chris Curry. I think we have four backs that can go and play, and they have to understand that and so does Clyde. Clyde had a has had two fumbles the last two weeks. I’m very concerned with that. We’re going to work — just like we attacked tackling last week. We attacked it, we got better at it, we went back and looked at the film, what we were doing right, what we were doing wrong. And we were a much better team tackling. I expect us to be a much better team holding onto that football this week and it’s going to be addressed every day, I promise you that.

Q. The last three years against Florida, I think you scored 46 points total. Did your struggles in this game push you even further to going to what you’re doing now offensively, was that a big thing, did it convince you that had you to move?
ED ORGERON: Sure, no, all the SEC teams, I knew that they were scoring points and we weren’t. I knew that we had the athletes, I knew we had the coaches, we just had to change our system. But it just took awhile. And finally we hit it right. I think that I couldn’t ask for a better coordinator for right now, for Coach Ensminger and what he’s doing, he’s the general. And then have a young guy like Joe Brady come along to teach the offense, and Steve just kind of monitor everything and call it. I think it’s the perfect scenario for right now.

And I think Joe Burrow is the perfect quarterback for us at this point in time. He’s smart, he’s a champ, he’s going to stay in the pocket, he’s going to take a hit. And we got outstanding receivers.

Q. With Cordale Flott, if he doesn’t play against Florida, does it just mean more time for Fulton or how does that depth work out after that?
ED ORGERON: Christian will be our starter, no question.

Q. But how does depth kind of build around at the cornerback there?
ED ORGERON: We have to see. We have to see if Jay Ward and those guys are ready. We have to talk about it. We haven’t talked about it as much. We’re going to wait to see how Cordale is towards the end of the week, but I talked to Jack this morning, we don’t think he’s going to play. So I might have a better answer for you on Thursday.

Q. More of a lighthearted question. LSU’s obviously known for its tailgating a lot of tailgaters might be frying up some alligator. Are you going to feed your team any alligator before the game?
ED ORGERON: Yeah, yeah, you know what? I love the tradition, I promise you that. And I hope our fans have a blast. But there will be no gimmicks with our football team on Saturday. This is going to be a hard-nosed football game. We’re going to be focused all week, we’re going to block out the noise, we’re not going to pay attention to anything that’s going on except the task at hand and that’s beating Florida. That’s going to be a big monumental task for us and we plan on getting it done.

Q. Derek Stingley and Ja’Marr Chase seemed so effective in one-on-one matchups going up and getting the ball. What’s it like when those two are going against each other in practice?
ED ORGERON: Yeah, it’s the first thing I watch when I come in. I love it. Those guys, they compete every day. One day Ja’Marr will win, one day Derek will win. And that’s what makes them better. We talk to our recruits, iron sharpens iron, that’s why you come to LSU because the game is supposed to be harder on the practice field than it is on Saturdays.

Q. What are the statuses Badara Traore and Charles Turner right now?
Badara, he’s out. Who else?

Q. Charles Turner.
ED ORGERON: I think he should be ready to go. I’m not sure on that.

Q. How does that kind of depth going to — Florida, you’ve talked about the defensive line and just how does that kind of play out?
ED ORGERON: The depth on the offensive line? If we go with Ed coming back and with Chasen is now the second team center and he can swing to the right guard, and then Adrian Magee. Saahdiq’s going to play this week so now we got, we have a little bit more depth than people think.

Q. And kind of describe Grant Delpit’s importance or contributions to the defense in a year where maybe his stats aren’t as eye popping as they were last year?
ED ORGERON: First of all, Grant’s a great, great player. Great young man. Very unselfish. Look if we put him back in the post all day he’s going to say, Coach, I’ll play in the post, whatever it takes for the team. When he came off the field we thought he may have had a concussion, and I was a little nervous, to be honest with you. But he went back in, I don’t know, couple of plays later, and played very well. We would like to get grant closer to the ball, blitz him, use him in a fashion where we’re rushing the quarterback, making different plays. And I think you started to see that last week. You saw him on the line of scrimmage, blitzing, making more plays than you’ll see more of that but wherever we need him he’s going to play and he’s basically effective where we put him.

Q. I know you said you’re thankful to be the LSU coach every day and when you got a game like this, two undefeated teams you got your first cool front coming in, ESPN Gameday, all those things, does this really get your juices going?
ED ORGERON: Yeah, it’s fun. It’s fun. I’m still waiting for that darn cold front. That’s going to be nice. It’s going to be — I think it’s going to be a great game day — I’m happy for the players and the fans, man, this is what you come to LSU for. This is why you want to play in this game. I watched LSU/Florida. I remember when Tebow would come in, I remember when we upset them, we went for it on fourth down, I watched every one of those games. And even though we played them over there the last two years it was, it’s a great rivalry, it’s a great teams, it’s great players, the speed on this field is about as fast as you’re going to see on a college football field on a Saturday night.

Q. The last two years some of your players have gotten social media Twitter wars with Florida players. Have you talked to your players about this or do you feel like it’s something that your upperclassmen will take care of also?
ED ORGERON: Yeah, I’m going to talk to them about it today, see what happens. But I know this, that I think it was several years back we had as tussle before the game. I don’t want that. That distracts from the football team, that distracts from the task at hand, so we’re going to make sure that our guys understand that. For some reason this is a heated battle, emotions are flying high, we want to use those emotions in the right way, I don’t think there’s anything I can say today or this week or anything our players can say today or this week that will make us win the game, besides work hard, keep our mouth shut and be ready to play Saturday night.

Q. You mentioned your young running backs earlier on. In the Utah State game after watching film what did you see from John Emory and Davis-Price that maybe impressed you?
ED ORGERON: Sort of the same thing we have been seeing in practice. They’re two different backs, they’re two good backs. John can put his foot in the grass and make a cut about as good as most people I’ve been with. Still needs to hold on to the football. He was trying to give extra effort and all it is is putting two hands on the ball when he gets in traffic. Tyrion is a bull, he’s going to go north and south and he can run you over and he runs with an attitude. So I think that we kind have a thunder and lightning deal right there going on. The more snaps they get the better they’re going to be. I was really impressed with Chris Curry I thought he played his best game and showed that he’s worthy and willing to play with significant snaps.

Q. I think we saw the atmosphere maybe make a difference in Gainesville this week and for Auburn does the type of game where you really want the crowd to be in it?
ED ORGERON: I will say this to you, their crowd last year showed up. That was probably the most hostile place we played and I wish it wouldn’t have affected us but it did and even the players said it. So I know our fans are going to be loud, I know last year when we played Georgia our crowd affected the Georgia Bulldogs and we won that game. I would expect our crowd to be a winning edge, I know they will be, 7 o’clock at night they should be primed and ready to go.

Q. You’ve always spoken so highly about Joe Burrow and I know there’s a lot of games left, but did you envision him being able to toss his hat in the Heisman ring whenever you brought him here to LSU? Was that even in the vision?
ED ORGERON: No, not really. Not really. We just wanted a good quarterback. We just wanted somebody to throw the ball, run the spread offense but the thing that I was most impressed two things most impressed about Joe is his intelligence and his toughness. We felt that once he took over the team, we saw him progress and I think he made a lot of progress last year in between the first game and the last game. He was a different quarterback. And then in the bowl game we saw him throw the football like we like him to throw the ball. And once we saw him in the spring, I felt that he was going to have a tremendous year. I never think about individual awards or that never even crossed my mind but I do know we have a winning quarterback. Let’s see what happens.

Q. I know that a lot of people don’t like 11:00 am kickoffs, but it worked out perfectly for you last Saturday. Talk about the experience of not only getting to watch your team win on the field but getting to go to McNeese and see your son win a big game there against Southeastern. Talk about that experience.
ED ORGERON: Yeah, first of all I was proud of our team. We don’t blink. Just tell us what time we’re going to play and where we’re going to play and we’re going to show up. The guys, again, we had an early morning meeting everybody was there early all the coaches were there early, shoot I felt like it was 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Our guys were ready to go, so we showed no signs of mental weakness. I think if it comes to mental toughness, edge LSU. And I said that and our guys are mentally tough. We were fortunate enough that we could get to McNeese, I think I got there midway in the first quarter. It was a heck of a game, Cody threw the winning touchdown at the end. It was great to be a parent at that game. Kelly and I was back home at 11 o’clock at night. It was a wonderful weekend for everybody, I was just fortunate I was able to do it.

Q. To follow-up, how tough is it you being in the stands at a game like that that’s that close that, just to be a parent and not be a coach there, since you just came off coaching a game earlier that day.
ED ORGERON: Well, I was glad I was in a closed-in box.

(Laughter.)

Yeah, I think that it was good for Kelly to be in a closed-in box, too.

Q. Was there anything from Auburn’s defense line — it looked like they got pressure on Trask — was there anything that showed what you guys might be able to do there?
ED ORGERON: Yeah they have about three first round draft choices on the front line that looked very good to me. No, I need to study it more. Obviously I know Coach Steele. Going against them, it’s about — it’s nothing fancy, it’s about winning the one-on-one matchups and I think that’s what we have to do, win our one-on-one matchups, rush the passer. We got some good rushers, I think Neil is becoming a good rusher, Tyler Shelvin is playing his best football right now. Obviously having K’Lavon back, having Mike back, I think that we can get back to our green package, have some speed on the field and it will be fun. But I don’t think it’s going to come down to pass rushing against this team I think it’s going to come down to stopping the run.

Q. To follow-up, what has Shelvin done that makes him impressive?
ED ORGERON: I think he’s played very good in the middle. Sometimes you don’t see the nose tackle as much because he’s causing double teams. But he’s playing his blocks well, he’s playing with leverage, he’s getting off, he’s had some good pass rushes, he’s playing hard. I think he’s become a complete player.

Q. This is a little off topic and looking a couple years into the future, but just can you talk about the possibility of playing Southern and just what that would mean for the city of Baton Rouge?
ED ORGERON: I think it’s wonderful. I don’t do the scheduling, that’s not my wheelhouse, but if we play Southern — I love Coach O, I love Southern, we camped together and he’s a great man and I think it’s great for the city of Baton Rouge. And again, I think that the more we can stay together with the schools in Louisiana and support each other the better.

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