Orgeron: LSU likely at full strength for Auburn

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Subway Fresh Take with Coach O – Week 3

At 12:30 p.m. CT, coach Ed Orgeron takes the podium for the weekly press conference, this week previewing Saturday's SEC opener at Auburn. Prior to coach, Voice of the Tigers Chris Blair and Gordy Rush break down the matchup.

Posted by LSU Football on Monday, September 10, 2018

LSU coach Ed Orgeron expects his Tigers to be at full strength when it opens Southeastern Conference play with a top 25 matchup Saturday at Auburn.

Tackle Saadhiq Charles, linebacker Michael Divinity, defensive tackle Ed Alexander and cornerback Jontre Kirklin all are expected back for Saturday’s game.

While 12th-ranked LSU faces its biggest test to date against seventh-ranked Auburn, the preparation for Saturday’s game starts with correcting issues from last week’s 31-0 victory over Southeastern Louisiana – most notably on the offensive line.

“There’ll be a lot of things we have to face this week,” Orgeron said Monday at his weekly news conference. “First of all, we have to fix ourselves.”

Orgeron said Auburn is a “very explosive football team. Jarrett Stidham’s one of the best quarterbacks we’ll see all year.

“You go against Gus Malzahn, you have to stop the run, you have to tackle. You have to protect the whole field for 60 minutes.

“On defense, Kevin Steele is doing a tremendous job. Kevin’s a great friend, a great recruiter, a great coach. I hope he gets another shot (as a head coach).”

LSU is not only opening conference play, but facing a road crowd for the first time all year when it heads to Jordan-Hare Stadium.

“Crowd noise, we’ll be working on it all week,” Orgeron said.

The biggest challenge from a crowd noise perspective would belong to quarterback Joe Burrow.

“He’s been in some loud games before,” Orgeron said of the junior transfer from Ohio State. “There’s specific stuff we do on the road that we’ll do with him. This will not be foreign to him.”

While Orgeron said “you’ll see a little bit more” of Burrow running the ball, he wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about Burrow’s postgame thoughts about not wanting to slide.

“Joe has the mentality of a fullback,” Orgeron said. “Me and Coach Ensminger’s going to have a conversation with him (about sliding).”

Freshman walk-on kicker Avery Atkins, who has been stellar in kickoff duties through the first two games, is returning to his hometown Saturday.

“I’ve got to give the credit to Coach Mac (Greg McMahon),” Orgeron said. “Avery’s a 4.0 student, always wanted to come to LSU. Avery’s going to earn himself a scholarship at LSU as soon as I can get him one.”

This will be LSU’s first visit to Auburn since losing 18-13 in 2016, a game that turned out to be Les Miles’ last as the Tigers head coach. Orgeron was named interim head coach the next day and permanent head coach following the season.

“Emotional day for everybody,” Orgeron said of the 2016 game. “Unexpected things happened, but that’s football, and we’ve moved on.”

The annual battle of Tigers kicks off just after 2:30 p.m. CDT Saturday. The game will be televised nationally by CBS.

For Immediate Release September 10, 2018


Opening statement…
“Welcome guys. Today is Tell the Truth Monday. Good win for us. We are 2-0 going into a big time battle with Auburn. Excited to see the team today. I know they’re going to be excited this week for our preparation against a very, very tough Auburn football team. Some things about the game. I’m proud that we won the turnover battle again, plus-three. We’re plus-five for the year. We haven’t committed a turnover yet. That’s something we’ve worked very hard on. We had a good defensive performance again. A shutout. The guys played for 60 minutes. We worked hard on that shutout. Some guys that I thought played really well on defense were Devin White, Neil Farrell – in his first game to have a lot of snaps – I thought played outstanding. Breiden Fehoko, two good games in a row. Micah Baskerville, took the place of Jacob Phillips, played outstanding. I thought those guys played really well.

Another good outing by our special teams. Cole Tracy hit a 50-yard field goal. Avery Atkins hit five kickoffs out of the end zone. Zach Von Rosenburg hit four punts inside the 20, again coach Mac (Greg McMahon) did a tremendous job on special teams.

On offense, Nick Brossette, 137 yards rushing. Like I said, again no turnovers and I thought we used the clock right before half excellent with the Hail Mary pass. Good throw by Joe (Burrow) and good catch by Stephen Sullivan. We need to improve in our pass protection and our overall passing game. We’re going to make some adjustments this week to make improvements in that area.

On to Auburn. They’re plus-two in the turnover ratio. Offense, Jared Stidham is one of the best quarterbacks we’re going to see all year. Jatarvious Whitlow, excellent, physical running back. Ryan Davis, excellent athlete out there. Six returning starters on offense. Very well coached by Gus Malzahn. They are up tempo, physical. They get the ball to the perimeter and hit shots. Very explosive, explosive football team, averaging 500 yards of offense.

On defense. Kevin Steele is doing a tremendous job with his 4-3 defense that is led by his front seven. Derrick Brown who I tried to recruit, reminded me of Reggie White when I met him. He’s that size, he’s that type of football player. I think he’s outstanding. Dontavious Russell, Marlon Davidson, Nick Coe, I know all these guys, I tried to recruit them all. They’re fast at linebacker, aggressive in the secondary. Their safeties hardly miss any tackles and they’re very solid on special teams. We’re excited about this week, opening SEC play. We’re going to have our guys back. We should be fairly healthy this week going in to the game. We’re looking forward to a very tough matchup with Auburn.”

On trying to win the turnover battle at Auburn this week…
“You go against Gus Malzahn, you have to stop the run, you have to tackle. They’re physical. They run the ball in between the tackles. They have a lot of good schemes on the perimeter. The screens, the bubble screens, all the jail break screens. They’re going to lure you in to bring the safeties in and then throw the ball behind your head. Throw it deep. He has an overall plan. We’re going to have to protect the whole field against Gus Malzahn for 60 minutes. And you have to tackle well.”

On doing a better job to protect the quarterback…
“That’s an option, to go empty and go four-wide. Throw the quicks. Two of the times that we had protection, we had a chip on and Badara (Traore) had help, but Joe (Burrow) held the ball too long and the receivers weren’t open. Those are options. We can go empty. We can go four-wide. It’s less protection. We are taking a chance of being one-on-one.”

On how he thought Austin Deculus performed on the O-line and what his role could be moving forward…
“We’re going to move him to right tackle this week and give him a chance to compete with Badara. We’ll see who has the best week.”

On Avery Atkins’ performance thus far and him being from Auburn, Alabama…
“I’ve got to give the credit to coach Mac (Greg McMahon). Coach Mac did all the work (recruiting Avery). Great parents. Avery is a 4.0 grade-point-average student. Always wanted to come to LSU. When his parents came here, his father loved it. They wanted to be here. Avery is going to earn himself a scholarship at LSU as soon as I can get him one. He is going to be our kicker for the next three years which I am happy about. I know he’s excited about going home.

On the challenge the offensive line will face against a very good Auburn defensive front…
“There will be a lot of things we have to face this week. First of all, we have to fix ourselves. There’s some things that we can fix. There are some technical errors that we can fix. Getting Saahdiq (Charles) back at left tackle will help us. Moving Austin (Deculus) to right tackle will give Badara (Traore) some help. Remember, he’s a junior college player so this is his first time in full action. We believe he’s going to be a good player. He was thrown into the action and he did do some good things, but he made some mistakes. Crowd noise, we’re going to work on it all week. We’ll be ready to go. I believe our offensive line is going to have its best game Saturday. I totally believe in what we’re doing.”

On how quarterback Joe Burrow’s leadership has grown through two games…
“You saw him run the ball a little more. He can make some plays, extend plays with his feet, and I think you’re going to see more of that. He’s grown comfortable with his teammates. I think Joe is going to lead by example and as soon as he wins the big game, you’re going to see a lot more confidence in him. He feels, and so do I, that he has to prove himself, and the only way to prove yourself around here is to win the big game.”

On quarterback Joe Burrow not being a slider when he runs the football…
“Joe has the mentality of a fullback. He wants to go and hit the linebackers. Me and coach (Steve) Ensminger are going to have a little conversation with him.”

On the last game at Auburn which was the last game before Coach O became the head coach at LSU…
“Tough night. On the last play we scored, time ran out on the clock though. Emotional day for everybody. Coach (Les) Miles did a great job for everybody over here. That was an emotional time for everybody. Unexpected things happened, but we dealt with it and we moved on.”

On how limited the Tigers have been offensively based on the pressure they have seen…
“I don’t want to say we’re limited at all. We’re free to call the plays we want to with the personnel groups we want to. We’ve got to be better in the passing game. I think it can’t be put on all the protection. I think we need to catch the ball when we throw the ball. We need to get open more. We need to be more creative in what we’re doing and I think we’re going to do that.”

On what the team will do to prepare Joe Burrow for his first start in a hostile road environment…
“Steve (Ensminger) is going work with him on that. I don’t coach Joe at all. That’s something I stay out of, to be honest with you. I let Steve do it. We’re going to have crowd noise all week. He’s been in some loud games before. The specific stuff we do on the road regularly, we’ll do with him and he’s able to do it. This will not be foreign to Joe Burrow.”

On what he expects to see from Kevin Steele’s defense…
“Kevin is a great friend, great coach, great recruiter. I’m happy for him. I hope he gets a shot as a head coach again. I think he’d be fantastic. Tremendous man to work with on a daily basis. He’s calling the right defenses and he has his guys in the right places. It looks like he’s having fun. I’m happy for him.”

On if Dee Anderson, Ja’Marr Chase and Terrace Marshal are standing out from each other…
“Not really. No one has really stood out. Ja’Marr made a couple of good catches. No one has really taken that position bull by the horns. Stephen Sullivan made some big catches for us. He made some good plays. Those guys need to improve. They need to improve on their route running. They need to improve on their blocking. They need to catch the football and I know they will. We feel that Justin Jefferson can be an excellent football player.”

On how they can hide things that they can’t fix…
“First of all, we feel that we can fix most of the things. We’ve got to protect the things that we know we don’t do well. Either give somebody some help or don’t put them in that situation. There are some things we can do on offense that we’re not doing right now but we plan on doing this week.”

On what safety Grant Delpit has brought to the defense…
“Versatile. Very smart. Grant’s tall, rangy. The first thing you want in a safety is a guy who can play the post. Remember he is protecting our team. He’s the last line of defense. He has to make the open field tackle. Well, he can do all that. He can rush. He can cover man-to-man. He can play zone. He can take on blocks. He’s been very versatile. It’s like having three players. That’s how much he means to our defense.”

On trying to get wide receiver Jonathon Giles more involved…
“We need to get him the ball more and he needs to make some improvement. Obviously we were disappointed that we didn’t get the ball to him, but he had a couple good punt returns. He’s doing a good job at practice. We just need to feed him the ball.”

On the SEC home crowd factor…
“It is a tremendous advantage to play at home. Being a great football team, you have to win on the road. You have to win on the road in the SEC in hostile environments. I want our team to get used to it. It’s what we have to do. We have to go up there and play very good. We can’t let it be a factor. We need to use it as our advantage. Our guys get fired up when they play on the road, using it in the right mindset. We’re going to have to use this one. It’s going to be 60 minutes and it’s going to be an all-out battle.”

On the evolution of Dave Aranda’s defense…
“This is his third year and we have a different defensive staff than we had the first year. Dave feels very comfortable with his defensive staff. Every defensive staff has a different make up, you know guys who can do this or that. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. This is a very good defensive staff. We’re able to do a lot of things. Make a lot of adjustments.”

On getting motivated for this weekend’s game against Auburn…
“I think these guys are going to be hungry to match the intensity level or play better than we did against Miami in all phases of the game. We need to match the feeling that we had before the game. That feeling was not there against Southeastern. We all know it. We went through it and we’re glad we won the game. We’re going to need to have that intensity and more throughout the whole game. This is a better football team than Miami. We know that. It’s a big rivalry for the LSU Tigers. It’s SEC play. It’s physical football. It’s going to take our best to beat them.”

On what Garrett Brumfield has meant and brought to a young offensive line…
“His leadership has been critical. In fact, he talked to the team after the game on Saturday night. His leadership, his communications, his smartness, his awareness and his ability to make adjustments on the sideline during the game, he’s like a coach on the field.”

On how he is coaching differently this year compared to last year…
“I’m doing the best I can be. I really like going to work. I give the guys the schedule during the day. I spend most of my time on the defense, but I do make corrections on offense if I need to. That’s my job. On Sunday I make suggestions. I don’t have all the answers, just like anybody else. I make suggestions on what I think we’ve to do to get better. I watch the practice tape; I watch everybody’s individual. I watch all the offense, all the special teams. If something’s broke I demand that we fix it. There’s accountability. I don’t tell them what to run or how to run it, but if it’s broke, I want it fixed.”

On how they can prevent Auburn from getting off to a fast start like they did last year…
“We watched their first 15 plays. They’re very fast. A lot of formations that gave us problems last year. Obviously the screen that went 60 yards. They’re going to come out on the perimeter. They’re’ going to want to throw screens, throw sweeps and try to get you tired. They’ll come pound you and as soon as they pound you they’re going to try and throw over your head. That’s the way the guy (Gus Malzahn) has been all his career. He’s been successful and we expect the same thing.”

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Lenny Vangilder

Lenny Vangilder


Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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