Orgeron shows guts, gets glory, Smart move not so smart
Everyone loves a risk-taking, riverboat gambling football coach.
When a coach is bold, fans are emboldened. Every fan wants the coach to go for it on fourth-and-one. For that matter, the coach might as well go for it on fourth-and-three. Such is the nature of those who pay to see the games as compared to those who get paid to coach the games.
Ed Orgeron did not go for it against Notre Dame and his team came up short. He did not go for it a week ago against Florida and his team came up short.
On Saturday, Orgeron went Les Miles and was all in.
LSU went for it every single time the opportunity presented itself and Orgeron, his coaches and his players aced the test, remaining symmetrically sound by going 4-for-4 on fourth down. They played well in all four quarters.
The result was a resounding 36-16 win over second-ranked Georgia, LSU’s third win over a top ten team this season. The Tigers were underdogs in all three of those games.
It was quite a performance coming off of a debilitating loss to Florida.
Ironically, Kirby Smart, who gets props frequently from observers, may have cost Georgia in huge fashion when he went Les Miles with a fake field goal with his team trailing 3-0 early. Grant Delpit is an exceptional player and he made an exceptional play. The play shifted momentum to LSU in huge fashion.
I wrote a few weeks ago for the scoffers and skeptics to get over themselves about Orgeron.
A week ago, many of those were somehow blaming Coach O for his offensive line’s inability to block a better front or blaming him for Joe Burrow holding the ball too long.
No doubt, that is Orgeron’s fault.
What are the doubters feeling like today?
Each week, we field calls on our nightly radio shows and on our Three Tailgaters Show on WGSO 990 AM on this topic. Many continue to bash Orgeron, saying he is not fit for the job, gets out-coached and was a poor hire.
I disagree and I digress.
Orgeron has learned from his past experiences and he has learned on the job.
Perhaps the best quality of any boss is to hire the best people available, surrounding himself with intelligent, good coaches and to let them do their jobs.
Last year, Orgeron succumbed to the noise and pressure to inject a maverick, brilliant mind into his staff and he hired Matt Canada.
It turned out to be a bad move on many fronts and not because Canada cannot coach.
Egos and philosophies clashed in huge fashion and the marriage was doomed from the start.
The guy Orgeron really wanted to hire was Steve Ensminger, an LSU guy.
Of course, the critics did not like that hire, either, feeling Ensminger was in over his head.
What are those folks feeling like now?
Virtually no one felt LSU had good, SEC-caliber running backs going into the season. No one felt LSU’s offensive line would hold up. Many questioned whether LSU’s unproven receiving corps could produce. Many more doubted Burrow.
Either those players are better than people thought (yes) or they have been very well coached, prepared, and put in the best possible places to succeed by a fine offensive coordinator and his assistants (yes).
Ensminger has done an excellent job of putting players in positions to succeed, utilizing their talents in solid fashion.
Orgeron has surrounded himself with an outstanding coaching staff. They are not getting out-coached.
Dave Aranda is an elite defensive coordinator, playing without his best athlete in K’lavon Chaisson.
The NFL experience on the staff cannot be ignored.
Jerry Sullivan, who has 25 years of NFL experience, has dressed up the passing game.
James Cregg, who spent his last four seasons in the NFL, has done a masterful job patching together a competent offensive line in the midst of injuries and turmoil.
Former Shaw star Mickey Joseph is getting mileage out of a young, talented, growing wide receiver group.
Tommie Robinson is getting outstanding production from his running backs.
Pete Jenkins did a fabulous job before stepping away after last season and former Tiger Dennis Johnson, who learned at the side of Jenkins, is doing a fine job with the defensive line.
Bill Busch, who has 20 years of college coaching experience, is getting it done with the safeties while Corey Raymond’s corners are really good.
Greg McMahon, whom we know well from his days of coordinating special teams for some very good Saints teams, has the LSU special teams playing great with a kicking game that may be the best overall kicking game in the country.
Good coaches are not threatened by having experienced, good assistants capable of taking their jobs one day. Orgeron is all in.
While the Tigers still have a tough road to navigate, the 2018 season, which was written off by many before it even started, is now in a position to be a special season.
Mississippi State comes calling next week and the Bulldogs took the Tigers to the woodshed a year ago. This should be a motivation game for LSU but there cannot be a letdown between Georgia and Alabama.
You know about the Crimson Tide, a better team than LSU but a better team than everyone. Of course, they have to come to Tiger Stadium.
Arkansas is in a rebuild mode while Rice should be an easy win before a showdown with an improved Texas A&M squad at College Station.
Prior to the start of the season, Ed Daniels and I each picked LSU to win eight games on our Three Tailgaters Show. We were questioned by some, chastised by others.
Prior to the start of the season, national pundits were handicapping when Orgeron would lose his job, perhaps in-season like Miles did.
LSU lost at Gainesville to a very good team against a good coach in Dan Mullen. The Tigers beat a good Miami team with a good coach in Mark Richt. The Tigers won a thriller at Auburn against a solid coach in Gus Malzahn.
I picked Georgia to beat LSU in a close game. I am thrilled that I was wrong.
On the radio show, we listened to how smart Kirby Smart was and how he was simply better than Orgeron. Not on this day.
While the final chapter has not been written, it is safe to say that LSU is exceeding expectations, at least those of most. The SEC championship is still in play. If that is not there, the possibility of coming to New Orleans for the Allstate Sugar Bowl is in play. For that matter, a 10-win season is in play. Did anyone even remotely envision that possibility? As bullish as I was on LSU and Orgeron, I certainly did not.
Jimbo Fisher is a good coach. Tom Herman is a good coach. Neither wanted to come to Baton Rouge. Orgeron dreamed of landing the job. He has it. He is embracing it. He is proving that he is worthy of it, though I am quite certain that some will still wait for the sky to fall.
The sun is shining this morning on Orgeron, his coaches and players with a particularly bright golden hue. Make that yellow-gold.
Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE Owner and CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Football Foundation, College…