Video: Orgeron gives roster COVID-19 updates, promises attacking defense, addresses Shelvin return rumors

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With the start of the season now 11 days away, LSU head coach Ed Orgeron addressed several issues Tuesday.

Orgeron admitted that his team has been hit pretty hard by the pandemic but likes where the Tigers are now.

“I think that not all of our players but most of our players have caught it,” Orgeron said. “Hopefully, they don’t catch it again.”

The Tigers have gotten past the roughest patch of the virus.

“We feel like we’re very healthy,” Orgeron said. “I do believe we have about three or four guys that have the COVID now, not a lot of guys in quarantine. I think that we’re probably better off than we’ve been all camp right now going into the season. Obviously, we have to be really careful.

With a new starting quarterback in Myles Brennan, how much did that set back his development and preparation for the 2020 season?

“I do believe he’s worked well on his own,” Orgeron said. “I do believe that with COVID-19 that he did as much as he can do. I think that he and the receivers got together off campus so that work was getting done. Obviously, we felt like we were a little bit behind coming into camp but we’ve caught up, we’ve had some tremendous practices. We’re ready, we have the full offense in and he’s ready to go. He’s done a great job.”

Orgeron said that his defense dominated the team’s first scrimmage while the offense dominated the second scrimmage.

Orgeron made a bold statement about his defense.

“We are so much better on defense right now than any part of the season last year,” Orgeron said. “I feel Bo Pellini has come in and he’s brought a new energy, a new excitement. Dave Aranda did a tremendous job for us. I’m just glad that we moved to the 4-3. We’re more an attacking style of defense. We’re using our personnel. Bo’s done a tremendous job for us. I do believe we have a lot of speed on defense.”

The style of play is significantly different than a year ago.

“We’re attacking,” Orgeron said. “We’re blitzing. We’ve got every blitz known to man. We’re playing base but we’re coming. We’re bringing our linebackers, we’re bringing our corners, they are going to have to account for everybody. As you know, we’ve got some very, very good skill players. We’ve got some packages where we have our speed people in there on third down and it’s hard, it’s hard do defend.”

While Orgeron confirmed that Neil Farrell, who previously opted out of playing this year due to the pandemic, has decided to opt back in, Orgeron has also heard some murmuring that Tyler Shelvin, who opted out for the NFL Draft, may be reconsidering his decision.

“We hear rumors,” Orgeron said. “His family has called me. I know people are talking to him. I have not spoken to Tyler. I think some of his teammates are talking to him, but there’s not been a decision yet. We’d take him back, obviously. We want him back.”

There is one aspect of his offense that Orgeron feels very good about.

“I feel confident about our running backs,” Orgeron said. “These guys are showing us some physicality, the ability to make people miss, catching the ball out of the backfield.”

Orgeron praised graduate transfer linebacker Jabril Cox as one of the best players on the team and called Jacoby Stevens and Derek Stingley two of the best players in the country and spoke highly of linebacker Micah Baskerville. Orgeron also confirmed that defensive lineman Nelson Jenkins has opted out of the season.

Despite the losses to graduation and players opting out, including Biletnikoff Award winner Ja’marr Chase, Orgeron still likes his 2020 team quite a bit.

“We feel like we have a very good football team,” Orgeron said. “They are hearing all the stuff out there, the challenges. It’s going to be a great challenge for us. The good thing about this football team is we’ve got some young players who are hungry to prove themselves. They see the former LSU players in the NFL doing very well right now. They want to do well in college and they want to get to the NFL.”

Doubters that LSU can come close to repeating last season’s magical 15-0 national championship season are plentiful.

“I can understand why people are skeptical,” Orgeron said. “We lost a lot of great players. All that stuff is good for you all. I hope we’re not reading it too much because we’ve got to line up and beat Mississippi State. We’ve got to play one game at a time. I believe we’re going to have an ascending team, a team that is going to get better. I do believe we have a great football team, a great coaching staff. I’m excited about this season.”

The Tigers host Mississippi State on Sept. 26 at Tiger Stadium to open the season.

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