Ed Orgeron Opening Statement….
COACH ORGERON: Welcome, media. Good to see everybody today. We just finished a fantastic weekend. We had eight coaches out on the road recruiting on Friday, went to some games on Friday night. It was a tremendous reception. It was fun going around the State of Louisiana and other places being the head coach of LSU. It was really a fun day. Our players got a much-needed weekend off with their family, and I know they're going to come back rested today. Our coaches had family day on Saturday. Guys were fired up at the office ready to work tomorrow, ready to get back into game week. We all called each other on Saturday morning. There was an empty feeling in all our bellies, while we wanted to compete, but we had to move forward, focus on the focus and that is Southern Miss. coming to a home game in Tigers' stadium. We are expecting a great week of preparations starting today. We've identified several areas on offense, defense and special teams that we want to improve on this week, and we're going to start drills today to do that, and we think our team will come back fired up, ready to go, looking forward to playing at home in Tigers Stadium verse Southern Miss on Saturday.
I want to talk about Southern Miss. They're 4 and 2. Jay Hopson -- I know him very well -- has done a great job. His first year at Southern Miss, I know those guys are going to want to put on a good show in Louisiana. There are several players from Louisiana, several coaches from Louisiana, and I know this is a big game for them. But it's not about them it's about the LSU Tigers. They're minus 8 in the turnover margin. We're plus 1 in our new season.
Offensively, they're spread temp, spread up tempo. 10 to 11 personnel. They have four returning starters. They're averaging 532 yards a game. They're ranked seventh in the nation in total offense, scored 40 points per game. Their top players, they have a very good running back in Ito Smith. He leads the team in rushing with 711 yards and has 7 touchdowns. Nick Mullens is a very good quarterback, and he has almost a 60% passing percentage, 16 TDs with eight interceptions, and D.J. Thompson is a leading wide receiver with 25 receptions for 251 yards. Their defense is multiple. 4-3, 3-4, blitz a lot. It all depends on the team they're playing. They have six returning starters. They've given up only 315 yards per game, which is 16 in the nation. Jay is a defensive coach. I know he's done a tremendous job with that defense. Their top players are Dylan Bradley, No. 94, senior defensive tackle, has five sacks on the season already. D'Narius Antoine, No. 12, senior safety and LaDarius Harris, No. 43, another defensive tackle. Special teams, they're 25th in the nation in their punting. Check this out. Their field goal kicker Parker Shaunfield, is 100% on the field -- on the season, 10 for 10 on field goals, 29 for 29 on extra points.
We expect to have a tremendous week of practice. We're going to focus on the LSU Tigers getting better. This is our third week in our new season. We're going to take full advantage of knowing the system, getting after it and having a tremendous practice today. Any questions?
Q. Coach, have you ever been on staff anywhere where you dealt with anything remotely close to what happened this weekend? I'm curious how you might have used that schedule to your benefit.
COACH ORGERON: No. This was new. And -- but we moved forward really quickly. We treated it just like an open date. That was the benefit of it. We got to practice as a team all week. We had great focus, we had great preparation, and then in turn we get to use the weekend as an open day, go out recruiting, and get our players rested.
Q. Coach, with the relatively new opponent like Southern Miss., Coach Frank Wilson, what they were able to do with them last week, will you talk to Coach Frank at all about what they were able to do or share any information?
COACH ORGERON: Well, I did talk to Coach Frank, and I complimented him. I watched his game. Especially I liked the way his offense has some explosive plays on them. I know his team competed very well. As you know, Coach and I are very good friends. I talk to him every Sunday. So I did make a call to him last night and I talked to him, and he did warn me that those guys are going to be ready to play and I knew they would.
Q. Hey, Coach. Typically you have a 24-hour rule, a 48-hour rule. You play the game. Do you feel like you need to shelter the players of the talk of this Florida game kind of swirling and not the uncertainty of that game?
COACH ORGERON: Yes, today is Tell the Truth Monday. We're going to tell the truth, hey guys, there a circumstance out of your control. I'm going compliment them. They went home. They protected the team. Everybody is back, ready to go today. I'm sure they'll be in good spirits, but we're going to talk about it briefly, put it to bed and move forward.
Q. -- did you tell Joe Alleva you thought it was patently unfair to play Alabama, at Arkansas, at Florida and at Texas A&M in a space of 19 days?
COACH ORGERON: You know, I totally trust Joe in administration, what they are going to do with the schedule. They handle all of that, and I coach the football team. There was no such conversation.
Q. Coach, when this all happened, we talked about the motivation you guys were carrying, the momentum you were carrying from Missouri. Could you create momentum in a week like this when you're off?
COACH ORGERON: No question. And, you know, the momentum, I think, is going to come from a rested football team, from a hungry football team. I didn't talk to the team today, but I'm sure I got a call from Pete Jenkins, Jack Mariucci on Saturday morning. Everybody was a little ornery wanting to play, and I'm sure they felt the same way. I'm sure the whole weekend they answered questions about what's going on. It's going be good to get back in a team meeting, talk about it, put it to rest and focus on Southern Miss. So, yes, we will use it as an advantage.
Q. Coach, I was going to ask if you had an update on Leonard. But I guess you didn't see him this weekend?
COACH ORGERON: You know, I don't know if he's going to play this week. I think he's going to attempt to do -- I talked to Jack. He's going to do some things this week. He's getting better. I would list him as questionable right now.
Q. Do you have any update on Corey Thompson? Is there a chance he could play this year? What is his rehab looking like?
COACH ORGERON: Yeah. He will be ready to play this year. He's not ready to play yet. We're going to do more things with him right now. I spoke to him and his father last week on the phone. There's always options. People think how much are you going to play? Should you use that as a redshirt year? I told his dad, let's take it day by day. Let's see what Corey wants to play. Let's see how much we're going use him, how much we're going to play him. Obviously, before Corey got hurt, his outside linebacker position was a position that fit him. He has a lot of speed, he has a lot of coverage ability, he plays outfield linebacker, he's an excellent pass rusher, we could surely use him.
Q. Coach, I know you can't talk specifically about recruits, but with this trip that you made, what kind of questions were you getting and how did you answer them about LSU and football going forward?
COACH ORGERON: Coach, can I take a picture? It was amazing. I stopped, get me a little energy drink. The fans were going crazy. It was wild. I got to hit ten schools. I saw a lot of friends of mine at those schools, high fives, everybody, "Hey coach, way to go. We like the way the team played." Everything was positive, and I did my regular recruiting deal. Obviously, I couldn't talk to the players. Went to get evaluation, went to get a transcript, just business as usual. But it was the LSU head coach there, and I realized that, that people were excited to see the LSU head coach. It was a great day.
Q. Coach, five touchdowns in five games allowed by this defense. Is it a combination of scheme and personnel? What is working and what can you exploit?
COACH ORGERON: Mindset. Mindset, by Dave Aranda, mindset by defensive staff. Oh, God, we have some speed on defense, putting them in the right position, making the right plays, and to be honest with you, there's a sense of we have to get better. There's a sense these are the things we need to fix. I know last week when we gave up a touchdown, there was a lot of unhappy players and a lot of unhappy coaches on the sideline. Those guys want to strive to be great, not good.
Q. Coach, with everything that's transpired over the last few weeks, are you ready for just a sense of normalcy around here and to get back into just a normal routine without any of the distractions?
COACH ORGERON: You know, whatever -- you know, this is college football. Whatever the day brings, we're going to face it and be positive about it and go after it and be able to adjust on the move. But, you know, today's “Tell the Truth Monday”. We're going to get out there today and we're going to take it one day at a time. This is a new season for us. This is game two of our season and that's what we're looking at, staying focused.
Q. What's today's biggest truth?
COACH ORGERON: What's today's biggest truth? I won't tell you. I'll just tell the team.
No, today is about forgetting about last week, forgetting about last week, focusing on Southern Miss, respect our opponent, but really get better as LSU Tigers.
Q. Coach, you always seem very upbeat, very jovial, have high energy. Is there a certain life quote that you live by?
COACH ORGERON: Say that again now.
Q. Is there a certain life quote that you live by that keeps that upbeat energy?
COACH ORGERON: No, not really. I get up every day. I'm glad to be at LSU. I love my job. I don't think I'm ever going to a coaching job and think it was a job. Now, I dug ditches at Lafourche Television Company. This is -- I love being around you all. I love being around people. I love being around young men. I love being recruiting and how could you not have a great day when you're the coach of the LSU Tigers? Thank you.
Q. Ed, you're put in this position to be the coach. You have a chance to do the job in a way that will let you be the coach permanently, and this game --
COACH ORGERON: Yeah.
Q. -- was postponed, maybe is never played. Is it hard enough to feel like this is a big blow for you personally?
COACH ORGERON: No.
Q. And how do you avoid that?
COACH ORGERON: No. That would have been selfish. I just felt, when I walked in and told the players that we weren't playing, I just felt bad for them. I saw the hurt in their face. They wanted to. They prepared all week. They were like, what? So that was the part. It's about these guys. It's about getting them to feel good. It's about these coaches. I can't talk great enough about our coaches just rallying together, see the look in their eyes when they come to work. Everybody's taking accountability, managing their position. There's new life in the office. People are happy. People are around. Go to Louisiana, Hey, coach, I love the way the team played. That's what it's all about." Anybody else?
Q. Why not, right? You talked about fundamentals and kind of getting back to the basics of football but you also shortened the practices. I wonder how those two coincide?
COACH ORGERON: It's good. We have more individual players then we ever had. It's not all about team. We teach part to whole. We have about 75% of our practice is dedicated to the individual getting better and 25% of our practice is dedicated to our team preparing for our next opponent, and I do believe that, you know, when I was with Pete Carroll, you saw his teams get better throughout the year, and I believe a well-coached team, a well-prepared team, is going to improve week to week.
Q. Coach, a lot of the HIGH SCHOOL coaches I talked to talked about keeping Louisiana kids at home here at LSU. What do you tell them and how much do you value the talent in this state?
COACH ORGERON: First of all, they know it. And I've recruited in this state for a long time, and I'm glad to be wearing purple and gold recruiting it. They understand. I'm friends with most of these guys. Most of these guys I've been in clinics with. Most of these guys have come by camp. I think having a personal relationship with most of these coaches really help. It's not something we go in there and talk about. It's kind of understood, and we move forward. But you can just feel their happiness that a Louisiana guy is coaching the team.
Q. Coach, Danny Etling, in the last week and a half, what have you guys done with him in the passing game and to kind of improve the deep passing game?
COACH ORGERON: We made him quarterback friendly. First of all, it's about protection. We gave up no sacks last week. We want to make short, easy throws to Danny, easy reads, give him an opportunity to do things that he does well. The things that he doesn't do well, we don't do them. But I think Steve Ensminger has done a tremendous job with Danny. Danny's a leader, he's tough, and he's earning the respect of his team.
Q. You touched on protection. Just an update on Will Clapp and what you want to see out of the offensive line if you need to fill?
COACH ORGERON: Well, we need to be able to adjust. You know, injuries are part of the football season, especially this time of the season, especially this stretch that we are fixed to go into. So we have to have some guys that will be ready to play. I think Coach Grimes has done a tremendous job of managing his position. He has a plan. He goes over that plan with me. We have some guys, some guys can play left tackle, center, right guard, and he does a tremendous job of that. We have some young guys that are chomping at the bits to play, but you never can tell how well they are going to play until they get into live action.
Q. Coach, with the -- [ inaudible question.
COACH ORGERON: We had our coordinator stay in on Friday, and they had a chance to look at several teams that we're going to play. We used Friday as an open date, and some self-scout, some future opponents, but yesterday when we got into the office it was strictly Southern Miss the whole week.
Q. Is there any extra benefit to that?
COACH ORGERON: Excuse me?
Q. Any extra benefit to that? I mean, gave you a little more preparation time.
COACH ORGERON: Yeah. It gave us a little more preparation. For instance, yesterday, we usually have rated the film, go over offense and defense with staff, correct the mistakes, and that takes about five or six hours, so we had all day yesterday to work on Southern Miss, so, yes, it was an advantage. Thank you for saying that, yeah.
Watch Ed Orgeron's Press Conference
Q. Coach, I know your game did not go the way you wanted, but your take on the last play of the Southeastern/McNeese game when you were watching?
COACH ORGERON: I'm sitting in the stadium, and they get the ball back on the 20 yard line, and the score's tied. It was one of the best calls I've seen. The coach knows the power, and he makes everybody in the stadium think and everybody on the sideline think he's going into overtime, and then everybody kind of relaxed a little bit, and next play he threw a bomb to No. 5 and ran it over our head. He made a tremendous catch. I thought it was a tremendous catch by Ron Roberts and his staff. I, myself, personally thought he was going to sit on it and go into overtime.