Coach Ed Orgeron opening statement….
Welcome. Good to see everybody. We had a meeting yesterday with our staff and here's the things that we came up with about the game and our big win against Southern Miss.
First of all, we want to build on the positives. We played with energy the second half. We made some adjustment at halftime. Offense, obviously, 10.2 yards per play, which was a school record, a tribute to our team, a tribute to our offensive staff and Coach Ensminger. 459 total yards, 45 points. The thing I'm most proud of are the nine explosive plays, play action passes. Somebody mentioned to me walking up here, it was really working well. We had five explosive runs and four explosive passes, and four shots down the field, something that we wanted to improve on that. We didn't do well in the first game. On defense, only allowed ten points. They were averaging 40 points per game. We only allowed 242 yards of total offense against our defense. They were averaging 530. And we caused a turnover, which I thought was the turning point of the game. On special teams, our net point of 50 yards was great. We changed the field position. Kick-off cover allowed only 16.8 yards per return, we're one for one on field goals and six of six on PATs. Much improved. Turnover ratio, we're even. We're plus one in our two games in our new season. We start fast, mindset and preparation, and we went through the week, and we went through the daily routine of each day and what we can improve, and we marked them down, and those are the things that we're going to start working on starting today.
Substitutions, we need to fix the mechanics and practice on it. We spent a lot of time last night on the mechanics of all of our substitutions, and we want to eliminate. Those are foolish penalties. Those are things we need to eliminate, and we want to put 11 on the field. We want to make sure we're playing hard. We want to eliminate our penalties by teaching great technique.
On to Ole Miss, Hugh Freeze has done a tremendous job in his fifth year, a lot of respect for what he does. Obviously, he and I worked together. He's a tremendous coach. He's a tremendous fit for that school. A lot of guys I know on that staff, and they're doing a great job, and I want to commend them. They're doing especially a tremendous job in recruiting all around. Their turnover margin is minus one for the season. They have three fumbles lost and seven interceptions on the year. They have a spread offense. They have a very good quarterback in Chad Kelly. They have eight returning starters. It's a very experienced offense averaging 476 yards a game, almost 40 points per game. They are a big player offense and like to take shots down the field. They'll come on the line of scrimmage, figure out which end, and call a pretty good play. Hugh is very good at that, so is Dan Werner.
On defense, I got a lot of respect for their defense. Chris Kiffin trained under me. He did a tremendous job teaching the defensive line. Number 10, Marquise Haynes, is one of the best guys in the SEC rushing the passer. They've given up more yards than they have in the past. They've given up some yards rushing. They are not as stout as they've been in the past, but I know this is a game they're going to want to be playing very well.
On special teams, the kickoff return average is 23 yards per return and kicker, 97, Gary Wunderlich, is 89 in field goals, considered one of best in the SEC. Today is Tell the Truth Monday, we'll have our team together. I know they're happy with the win. This is a tremendous time for us to build on the positives and teach the things that we did wrong throughout the week. We've identified those things and we're going to address them on a daily basis with our team. I expect Leonard to be back this week. He was in the office. I expect him to practice today, practice all week, and we'll see how it goes throughout the week.
Q. Ed, this morning, Hugh Freeze said that he kind of gave you credit for his career and where he is right now because you hired him in '04.
COACH ORGERON: Yeah.
Q. Tell us about that hire. What do you remember about why you hired him and how it went down?
COACH ORGERON: Well, it was a very good hire. We was down to play Oklahoma at the Orange Bowl. I was walking on the field and he introduced himself. I thought it was very courageous of him to go down to Miami and meet me on the football field to ask me for a job, and I liked that about him. I really did. And I always thought that Hugh was a tremendous coach. I almost hired him as my offensive coordinator. Probably should have. He helped me out in all of the facets of running the program, a tremendous recruiter. He knew everybody there. When I left there, I told him, I said, go ahead and continue to work and you probably will be the next head coach there. So, I'm glad he is the head coach there. He and I have a good relationship, and I wish him the best.
Q. Coach, D.J. Chark and DeSean Smith, are you guys just doing a better job utilizing them or is it combined with them getting older and kind of coming into their own?
COACH ORGERON: I think it's a combination of both. They are getting older, they run their playing time, they practice very well, they do the things Coach Ensminger and all the rest of our coaches want. Damian, Craig, D.J., we're very pleased with his play. He's a threat down the field. We really like the way we're using our tight ends. We want to use our tight ends more in the passing game and Steve done a good job of that.
Q. Coach, have you seen a stretch where you guys have -- I mean, the next five games all teams are ranked, four of them in the top 17. Have you coached against a stretch like this in your career?
COACH ORGERON: Today is Tell the Truth Monday, and I've got my blinders on and, one step at a time, one day at a time. See you a little, see you a lot. But I do acknowledge that this is the SEC, and the upcoming schedule will be very challenging, but I would be wrong for looking at that and not looking at the day ahead.
Q. Coach, you expect to have Leonard back at practice. How has he been in this? We heard at halftime he was one of the guys that spoke up.
COACH ORGERON: Yep.
Q. And it's important to have engaged, I'm sure.
COACH ORGERON: Yeah. He's in. He's in. He was in my office Friday morning. He was the first one in there. Sat down and said, Coach, you going to use me next week? Let's talk about some stuff and ready to go? He said, Coach, I'm ready to go. You could feel the fire in him. I guess the injury took a toll on him mentally and physically. He felt he couldn't help his team. He wanted to help his team. He wanted to be a part of a few things going on. He did help me at halftime. He helped me on the sideline, and I know he's going to help us with the ball in his hand.
Q. Coach, as defensive line coach when you took over the head job, how much real understanding and knowledge of offense did you actually have then, and what was your thought process kind of turning the that side of the ball over to Steve Ensminger?
COACH ORGERON: Yeah. Thank you. Well, let me say this to you. When I was a first-time head coach, I wanted to run the USC system. I loved USC offense. And Noel Mazzone was my coordinator. And I forced the USC offense on him and he didn't know it well. Obviously, he's a very successful coordinator today. So, I thought that was a mistake on my part. So, when I took over the job at USC, obviously we were running the USC offense and I let Clay help me do it but I had parameters. We want to be 50/50. Here's what we want to do. Here's what we want to do in certain situations. Steve Ensminger and I have coached since 1985. We have been friends. We coached at McNeese State together. I have a lot of respect for him. I know what he's done. We have talked numerous times, if we had a chance, what will we do? We met that day, and I told him some things that I would like to do. He said, let's do it. If there is a time in the game, and there was a time in the game last week, I got on the headset and said, Steve, let's do this. He said, okay. We did it. We'll talk before the game, what we want to do, how we want to open up the game, the places we want to run, just a certain style. But the nuts and bolts of it, I let the offensive staff do.
Q. Coach, I noticed Travonte Valentine didn't play Saturday. Any reason?
COACH ORGERON: Just not good enough practice. You know? Just really didn't practice well enough, and I just wanted to set a standard with him that he understands he needs to practice better to play.
Q. Yeah, Ed, you have been on the other sideline of this game in Tigers Stadium. What was that like? You led LSU most of the game and lost late. Tell me what it's like to be on the other side of the sideline against LSU on this game.
COACH ORGERON: Thank you, Ron. This is a huge game. This is -- if you don't know the sideline, this is a team, you mark on the calendar, this is the team you want to beat. And I remember being the 27-point underdog, and, oh, man, let's go. And I remember looking across the field, and it looked like we were playing the Green Bay Packers the Tigers looked so big. But we were ready to play that night. You have to come ready to play. We tried all the onside kicks. We tried all the fakes we could, our guys gave best effort, but eventually LSU's talent took over. So, they know -- now, times have changed. They recruited better there. They have a better football team. But they going to give us everything they got. This is going to be a battle.
Q. Coach, when you faced them last year, obviously coaching the D line, it wasn't your job to pay attention to the defense. You know those guys, but they're last in the league giving up yards. What is the difference? Are they missing people they had last year or is there something more to it?
COACH ORGERON: They had a lot of people going into the draft. They missed some defensive linemen and also they play some very good offenses. We are very good on defense right now but our competition is going to be a little stiffer. They played some guys that can move the ball. They played Alabama. That's number one in the league in offense, or whatever they may be. They score a lot of points, so let's just see. I think they've had a stiffer schedule than we have.
Q. Coach, having your team back in the top 25 in both of those rankings, where does that fit into, you know, goals along the way of what you're trying to achieve this year?
COACH ORGERON: We haven't thought about it, to be honest with you. We just took this thing over. Let's take it one day at a time, one game at a time. Obviously, it's great but our goal today is Tell the Truth Monday and target Ole Miss, and we're taking it one game at a time. All of these rankings will and stuff take care of itself at the end of the season. We need to take care of what we can do but I'm sure it's great for our team. I'm sure it's great for our program, but that's not where LSU wants to be. It's an improvement, but obviously we all know where LSU wants to me.
Q. Looking back at your time at Ole Miss, do people know you for your coaching or for the role in movie, "The Blind Side."
COACH ORGERON: Well, I had more success in "The Blind Side" than my coaching, so it might be that.
Q. Coach, with Leonard coming back, as good as Derrius has been at that spot, what is your approach trying to keeping it balanced where both of those guys can be involved offensively?
COACH ORGERON: Yeah. Well, you know, we want to rotate our guys, we want them to keep fresh. It might be a possibility of putting them both in the backfield at the same time. I think it's a positive that we have them there and that we can use them in the way that he's able to do. I don't know how much he's going to be able to do, to be honest with you. We have to watch them in practice. We're going to let him do all he can, and he's going to tell me, hey, Coach I'm 100 percent, 80 percent, 90 percent. These are the things I can do. We'll run the plays he's able to run. The plays he's not able to run we won't run them. But we'll play both. I think they're both outstanding backs.
Q. Coach, I didn't know you personally when were you at Ole Miss, but we have all kind of heard the stories. I think from what I understand, the coach at Ole Miss would have handled halftime differently than the coach at LSU did this weekend. Is that just maturity, survival instinct? What has made you change and improve?
COACH ORGERON: After you lose -- look, that was a great opportunity for me. I mean, that's a good job. That's -- and I didn't do well, and I didn't like it. I was mad at myself. So, in the five years that I became assistant coach, I said these are the things that I need to change. These are the things that they didn't work, to be honest. You got to look at yourself in the mirror. You can place blame on other people but nothing's going to change. I'm the only person that can change me. So I tried to change the things that I normally would do as a defensive line coach. Listen. When you're coaching Warren Sapp at 28, 29 years old, you're not just going to walk in there with a tie and just say, read stuff from a book. I mean, it ain't going to happen that way. So, those techniques that I used, to create some of the best defensive lines in the country, did not work as a head coach. But there were applauders of a defensive line coach. So I had to get out of that mode and get more into the head coach and delegate, and not be the hard butt on the staff.
Q. I'm curious how much does winning help with guys' confidence? Like compared to maybe when you took over after the Auburn game to now, are you sensing that the team is a little bit more confident in themselves?
COACH ORGERON: Yeah. You can see a little pep in their step. Guys are making plays, guys are having fun. Our leadership is coming. You know, at halftime, we face some adversity. We had some guys step up. That was good. I thought adversity is good. As we all know in sports, things are not going to be like you want them. You have to make adjustments; things have to change. Leadership is going to have to come. The guys are looking forward to coming to work today. I know they feel good about being 2-0. We're going to celebrate the win today. But after that we will have to move forward. This is a tough and very good Ole Miss football team. These guys beat us last year in every aspect of the game. I remember the game. They were on fire. I know they'll be on fire this year, but it's not about them. There's some things we have to continue to improve and not only the Xs and Os, but in the process during the week, we had a couple cracks last week that we identified and we're going to fix this week.
Q. Ed, as far as the offensive line goes, what is the health status of Will Clapp, Toby Weathersby even --
COACH ORGERON: First of all, I didn't say that. I thought Coach Grimes had done a good job of all of the injuries that happened and missing and matching of those guys played well. They didn't' play great, but they played well. We expect Will Clapp to be back in practice this week. How much he can do, we'll see. Obviously, having Will (Clapp) back helps us, not only his toughness, but his leadership. He's a good player.
Q. You said Leonard Fournette will tell you when he's 80 percent, 100 percent. How confident are you he'll actually tell you the truth and not just he wants to be back out there on the field?
COACH ORGERON: I think he will. And maybe he could have pushed it the last couple of weeks, but we didn't. I think he has a bright future ahead, but he wants to help the team, but we have got to see him practice. I think those are the things that we're about to figure out and I think he will tell me the truth.
Q. Last two weeks seemed to be a lot of new faces on the field a lot. Is that position coaches' decisions and how much has that like maybe perked up other guys to that see there is a chance to get on the field?
COACH ORGERON: It does. That's a very good point. We played 63 guys our first game. I don't know how we played last week, but guys are seeing opportunity. You know, you come to practice and you work hard. Everybody works hard, even the service team guys and you want your opportunity to play and that gives them some hope, and when they see a second-teamer getting touchdowns, a second-teamer making tackles, that gives all of the other guys hope, so they practice harder and it creates a better morale on the team.
Q. Coach, you guys played play several offices this year and quarterbacks that have been able to put up numbers. What is it about Chad Kelly that makes him different to be able to put up some numbers he has against some of the competition he has?
COACH ORGERON: Well, he has some good receivers. When you go one-on-one, he's going to throw it up, and they're going to go up there and grab it. They do a very good job taking what the defense gives him. He's very smart. He's a competitor. He's tough. He can run the ball. As you saw in the last game against Arkansas, he almost made that first down. He wants to win the football game. He's from a very good family. I know his -- I know Jim Kelly very well, and those guys are competitive guys. I think he has everything it takes to be a championship quarterback. He's very good.
Q. Could you expound on his running as a weapon aspect of his game?
COACH ORGERON: Yeah. He's tough, he's tough. He's a little faster than you think he is. And they spread it out. He's able to read the defense, take what the defense gives him, and he's hard to tackle.
Q. Ed, Foster Moreau and Toby, where are they at?
COACH ORGERON: I don't know. Questionable. Both -- I talked to Jack this morning. Toby is feeling a lot better. He's going to go out and do a couple things this week. Questionable for the game. There's a slight possibility that both of them may play. I don't know yet. I really don't.
Q. Coach, it's a new year, a new situation, but do your players take anything away from going out for last year and the way that game went? It was a rough day, and a lot of those same players are back for Ole Miss.
COACH ORGERON: They better. If they don't, I'm going to remind them, because I remember it. Those guys whooped our tail and there's going to be respect. There's going to be respect, and obviously we're going to play better this year. We got them at home. I really want to use that as a motivation to remind them who we're playing. I think they know the rivalry, and they'll be ready to play. But that's a very good point.
Q. And just the way -- I mean, first play of the game, right, they came out and said --
COACH ORGERON: That's what they do. They exploit -- we had a weakness in our coverage. They found it on film, and they made it difficult for the read, for the nickel back, and they took the ball right behind his head. That's what they do. They're very well coached.
Q. Coach, looking at what Hugh Freeze has done at Ole Miss, he seems to have offenses that can put up points against anybody, including Alabama, has done a good job.
COACH ORGERON: Yeah.
Q. What are the innovative techniques that he brought in? Because it seems like it is --
COACH ORGERON: The speed in which they run the plays, number one. He runs the plays very fast, one of the fastest that we've seen. The ability to see what the defense does, the ability to call the plays from the sideline, the ability to adjust. He runs real routes. He's a trick guy. He's innovative on offense. He can run the football, spread you out and run the football, rose the counter, rose the power, does all of the things. He's a really good spread offense coach. He knows what he's doing there.
Q. Coach, today being Tell the Truth Monday, will you talk to your guys, with the emotional ties with Ole Miss, will you talk to them about what this game means to you, or is this just another game to you?
COACH ORGERON: Never, never. It's all about them. I won't mention it. That's the furthest from my mind. This is about the LSU Tigers. This is about this football team. This is about a very good opponent coming into Tigers Stadium. It is a rivalry. I think these guys consider -- I know what they consider it. I'm going to find out what our guys consider it this week. But it's all about our football team. That was a long time ago. That's far from my memory, I promise you.
Q. Danny Etling's performance, just looking back on the tape and how he did being able to connect on a few deep balls?
COACH ORGERON: Yeah, well, that's something we wanted to improve on and we worked on in practice. I can tell you we're working on it, and he did a good job, he did a really good job on the play action passes, hitting the guys, finding the right guys. Malachi was wide open, he led them well. Danny manages the game well. I really like his make-up. I like his attitude towards work. He's in the office all the time wanting to get better. He's what we're looking for in a quarterback right now.