Ed Orgeron said he could, "feel the energy in the room" on Thursday as he addressed reporters following the team's "tremendous practice," Orgeron told reporters. Orgeron hit on a few key players recovering from injuries, which helped clear up what the depth chart looks like for Saturday's SEC West matchup.
Linebacker Corey Thompson and right tackle Toby Weathersby were ruled out for the rivalry game by Orgeron. Weathersby just wasn't ready and Thompson will be a bit with how sore he is following limited practice time this week, Orgeron said.
Meanwhile, LSU is getting a few key players back including running back Leonard Fournette, who Orgeron said will start.
"He's the first guy off the bus. “We’re going to use him as much as we can," Orgeron said. “Leonard’s healthy. He’s had a good week of practice."
Offensive lineman Will Clapp appears ready as does tight end Foster Moreau. Both practiced this week well enough for Orgeron to feel good about the pair returning although Moreau "should be ready," according to Orgeron, leaving some chance he might not go.
Along the offensive line, that means the group will likely be (from left to right): K.J. Malone, Clapp, Ethan Pocic, Josh Boutte and Maea Teuhema. Media observed on Monday and Tuesday that this group was getting the most work with Andy Dodd continuing to work at center, Garrett Brumfeld sliding in for Boutte and Weathersby spelling Teuhema, but with not much explosiveness.
Orgeron said nose tackle Travonte Valentine is sitting behind Greg GIlmore and Ed Alexander at nose tackle for this week. Valentine did not see action last week after Orgeron said he wasn't practicing well enough. Alexander, who Orgeron said has a fractured bone in his hand, will be "good to go" after being seen with a heavy wrap on the hand on Monday.
"Travonte Valentine is a little behind in his technique. Ed Alexander is ahead of him. Valentine on third team. Those guys don't get many reps."
Win over Rebels could propel Tigers forward
There's no doubt that a win over Ole Miss is a much bigger deal to not only Tiger fans, but the team as the game is one of the most-played rivalries in the SEC.
"This could be a big momentum game for our team. Confidence could get us over the hump," Orgeron said.
Not only for Orgeron with his connection to Ole Miss, which he won't address saying it's about the Tigers football team, but for his chances at earning the job, this is a statement game.
If LSU can beat the Rebels heading into the bye week, it gives the team even more momentum heading into LSU's showdown with No. 1 Alabama in Tiger Stadium on November 5.
- Orgeron said that while Donte Jackson will return kicks, he's not ready to take over punt return duties as the staff likes the experience Tre'Davious White brings back there. Orgeron hopes to work Jackson in soon to the return game.
- Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly was called, "the best quarterback we've faced all season," by Orgeron, who said the team can't sit back and worry about his ability to scramble, but instead, stay in their rush lanes and know when to bring the blitz.
- LSU practiced with two huddles for the scout team to simulate the tempo that Ole Miss operates at. Greg Gilmore said earlier this week that that preparation is even better than a game.
- LSU struggled defending Wisconsin's tight ends in the opening game for the Tigers, but Orgeron said he expects LSU to be better, even though Evan Engram is one of the best. "Evan Engram is a very good player. They use him in a lot of ways. You will see improved coverage on TEs."
- Players aren't too worried about the late 8 pm CT kickoff time. Tight end Colin Jeter said this week that, "it just gives us an extra hour or so to watch football."