COACH ORGERON: Looking forward to game seven of our new season. Today is “Combo Monday”. Combination practice are Tuesday and Wednesday on a short week.
Yesterday was “Tell the Truth Sunday”. Obviously our guys came in disappointed about the outcome of the game. We did some very good things in the football game. Five trips into the red zone and not coming up with points really hurt us most of the time.
The execution on some plays hurt us, obviously. Turnovers, uncharacteristic of our football team, hurt us. The botched snap on the field goal really hurt us. They turned around, and the long pass thrown on us, uncharacteristic of our defense. Things that just happened in the football game that we need to execute better.
Obviously we outgained them in total yards, but that doesn't count. We need to put points on the board when we have to. But we're moving forward against a very good Texas A&M team.
What a great honor to represent LSU as the head football coach on Thanksgiving night. We have a great trip with our football team. We're going to be ready to play.
A little about A&M: One thing that's really impressive, that they're plus-6 on the season in turnover ratio. Ten fumbles lost, eight interceptions, but their defense has forced 12 fumbles and 12 interceptions.
On offense, they're a spread, coached by Noel Mazzone, who I know very well. Averaging almost 500 yards a game, 220 yards rushing. They're pretty balanced attack. Scoring 35 points per game. Very talented skill players. Jake Hubenak has done a nice job of replacing their injured quarterback, who was a very, very good player, obviously.
Christian Kirk is one of the top receivers in our league, for 735 yards and 10 TDs. Trayveon Williams, running back, runs the zone read very well, has a cut up the field that's very dangerous.
He breaks tackles. Something that we'll have to improve on this week. Has almost a thousand yards rushing. And Josh Reynolds, a senior, wide receiver, has 46 catches for over 800 yards.
On defense, we know their defensive coordinator very well. They're a 4-3 base. Very strong up front. Led by Myles Garrett, junior defensive end. Very talented player. Very disruptive.
We have to have a big plan against him. They've given up over 400 yards a game, 180 yards rushing, 250 passing. But the thing that they're very impressive in is sixth in the nation in forced turnovers with 24.
On special teams, their punt returner, Christian Kirk, has averaged 24.5 yards per return. They're very explosive football team. This is going to be another great road challenge for us in a hostile environment. A short week.
Like I said, today it's combo Monday. It's going to be a combination between Tuesday and Wednesday practice and then tomorrow will be a No Repeat Thursday on Tuesday. Then Wednesday is going to be Friday and we'll travel.
Q. Derrius Guice is obviously a very talented football player, young football player, just a sophomore. What do you think he learned this past week?
COACH ORGERON: Derrius is about execution. Obviously he's disappointed in some of the things that he did, but it's not all on him. We can point out 20 plays where execution wasn't right at each position.
So every one of us learned in a valuable bowl game every play counts. And he's one of 20 players that didn't execute. So it's not just him.
Q. You mentioned them being plus-6 in turnovers. Did they just sell out to get to the ball? Because it looks like they're also right up there at the top, leading the conference in sacks and tackles for loss.
COACH ORGERON: Yeah, they're very talented in their pass rush. They force you to make bad throws. They get after that football. But they play good fundamentals up front, too. We played out of the defense where they just sell out to get to the ball. They didn't tackle well. That's not the type of defense they are. They're very fundamentally sound.
Q. We talked a lot this year about the less time on the practice field, more time in the classroom. Do you feel like that benefits you maybe more on a short week like this?
COACH ORGERON: Yeah, I think it's going to be an advantage for us today. The way we practice, our guys are fresh. We'll be ready to go. I think the day is going to be a challenging day because Monday is usually a short day for us.
But the guy's going to go out on the field, do a very good job of practice. But we won't wear them out. We'll be ready to go Thursday night.
Q. I don't know if you notice things like this, but it seems like on Saturday there was a lack of energy in the stadium. What are your thoughts on that?
COACH ORGERON: You know, we always say big plays field emotion. The more big plays we make, the more emotion there will be. I know when we completed that ball on fourth and 10, that stadium was rocking. So I think that it works hand in hand.
Q. Did you get a chance to see the video of the pregame little skirmish on the field?
COACH ORGERON: No, I was in the locker room. In fact, I was having a conversation with some people. I didn't see none of that stuff.
Q. Do you know anything about it, has anybody come to you about it?
COACH ORGERON: I heard stuff about it. But I didn't see it. I didn't look at it.
Q. Give us an update on a couple of guys: Kendall's situation with his knee, and then Leonard?
COACH ORGERON: Kendall is going to be out. Yep.
COACH ORGERON: He should be fine. But Leonard's day to day with that ankle. Obviously sore and stuff like that. But we'll see. We'll see it's going to be a game-type situation again, see if he can practice and do the things that he can tolerate.
Q. Talked about Kendell. Donny's 35 pounds lighter than he is. Is that something that you can scheme to help? Is there something that you can use this limited amount of time to shore up there?
COACH ORGERON: Well, you know, Donny did a pretty good job for us. And Duke helped him out a little bit. There's just something that we have to deal with, getting diagnosed, there's a difference obviously between him and Kendell. I think Donny is going to be a really good football player.
But the thing about A&M that's going to help us is they're a spread offense. You better run fast and make some plays in space. And I think that's what Donny does well.
Q. I know you have a game to play Thursday night. But looking at the bigger picture, many of your players have expressed support for you. Can you talk about that? And do you expect to interview formally for the job once this game is over?
COACH ORGERON: You know, it's good that you asked that question. When we started this, when I came up to the podium it seemed like yesterday. It passed very fast. And we talked about taking it one day at a time and just doing the best I can on a daily basis. So I'm going up through the game following that routine. Whatever happens after the game I'm sure we're going to discuss. We haven't discussed anything yet. And things are going to happen the way it should. But my job is to prepare this team to play on Thanksgiving. Pete Jenkins and I were talking about it this morning, what a wonderful opportunity we have to coach LSU on Thanksgiving night in front of a national crowd. And that's all we focus on right now.
Q. Are there any specific challenges as you get late in the season coming off a tough loss and there's a lot of uncertainty surrounding what remains or what's -- do you -- what do you do with your players to try to keep them in the same mindset that you have?
COACH ORGERON: Block out the noise. Block out the noise. Really, you know, we all woke up Sunday morning with that ache in our belly. I mean everybody did.
And I have to get myself off the canvas and when I saw the coaching staff, we kind of rallied around each other and leaned on each other.
Then when I saw the team, we kind of rallied around each other and leaned on each other. And everybody started feeling better. Then we started focusing on the task at hand which is Texas A&M. I think when we get out to practice, when we go out on the practice field get on the grass we'll feel a little bit better. We'll focus on that.
That's what we've got to remain focused on this whole week. This is a big task at hand. We could end up this new season 5-2 that's what we want to do. And we said at the beginning let the chips fall where they may and it's getting close.
We understand that. But we need to finish this job first.
Q. You mentioned how quickly it's gone by since you took over. Looking back, what has this opportunity meant to you that Joe asked you to be the interim and what's --
COACH ORGERON: Can you say that again?
Q. You mentioned that it's gone by very fast. What has the opportunity to be the interim head coach meant to you?
COACH ORGERON: It's been fantastic. What a ride. It's been great. The head coach at LSU being from Louisiana, the way the people have reacted, the way the players reacted. We've played very well in most games. It's been fun. It's been fun around to be the staff and fun to see our players grow.
It's just been an exciting challenge. I've grown as a head coach like I try to grow every day. It's been great.
Q. You mentioned in the couple of losses now, communication issues have been one of the deficiencies there. Have you tried to tweak anything to correct those as they've gone along? In other words, were the communication errors in the Florida game different than Alabama or the first half against Southern Miss?
COACH ORGERON: No question. It wasn't substitution errors or nothing like that. It was really execution. It wasn't communication. This is about execution.
The plays were called right. The people knew what to do. We might not have executed on a line of scrimmage, might not have protected right, might not have ran the right play, the right route. It was all about execution.
Q. With what you've been able to see from Texas A&M just a couple of weeks ago there in the college playoffs, what has been the biggest difference from them now to the team you're seeing this week.
COACH ORGERON: I think the injury to the quarterback, he was a great player, really he made the offense go to the spread offense. Norm was on him. He knows exactly what he's doing with that offense.
When you have a dual-threat quarterback it makes this offense very dangerous.
Q. You talked about playing on Thanksgiving, kind of a rarity for LSU. As a coach, as a player, as a guy that's been around football all his life, to be out of your routine, I guess, and having to play on a day that might be different from the norm, is there something you're going to do or do you think that just having that national spotlight to yourself would be enough.
COACH ORGERON: Yeah, we're going to love it. We're going to embrace it. It's a great opportunity. We're going to travel on Wednesday. We're going to treat it as a Friday. Thursday is going to be a Saturday for us.
We're going to have a great day. The guys will have a chance to enjoy their families on the weekend. But our focus is strictly going to be game day.
I think we're about to enjoy the holiday after we play the game.
Q. When you had done so well at USC as the interim coach and posted a good record, when they initially asked you to do this, was there any thought of: Man, I don't want to do this again? Or did you just kind of say I'm going to be okay with it no matter what happens here?
COACH ORGERON: No, I'm going for it. I'm going for it. I always believe in accepting challenges to better yourself, to compete at the highest level.
This is the highest level. There was never a doubt that I would not try to compete at the highest level. And it's been fantastic. And every day I woke up and just thank God for the opportunity.
Q. What have you learned in this stretch as a head coach?
COACH ORGERON: Say that again now.
Q. What have you learned that you carry on as a coach these last seven games?
COACH ORGERON: A lot. There's so much that goes into managing a team. There's so many things that go into managing a team. And after -- hindsight is 2020. And after the game you say I should have done this, I should have covered this better. I could be better as a head coach if I had done this better.
And you just keep on growing. You just keep on growing as the head coach. But I do believe that this time I was more confident of being a head coach, more confident in letting my coaches coach, which I have. I've given them free reins and identifying the things that maybe we have to fix in a better way than I would have as a younger coach.
I think I'm closer to our team. The motivation is there. The skill development is there every day. I think we have a tremendous coaching staff. So it's been great.
Just being in Tiger Stadium, having my feet in the grass, being the head coach, what a great experience.
Q. You mentioned Myles Garrett at the outset. What kind of a challenge does he present and who does he remind you of, if anybody, that you've seen before?
COACH ORGERON: Well, he reminds -- him and Arlen are a lot alike. And he may be a little bit bigger and stronger than Arlen. I recruited him out of high school. I know him very well.
You have to protect. He's going to come off the edge, and it's going to take two to block him, maybe three. And he's that good.
And anytime you think about dropping back pass, you've got to think about who is blocking Myles and how are we going to block him. He's a dominant player.
Q. When you're missing a guy like Kendell, how does that impact your offense and who is going to have to step up?
COACH ORGERON: Donny is going to have to step up. He's really going to have to do it. No. 24 will have to step up. Duke Riley stepped up. Duke did some things during the game. Duke Riley, I can't say enough about him. And there's some things in the game? He knew the play was going one way; he switched positions with him and got himself in position to make plays.
He has an unbelievable awareness about him. He's a great team leader. It meant a lot to him, him and Kendell are like brothers. When Kendell went down, we step up for each other, but it's the next man up.
Q. You mentioned a minute ago hindsight is 2020, but there's some folks that feel like Florida brought a different attitude to the game, saying they were insulted. Are there any people in your building that maybe are rethinking the bravado that went on before the game?
COACH ORGERON: You know, here's what I have to say: That stuff may or may not have affected us, but there's no place for it. And as the head coach, I wish I could have tempered it more.
I may have talked to my team about it, learned a lesson. You know, when you get in a mindset that you're going to fight, it takes away from your execution. And I remember the Miami/Notre Dame game. I remember the fight in the tunnel. We lost that game. And may have won the fight but we lost the game. It's not worth it.
I've been in other games like that, too, but that right there that's something that I learned as a coach, that next time we come against a team we may want to fight, we may be able to use that as an example.
Q. How close do you think the team is to competing for an SEC championship again?
COACH ORGERON: I can't answer that right now. I think that we have some very good players. I think that we have some positions that we need to get better at. And I think there's some development that needs to be done. But obviously I think that LSU ought to be competing for the SEC championship every year with that type of school.
Q. Have you been surprised by the team's inability to score the ball and how much of this offense that you currently are running, given the limitations and the time and everything, mirror what you would like to run?
COACH ORGERON: Well, it's something that we're never going to use as an excuse, number one. And there were -- we played against a pretty good defense. 11 yards rushing. We had over 200. So we did some good things about it. It was number three or four in the nation. I think it has a lot to do with them. But obviously we need to be better.
This is the hand we were dealt with and we did a pretty good job with it. Obviously what the future holds, anybody knows.
Q. Malachi Dupre might be one of those guys deciding whether or not he's going to go pro or come back. Watching him, what's your take on him right now where he is as a football player?
COACH ORGERON: I'll just say this, all those guys, I'm sure, have thoughts, whatever, but I'm always recruiting, I promise you that.