Dave Aranda (Photo by James Bryant)

LSU and Louisville have attitudes that are polar opposites heading into Citrus Bowl matchup

After watching LSU and Louisville take the podium on Thursday, it's apparent that both teams are operating with different attitudes for Citrus Bowl, writes James Bryant.

A day has passed since the LSU and Louisville offensive and defensive coordinators, and top players met with the media in Orlando on Wednesday setting the stage for Saturday’s Citrus Bowl against the Tigers and Cardinals. 

Even after a day has passed, it’s obvious the dueling contrast of watching the Louisville Defensive Coordinator Todd Grantham, co-offensive coordinator Chris Klenakis and Louisville players wide receiver Jamari Staples and linebacker Keith Kelsey compared to the LSU interviewees coordinators Dave Aranda and Steve Ensminger, and senior captains Tre’Davious White and Ethan Pocic. 

It was almost like a night and day difference. http://www.scout.com/college/lsu/story/1741783-herron-not-with-lsu-canad...

On one hand, you had the four representatives from Louisville who appeared very guarded, a little apprehensive and not really wanting to be talking at a press conference. Part of this surely do to a lot of the controversy surrounding the Cardinal program, the coaching leaks between Louisville coaches and Wake Forest Radio color analyst Tommy Elrod, which is the main reason that Klenakis has the playcalling duties instead of Lonnie Galloway. It was the first time Cardinal coaches had appeared in front of media since the off campus shooting that left two Louisville players injured and missing from bowl action. 

LSU coaches and players came out very relaxed, appreciative of being invited to the Citrus Bowl, thanked Orlando and Florida for their kind hospitality and gave off a very caring family vibe with each other that you didn’t see with the group from Louisville. 

The group of Tigers were happy that they had a new coach, a fresh direction and was excited about taking on a talented Louisville football team. 

The Cardinals made it clear on a couple of occasions, they were going into the LSU game with a chip on their shoulder against the Tigers and had a point to prove. http://www.scout.com/college/lsu/story/1741663-game-preview-lsu-vs-louis...

Louisville coming off a 9-3 season, didn't end regular season play how that they would have liked, losing to Houston and Kentucky to leave the Cardinals in a two-game losing streak. 

The night that sophomore quarterback Lamar Jackson won the Heisman Trophy was the night that James Hearns and Henry Famurewa were shot and injured in an apparent off campus party celebrating Jackson’s honor. 

Staples were asked about an apparent comment made by LSU defender Jamal Adams about Louisville not have faced as a fast of defense as they will see against the Tigers.

“We will just let the game do the talking for that,” Staples said. “People can say what they want, at the end of the day its about the points up on the scoreboard. As far as for the defense they’re fast and physical. We know that. They are good upfront but they’re strong in the back end too. It should be a good challenge for us.”

Both Louisville players were asked about how their regular season ended with losses to Houston and rival Kentucky. 

“We are definitely playing with a chip on our shoulder for this game,” Staples said. “This is our last year, our last chance to play with this group of seniors. We got to go out with a win in this game.”

The LSU press conference was all about how they want to play for one another, arm in arm with their teammates, in a family type way against any and all opponents. 

Ed Orgeron Citrus Bowl Press Conference

The LSU and coaches were very complimentary of Louisville, with Coach Ensminger answering the question on if he thought the Cardinal defense was underrated?

“They’re very underrated,” Enminger said. “When I put on their film, I saw a lot more than I wanted to see, I promise you. Their front seven is outstanding. They’re big inside, their nose guard is a special player. They're good against the run. So looking at them, underrated, yes. I can guarantee you that. You look at the stats and what they've given up in the running game and you look at our strength, it's going to be strength on strength. We didn't change a game plan, but I'm kind of curious to see how good our guys play up front and -- but they're a very good defense, especially the front seven.”

The Tigers talked a lot about themselves and each other on what this bowl game and season has meant to them. The LSU press conference ran over 45 minutes compared to about 20 minutes for Louisville. The vibe was different.

Both players were asked to describe the ups and downs that transpired for them this season with the midseason coaching change. 

“It was definitely a life lesson for us,” White said. “ Life's going to throw things like this at you. It's all how you respond. And, you know, with the transition and Coach Miles going out, I feel like as players, we responded great. We responded great because any time you come to a school, you want the coach that sat there on your couch and told your parents that he was going to be there, you want him to be there the entire time. When it didn't happen, I feel like, you know, we did a great job of, you know, coming together as a team and playing team ball. So it just gets you ready for life. And as far as us two going to the next level, you know, it's a business now. So they're just getting us prepared for that.”

Pocic agreed with his defensive counterpart. 

“I'd have to just agree with that. I think we really responded well. I think every, you know, after every game that we happen to lose, you know, the next game, we responded well and just never, you know, put the foot on the brake. It was always on the gas.”

Aranda also has a lot of respect for Jackson and his offensive teammates. He was asked how he planned on stopping Jackson. 

“You have to have try to take away what he does best,” Aranda said. “I think so much of what he does is, if you try to rush him where it's going to contain him, keep him in the pocket. I think he's a fine enough passer to complete balls on you. If you try to rush him and be creative with your pressures and whatnot, you can get him out of the pocket, and he can hurt you with his feet. So that has shown up consistently throughout the games that they've played so far. http://www.scout.com/college/lsu/story/1741643-ensminger-s-love-for-lsu-...

"I think the other thing they do very effective is, they get you thinking its run, and they call passes and vice-versa. Third down, the quarterback run, I think is a major, major weapon and something, you know, we've been hit before with Alabama and various other games, and so the ability to get everyone thinking the same, on the same page of, this is what we're defending, and this is our job description and getting guys to buy into it. I think the month-long bowl prep allows for that. We're going to have to execute it."

With Saturday’s Citrus Bowl looming in the near future, it will be interesting to see which team’s approach will payoff the most, who will be successful, in two teams appearing to be headed in different directions. 

One team with a lot of off the field questions while the other is headed in a new fresh direction under new leadership.

LSU Thursday Citrus Bowl Press Conference


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