We caught up with Billy Embody of TigerBlitz.com to get some insight into the Missouri Tigers' next opponent, LSU, and some of what is happening in Baton Rouge leading up to Saturday night's Southeastern Conference contest.
Black & Gold Illustrated: How do think the Tigers will respond after losing a heartbreaker against Auburn and then losing their head coach and offensive coordinator?
Embody: "With a lot of energy. This is a team that's had a lot of negative energy around it for quite some time as one player put it. It's time for a clean slate and the I feel the team will respond well. A lot of the players have lamented the loss of Les Miles and Cam Cameron, but in reality I think many are excited to see where they can go with new leadership. The team certainly has their backs against the walls. This is a veteran team still and while there are holes, I really expect them to play well and like a weight got lifted off their shoulders."
Black & Gold Illustrated: What’s the early read on Ed Orgeron? Obviously he has experience as a head coach and as an interim head coach, but how have the players responded to him since he’s been an assistant coach?
Embody: "The early read is that he's bringing the energy. Coach Orgeron has done this before at USC being the interim coach there and having success with a roster depleted by sanctions. With the talent at LSU, he's getting a great response from the players and I didn't doubt that would happen. We witnessed an in-season practice as media for the first time in a while and Orgeron's move to a more relaxed environment, yet energetic environment will only help this team."
Black & Gold Illustrated: How much do you see the offense potentially changing this week under the leadership of new offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger?
Embody: "Not as much as you think. Against Mississippi State, we saw the offense try too hard to be creative and against Auburn, it just wasn't there. Under Ensminger, I think the play calling will improve, but LSU will still run the ball a lot with Leonard Fournette. Ensminger was tight ends coach and Danny Etling has proven he likes to spread the ball around using all his options. You might see LSU be more multiple and create matchups for players better. Sometimes LSU forced being multiple under Cameron, but under Ensminger I think they'll have a more natural play calling flow if that makes sense. The players trust Ensminger to put them in good spots and his experience as a play caller will help."
Black & Gold Illustrated: Can Danny Etling get the passing game going or do you think the Tigers will turn back to Brandon Harris at some point?
Embody: "I think Danny Etling can certainly get this going. He's a film room junkie and stays after to do everything you want from your quarterback. I don't think the Tigers will turn back to Brandon Harris unless Etling completely folds, but I doubt that'll happen. Etling showed his toughness and if not for a split-second, would have pulled off a clutch drive to beat Auburn. The players and staff believe in Etling to get the job done and his preparation is a big part of that."
Black & Gold Illustrated: What changes have you seen under first-year defensive coordinator Dave Aranda? How is the defense different than before?
Embody: "Dave Aranda brings a base 3-man front while LSU was mainly a 4-man front under Kevin Steele. After the game against Wisconsin, we saw LSU use a lot more 4-man front and use Arden Key and LSU's defensive linemen better to get in pass rushing situations that use their talent the best. Expect a bunch of disguises as Aranda continues to open up his playbook. LSU will be down starting nose tackle Davon Godchaux so you might even see more 4-man fronts this week against Missouri than LSU has used before. That really allows LSU to get after the passer well. The linebackers and secondary have really had solid games, but are battling some nicks in the secondary too. There's still a ton of talent there, but they will be tested against Drew Lock and the Missouri passing attack."
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