Coach O talks about Tyler Shelvin, COVID-19, Bo Pelini’s defense and game one opponent Miss. State

Myles Brennan threw for 194 yards, 2 TDs and 1 interception in LSU's second preseason scrimmage late last week. Photo by JONATHAN MAILHES

Two preseason scrimmages and one remaining with LSU’s 2020 season opener against Mississippi State 11 days away, Tigers coach Ed Orgeron said Tuesday his team’s offense won the second Tiger Stadium scrimmage after the defense held the upper hand in the first.

“The first scrimmage, the defense was dominating,” Orgeron said during his weekly 20-minute Zoom media teleconference. “The second scrimmage, it was the offense.

“Our offense came out with a lot of fire. They had some physical presence about themselves.”

Some stats from last Friday’s scrimmage, according to Orgeron:

Starting quarterback Myles Brennan, 12 of 18 passes for 194 yards, 2 TDs and 1 interception

Freshman QB Max Johnson 7 of 13, 83 yards passing (and two long runs of unspecified lengths)

Freshman QB TJ Finley 7 of 14, 121 yards passing

Wide receiver Trey Palmer 5 receptions for 79 yards

WR Terrace Marshall Jr. and WR Jontre Kirklin 4 receptions each, TE Arik Gilbert 3, WR Kayshon Boutte 2. (No yardage totals given)

Running back Chris Curry 74 yards rushing, Tyrion Davis-Price 77 yards (on just six carries).

Defensively, safety Mo Hampton and linebacker Andre Anthony 5 tackles each.

Here’s Orgeron on other subjects:

On the return of previously starting defensive Neil Farrell Jr., who opted back Monday to play this season after opting out Aug. 8 because of his sick grandmother

“We met as a team and the team decided they wanted him back. I wanted him back, also. He’s going to have to earn his way back. There are some guys who have been busting their tails. He’s going to have to start at the bottom of his depth chart and work his way up.”

On if previously starting defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin, who opted out of the 2020 season on Sept. 1 to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft, is also considering opting back in

“We hear rumblings. His family has called me. I know people are talking to him. I have not spoken to Tyler. I think some of his teammates are talking to him. But there has not been a decision yet. . .we’d take him back, I want him back. I don’t know where he’s at in his mind. If he doesn’t want to come back, we wish him the best. If he wants to come back, like any member of our family, we’ll take him back.”

On new starting QB Myles Brennan

“He has worked well on his own. With COVID 19, he did as much as he can do. He and the receivers got together off-campus and threw. I felt we were a little behind coming into camp, but we have caught up. We’ve had some tremendous practices. The full offense is in and I think he’s ready to go. He’s extending plays with his feet, he’s seeing the field a lot better, very accurate with his throws. He’s had a good camp.”

On his team’s health

“We’ve very healthy. We have about 3 or 4 guys that have the COVID, not a lot of guys in quarantine. We’re probably better off than we’ve been all camp right now going into the season. . .these guys have been very smart off the field, they’ve worn masks. But there’s no telling how you catch it. We just try to prevent it. The players who haven’t caught it, we need backups ready at those positions in case they catch it.”

On adjusting to the unpredictable spread of COVID-19

“I told the team we need everybody. There’s no telling what’s going to happen with the COVID. We’ve got a good handle of it. But once a kid gets it, the next man goes up. I get told who’s tested positive, this person is going to be quarantined, they give me the number of days and we’ve got to make adjustments. Two weeks ago, everybody on our offensive line except two or three guys were out. We adjusted very well.

“I think not all of our players, but most of our players have caught it (COVID-19). Hopefully, they don’t catch it again and are out for games.”

On his team’s defense

“We are so much better on defense right now than any part of the season last year. I feel with (new defensive coordinator) Bo Pelini has come in and brought a new energy, a new excitement. (Previous D-coordinator) Dave Aranda (who left after last season to become Baylor’s head coach) did a tremendous job for us, but I’m glad we’ve moved to the 4-3 (alignment). We’re more of an attacking style of defense. We’re blitzing. We’ve got every blitz known to man. We’re playing base, but we’re bringing our linebackers, we’re bringing our corners. They (the opposing offense) is going to have to account for everybody. Bo (Pelini) is a very good game-caller. He knows what to do against offenses. Two scrimmages ago, we had more sacks than we did for half of last season.”

On new starting offensive tackle Dare Rosenthal:

“Dare has made tremendous strides. We recruited him out of Ferriday. He wanted to play defense first. It took him a little while to move to offense and learn. Dare made his biggest improvement when we were practicing for the (Peach Bowl, the CFP semifinal) last year. He really showed out. He’s become a leader, he’s been behaving himself and gotten in no trouble. He still has got a way to go. Dare has a chance to be an NFL player and be a high draft pick.”

On Mississippi State and its new coach Mike Leach

“We don’t know what Mississippi State is going to do. We’re looking at what he’s done in the past, but we don’t know exactly what they are going to do because it’s going to be brand new. They’ve got a new quarterback. We have to make in-game adjustments just like any first game. We’ll be ready to play. I’m glad we’re playing at home. We’re just ready to hit someone else.”

On whether college football should be allowed a preseason game

“I’d be against that. We play enough games if you go to 15 games. Adding a preseason game would be a lot on the team.”

On what he sees as his team’s strength

“Speed on defense and running backs on our offense are our strengths right now. I feel confident about our running backs. These guys are showing us some physicality, some ability to make people miss (tackles) and catch the ball out of the backfield. (Running backs coach) Kevin (Faulk) has done a great job with them.”

On his special teams

“We want to be more explosive on special teams. We have Derek Stingley, John Emery and Trey Palmer, so we should have some home-run hitters. We should make stuff happen.”

On new starting linebacker Micah Baskerville

The 4-3 defense has helped Micah run around and make plays. He’s big, he’s instinctual, he’s physical. He’s very smart and he has a great attitude.”

On freshman tight end Arik Gilbert

“He made some phenomenal catches (in the most recent scrimmage). He needs to touch the ball more. We put him at tight end, we’ve played him at `X.’ We’re moving the tight end around, putting him in different spots. He’s one of our best athletes on the field.”

On Nicholls graduate transfer cornerback Darren Evans

“Darren is a veteran. I do believe he’s going to play for us.”

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