In late June, Ed Orgeron, Steve Ensminger, Dave Aranda, and Mickey Joseph met with the media at a summer Football Caravan top in Metairie. Orgeron chatted with the print press for about 14 minutes, ranging a variety of topics. Below is an edited transcript of that conversation.
What’s your first impression of Joe Burrow since you got him on campus?
He was in the film room today when I left watching film on his own. He’s been humble, works hard. Watched the conditioning test. He’s competing to be first in every sprint…He’s very smart. He’s getting along well on the team. In the player practices, I can’t watch, but I hear he’s doing very well, and the team is accepting him as just another player.
How important is that for the new guy to ingratiate himself with the rest of the team?
I think it’s perfect the way it worked out. He has the whole summer to be along with them and be friends with them…The thing Joe is impressing everybody is by his work ethic. He works hard in the weight room. He works hard on his conditioning. He works hard watching film on his own.
What three areas do you really have to focus in on with this team?
Execution. Number one. The development of our offense. Number three, our quarterback competition. How we handle that, how you handle all four guys getting reps, all getting an even shot. He’s our goal: is to all give them an equal chance, and have them prove to the team and the coaching staff who is the starting quarterback at LSU.
You want to make sure each quarterback knows, I’m number one, I’m two, I’m three, I’m four.
I want it to be clear. It wasn’t clear at the end of spring, and they understood that. And I said spoke to each one of them and told them what we believe, in the staff, that they needed to get better at.
You can’t take a whole lot of time though. You have to, two weeks into camp, start working on Miami.
Until school starts, we’re going to have about 16, 17 practices that will be dedicated to our football team. The thing we’re doing this year is, we’re going to work them – we have so many good freshmen that we want to see – we’re going to have freshmen practice in the morning and then we’re going to have walk throughs with the varsity and practice with the varsity in the afternoon. We’ll do that for several days to give the new guys – it’s not a freshman practice, it’s a newcomer practice – we’ll give them several reps and develop them.
What are the pros and cons of a grad transfer, particularly at quarterback?
Experience. Joe’s done very well with Coach Urban Meyer. As far as I know, he was very tight in the quarterback race. So you get a guy who’s competed a very high level. He knows college football, the pace. He can read defenses, call protections. The meeting we had with Joe, he was excellent, as far as football knowledge. And he’s already developed. Joe’s 6-3, 220. He’s strong in the weight room. He’s mature. So that gives him a chance to come in and compete. Plus, he’s been on a college team, so he knows how to be a leader. He knows how to win teammates over. He knows when and when not to. The guy’s a veteran. The biggest challenge for him, it’s vying for the starting job. We’ve got three good quarterbacks here. Go out and compete for the starting job.
Terrence Alexander just arrived. First thoughts?
Obviously, he’s very smart, graduated from Stanford. Played a lot. Gives us experience. We’re going to need him to play. We’re going to need him to play at corner or nickel. Whether he starts or not, we don’t know. But he’s going to get the chance.
You mentioned the development of the offense. How did you feel about the development of the offense throughout the spring?
I feel like, again, we went into the spring game, we didn’t have our whole offense in, but that was by design. Steve (Ensminger) has done a very good job, tirelessly working. Obviously, we have our playbook in, we have our offense, what we’re going to do. We have seven installations already, seven more installations. We got some work to do in camp, but obviously by Miami we’ll have our offense in. I keep on going back to the time Steve took over. Our offense was on fire, one of the best offenses LSU has had in awhile. I know he can do it. I have great confidence in him.
What kind of conversations do you have with the other quarterbacks in the room when you bring someone like Burrow in?
I told all of them. I called all of them before he even visited. And I said, ‘Just like any other position, it’s competition. Nobody’s promised nothing, just like nothing’s promised to y’all. The best guy’s going to win.’ Everyone of them embraced it.
What do you see as the ceiling for this 2019 class?
We feel we can have, first of all, in our opinion, a very good class. We’ve filled some need positions already. We’ve got to continue to hang on. I believe if we continue on, we can have a highly ranked class, as LSU is used to having. The thing that matters most to me is we know our guys, and we have great character kids, and kids that are going to last at LSU, and kids that are going to be very productive at LSU. That’s what matters to me.
Do you expect Grant (Delpit) to be ready for camp?
Yeah, I think he is. He’s going to be ready. I’d say he’s 85 percent now, 90 percent.
Looking good. Looking good. He’s in shape, he made his conditioning test, lost a little weight. Working on his own.
Still competition on the line at a couple spots?
We need a left tackle. I told Saahdiq Charles I expect him to be the bellcow. Then we’ve got competition at right tackle – Adrian Magee, Austin Deculus. Those guys are pushing hard to get in shape. The thing I like about this camp, as opposed to last year’s camp, I believe we had six offensive linemen who were on scholarship that could play going into last year’s camp. This year, we’re three deep. We can have more scrimmages, we can have a physical practice. I don’t have to worry about, if I lose one guy, we can’t play.
Are you worried about, over the next month, as picks come out, y’all are a little under the radar? How do you approach that with your team?
We’ve already addressed that, but not that particular subject. We block out the noise. We control what we can in that room, with the people in that room. The way we speak, the way we act. We feel like we have an excellent football team. We’re excited. We’re excited about the schedule. We’re confident in what we’re going to get done. Whether they pick us high or low or favored or not favored, it doesn’t really matter to us. We gotta go out and play the game.
Speaking of offensive line, are you still looking to find a spot for Damien Lewis?
Yes. He’s going to play this year. He’s one of our better offensive linemen. He will rotate at guard to start. If it’s a guard rotation, it’s going to be him, Garrett (Brumfield) and Ed (Ingram). If we need some help at center, Lloyd Cushenberry, going into camp, is going to play center. If we need Garrett Brumfield to play there, he can step in and play there.