LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, safety Grant Delpit and linebackers K’Lavon Chaisson and Patrick Queen met with media at a Tuesday morning press conference in Atlanta for the Tigers’ CFP semifinal vs. Oklahoma on Saturday.
Here’s what they had to say:
On Oklahoma’s offense
Patrick Queen: Jalen’s (Hurt) a great quarterback, you know. CeeDee Lamb is a great wide receiver. They do a lot of plays, like Coach said. Looking at the film, everybody’s got to do their job. We’re going to stick to the game plan. We trust Coach with his game plan. It’s a great one. We’ll see what happens.
Grant Delpit: They’ve got playmakers all in that room. CeeDee was a Biletnikoff finalist for a reason. He’s probably the second best receiver in the country besides Ja’Marr. They try to get him the ball a lot. He’s truly a playmaker. They’ve got other speedy guys and guys that can catch the ball in the room. So it’s going to be hard to stop. But, you know, CeeDee is a great player. They’ve got a lot of talent in the room. It’s going to be a fun game.
K’Lavon Chaisson: I feel like the running game is probably more underrated than what it is. People think they’re more of a passing team, but they’re running the ball in tremendous ways, I feel like they take over the Big 12 by running the ball.
They’re definitely a top team for a reason. When you have your quarterback leading, I think, the conference in rushing yards with almost 1,300 rushing yards, that’s a lethal weapon, something you don’t see often in the game of football at this age. It’s going to be a task, a challenge that we’re put up to, but I feel like we’re well prepared for it, thanks to Coach Aranda.
On LSU’s defensive personnel rotations
Dave Aranda: We want to be able to play our best in the fourth quarter so we go into every game anticipating that that fourth quarter is a must-win. And so the more that we can rotate early in the game, keeping guys fresh for late in the game, I think we’ve been able to develop that.
I think the front, specifically, has helped us here in this late stretch of games. Just the depth that they’ve got. We don’t miss a beat when the 1s aren’t there, so to speak. Linebacker wise, DB-wise, the emergence of Flott and Maurice Hampton has allowed and freed up other defenders to do other things.
Earlier in the year, when we didn’t have that depth, I thought a lot of our DBs were covering guys. When we added more DB depth, we added the ability for DBs to blitz and do different stuff. That’s what they’ve been doing lately.
On Aranda’s pursuit of the UNLV head coaching job
Dave Aranda: I think we had this discussion earlier with a couple other guys. I think any time that you’re presented with an opportunity, I think you — for you and for your family, you want to be able to look into it. I think they’re just preliminary talks. And it was nothing more than that.
I feel like that program is in a great situation. I think the AD there and the people associated there are going to be on a great track. I wish them well.
On how LSU’s failure to stop Ole Miss’ running QB has helped the Tigers since and if there are concerns regarding Hurts
Dave Aranda: I would say yes. I think it’s a different style of runner. Hurts like to put his foot in the ground quite a bit, where I think Plumlee is more of a straight line guy, where I think Hurts will try to set you up and cut it back on him.
I think the lessons learned would be the team defense aspect. I think that’s the challenge with Oklahoma is what we talked about before, the spread offense. There’s so many plays, gadget plays, or it’s a run and there’s a tight end over here blocking, and then he releases late.
Or it’s a run this way or looks like a run. The receiver is shallow like he’s going to run a mesh route and takes up off the field.
There’s so many plays that they’ve got that are triple option plays, and you have to stay on your guy. You’ve got to build a heavy rise in the right spot. So I feel like the mistake I made in the Ole Miss game was when we had a breakdown here or breakdown there, I didn’t pull everybody to the side and get them together and say, hey, this is what happened. This is where I went wrong. This is how we fix it.
I feel I try to do that as best I can. I feel like in the past, I have. I don’t know why in that game I did not. What ended up happening is one thing started to fester, the next thing. So, the outside guy is going to try to make plays inside. The inside guy is going to try to make plays outside. We’re missing guys now. The math doesn’t add up.
Oklahoma will put you in that situation in a fast way, and so we’re going to collectively play team defense. As adjustments come up, we’re going to have to make those adjustments as a team.
On Aranda’s challenge of coaching on a team with a quick-scoring offense like LSU
Dave Aranda: I think what I’m proud of with this group is the improvements that we’ve made, is the ability, when you’re winning, to look at yourself critically and what can I do better and how can I improve and just all of that.
I think some of that stuff is hard when you’re winning. I was at Texas Tech, Kliff Kingsbury was our quarterback, and Coach Leach was our head coach and was calling the plays. They score quite a bit and score early.
At Hawaii, Bryant Moniz was there. They score quite a bit, score early, score fast. Any time it’s like that, the scoreboard doesn’t matter. It’s between you and yourself. You’re not going to let them score. No matter what it is, you’re not going to let them in, you’re not going to give them an inch. You’re not going to give them a yard. You’re not going to make a mistake, even though it’s 30 to something.
And so it’s not about necessarily winning the game. It’s about completely shutting them down. That’s a completely different mindset.
So, I think we’re working to cultivate that mindset.
On LSU’s defensive improvement in the last few weeks
Dave Aranda: I feel like there was positive things throughout the year, whether it was the second half of Florida, I’m going to bring up halves now. Or let’s say the first three quarters of Arkansas. The first three quarters and couple minutes of Arkansas. Or Auburn, right, the first three quarters of the Auburn game.
One of our issues, has been finishing, has been four quarters. And a lot of it had to do like there is no scoreboard, man. There isn’t. It’s not about the “W” or the “L.” It’s about shutting people down. It’s about stopping people.
So that’s a mindset that you’ve got to be able to have. I think these guys have been able to get into it. I stand at the 20 after our offense scores and we’re waiting — that’s where we’re anticipating we’re going to start, the kickoff and that.
As the defense walks over, jogs over, runs over, I can tell by the look in their eye that this is going to be three and out, that they’re not going to score right now. No matter what the scoreboard says, you can see it. Just as a coach, you can see it.
I imagine the fans, with their rightful criticism, I imagine they could see it too. Good and bad. So, I think we’ve got it to where we want it to be and we’re working to get it better.
On the impact of freshman cornerback Derek Stingley Jr.
Patrick Queen: Derek was very mature for his age when he came in. He was different. He didn’t really talk a lot. I guess him not knowing a lot of us.
But he really didn’t ask any questions when he came in. He came in, went to work, and you could see in his eyes that he was hungry, going against our best wide receivers at the time. It translates to this year. He’s doing the same thing that he did when he came in.
Just proud of that kid and hope he’ll keep playing.
Grant Delpit: He came in last year, mature beyond his age. He’s a great player. He surprised a lot of us, the amount of plays he was making. I think he’s proved himself throughout this year. Georgia was trying him a lot two weeks ago. I think he’s trying to kind of prove himself in the SEC now. I think it’s time for him to do it on a bigger stage. We’ve got all the confidence in him.
On LSU’s defense finally being completely healthy
K’Lavon Chaisson: I feel that’s more of a confidence within the unit, when you know — especially I feel like a defensive line interior, they know that having me on the outside, they know he can trust me and I’m going to do my job regardless of what the case may be on the inside. I trust the starters on the inside will do their job no matter what the case will be.
It’s more of a confidence in where if it’s a backup, you have people worrying about, you know, what I’m saying, the backup is going to do his job. So people try to do a little extra or maybe try to do the other person’s job and they just don’t want to do it right. They want to focus mainly on theirs.
It’s more about the cohesive unit. The starters and the 1s that have been working and grinding this summer together and fall camp. Just being in confidence and everybody trusting and believing that the person is going to do their job. That’s what made the cohesive unit work together and flash.
On Oklahoma’s defensive coordinator Alex Grinch
Dave Aranda: He’s done a great job. I remember talking to him when he was still back out west and we talked about the stemming that he was using and the different stunts. He moves his front more than really anybody.
really impressed in the talk that we had, because he organized all that. I
think that’s what I had never seen before was organizing the stems and the
stunts and being able to have so much multiplicity with one-word calls and able
to get in and out of things.
I feel when I watch
Oklahoma’s defense play, which I’ve watched quite a few games, the violence
they play with, how hard they play, the speed in which they play with, I mean,
that’s the first thing you see and that’s a great quality to jump off the