Also: Bobby Petrino on Louisville’s distractions; Frank Herron doesn’t make the trip
By JAMES MORAN | Tiger Rag Associate Editor
ORLANDO, Fla. — Ed Orgeron knows Lamar Jackson is going to make plays when LSU takes on Louisville Saturday morning in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl.
The key, he says, will be having a short memory after the Heisman Trophy winner authors the kind of highlight that made him the breakout star of the college football season.
“He’s going to make some plays tomorrow,” Orgeron said. “We’ve just got to be patient.”
Orgeron and Louisville coach Bobby Petrino met with the media Friday morning for the final time before the Tigers and Cardinals square off at Camping World Stadium at 11 a.m. ET Saturday. It’ll mark Orgeron’s first game as coach since having the interim tag removed last month.
The matchup between that stingy Tiger defense of Dave Aranda and the electrifying signal caller continued to take top billing heading into the contest.
Orgeron hasn’t overemphasized the challenges Jackson poses to his team. He opted to use only 12 of 15 allotted practices so as to keep his team fresh for the game.
And while much has been made of freshman Lindsey Scott mimicking Jackson on the scout team, Orgeron says his team hasn’t over-focused on the Heisman to the detriment of the overall game plan.
Still, he realized full well the challenges Jackson presents.
“Dave Aranda, who I think is the best defensive coordinator in football, has worked very hard,” Orgeron began. “I know he has an excellent plan, but it’s hard to simulate the speed of Lamar Jackson. He’s going to make some plays.”
He continued: “Here’s the deal with Lamar Jackson, once he gets in space, he can go 60 in a heartbeat. We’re going to have to make tackles. We’re going to have to gang tackle him.”
Petrino acknowledged he felt his signal caller looked a little warn out from the trip to New York and subsequent media appearance early on in bowl preparations.
The coach gave Jackson some extra time off and flew the team into Orlando on Christmas night so as to afford his players a day of theme parks and relation before relaunching into practice mode.
It’s just one of a handful of distraction facing the Cardinals as they take on LSU missing two defensive starters who were shot at an on-campus party and a co-offensive coordinator suspended by the school for his role in the WakeyLeaks scandal.
“One of the things that we always focus on too is the good things that are going on and the positives,” Petrino said. “So, we have a Heisman trophy winner. We just had 16 guys graduate here at mid-year. Our guys are working extremely hard for this bowl game and doing a great job for that.”
Petrino acknowledged the challenges posed by an LSU defense that he called “the most talented” Louisville has played all season. Specifically, he mentioned the higher volume of man-to-man coverage employed by Aranda and LSU as compared to most of the ACC opponents they’ve faced.
However, that LSU defense will be a bit shorthanded personnel wise.
In addition to the loss of inside linebacker Kendell Beckwith, LSU will be without defensive lineman Frank Herrson, who Orgeron confirmed didn’t make the trip due to academic reasons. Herron is expected to rejoin the team in the spring, Orgeron said.
As for replacing Beckwith, junior Donnie Alexander and freshman Devin White will continue to fill in alongside Duke Riley when LSU uses its base 3-4 set. Though, in preparation of facing Jackson, LSU has been spotted working in more dime (six defensive backs) packaged during practice.
Asked about the possibility of LSU going small to combat Louisville’s speed, Orgeron chose to keep his cards close to the proverbial vest.
“Watch the game tomorrow,” he smiled.