By JAMES MORAN | Tiger Rag Associate Editor
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Outside of Kyle Field, the rumor mill kicked into overdrive as to who would or would not be named LSU’s next full-time head football coach.
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Inside of it, interim coach Ed Orgeron got a Gatorade bath from players after a shorthanded bunch of Tigers missing three of its best players to a resounding 54-39 rout of Texas A&M on Thanksgiving night.
“We’ve been through some stuff, man,” Orgeron said. “But we’ve been resilient.”
With the win, LSU finishes the regular season 7-4 (5-3 Southeastern Conference), and 5-2 since Orgeron took following the firing of Les Miles and Cam Cameron amidst a 2-2 start.
If various national reports are to be believed, it won’t be enough to have the interim tag removed, but his players certainly took the opportunity to stump for him anyway.
“He’s building something here, and it’s going to be special,” senior cornerback Tre’Davious White said. “I feel like our LSU program would be in great hands with him.”
“His energy is contagious,” fullback JD Moore said. “I think the reason we’re able to drown out the noise is because he does it. He hasn’t changed the way he’s coached us from the first day to now.”
Derrius Guice ran roughshod through a Texas A&M defense once considered one of the best units in the country, one-upping Leonard Fournette’s single-game program record with 285 yards and four touchdowns.
Quarterback Danny Etling completed 20-of-28 passes for 324 yards with two scores and no turnovers. It was the first time in program history LSU had a 300-yard passer and a 200-yard rusher — and it came against former LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis, no less.
“We always knew we could do it,” said wideout Russell Gage, who hauled in his first career touchdown playing in place of Travin Dural. “Coach O did a great job helping us drown out the noise from last week, and it’s a great feeling.”
Guice, starting once again in place of the injured Fournette, busted through arm tackles on a bruising 45-yard scoring romp that put LSU ahead early on the game’s opening drive. The sophomore also surpassed the 1,000-yard mark with that run.
Seconds before halftime, Etling hooked up with Malachi Dupre on a perfectly-thrown fade route for a 20-yard touchdown to put LSU ahead 20-7 heading into the break. Freshman linebacker Devin White, seeing time in place of the injured Kendell Beckwith, stripped Aggie running back Trayveon Williams to set up the score.
Texas A&M cut the deficit 10 with a field goal early in the third quarter, but LSU quickly blew the game open on Guice touchdown runs spanning 45 yards and 6 yards.
This set off a wild final 20 minutes as both defenses appeared worn out, allowing the offenses to boat race up and down the field. LSU finished with 622 yards of total offense as compared to 472 for Texas A&M.
Between hugs and high fives with players and family, Orgeron made his way to offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger during the post-game celebration. He threw his arms around Ensminger and delivered a message.
“Hung 50 on ‘em, baby,” Orgeron grinned. “You did it.”
Nobody had much interest in talking about the future beyond Thursday night. Asked how the team might react to having a coach other than Orgeron, Pocic said he hoped he’d never have to find out.
As for Orgeron himself, he offered no comment on when and if he’ll meet with LSU AD Joe Alleva to discuss the future. A source said the two are set to meet tomorrow morning, for whatever that’s worth.
“Go to work tomorrow,” Orgeron said, asked about his plans. “I may have some oyster dressing when I get home.”