LSU’s game plan for Saturday’s home season opener vs. McNeese State isn’t a secret

LSU's defense needs more gang -tackling and wrapping up as shown here by Tigers' Eli Ricks (1) and Jay Ward (5) in last Saturday's 38-27 season-opening loss at UCLA

LSU football coach Ed Orgeron is not one to give away his team’s game plan.

But after last Saturday’s 38-27 season opening loss at UCLA where the Tigers’ mistakes were obvious and repetitive, the extensive list of screwups morphed into Saturday’s season-opening game-plan against McNeese State at 7 p.m. in Tiger Stadium.

“I know we’re going to get crossing routes, we gotta cover them, we worked hard on them,” Orgeron said in a Zoom media teleconference after Thursday’s practice. “I know they’re going to try and run the ball, RPO’s. We’ve got to be in our gaps, tackling, rush the passer, not give up explosive plays. We had way too many explosive plays last week.

“On the offensive side, I want to see a variety of runs. I want to see different formations, I want to see motions and shifts. I want to see outside runs, inside runs. Gap schemes. We want to play football, let our guys run the football. We want to be able to protect the quarterback, it’s protection first. We have some great receivers, we all want them to play. But we’ve got to protect the quarterback. Hope we learned our lesson last week.

“Special teams, we’ve got to make some game-changing plays. We’ve got great athletes. We’ve got to put the ball in their hands and make some plays.”

In short, Orgeron wants to see everything he didn’t see last weekend in the Rose Bowl when UCLA put 470 yards total offense compared to LSU’s 330.

The Bruins ran for 210 yards as Tigers’ tacklers seemed to bounce off or completely miss UCLA running backs Zach Charbonnet and Brittain Brown. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson completed just 9 of 16 passes for 260 yards and three TDs, but most of his successful hookups were crossing routes.

LSU sophomore QB Max Johnson threw for 330 yards and three TDs yet spent most of the game under pressure from a dazzling array of UCLA blitzes that confused LSU’s veteran offensive line. The Tigers’ rushing game was putid, 49 inconsequential yards on 25 attempts.

Here’s what Orgeron said on other subjects:

On the eligibility of running back Tre Bradford, who transferred back to LSU this week after transferring to Oklahoma following last season

“Tre practiced with us today for the first time. I don’t think he’s eligible to play Saturday. I’m gonna find out tomorrow (Friday).”

On if true freshmen will play vs. McNeese after not seeing the field vs. UCLA

“(Running back) Corey Kiner will play. I’m excited to see Corey and (running back) Armani Goodwin, two excellent players. Hopefully, (wide receiver) Brian Thomas catches the ball more.

“We’ll see as the game goes. But we’re going to sprinkle in (freshmen) throughout the game, regardless of the score.”

On the status of junior running back John Emery Jr., who missed the UCLA game because of academic problems

“We’re going to wait for that call. If he’s available, we’ll play him for sure. He’s practiced like everybody else.”

On if the UCLA game on film was as bad as it looked in person

“As soon as we get to Tiger Stadium, that last game has been put to bed. Mentally, it has. It hurts everybody obviously.

“Yes, it was as bad as it looked. As I told you, I have to take the blame. I should have worked them a lot harder than we did in the summer. Hindsight is 20/20, there are some things I needed to work more on our team, especially the blitzes. All the formations they gave us, we know how to fix but we just didn’t run enough.”

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