By CODY WORSHAM | Tiger Rag Editor
Ed Orgeron was up earlier than usual on Thursday morning. Practice started at 6 a.m., early enough to get players home for Christmas in plenty of time.
“Everybody was on the field at 5:57,” Orgeron said, with a hint of pride. “Ready to go.”
The No. 19 Tigers (7-4) will break for Christmas this weekend, each individual off until a Monday practice in Baton Rouge, and Orgeron enters the holidays pleased with his team’s preparation for No. 15 Louisville (9-3) and their Heisman-winning quarterback.
LSU spent the past week as if it were a game week, installing a mostly complete game plan and running through Orgeron’s regular schedule, starting with Tell the Truth Monday and finishing with No Repeat Thursday.
“Our intensity and focus all week has been fantastic,” said Orgeron. “By the end of practice Thursday we wanted to be game ready. We feel like we are.”
Every year, bowl practice serves as a springboard into the next season. Young players whose in-game reps have been limited due to inexperience get to step into larger roles, with an eye on the season to come. Orgeron pointed out a few who have shined in the past few weeks.
“We’ve had some young guys get better,” Orgeron said. “Rashard Lawrence, line of scrimmage. Donavaughn Campbell, he had a great last couple of weeks. Andre Anthony came out and practiced very good. Devin White, an expanded role for him. Nicholas Brossette. (Darrel) Williams. Lindsey Scott, just to see him run around. Justin McMillan.
“As you get into this time, you start to give these guys a better look and see what they can do. They are competing.”
Scott, who, with McMillan, has been emulating Jackson for the scout team, earned ample praise from Orgeron.
“Lindsey Scott had a tremendous practice the other day,” he said. “He’s done great. He and Justin. Lindsey broke several tackles. So did Justin. They did a great job simulating Lamar Jackson.”
One area LSU has focused its recruiting efforts during the dead period is on draft-eligible underclassmen. Orgeron addressed the future of some of those players, though not by name, adding that new offensive coordinator Matt Canada has been vital in their efforts. Canada has remained with Pittsburgh as they prepare for their bowl game, but flew in Wednesday night to meet with several underclassmen who are considering taking the leap.
“On the offensive side, get them to know Matt Canada,” Orgeron said. “Obviously they will want to know how is he going to use them, what kind of plays we are going to run, stuff like that. He has a great personality. They are excited about his resume. They are excited when they talk to him. A lot of guys feel a bond to this football team. A lot of guys have a great foundation on things to come, and they want to be part of it.”
Such juniors include wide receivers Malachi Dupre and D.J. Chark, as well as defensive linemen Greg Gilmore and Davon Godchaux.
ORGERON ON CANADA…
“Brings juice. Matt Canada brings some juice. He’s brought some juice to the staff. He’s fired up, ready to go. He’s a relentless recruiter. He’s always on the phone, texting guys, getting after it – what about this, what about that? – has a vision about building a championship program, excitement about being at LSU… for him, being the offensive coordinator for LSU at this time is very special for him, and I think he shows it…In the interview, we felt he would get along with LSU. He would be good for LSU. He would be a team guy.”
ORGERON ON INTERIM O.C. STEVE ENSMINGER…
I don’t know if you could’ve done a better job than Steve Ensminger did for us. He’s a great Tiger, and we are forever indebted to him. I’m so appreciative of the job that he’s done. I’ll leave to go home, sleeping in Lod Cook, and his truck is still in the parking lot, he’s sleeping on the sofa. Never, ever said nothing about getting a new offensive coordinator . We are friends, do what you need to get the job. We are loyal to him and he’s loyal to us.