Ron Higgins: Coach O not doing his job security any favors

PHOTO BY JONATHAN MAILHES

Auburn football fans who made the trip to Tiger Stadium Saturday night may have had a tiny tinge of sympathy for their Tiger brethren from Baton Rouge.

Because when the AU faithful observed LSU’s 2021 Tigers two years removed from winning a national championship in 2019 with a perfect season boosted by a Heisman Trophy quarterback and innovative offensive braintrust, it was like staring in the mirror almost 10 years ago.

Back in 2012, Auburn was two years removed from winning a national championship in 2010 with a perfect season boosted by a Heisman Trophy quarterback and innovative offensive braintrust.

And at the end of that 3-9 season when Auburn went 0-8 in the SEC, head coach Gene Chizik was fired after he won almost every national Coach of the Year award in AU’s 14-0 2010 dream season.

As Chizik’s last year progressed, you could see repeated mistakes in games and few definitive answers. By the time he was fired two days after losing to Alabama 49-0, Chizik looked like the blood had been drained out of him.

Watching LSU coach Ed Orgeron conduct his post-game Zoom media just past midnight Saturday after a 24-19 loss to No. 22 Auburn in Tiger Stadium , he appeared to be physically and mentally on Chizik’s past career path.

The Tigers are off to a 3-2 overall start, 1-1 in the SEC West. That puts Orgeron at 8-7 overall and 6-6 in league since the 2019 national title victory parade ended and he collected numerous national Coach of the Year honors.

He’s already to the point of repeating explanations for repeated mistakes, like why he had to burn three timeouts vs. Auburn because his wet-behind-the-ears first-year offensive Jake Peetz’s internal play-calling time clock appears to be on Pacific coast time.

“The play-call is late, then we try to change it at the line of scrimmage,” Orgeron said. “We just weren’t very well organized.”

Or possibly because his veteran offensive line is equally as bad at run blocking as it is pass protection.

“I’m really disappointed in that,” Orgeron said. “We have two guys on that offensive line that have won a national championship. I thought that would be one of the strengths of our football team, but it’s not.

 “We tried to run the football, but it’s just every time we run the football we get stuffed. We’ve gotta find ways to run the football, We still didn’t give our quarterback time to throw, We had a six-man protection and we still got beat one-on-one.

“We need to find some new ways to block, we need to find some people that are gonna block.”

New ways to block? How? Using a machete to clear a path?

Or that his defense couldn’t tackle Auburn quarterback Bo Nix, who apparently annually welcomes the LSU defense into his life as a mega-confidence booster after he’s coming off a bad game.

The last two seasons in two victories vs. LSU, Nix is a combined 41 of 68 for 555 passing yards and four TDs. He’s also rushed for 155 yards and two TDs.

In Saturday’s win, Nix passed for 255 yards including a spectacular 24-yard scoring to tight end Tyler Fromm that got Auburn on the scoreboard just 4:53 before halftime to reduce LSU’s lead to 13-7.

Nix scrambled for 11 seconds and dodged six LSU tacklers before he unloaded to Fromm who had gotten behind the LSU secondary.

“We couldn’t tackle Bo Nix,” LSU linebacker Damone Clark lamented. “We have to take the extra step instead of lunging. We just have to do what we’re coached to do.

Yet LSU could have likely still won if its offense had done something besides score a TD, klck four field goals and punt four times. Johnson’s accuracy crumbled when his porous offensive line opened the floodgate of pass rushers. Auburn’s defense adjusted toward Johnson but LSU never fully did the same for Nix.   

10 Comments

    • Discipline was missing. That’s a coaching problem. Example: Not Bo Nix running around in the backfield for 10 seconds (he looked like Burrow), the LSU Defensive Backs seemed to disappear?? As long as the Quarterback is behind the line of scrimmage, he can throw, therefore defensive backs should remain covering their guy on man to man or in their coverage area. Two offensive receivers made it to the goal line by themselves no defensive backs within yards of them? Someone went to chase a quarterback instead of remembering their job – covering receivers. Discipline was missing. Football is a game of war! You organize as a team and play that way – each man does his assigned job on each and every play, OTHERWISE YOU DON’T WIN. – Discipline! Get on it coach!

    • No, not yet. Discipline and not repeating a mistake. Football is war without weapons, so the key to winning is discipline – each man doing his job until the play ends on each and every play. A quarterback can throw at any time he is still behind the line of scrimmage, so defensive backs must keep covering the receivers, not wander toward the line of scrimmage to maybe tackle a quarterback – that is the defensive line and linebackers job. To win each individual has to act as a team member with a specific mission on each play. And it’s war – give it your all on every play. I saw some great line play and pressure on the QB on most every play, we fell down in the defensive back field. Not on every play, but on just enough to lose the game.

    • Too soon for O to go. He does need to get back to basics with the team. Tackling can be improved and discipline during each play. When a receiver, or several receivers are in the end zone and not one defensive back is there with them someone forgot their job. We have the talent, so proper coaching is the answer. Football is war without weapons, so teamwork is what wins. Each guy on each play must do their job, not someone else’s. The breakdown was obvious, but it can be corrected with coaching. If O can’t do that, then it’s time for him to go.

  1. Ron, you absolutely nailed it. Coach O definitey contracted the Gene Chizik desease—unfortunately fatal in the coaching profession. Scott Woodward should fill a truck with money and drive it to Cincinnati. Then he sold make Louu Fickle an offer he can’ refuse. Otherwise coach O will be saying , “we gotta get this fixed as long as he stays. I love Coach O but it’s now clear he’ a fabulous recruiter, but unable to coach or develop to meet LSU’ needs.

  2. We need to find a new Center. The 6th year senior was a turnstile. We are going to have a rough time the rest of the year so we may as well play the younger O Line players and get ready for next year. Also ,the two freshmen tailbacks look like they have a burst and they needs to be playing more. NO run game and you get limited in the passing game except for quick slants and 5 yard outs. Sad to see the results with supposed great recruting classes. We need better O-line recruiting.
    JT

  3. The offensive line was at full strength. So injuries are no longer an excuse. It’s obvious that firing the line coach from 2019 this spring because of recruiting violations was a mortal blow to the Tiger offense.
    Also the Auburn defensive coordinator soundly outcoached the LSU offensive coordinator in the second half. Only two passes to our All-American WR Boutte? We couldn’t figure out how to get him free?
    The defense did a good job on Nix the second half, containing him in the pocket. But the two sensational plays he made in the second quarter, one ending with a touchdown pass and the other keeping a drive alive to score more points, were ultimately what gave Auburn the victory.
    A rumor from inside the LSU Athletic Department says that AD Woodward already has the money in the bank to buy out Orgeron at the end of the season.

  4. Most forms of football have a move known as a tackle. … The word is used in some contact variations of football to describe the act of physically holding or wrestling a player to the ground.
    LSU can not tackle. That should have been learned in Jr. High

  5. I believe these young men are playing as hard as they can, they are just not up to the task. I believe that has to do more with coaching than talent. Every coach/coordinator starts somewhere and every coach goes through a learning curve. The SEC is brutal and these new coordinators are in a difficult position. Having said that, they knew what they were getting into and O should have done a better job of vetting these guys. His gamble may ultimately cost him his job.

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