LSU head football coach Ed Orgeron expects to regain the services of All-American cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. for Saturday’s 6 p.m. Southeastern Conference Western Division matchup at fifth-ranked Texas A&M.
Stingley didn’t return in last Saturday’s 27-24 victory over Arkansas after apparently taking a knee to the helmet during a punt return midway through the third quarter.
“Derek’s going to practice today,” Orgeron said Monday during his weekly news conference. “He’s going to be in a gold (non-contact) jersey. He looks like he’s going to be okay. He’s not cleared totally yet, but he looks like he’s going to be fine.”
LSU’s secondary is going to minus freshman cornerback Elias Ricks for the first half of the A&M game. Ricks must sit out the first half because of an ejection he received for targeting call against Arkansas wide out Mike Woods at the 7:56 mark of the second quarter.
Orgeron wasn’t as set on Ricks’ replacement, mentioning both Cordale Flott and Jay Ward as possible options, with Ricks begin able to return to begin the third quarter against the Aggies.
LSU will not have the services of senior wide receiver Racey McMath, who suffered a hamstring injury in the third quarter of the Arkansas game.
McMath caught a 30-yard TD in the second quarter – his first score of the season – but wasn’t able to return following his injury while running a route up the sideline.
One player that could be an option to step into McMath’s vacated spot, sophomore Trey Palmer, is considered a possibility to be back after missing the Arkansas game with an undisclosed injury. He accompanied the team to the game but was dressed in sweats on the sideline.
Orgeron said the Tigers could call on a variety of players to replace McMath, a group that includes senior Jontre Kirklin (10-148, 2 TDs) along with true freshmen Kayshon Boutte (15-199, TD) and Koy Moore (8-70-0).
“We have a lot of choices,” Orgeron said.
Here’s what else Orgeron had to say:
“All right, guys. Tell-the-truth Monday. It’s a good day at the office. Great day to watch the film. So excited for our football players. I gotta give them credit. It started last Monday with an outstanding week of preparation. They had the will to win the whole game. It was a tough, hard-fought battle. Give credit to Arkansas. Excellent game. Here are some of the things that we did very well, and we said we had to do well going into the game. Controlled the time of possession. We had the ball for almost 42 minutes. Outstanding job by Coach Ensminger of calling plays and managing the game. We were up 12 of 23 on third down; they were 0 of 10. That was a big part of the football game. T. J., I thought, played a good game. He had no turnovers. Had that game-winning throw at the end. Nobody was open. He executed the scramble rules. Jaray Jenkins got open, what a great play by him. Ty Davis-Price had one of his best games, over 100 yards rushing, brought some physicality to the game, exactly what we wanted. We wanted to be able to control the line of scrimmage, and it was a big part of his running. I thought our O Line did a good job. They gave up no sacks. Thought Jaray Jenkins had one of his best games.
On defense we had a good plan versus their hurry-up offense. We deferred; we gave them the ball; we went three and out. That was big for us to get lined up, get had our cleats in the grass. We had a simple game plan and let our guys play. Again, I said they were zero and 10 on third down. Jabril Cox’s interception, obviously a game-winning play there. Andre Anthony had his best game. The young players had to step up with the cornerbacks getting hurt. I thought our young secondary did a lot of good things. Jay Ward’s stop on third down was a phenomenal play. Special teams, Zach had a great game, five punts inside the 10-yard line, the difference in the game was the field position: and, again, the blocked field goal by our special teams at the end.
Texas A&M, real good football team. Going on the road. Well-coached team. Kellen Mond is a good player. They got a strong offensive line. Kenyon Green is a guy we recruited, probably one of the best guards in the SEC, if not the country. They have the number one defense in the SEC. I think they’re twelfth in the country in rushing defense; very tough, very solid football team. But we’re going to be ready for the challenge. It’s going to be kind of a short week. Our players are going to go home for Thanksgiving. We had an early practice on Thursday morning; then come back on Friday and get ready to go to Texas A&M.”
On the number of times you’re seeing opposing offenses try and execute ‘rub’ routes
“When you’re playing man coverage, you’re going to get that. And Bo has worked very hard. Some of our defenses are part man, part zone. It all depends on the formation. But when you get a slot like that and you get two guys rubbing you, it’s going to be hard. We got better at it. We gave the first one was a touchdown; it was a rub route. You gotta put them on different levels and you gotta make adjustments and maybe help with the safety on top.”
On the recent play of starting linebacker Micah Baskerville
“You know, he was able to key and diagnose. Micah was the 5A Player of the Year at Evangel High School. That’s why I recruited him. Excellent player in high school. When he first came here, (he) was having a good year. As a freshman, showed us that he can key and diagnose. He fits in well in Coach Pelini’s scheme. He gets to the football. He’s a tremendous young man.”
On the feeling of winning a game losing at Auburn three weeks ago
“Yeah, it did. I was excited for the coaching staff. I was excited for the players, our team, the LSU fans. And, again, it took everything we had to beat Arkansas, and we did it. Hopefully it’s a springboard for us to have a great end to the season starting with Texas A&M.”
On what’s been the key to Andre Anthony’s success
“You know, playing on the edge, you want your best pass rusher at the right end. Him and BJ (Ojulari) play that right end position. He gets a lot of one-on-ones with the offensive tackle coming on the blind side. He’s got a nice what he calls a double-hand swipe. You know, one of the tackles for loss, we had a nice stunt on. It was a triple. He was coming around. We ran right into the mesh point of the quarterback. So, I think the attacking defensive line is what you’re seeing instead of sitting back and reading getting to the back field and making plays. He’s perfect for that.”
On the importance of applying pressure to A&M QB Kellen Mond
“Hey, makes sense. What you’re saying makes a lot of sense. Last year we put some pressure on them. And we’re going to have to, just like any game. But you know what, the good part about this team is that we can put pressure on a four-man rush. I feel comfortable rushing four and playing coverage. That’s your best defense. Now, if we have to blitz them, we have to put some pressure on them, Bo has a bunch of blitzes. But I think the first thing that we need to do is be able to rush with four.”
On whether you can rely heavily on pressure to help your pass rush
“We have to. He gets rid of the ball quick. A lot of play action pass. But you know what, I don’t know much about them only giving up two sacks. I know that already. I don’t know why I didn’t study them that much. But I do believe we can put pressure on them. Now, Kellen is a dual-threat quarterback. He can avoid a rush and run the football, much like Feleipe Franks did last week. We have to be able to contain him.”
On your first trip back to College Station since the 74-72 seven-overtime loss to A&M
“You didn’t have to remind me.”
On A&M’s No. 5 ranking adding fuel to fire
“You know, I think that you could internally – I thought about it this morning, to be honest with you, when I saw the film and I saw the stadium, some thoughts came by. But you know what, it’s my job to be able to prevent problems this week, have a great practice and not allow those things to happen that happened to us last time. And we’re going to have to go and play our best game. I think Texas A&M is a much better team when they’re playing at home than when they’re playing on the road, at least our series. They’re going to play their best football. They’re going to have a great crowd. Probably the first time, but – I imagine they’re going to have a great crowd. Probably the first time this year that the crowd noise will be a factor. We’re going to have to be able to handle it, be able to handle our emotions. They’re going to be sky high; they haven’t played in a while, but so will we.”
On how much do believe the defense has improved
“Yeah. I’m pleased with the way we played most of the game against Arkansas. I thought that we had our cleats in the grass. We had a great plan for the hurry-up offense. But still not pleased with the deep balls, still not pleased with the rub routes. Still not pleased with the explosive plays, and definitely not pleased by the way we played most of the season. We need to improve to be a championship defense, and everybody knows that.”
On your improvements in stopping the run against Arkansas
“I thought our guys dominated their offensive line. That’s the first time I can tell you that. I think we had some little run stunts in there that we did very well. We played with good technique. We didn’t let the ball run inside the tackles, and we tackled well.
Now, Texas A&M has a great running attack. Spiller is an outstanding player; they have some speed back there. They put different guys back there to run. Tommie Robinson, who coached with us, coaches the running backs, does a great job. You’re going to see 21 personnel; you’re going to see 12 personnel. They’re a lot of pro-style stuff. (A&M head coach) Jimbo (Fisher) is a very good coach. They use their tight end well. They throw to their tight end. Very balanced offense, but their run game starts with their offensive line. I think that’s one of the better offensive lines that we have faced this year.”
On the number of scholarship players, you brought to Arkansas
“I don’t know the amount that we had. I don’t check that. We traveled with 69, and that’s what we had on the plane. We can travel with 70, but we were at 69 when we travel.”
On the precautions you’re asking players to take when going home for Thanksgiving
“Go home and have it with your family only, know who’s there. Obviously, don’t attend any parties or no big gatherings, but I think going home with your family, it’s Thanksgiving. I think it will be fine. We test our guys. They’re going to follow all the precautions. Shelly (Mullenix) is going to talk to them about leaving, going home, what they should, and they shouldn’t do. I think we’ll be fine.”
On the targeting call against Elias Ricks
“Yeah, you know, he did hit him with the head. He hit with the shoulder first, but the head hit. I thought it was targeting, so I got no beef with that. I think it was a good call.”
On the possibility being kept in the loop on the decisions involving next week’s game
“You know, the good thing is we knew this season was going to be very fluid. We focus in on Texas A&M, but I sure hope that they reschedule the Alabama game, we want to play Alabama. That’s a great rivalry, and we look forward to playing them. So, if they can fit it in to where we can play Alabama, I’m sure they’re going to do it. We have Alabama; we have Florida; we have Ole Miss left, and those are awesome great games, and we’re ready to play every one of them.”
On being prepared to play regardless of the opponent
“We’re scheduled for Ole Miss next week. So, we have analysts breaking down Ole Miss. We have already broken down Alabama. We were going to play them at the beginning, so that’s done. And then we have already broken down Florida. So that’s done. So as far as the analytical work, most of it’s been done. Now, the last couple games haven’t been done, but we have enough information that if we need to start new next week with anybody else, we’re going to be ready to go.”
On what’s holding up the rescheduling of the Alabama game
“I have no clue. But I know that my gut feeling is that it’s going to be rescheduled, and I hope it is. And look forward to playing them.
On your defense starting to show signs of becoming better against the run
“It sure looked like it. It felt like it. You know, it not only felt like it during the game, it felt like it in those three weeks of practice. We were embarrassed by our performance at Auburn. I took the blame. We gotta get better. We gotta practice better. We gotta have better leadership. We gotta coach better. And we were not playing like LSU should play. Did we play like an LSU football team? We looked at it. At some time we looked like an LSU football team, but we still have a ways to go, but we have some young players that are believing, and hopefully making the last play of the game gave our guys some belief and some confidence to fight through it and they can win.”
On helping quarterback T.J. Finley prepare for Kyle Field’s crowd noise
“As far as snap count for number one, how we’re going to handle the snap count. That’s huge on the road. We know we play music; Doug has a John Deere with a big speaker right behind it. And we play some music as loud as we possibly can. We get tired of hearing it on Tuesday and Wednesday. And then just give him the situation to where he’s going to be calm and he can make the right calls.”
On how much you think A&M’s offense has grown over last season
“Well, I think it starts with the physicality. I mean their offensive line is a lot better offensive line than we played last year. Their run game is a lot better. Kellen Mond is playing better; they’re protecting him, only two sacks. Then you gotta look at their defense. They got the number one defense in the SEC. That’s very impressive. They’re tough against the run. Their defensive coordinator could dial up blitzes. They could play a 4-3; they could play a 3-4. The defensive line is playing very well. I just think they’re playing overall good football and they’ve improved in almost every area since last year.”
On your thoughts of former QB Joe Burrow of Cincinnati suffering a season-ending injury Sunday
“Yeah, it was tough. It was tough to watch. We all watched it and we felt bad for him. Joe’s a competitor, I texted him today. I know he’s going to come back. I know his attitude. He’s probably working out today, getting onto next season. I thought he was having maybe Rookie of the Year season. We were very proud of him. We follow Joe, we follow everything he does, like we do all the players in the NFL.”
On what are you most thankful for; what’s your favorite Thanksgiving side dish
“Well, I’m most thankful for my family and thankful for being the head coach of Louisiana State University. That’s been a blessing in my life. And there’s no question that oyster dressing is my favorite for Thanksgiving.”
On the health of former starting QB Myles Brennan
“We still haven’t made a decision. It doesn’t look like he’s going to play. We still haven’t made a decision on the operation if it’s best to do it now. (LSU trainer) Jack (Marucci) is handling that with his parents and the doctors, and it’s just not clear cut right now. So, it’s still probably status quo, but he’s definitely not playing this week.”