LSU football coach Ed Orgeron’s no stranger to Mississippi State’s first-year coach Mike Leach and his penchant for throwing the football.
While their respective teams open the 2020 season with a Southeastern Conference matchup at 2:30 p.m., Saturday at LSU’s Tiger Stadium, this doesn’t represent the first encounter between the two contrasting coaches.
Orgeron was the defensive line coach under head coach Lane Kiffin at USC when Leach brought Washington State to Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles and pinned a 10-7 defeat on the Trojans.
Leach went 55-47 in eight seasons at Washington State before taking the Mississippi State job.
“The job Mike Leach did at Washington State was incredible,” Orgeron said on Thursday’s Zoom news conference. “He’s done a good job wherever he’s at. He’s a great football coach, a great football mind. He’s got a lot of talent at Mississippi State. He’s going to do a great job.”
USC’s loss served as a catalyst in Kiffen’s departure where he was fired after a 62-41 loss to Arizona State, leaving the Trojans with a 3-2 record and a shakeup at the top of the coaching staff when Kiffen was fired and Orgeron was named Sept. 29th as the team’s interim coach for the remainder of the 2013 season.
Orgeron guided USC to a 6-2 record but ultimately wasn’t retained by then athletic director Pat Haden, who hired Steve Sarkisian for the program’s permanent head coaching position.
Here’s what else Orgeron had to say in Thursday’s news conference:
On the anticipation of Mississippi State passing’s attack and whether you expect to stay in nickel (package) a lot and who would be your dime personnel
“We do have a lot a nickel. Obviously, it’s a base package nowadays in football. We do have some dime. We’re going to mix those guys up: Cordale Flott, Jay Ward if he’s available. Derek Stingley. Those are all interchangeable. Jabril Cox could play some. We could move him to safety and Todd Harris could do it. I think we’re very multiple and we have a lot of guys that could play different positions in nickel and dime.”
On last year’s team enjoying a plus-14 turnover ratio, mainly on the strength of a mature offense. From what you’ve seen in fall camp and preseason games do you believe the defense has the ability to create a lot of turnovers and affect field position.
“The style of defense, it’s an attack defense. We’re coming. We’re attacking every down, playing tight coverage. The strength of our defense is the speed of our linebackers. Having guys like Derek Stingley and JaCoby Stevens back there, Todd Harris and Cordale Flott, I think those guys are very fast. I believe we’re going to put a rush on people. This guy (Mississippi State quarterback KJ Costello), because of the splits, he’s going to get the ball out there quick. I believe Bo’s going to do a good job in turnover ratio and those guys are going to lead the charge.”
On the possibility one of the three coordinators having to miss a game because of the coronavirus, what would be the team’s back-up plan.
“I love having Scott Linehan there. Mickey Joseph’s our associate head coach. Those guys do a good job. James Cregg could handle the run game. They all pitch in on the game plan. Bill (Busch) does a great job. Kevin Coyle’s an analyst who could step in as an extra coach. I think we’re in good shape.”
On whether there are any players out of this week’s game with an injury
“We’re the best that we’ve been. We’ve got some guys with nicks and bruises, but as of now nobody’s out as far as I know. We’re ready to go.”
On your confidence level the offensive line will be able hold its own against Mississippi State’s interior front
“These guys (MSU) are very athletic, strong. I’m glad we got (Liam) Shanahan. He’s does a great job for us as center. I believe in Dare Rosenthal. We have some very good, big guards. Austin Deculus has a lot of talent. I believe with all of our running backs we’re going to do a good job. Every week in the SEC you’re going to play some good defensive linemen. They’ll make some plays. We’ll make some plays.”
On the progression of defensive lineman Neil Farrell Jr. upon his return to practice
“You could expect him to get some snaps. He’s come back with a renewed attitude, has practiced phenomenal. Worked hard all week. I still think he’s getting in game shape. I don’t believe he can play a whole game yet. But, I think he could give us 20-30 snaps. We’ll need him.”
On the seemingly different vibe around town for the season opener at home
“We don’t go around town during the season. We just go from home to work, so I don’t see that. I did feel a lot of energy from the coaching staff this week. I felt a different pep from the team. They’re ready to play. These guys have been practicing for two months. They’re going to be excited. We’ve had some scrimmages in Tiger Stadium and we’ve had a lot of energy. The 25,000 fans for us will be a boost because we haven’t seen them in so long. We’re going to take advantage of the situation.”
On maintain the same routine with keeping the team in an on-campus hotel, etc.
“Same stuff. Get ready and tomorrow’s ‘Focus Friday’, we’re going to have a walk-through, go to Lod Cook. We’re going to walk down the Tiger Walk, have our clap session before, put our suits on and whoever’s on the Tiger Walk, just tell them to cheer loud. I think these men will be awfully excited. They’re excited to play someone else. I think that’s where we’re going to get most of the energy we need.”