LSU head football coach Ed Orgeron’s a firm believer in football’s tried-and-true axiom of teams experiencing a sharp improvement in their play between the first and second games of the season.
Given the Tigers’ 44-34 setback in last week’s season opener to Mississippi State, Orgeron said it didn’t take long to see an improvement in his team this week – starting with Monday’s first practice in preparation for Saturday’s SEC road game at Vanderbilt at 6:30 p.m.
“I’ve seen the difference in practice this week,” Orgeron said during Thursday’s post-practice news conference. “I think we were a little lethargic last week. We went out there and kind of rolled our helmets out there some of the time. We found out we can’t do that. This is a different football team. We’re going to have to win in different ways than we did last year. We’re going have to try as hard as we can and give it 110% to win any game, any SEC game. I don’t think we did that in all phases last week. Hopefully we’ll do it this week.
“Our guys have had a better sense of urgency this week at practice. After watching the film there’s been less mistakes than the week before. I do believe our guys are hungry to get on the plane to get a victory. It will be a business trip. We look forward to playing Vanderbilt.”
Here’s what else Orgeron had to say Thursday:
On the concerns of traveling for the first time
“It’s going to be different. There’s not as many people on the plane. We’re taking many (COVID-19) tests, I promise you that. It seems like we’re taking a test every day. I feel comfortable. Our A.D. (Scott Woodward) has given us a protocol and (Sr. Associate A.D. for Health/Wellness) Shelly (Mullenix) has done a great job. (LSU trainer) Jack (Marucci) has done a great job. We’re always watching out for what’s best for our players. If our players follow the proper protocol, we should be fine.”
On the LSU standard of performance and what do look for
“It means alignment, assignment, technique. Doing your job, playing fast. Running and hitting on defense. The standard of performance that we set on offense is one to follow. Protect the quarterback, run, get our playmakers the ball in space and let them make plays. Make sharp, quick decisions and follow the game plan. We’re far from it. We did some good things, there parts of it but parts of it don’t cut it.”
On the possibility of cross training former defensive back, turned wide receiver Jontre’ Kirklin at both positions
“It will never be off the table. Jontre’ done it for us already. It’s his senior year and he’s doing very well. Unless we have to do it, I’m going to let him play offense. There may be a situation where we have to do it and I’ll talk to him about it. Obvious it’s going to be his choice, but we don’t feel like we’re in dire need to cross training or have him play both.”
On the amount of “loafs” or lack of hustle at times from some players
“It was the first thing we addressed on Monday. I watched every piece of film I could and identified every loaf and the players loafing and I talked to them. Some players had 10 loafs and that’s not even close to standard we play at. We graded them hard. It’s the first game. They need to learn what’s the standard. Every player that had a loaf ran after practice for the loafs. I think you’ll see a difference this week.”
On the expectation of improved play from the offensive line
“It looks like Dare Rosenthal’s going to be a game time situation. If he can play, we’ll play him. He didn’t practice today, but he said he was feeling better. Cam’s (Wire) going to go and that’s going to be his first start and he’ll be playing against some good defensive linemen. Good pass rushers. We’ll have to be creative in things we do in our protections. We still want to get enough people and throw the football. We’ll see how he does in the game. Be creative and give him some help if we have to. This is going to be a big challenge for our offensive line. Their defensive line is very good.”
On the leadership from safety JaCoby Stevens has displayed with members of the secondary
“He’s coaching them up, like being a coach on the field. Leading by example. Being vocal but also supportive. He wants to win. He’s from Nashville. I remember the day we went and got him, and I know he wants to play well. He wants to have a great senior year. I think he’s done a tremendous job both on and off the field.”
On the week of practice Derek Stingley Jr.
“As far as I know he’s completely healthy, ready to go. We’re going to play him. I’ll ask him how he feels on Saturday. If he feels like he can go, we’ll start him and let him play.”
On performance of Neil Farrell Jr. and the overall defensive line
“Neil did some good things. I thought he played well in the game, I thought he’s practiced well. He’s had a good attitude. Jaquelin Roy is coming and we’re going to play him this game. We should have played him last game. I’m in charge of the rotation and I’m going to put him in the rotation and let him play. We feel we have four interior guys that can go and have some fun out there; keep them fresh.”
On rotation involving freshman defensive end B.J. Ojulari
“I do the rotation. It’s two (series) to one with Andre (Anthony) getting two series and he gets one. But at any point in the series if either gets tired, we can put someone in. He starts on our ‘Cheetah’ team. It depends on how much Cheetah we play. Last week we played a 3-3 and not as much Cheetah. Toward the end of the game we started playing more Cheetah. It all depends on what Bo (Pelini) wants.”