LSU Football

Video and transcript: Ed Orgeron Vanderbilt media luncheon

September 16, 2019
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BATON ROUGE – LSU head coach Ed Orgeron met with members of the media on Monday to look back at the win over Northwestern State and to preview Saturday’s Southeastern Conference opener against Vanderbilt in Nashville.

LSU is off to a 3-0 start and ranked No. 4 in the AP poll and No. 5 in the Amway Coaches poll. Vanderbilt is 0-2 overall and enjoyed an open date last week. Saturday will mark LSU’s first trip to Nashville since 2010 when the Tigers posted a 27-3 win over the Commodores.

Kickoff on Saturday is set for 11 a.m. CT and will be televised on the SEC Network.

 

Here’s the transcript from Orgeron’s press conference on Monday:

 

Opening Statement:

Welcome, everybody. Obviously, we're very pleased with our win against Northwestern State University. We give Coach Laird and his staff and his players credit for coming out and fighting very hard at the beginning of the football game. I thought he had an excellent game plan.

But I want to give our team credit for fighting 60 minutes. We went in at halftime and talked about we're going to fight for 60 minutes, and nobody panicked.

Pleased with our coaching staff. We stuck to the plan. We made some adjustments, especially on defense. Give credit to Coach Aranda, who came back and played tighter coverage, and I thought we played one heck of a second half. I was very pleased to see guys that catch the ball that usually didn't catch the ball in Derrick Dillon and Stephen Sullivan. We need to give them the ball. They're good players, along with the great players that we have.

Pleased to see the punt returns with Derek Stingley and Trey Palmer. Great scheme by Coach Mac. Those guys made some plays. We're very pleased with our return game, and we hope to get better at it.

Cade had the one miss. We talked to him about it. Obviously, had to wait a little while in the rough to start the play. Needs to get back, take time out, reset his thoughts, and we need to train him to do that. Other than that, we're very good on the special teams.

When we looked at the film, we didn't play as good in some spots that we wanted to, especially on the offensive line and the defensive line. Some spots we've got to get fixed, and some fundamental stuff that we've got to get fixed. Got the Tell the Truth Monday today to get those things fixed and looking forward to that.

Looking forward to going to our first SEC game on the road against Vanderbilt at 11:00 a.m. We're going to be ready to play. We're going to go to bed early on Friday night. Tennessee and Nashville has been a great recruiting area for us and will continue to be a great recruiting area for us.

Derek Mason has a lot of respect from myself. I think he's an excellent football coach. I knew him when he was at Stanford. We go to the SEC coaching meetings, he's one of the best guys there. He's easy to talk to. He's a good guy. He's very personable, and I wish him the very best. I think he's an excellent coach.

On offense, they've gone to the spread. They have a big time running back in Ke'Shawn Vaughn, the running back. He's probably going to be an NFL player. And also Jared Pinkney, the tight end. Those two guys will play in the NFL. And Lipscomb, who's from New Orleans, is a good receiver for them.

On defense, they run a 4-2-5. They've given up 36 points a game. Coach Mason is a defensive guy. He's had two weeks to prepare. I know he's going to have an excellent defensive game plan against us.

We look forward to getting on the road. We look forward to fixing ourselves this week. There's a lot of things to fix. There's a lot of things to be positive of. Very pleased with the play of Joe Burrow. Joe made a couple of throws out there that you just go, wow. You turn back the film time and time again and say how did he do that? Tremendous athlete. Tremendous touch. Tremendous will to win.

Very pleased with the way Steve Ensminger and Joe Brady is calling our offense. Obviously lights out right now on offense throwing the football. We've got to get better running the football. We've got to get better up front on defense stopping the run and playing our gaps, and we look forward to this week.

Any questions?

Q. Coach, you kind of touched upon it, but how do you avoid kind of a sleepy start with that early time? This may be one of the smaller stadiums you've gone to. It won't be the big atmosphere maybe.
ED ORGERON: We're going to work hard on it, I promise you that. We're going to bed early at 9:00. We're going to get up, have a call out meeting at 7:00, wake them up. We're going through the same itinerary that we did against Louisville. We got our work cut out for us to get the guys going, get them going early in the morning, but we'll get it done.

Q. Ed, do you have any update on Todd Harris, who got hurt on Saturday night?
ED ORGERON: Todd's going to be out for the year and will not be back with us this year. We will use this year as a redshirt. It's unfortunate. It was an unfortunate accident. He just landed on the ground wrong.

Q. Well, I guess to go off that, how do you imagine you guys go about kind of replacing him there?
ED ORGERON: Well, JaCoby Stevens is going to have to play a lot back there.

Q. You usually play three safeties a good amount, right?
ED ORGERON: Right. JaCoby Stevens is going to play back there. We have to see as the week goes, who else can fit back there.

Q. One of the things that I heard in the post-game from the players was that they weren't necessarily pleased with it either. They talked about a standard they're trying to set, that they're trying to play to. How rewarding is it as a coaching staff to hear that? Also, is it because they understand how good they can be, that they're trying to reach this level?
ED ORGERON: We talked about that at the beginning of the year, setting LSU standard of performance, the way we practice and the way we play, and obviously it's very high.

I'll give you an example. On Tell the Truth Monday, we had on offense one of the things we must and will improve is that we were only eight out of nine in the red zone scoring. I said, well, isn't that action a little much? And they said, no, Coach, we're supposed to be nine out of nine. Setting the LSU standard of performance is very high. Our players have set it. Our coaches have set it.

So we still have a ways to go in all areas. Look out when we reach that standard of performance in all areas. I think we can pretty good.

Q. After the game, you talked about getting Chasen Hines reps at backup center. Has anyone else taken snaps before or played center in high school before that might be behind --
ED ORGERON: That's it. It will be Chasen Hines for us.

Q. Any update on Ed Ingram yet?
ED ORGERON: We have very positive news. We have nothing official. I expect to know something in the near future, the next couple of days, and when I do hear something official, I'll let you guys know officially, but everything we hear will be very positive, and we should hear something the next couple days.

Q. As far as you know, has he been working out? If he comes back, how quickly can he assimilate?
ED ORGERON: Yes, he's been through some workouts. Obviously, he's been working out on his own. He's going through some acclimatization stuff with helmets and so on, so when he does come back, we'll be able to clear him, and he'll be ready to play.

Q. Any updates on Rashard Lawrence or Glen Logan?
ED ORGERON: I don't think they're going to be ready.

Q. They won't be ready this week?
ED ORGERON: No.

Q. Any kind of timeline on that?
ED ORGERON: Not this week for sure, I don't think.

Q. You're 3-0 and you talk about things you have to work on. Is this kind of, as a coach, you kind of like this situation a little bit? You have things to get their attention, but you're having success. Talk about that scenario you find yourself in right now.
ED ORGERON: It's always good to be able to win and look at the things that you must improve on, and the guys see it. We had some experienced guys up front that didn't play very well, and they know it. I talked to them about it today. They're going to be hungrier this week, must improve. Again, the LSU standard of performance is very high. They understand it. I think they see it before I do sometimes, which is good.

Q. Ed, a couple things. The pass rush, do you think, if it doesn't improve, that's the kind of thing that can catch up with you in these games? And, two, I know you've leaned on Clyde Edwards-Helaire a bunch. Is it just an experience factor? Or like at Texas, he had the lion's share of the carries. Can you kind of explain what your thinking is there?
ED ORGERON: It's kind of funny you mention that. Coach (John) Robinson kind of gives me a state of the union, John Robinson, every Monday morning. He's got about eight things for me, and they're very insightful, and I respect him, and I'm happy that I have him there. Most of them are very positive, but today it was like, hey, we need to work those backs in quicker in significant roles, and he's right.

I didn't want to put them in the Texas game because we had to go -- I felt like we had to score every time, and I didn't want to fumble. I'm not saying they would have fumbled, but I've trusted that Clyde could do it, but we need to get these guys in more significant reps. We need to get them in the rotation. They played in the first quarter and the second quarter so they can be more prepared to win in the heat of the battle, and we can trust them to make the right play.

The pass rush will cost us. We're experimenting with different things. We did a better job of mixing in our blitzes. We're going to have to blitz. We're not ready to use the four man rush now with the guys that we have. We will use it, but how effective we can be, we have to get better at it.

So I think you're going to see more blitzes, more creative ways to get pass rush, and I think you saw that last Saturday.

Q. You said Saturday that it would take to watch film to kind of diagnose the zone coverage issues there. Just after looking at it there, what's kind of your assessment on some of these changes?
ED ORGERON: More or less the thing I said, the pass rush wasn't there. On the touchdown, we had a missed assignment. Not a missed alignment, just some missed assignments on that little bunch route. On some other plays, there was still some technique stuff that we played wrong. We're playing too far off in the first half. We played a little bit tighter, our guys broke on the ball. They batted some balls down. They broke some balls up. Should have gotten a couple of picks on a couple of balls.

One of the things I did mention we were disappointed in, we're even in the turnover ratio. That's not where we want to be. We're minus 1 in the turnover ratio this week. We need to get more picks. We need to get more turnovers. We had a turnover last game and a turnover the game before, and we're not getting enough turnovers.

Q. Coach, how pleased with you were Stephen Sullivan's production on Saturday? After that, is he going to see increased usage from here on out?
ED ORGERON: We want to get Stephen the ball. He deserves it. He's a good player. We talked about it after the Texas game, and you can expect to see him some at the tight end, some at the receiver, have some specific plays that he's going to catch the ball. So we're pleased with him.

Q. Ed, what is it that makes Derek Stingley so effective as a punt returner, and how long after he got to campus do you all decide to use him in that role? How did he assert himself so quickly?
ED ORGERON: He has vision. He has confidence. He's able to see the whole field. Again, we told him, we said, Derek, wherever you see green grass, go. It's not like you've got to go left or right. You don't want to limit him into where he can go because you never know when you catch the punt what's going to be open -- the right, the left, or in the middle. So we ask our guys to block a certain way, let him find the green grass and let him go and let him make plays.

One thing that I do want him to do is protect the ball. Every once in a while it gets out a little bit, and we need to keep it high and tight.

Q. Joe Burrow said something that's interesting. It's almost like the pass sets up the run now, which is almost foreign. I know this offense is very different, which you prepared us all summer. You had 488 passing and 122 rushing. Is there a 50-50 mix so far in the first few games? Do you like where it is, where it's going, the rush and pass?
ED ORGERON: I like to be 50-50 as far as run/pass. Not yardage, as far as calls, 50 percent run and 50 percent pass. It has to be balanced. At some point in time, they're going to stop our passing game, and we have to run the football. What's happened is we're so good at passing the football, it's kind of hard not to call the passing plays when they're wide open. So that's what you're seeing.

We had some gap schemes that we put in and were not very effective. We got beat at the line of scrimmage. For that, we're going to show our team that today, that we had some one-on-ones on the offensive line that got beat. We had some one-on-ones on our defensive line that their offensive line beat them, and that should not happen. Those are things we need to improve on.

Q. With Saahdiq being in and out of the lineup, how impressed have you been with Dare Rosenthal and Badara Traore filling in for him?
ED ORGERON: Very impressed. Those guys have answered the ball. Dare has made tremendous improvement moving from defense to offense every week. He's able to go in there, and he didn't give up a sack. He's doing a great job. Really impressed with Badara Traore. He can play right tackle. He can play guard. You'll see him in the mix more. And if we do get Ed Ingram back and Saahdiq back, we should be very solid up front.

Q. Anything you want to say about the news on Drew Brees and maybe reflect on that being a reminder for you guys in terms of getting Brennan some playing time?
ED ORGERON: When I heard it, I felt bad. I felt bad for him, his family, the Saints, and the state of Louisiana because I know how much he means to all of us. I was talking to some quarterback recruits last night, and to remind them how much that they mean to their team -- not in a selfish way, but the quarterback is the man, especially when he's a great one.

I'm still going to have to remind Joe to run out of bounds. He ain't going to want to run out of bounds. I'll have to remind him to do it. Joe means a lot to our football team. Joe is becoming an elite quarterback, and I've been a part of three Heisman Trophy winners, Gino Torretta, Carson Palmer, and Matt Leinart -- and I've seen a lot of similarities or maybe some things even better that I remember those guys doing.

So he could become that quarterback. Still has a ways to go, but he's going to have to protect himself.

Q. You talked about Joe and mentioned some of those wow throws he's making. It seems like some of the throws he's making this year are throws I don't think we saw him able to make last year. How have you seen him progress just purely as a passer?
ED ORGERON: Last year, when he came in, I think he was unsure of the offense. So he wasn't letting the ball go as quick as he wanted to. He's improved his arm strength. He's in better condition this year. I think he's able to extend plays with his feet, as you saw last week, and that's when he's really dangerous. Again, the receivers that we have are not dropping the football. They're catching everything that you could possibly imagine. I think it's a combination of all those things.

Q. When you evaluate everything you're doing now, do you look through the prism of, hey, we're close to knocking on the door to where we want to be, and what do you think you have to do to get there? Because that's going to reveal itself in October and November.
ED ORGERON: We talked about that last night. We're not saying it. You want to keep it one game at a time. When you really look at your roster, you're really looking at evaluating your personnel, you're really seeing, hey, what can we do here? What can we do there? What can we do to get better? Keep pressing on to get better and better and better so we can make improvement throughout the year.

I think a good football team -- I know a good football team improves every week, and we've got to take the next step this week to get to where we want to go. Obviously, we know coming down the road, there will be some very strong opponents coming down the road, and we may run into one at Vanderbilt. We ran into one at Northwestern State the first half. We have to overcome it. But we cannot do the things we did against Northwestern State in the first half and get to where we want to go. We have to improve.

Q. You alluded to your relationship or knowing Derek Mason. Would you elaborate a little bit, maybe when you were at USC and he was at Stanford, memorable games and things you remember about him.
ED ORGERON: They had great defenses. They were an attack defense. I do believe they led the league in sacks every year. Turnovers, they were ferocious. They were very multiple. They ran out of a three-four. They were very hard to block, very creative. Those are the things I remember about him.

Q. After the game, you said that you weren't panicked, the team wasn't panicked, because you believe, you have this trust in this offense that you guys are in every game. Has that had to trickle down to the way you coach or your coaches coach the team? Do you have to reset the mindset that maybe we don't have to press as hard as we have in the past?
ED ORGERON: I leave the offense up to Steve and Joe, for the most part, and I put my two cents in every once in a while. Hey, why is this not working? What are we doing? I do feel the press I'm feeling is from the defensive side. We've got to get better, and I know we will. We've got to get some guys healthy. We've got to get K'Lavon healthy. We've got to stop making some mistakes that we're making.

So the press I'm feeling is to get the defense up to speed with the offense so we can get to where we want to go.

Q. Coach, just talking about how you have to get Stephen Sullivan more involved. How satisfying is it that you have that challenge with your offense to getting your tight ends and running backs and wide receivers an equal opportunity?
ED ORGERON: That's what we always wanted, to have an offense that creates space, put our play makers in space, and let them make plays. And have the quarterback that can make the decisions, according to the coverage, or have the coach who can look over and he can call the right play to put the ball in our guy's hands at the right spot.

When you look at, when you watch our film -- and I know you guys do. I see your little coaching points and your synopsis. I like that stuff. But there's a lot of times you see guys open, which is a sign of good coaching and good route running. So we have a combination of all those things, and at LSU, you deserve the very best. I do believe that we're giving our guys the very best available.

Q. Coach, in the preseason, you said we've got to get pressure with four. I know, when you blitz, you don't want to do that because you expose yourself to stuff. Is that disappointing for you?
ED ORGERON: Yeah, it is. It really is. We have some guys hurt. We're not getting where we want to go yet. I'm not saying that we can't get there, but we're not where we need to be.

Q. You mentioned the pass rush earlier. Patrick Queen seems like he's up in the middle on some of those green team packages. What's his role in that, and what have you seen in him this year?
ED ORGERON: That's a package that Dave has come up with to dictate those certain protections. Once we dictate those certain protections, we can do a lot of things out of that. You're going to see that more. Sometimes we're sending him. Sometimes we're not. But I think that, when you walk him up to the line of scrimmage, you dictate how they're going to block you, then Dave can run his blitzes better from that.

Q. He's one of those guys that was in a position battle throughout there. Now he's on the field for you all. What have you seen from Queen this year?
ED ORGERON: Excellent character. Some guys, when they don't get it their way, they want to transfer. They want to go. This guy came into my office and said, what can I do to get better? I'm going to play. I'm going to fight this thing out. Great example of stick around. Hey, listen, we've got a plan for you, son. It's going to happen. And now he's one of our best players on the team.

Q. Coach, we know in the summer Burrow talked about scoring 40, 50, and 60 points. You all hit all those numbers. With recruiting -- and I know you talked about it leading up to the Texas game -- is there any story you could relay about some of the recruits, their excitement level now that they've seen it, not only one week against Georgia Southern, but big time opponents there. 19 kids have caught a pass for you this year. That broke a school record.
ED ORGERON: So here's me texting a skill player. You ready? Hey, this is Coach O, can you call me? Bing, hello! As opposed to, Hey, this is Coach O, can you call me? No answer. There's high interest, and guys are being noticed. Especially being on ESPN Gameday, being a national TV game like that and having a quarterback doing what he's doing, there's high interest across the country in our offense and coming to play for the Tigers. There was always high interest. Now that we're playing even great offense, there's even higher interest.

Q. If Joe Burrow is doing well in the game, you don't want to make a change, but is there a concerted effort to get Myles Brennan some reps in the event something were to happen? You know, packages and stuff.
ED ORGERON: Yeah, we practice them. We share some reps. We go ones versus twos, which is our first offense against their second defense. Joe gets seven reps, and Myles gets three. So we're training them. Myles gets all the second team reps. Myles is eight or nine, and we're working on gaining weight. He's getting better. We feel, if something were to happen with Joe, then Myles would do fine. Is he Joe yet? No. Does he have a chance to be that good? We think he does.

Q. Coach, I know it is only September or whatever it is, but you mentioned the Heisman earlier. Do you think Joe is definitely in that conversation? And what would it take for him to be a super serious contender to get that?
ED ORGERON: We all know the answer to that. It's yes, he is, and he's that good. You have to win the big game. I think that you have to win the big game. You have to take us to the SEC Championship and take us to the Championship. Not to say that you can't win it without it, but if you do those things, you've got a good chance of winning.

Who says that we can do that? I don't know. But I've been a part of three National Championship teams, and that was a big part of those guys winning the Heisman, I'll guarantee you that.

Q. Ed, you mentioned needing to get K'Lavon healthy. What's his status heading into the week?
ED ORGERON: He's questionable. Hopefully, we can have him for this game, and if he is ready to play, we're going to play him. He's questionable. He's not able to practice today. We'll see towards the end of the week.

Q. What about Thad Moss, Ja'Marr Chase, Divinity?
ED ORGERON: They'll be ready to play.

 
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