ORLANDO, Fla. — LSU coach Ed Orgeron and Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly shared the podium one last time in advance of LSU’s matchup versus Notre Dame in the Citrus Bowl on Monday.
The two coaches previewed the upcoming game, breaking down updates on which players will and won’t be available Monday, as well as what they’ve thought about Orlando and various thoughts on the game itself.
What Ed Orgeron and Brian Kelly said in their Citrus Bowl press conference:
- Orgeron: There’s a lot of entertainment here. The hospitality is wonderful. Our guys love Sea World and Disney World. The thing I love about the Citrus Bowl is they give you a lot of freedom to coach.
- Kelly: It’s been a great week. Our kids have really enjoyed the opportunity to be here; 71 years rates up there as a New Year’s Day bowl game. Teams want this as a destination. For us, it was a matter of balancing the want to accomplish something in winning 10 games and getting the reward of having an outstanding season. Our guys worked hard during the day but then when the day ended our guys put on incredible entertainment. Our hosts have been incredible. For us, it was an outstanding event.
- Orgeron: When you break down 12 games, there’s a lot of different things that you have to cover. In a bowl game, we don’t know exactly what game plan you’re going to see. It makes you break down a lot more things than a regular season game.
- Kelly: It’s tackling. It’s playing fast. You’re away from the game for a month. It’s execution, it’s special teams that scare the heck out of me. You can spend hours looking at every play. But this is about blocking and tackling and execution and special teams. That’s what I’m worried about.
- Kelly: They’re very similar to Georgia in their defensive presentation. They’re really dictating how they’re going to play you. It’s not a bend but don’t break defense. This is an in your face, physical fast defense that’s going to force you into errors. Offensively, it’s a little different. They’re going to probe and prod and look for their opportunities. And when they hit it, they’re going to hit it big.
- Orgeron: That left guard and left tackle, I can’t keep my eyes off them. They’re the best combo I’ve ever seen. That quarterback is dangerous. Great game plan. This is a good football team.
- Kelly: I think you go into every season, there’s 100 and whatever teams, all coming for the same goal. If you’re not able to get that, you’re still in the same mission after this game: to keep working for a national championship. The winning and losing of a particular game, sometimes there’s too much placed on it. But when you look at it in totality, our football team has really grown. 10 wins is usually the mark. Everybody’s looking to get to double digits.
- Orgeron: I think it shows your recruits where your program is going. Everybody wants to be in the championship. But for us to be here, that’s an accomplishment in itself. This is a tremendous challenge. There’s a lot of positive talk about your program. It’s an uplifting feeling going into recruiting. Those are four big slots. But it also helps in junior recruiting.
- Orgeron: It was a heated rivalry at Miami. My first game was Catholics vs. Convicts. I remember the tunnel vividly. It was a rivalry. They had a lot of great players. USC was the same thing. At USC, that was the game. At LSU, obviously this is not our rivalry game. But we’re similar in a lot of ways. Very physical. Programs are similar in a lot of ways. A lot of championships have been won.
- Kelly: Nothing compares to [LSU’s offense]. You get your occasional “kick the line and Xerox checks” but the amount of motioning, it’s difficult to defend. You have to be on it. The communication is really the key here. When you’re making these checks, you have 18-22 year-olds trying to communicate to guys with their hands in the dirt. That’s just the start of it. You have Guice. You have one of the best offensive lines we’ve played.
- Orgeron: K.J. Malone — I plan to start him.
- Orgeron: It’s going to be challenging, especially to know when to rush the passer and when not to rush the passer. He’s dangerous on the draw, the best we’ve seen. Then also the pulling guards. They have destroyed some outside linebacker. When you lose an outstanding player like Arden Key and a senior like Corey, it’s tough.
- Orgeron: Pete is more than a coach for me. He’s been more like a mentor. He’s the best technical defensive line coach I’ve ever been around. He loves LSU. He’s a great communicator. Even though he’s 76 years old, the kids love having him around. He helped me become a better head coach. As Coach Kelly and I was talking earlier, you don’t know what’s going to happen, but you need to prepared. I run almost every decision by Pete.
- Kelly: They’re very dynamic, especially in the punt return game. Their punt returner is dynamic. We have to really work hard on that element of coverage and punting it away when we got down here. That’s a big concern. We’ll have to sense that out as far as how they defend us. That’s generally the biggest concern, as well as your kickoff coverage. Special teams is a big piece of what goes on early on in our thought process as far as getting the right guys down the field.
- Orgeron: It sets the tempo. It’s the first play of the game. We have a new guy going to be kicking off. Gamble will not be there. We want to kick it through the end zone. We don’t know who our field goal kicker is. There’s a lot of questions as far as that. It’s going to be a big part of the game.
- Kelly: I don’t think all of the sudden [Brandon Winbush] is going to become a 75-80 percent completion percentage guy. But as we went through the year, we found stuff he does really well. We’re going to feature much more of that. When you have a month to prepare, it just comes to being smart with your quarterback. But he’s a dynamic runner and he wills his way into making plays. It’s up to us as coaches to put him in the right position.
- Kelly: I think you put yourself in these opportunities. You can’t end that streak unless you get back here. We’re going to do that. You can make numbers look anyway you want them. We’re going to be successful as a program. How it’s perceived is out of our hands.
- Orgeron: They’ve got to step up. There’s a lot of difference offense we have to defend. Their quarterback runs, their power game, the big offensive line coming right at you. We’ve worked hard on it. There’s going to be adjustments during the game that we’ll have to make. They may give us something new that we’ll be prepared to do. We’ve got to get it fixed. We can’t let them attack us and not fix it.
- Orgeron: I’ve never seen Derrius with too much of a workload. It comes easy for him. I think that week off to heal some injuries helped him. I really want to compliment him for playing in this game. Obviously other people may make some other choices which I don’t think is right. I think you need to finish with your team if you’re healthy. He wanted to finish with his team. When you do that as a junior, the LSU family and any family will respect you. You want to keep in good faith. Some juniors decide not to play in the bowl. I think Derrius Guice could’ve done that but he chose not to do that.
- Orgeron: Every back is different. Josh Adams is different. And their line is different. We’re going to have to tackle. This is going to be a battle in the trenches for 60 minutes.