Sam Spiegelman/SEC Country
LSU coach Ed Orgeron spoke to the media Monday, breaking down what went right in the team's win over Arkansas and previewing the Tennessee game.

What LSU coach Ed Orgeron said Monday before the Tennessee game

Nick Suss

BATON ROUGE, La. — Coming off his team’s bounce-back victory over Arkansas on Saturday, LSU coach Ed Orgeorn spoke to the media Monday, putting that game to rest and begin preparation for this weekend’s tilt versus Tennessee.

SEC Country was on hand and typed Orgeron’s words as he said them, including his recap of what went right versus Arkansas, his advice for Tennessee as the Vols transition into an interim coach, his memories of coaching in Knoxville and more.

Scroll below for an abridged version of Orgeron’s comments.

What LSU coach Ed Orgeron said:

  • Something came out last week and I’d like to repeat it. We were proud when the athletic department announced a 90 percent graduation rate. Football had a 78 percent graduation rate when the national average is 48 percent. That’s phenomenal. I’m proud. I’m proud to be the head coach at LSU. I want to thank Joe Alleva and the staff. They do a tremendous job.
  • On to Tennessee. I spent a year there, thought it was a wonderful time. We’re going to expect a good time. I know they’re going to be emotionally ready. I know Brady Hoke as a coach and I respect him. It’s going to be about us.
  • I was proud of the team. For the second year in a row we beat Arkansas after a loss to Alabama. Our guys did a great job. Great mindset. Great preparation.
  • Offensive positives: Scoring first drive of the second half set the tempo. It’s what we talked about at halftime. Great ball security. I think we’re second in the nation in fewest turnovers.
  • We played physical and started fast on defense. We won the third downs, forced a turnover to end the game. I know Dave Aranda wanted to end the game, he was pushing.
  • On special teams we struggled in the field goal kicking and extra point kicking which was obvious. But I think we did well in the kickoff coverage game. We won the field position battle.
  • Overall, we knew Arkansas was going to fight. Give credit to coach Bielema and his football team. But I was proud that in the last two years we beat Arkansas.
  • On to Tennessee. Offensively they run a spread. Their tight end is one of their best players and the tight end beat us against Arkansas so we’ll have to stop that. We expect Jarrett Guarantano to play. And then John Kelly is a tough runner who we expect to be explosive.
  • There’s a lot of players on that defense I tried to recruit. Good players over there. They have a great kickoff returner.
  • These kids deserve a finish to a real great season. We’re going to work hard on that.
  • They can’t change much. Obviously I’ve been there. They’re going to tweak some things. He’s going to put his spin on it. Every game teams have new formations. We’re going to study what they do best and we’re going to stop those plays. The things they tweak, we’re going to have to adjust on the sideline.
  • They’re going to play over their heads. I know this guy. He’ll get them fired up. But every team that plays LSU is fired up. Any time you go into Neyland Stadium with that crowd, you have to expect their best.
  • We’re going to play crowd noise, but I won’t play Rocky Top. We’ll get tired of hearing it all week. Although it’s a good song and I enjoyed it when I was there. We’re going to play a lot of crowd noise and rely on our experiences.
  • Arden Key will be questionable this week.
  • On Sunday morning when I get [to the facility] Devin White is one of the first players I see. He’s a great student, a great leader. The guys respect him by his play. Although he’s a sophomore, he’s one of the best linebackers I’ve ever had.
  • Here’s the deal: Our ball security has been good, but we’re not causing enough turnovers. That’s something I talked to Dave about. It’s a mindset. I believe we’re +3 right now which is an improvement. But when you get into the +12 and +13 categories, that’s when you win games.
  • There are a couple things and we tried a couple of blocks [on punts]. But we’ve got to do a good enough job of giving him room to return. We have confidence in him. But we have to do a better job of holding our guy to the line of scrimmage. We had a wall return, a middle return, but it’s holding the guy up so he can get the return. We haven’t done that the last couple of weeks.
  • Will Clapp is one of my favorite stories because his dad was so tough. Pete Jenkins still shows film of Tommy Clapp because he was so tough. The guys love it, and his sons are the same way. This week we single blocked the nose tackle every play.
  • KJ Malone is “very questionable.”
  • I think it sends a message of physical football. When I watched LSU, played against LSU, coached against LSU, they always had this physical mentality. Derrius Guice has done that several times. One of my favorite runs since I’ve been coaching was Leonard’s run against Ole Miss. That hit he made on the sideline. Those hits send the signal that this is going to be a physical football team.
  • There’s a lot of players in Memphis. Obviously getting Jacob and Jacoby, two 5-stars out of Tennessee last year was important for us. Austin Thomas got both of those guys. He knows that state in and out. Knoxville is two hours from Atlanta and we do a good job of recruiting Atlanta so hopefully all those guys come to the game.
  • Obviously there’s safety and I’m all for it. But we grew up in the backyard playing tackle football and I thought it was great for us. Football is a great sport.
  • Tory Carter has turned out to be a tremendous player for us. On that kickoff he put two players on the ground. He’s a tough, physical blocker who can catch the ball. He is a good football player for us right now. He’s a throwback.
  • We worked hard in the off week changing Cameron Gamble’s steps and it worked. He did a good job kicking the ball versus Alabama, then he reverted back this week. He’s been inconsistent, but for the most part he’s done well. I think we need to continue to work with Gamble and he needs to continue to get better. I don’t think we have any better options.
  • Russell Gage: Quiet. He works every day with a smile. We’re not going to announce MVPs or nothing like that this time of year. But if you look at a most valuable player on offense or special teams, it’d be him or DJ Chark. Russell Gage is all over the special teams film. He’s having a tremendous season. I’m so proud of him.
  • This team is a young football team. I learned that after we lost we had to treat them different. When we go on the road, we go to dinner, straight to team meetings then get to bed. This is a young team. I think we’ve got better. Some teams you give them a break, go to a movie, have fun. But this team couldn’t handle it. That’s one of the things we’ve done different on the road.
  • Obviously you get a second chance, it’s like a temporary second chance. It’s one thing to say you’re going to do it, but then you have to do it. The first thing I did at Southern Cal was I bought a rope and I made them all pull on the same side. You’ve got to get them to play as a team.
  • Danny before the game was hurt. Jack came to me and said ‘This is going to be tough today.’ I said we believe in Danny and he’s going to get it done. He had a tremendous day. We believe in Danny Etling. He’s one of the toughest guys. He wants to win. And those deep balls to DJ, tremendous protection and tremendous throws, but also a great route by DJ. His footwork is tremendous.