BATON ROUGE, La. — Bye weeks are a dilemma for any college football program. That’s especially the case at LSU, where a game against Alabama always looms the following week.
For coaches, it’s a balancing act. How do you rest key players while still keeping them engaged? And how do you keep things loose enough that the team isn’t already tensing up about the Crimson Tide, but also make sure things aren’t so lax that the whole team bolts home for a couple extra days?
For Ed Orgeron, the answer is the Tiger Bowl.
On the Thursday of bye week, Orgeron has his team play a spring game-style scrimmage. But rather than have key players such as Derrius Guice, Danny Etling, DJ Chark and Christian LaCouture practice, he lets them coach.
The Tiger Bowl pits little-used freshmen, redshirts and walk-ons on offense against their defensive counterparts. A modified scoring system is used that awards the defense points for turnovers, third-down stops and the like.
“It’s a good time. Just taking a break, not focusing on anything and having fun with your teammates,” said LaCouture, a fifth-year senior defensive end. “Coach O brought that last year. I feel like he’s bringing a lot of great things to this program, and that’s one of them.”
LaCouture, the defensive team’s coach, said there is plenty of politicking from upperclassmen who want the opportunity to be on the coaching staff.
“A lot of guys have been campaigning for coaching positions,” LaCouture noted.
It seems center Will Clapp, a rather unorthodox pick for passing game coordinator, is one of those who talked his way into a job.
“It’s about who you know, not what you know. That’s the best way I can describe that one,” said LSU quarterback Danny Etling, who will be coaching his actual position. “He plays a lot of Madden, so you never know. But I’d like to see how this is going to go.”
Chark is the offensive coach, assisted by coordinator Guice. They expect prodigious results.
As the head coach for the offense in the tiger bowl tomorrow … I just wanna say we putting up 50+ on the defense @LSUfootball 🤷🏾♂️
— DJ Chark (@DJChark82) October 25, 2017
There’s no fooling around in the coaching gigs. LaCouture says they have headsets and the whole nine yards.
LaCouture likes his team’s chances of winning thanks to having talent such as nose tackles Breiden Fehoko and Tyler Shelvin at his disposal.
Though the Tiger Bowl is a lot of fun and frivolity, it also serves a purpose for players who don’t get first- or second-team reps.
“It’s going to be fun for those guys to get some good minutes and show coaches on film what they can do,” LaCouture said. “That’s really what it’s all about.”