SEC MEDIA DAYS 2017: Orgeron is the man at LSU but does that translate to wins?
By Graham Dunn
HOOVER - LSU coach Ed Orgeron opened his talk at SEC Media Days on Monday with a story about his days as a child growing up in Louisiana.
He told all about watching LSU play Notre Dame and watching his hero, former Tiger great Ronnie Este.
He became a fan and is still one as well as the head coach.
“Ever since that (game) - ever since then, I wanted to be in the purple and gold,” Orgeron said.
The combination sounds good but…
“I think the guys that are seniors that were on the team last year that supported me and the team bought into what we were doing, a lot of factors had to happen for me to get the job at LSU. I’m very, very honored to be the head coach here,” he said.
No one doubts Orgeron’s exuberance. He brings a sense of pride to the program that is known for its enthusiasm.
After taking over the program from Les Miles midway through last season, the question remains if he is the man to get the LSU Tigers back in the national title hunt.
There are plenty of roadblocks starting with five conference road games due to last year’s swap with Florida. The Tigers lost a large portion of their defensive talent.
And there’s Alabama, which came up frequently during his Q & A on Monday.
“Obviously there’s a lot of people on our schedule that are very, very good football teams. So we can’t just point to Alabama, but they are the benchmark on the stand that the head coach at LSU must be in Alabama,” Orgeron said.
“I think the way to beat Alabama is to recruit on their level. They are recruiting at a high level now, and they do a great job of evaluation. And coach, coach your team very well, and get your team ready to play. Again, last year, we weren’t that far off.”
“Their defensive line wreaked havoc every game they played, so you got to find ways to get open, and get open quick,” wideout D.J. Clark admitted. “So facing them is a challenge every year. They’re very smart, and coached well, so I think that would probably be the most disciplined and difficult defense we’ve ever faced.”
Orgeron has to figure out a few more answers, namely whether or not quarterback Danny Etling is the one to take LSU to the next level. There were plenty of positive comments from the head coach but not much of a commitment to name him the official starter.
“We came out of spring and decided that we’re going to make quarterback competition,” Orgeron said. “Right now if we were to play, Danny would be our starter. And by the way, Danny loves the competition. He loves that we made it a quarterback competition. Actually he thrives in it.”
Leonard Fournette is gone but Derrius Guice has the tools to be a premier running back. He goes from the backup to the greatest to what he hopes is a similar career without the injuries.
“I tend to block out the comparison,” Guice said. “That is a man who I have looked up to for the past 4-5 years. Ever since he was here, I had a great time learning from him, as I learned a lot. I taught him a lot of things too that I didn’t recognize until he told me. The main thing that he really taught me was how to grow up fast because as you see he has two kids now being so young so he had to change his life quickly and grow up fast.”
After Orgeron rolled off a comment on nearly everybody on the roster – assistant coaches included – the subject came up regarding his tenure at Ole Miss where he went 10-25 in three years.
“I wasn’t ready,” he admitted. “I went there as defensive line coach. I did the things that I did at the defensive line coach and was very successful over the years. It didn’t work at
“Here’s two things I came up with; number one, I was going to treat the team exactly how I treat my sons, no different. And I was going to treat every coach on the coach’s staff with respect and let him coach his position, as he knew it. Ever since those two minor changes, we’ve been 12-4, so that’s the difference.”
If Orgeron has learned lessons needed to make him a winning coach, he’ll need to do it in a hurry. The tenure of coaches in the SEC at the moment is shorter than in previous decades.
“I understand the expectations of LSU,” he said. “I was born in Louisiana, and they’re very high. But we have the same expectation of our staff and ourself. I don’t feel the pressure, but I do acknowledge that it’s out there. And I still need to prove that now I’m the head coach, and we need to win, and I get that.”