LSU interim coach Ed Orgeron: ‘We are going to change our style of play’
LSU Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Joe Alleva opening statement:
“Good afternoon. Thank you all for showing up. We got a full house here today. Listen, it's never easy when you make a change, especially when a change involves a man like Les Miles. His record here is well documented. Les is loved by his players, and that is because he cared about them as people.
He tried to develop them into fine, young men and he did a great job at that. Les is a friend to us all. He loves LSU. We wish Les, Kathy, Smacker, Manny, Ben and Macy the very best. Their future is very bright and we will miss Les, and we thank him for all he did for us here at LSU.
I felt, however, that this program needed a change, and the change was necessary to give the players the best opportunity to succeed. At the end of the day, it's all about the players and their experience and where they're going in their lives.
I felt that at this time, Ed Orgeron is the right man to take over this program. His enthusiasm is contagious. He has outstanding leadership characteristics and I still believe this team has great things ahead of it and great things that can be achieved in the last eight games.
So I really look forward to the next nine weeks. I look forward to Coach Orgeron and working with him and seeing where we go from here. I still really believe the future is really bright for this football program. It's my pleasure to give you right now, our head coach, Ed Orgeron.
Interim Head Coach Ed Orgeron opening statement:
“Thank you. What do you say, guys? It's a great day in Tiger football. It a great day in my life, I want to promise you that. First of all, I want to thank Joe Alleva and the Tiger family for making me the head coach. This is a great day for us. I want to introduce my wonderful wife, Kelly. She is my head coach. And my son, Tyler, you guys please stand. Give 'em a hand there. Thank you.
I want to thank Coach Miles for bringing me here. It's a place that I always wanted to come. Coach Miles is a great man as we all know and has taught me a lot of stuff. I've competed against him and he left the team first class and he walked out and said, "Ed, I support you." And we gave him a standing ovation and we moved on.
Here at LSU I grew up watching Rodney -- and Arthur Cantrelle and Charlie Mac coach, and I watched Pete Jenkins coach who is going to be back here tomorrow. And we're happy about that and just watching the passing and the energy in Tiger Stadium and having been an opponent coming into the stadium and understand the intimidation of the Tiger family, and we're going to bring that back.
Our players are looking forward to the energy that we're going to bring. We're going to flip the strip. We're going to do things different. We're going to do things that I've done in the past to reenergize this team and the Tiger family. I want to ask all the great Tiger fans to come out in the stadium this Saturday and support our players. This is all about our players. This is about our players feeling good about themselves. They chose to come to LSU to be the very, very best, and they deserve it.
They work long and hard hours and they deserve the success and deserve the energy that our fans with bring 'em and I know that you guys want to see a great product. We plan on putting it on the field.
You can expect a new coaching staff, a new style of play on offense, and obviously we don't have a lot of time to change things, but we are going to tweak things around. I'm going to talk to you about our new appointments on our staff. First of all, obviously as you guys know we have one of the best defensive coordinators in all of football. He is now our associate head coach, Dave Aranda. I'm going to lean on him. We have ideas we have shared from successful programs. We've been meeting all morning on how to get this thing turned around. A guy that's played here, that bleeds purple and gold, Steve Ensminger, is now going to be our offensive coordinator and our quarterback coach. Our wide receivers coach, Dameyune Craig, who is an excellent recruiter will also be our recruiting coordinator. Jeff Grimes is our running game coordinator. He will also take on the tight ends along with our graduate assistant who is one of the finest young coaches in America, Eric Mateos.
On the defensive line, we will bring back Pete Jenkins, a storied legend at LSU. When I introduced that Pete Jenkins was going to coach the defensive line our team went crazy and I'm sure our LSU fan base went crazy. He will be my mentor and right hand man. Running backs coach, Jabbar Juluke, excellent coach and recruiter from New Orleans. Defensive backfield coach, Corey Raymond.
I talked to Coach Peveto and I asked him just to -- to devote all his time to special teams and we gotta get better there. We got some ideas. He's been working on it all day. You're going to see a new and improved special teams and Bradley Dale is not going to coach defense. He's done a tremendous job on defense, but I wanted him to concentrate all his efforts on special teams.
Outside linebacker coach, Dennis Johnson, he was my graduate assistant and is now promoted to a full-time coach, very deserving. He played here. He's a Tiger. He's a great young man, a great coach and will do a great job recruiting. Assistant AD and director of player personnel, Austin Thomas. Chief of staff, Steve Kragthorpe. Steve will not be coaching on the field, but he will be a close liaison to me and to Coach Ensminger and the type of offense and the type of scheme that we want to run. We have meshed ideas at schools that we have been in the past and we are in agreement right now, in a short-term of the type of offense that we want, and they are currently putting it together right now.
Obviously we have Sam Nader and our assistant AD, Sharon Lewis, who does a tremendous job, and obviously a guy that I've known for a while now and I do believe that he's going to be a special guy on our staff. Y'all know him. He will be a special assistant to the head coach, Derek Ponamsky. He's right there.
Now, we're starting a new season, one game at a time. Whatever happened in the past doesn't matter. We're going to meet today as a team. We're going to look forward to attacking Missouri, getting our game plan together, practicing the way we know how to practice with energy, believe in ourselves, and have gone fun playing football again, having fun in Tiger Stadium on Saturday night, winning football games.
We've got a great group of young men. They were sad to see Les go. We all were, but they're also happy that they had a familiar face running the football team. I think this is going to be an excellent opportunity. King Alexander, I thank you, and I'm look forward to it.
We will open practice to the media on some days and at some times. (Chuckles.) Y'all talk to Michael before I mess that up, okay? (Chuckles.)
Having said that, I've known a lot of you here, I've known a lot of you throughout the years and bomb's away.
Q. You mentioned you don't have a lot of time to completely change the offense, but between yourself and Kragthorpe and Ensminger could you go into detail on your vision for the offense or changes?
ED ORGERON: Well, when I was given our scouting report for the next opponent. We're going to spread the ball out a little bit, do some different things, change the style of play. There's a lot of things on offense that we've done well, running the football, and we want to have a different passing game. We want to be more creative, find ways that the quarterback can get the ball down the field throwing it. Obviously, we know people hold up the box on Leonard and Derrius Guice, and we want to put the ball in our playmakers' hands. We want to throw short for the quarterback and move the ball down the field. You have to score points these days.
Q. I wondered if you could tell us your view of this opportunity in the context of your upbringing in south LSU and the history here and also the extent to which you view this as an audition for the longer term?
ED ORGERON: Well, this is about our young men. I've been with these guys. I've been in the locker room, especially the last game. It's just not something you want to go through and you want them to feel better. You see how much hard work they put in. Take the future aside, whatever is going to happen is going to happen. Let the chips fall where they may. We're going to come together one team, one heartbeat, take it one game at a time.
All I want to do is see them win. I want to see them happy, and whatever happens after that it's going to be fine. Now, growing up in south Louisiana being the head coach at LSU is a dream. But it is a well-respected position that I am holding right now, and I hold it in high esteem and I understand the expectations at LSU. And I fully, fully intend to meet all those expectations.
Q. Having gone through the interim experience at USC before, how similar is this to that? What's the challenges specific to the interim job?
ED ORGERON: As you know, every job is different. Every situation is different. I am glad that I had the experience of being the head coach in the SEC before. I'm glad that I had the experience of being an interim coach. I think every time you go through a head coaching job you learn where your strengths are and your weaknesses are and the more you do it the more you find out what type of coach you are. I do believe that the style of coach that I was during my last head coaching job was the style of coach you're going to see now, a style of coach that I'm going to let my coaches coach. Give them a job. They're going to be accountable, and if I see something that needs to be fixed we're going to fix it.
But we're all going to be accountable to each other. I want our team to play with energy. I want to take care of the football. We're going to go get the football. It's about turnover ratio and we're going to preach that here at LSU.
I think being at home and playing in front of the Tiger family is a little bit different. The expectations are high. I understand that. It's what I love. If you don't like it, don't come, you know?
It's a great situation. I think it's similar in a lot of ways. I spent 11 years in Southern California before I took that team over. I've only been here two years so the familiarity with the team is not the same as it was then, but I do believe that their fired up about what's going on.
Q. Can you talk about your growth between your Ole Miss job and your USC job and how much you changed at USC from when you were at Ole Miss?
ED ORGERON: Ron, you were there when I was at Ole Miss as a D-line coach, and that's how I coached the team and you can't coach a team that way. I went full speed ahead and I wanted to do everything, coach the quarterbacks, the receivers and I don't know nothing about 'em but I wanted to do it my way. And I learned about that.
When I went to USC, I delegated authority. I got guys that were very experienced in what they did, but I played to my strengths. I got that team to play the way I got my defensive lines to play. So I played to my strengths, allowed guys to coach, gave the team some freedom to be themselves, express themselves, have some team leadership and we won football games. I plan to do the same.
Q. You talked about the rough nature of this transition but you being on staff helps. What do you think this team needs, not maybe on the field but off the field right now?
ED ORGERON: You know, I just think a change. I just think a change in the way we do things. Some freshness, some energy, things that -- they love Coach Miles and we all loved him, but when things don't work you gotta change 'em. And you gotta change things. We're going to flip the script, and we're going to come closer as a team. We're going to play for each other and play with energy. Be less time on the practice field, more time in the meeting room, and hopefully we're fresh. And hopefully we will see some excitement on the sidelines. I know one guy that's going to be excited!
Q. Coach, what was your conversation like with Joe Alleva? What did he ask of you?
ED ORGERON: To lead this team. That he has confidence in me. A call from King Alexander meant a lot, and Joe and I have had a great relationship since I've been here and I think he has the confidence that I can do it and I know I wouldn't be standing here if he wasn't confident that I can do it. But also there's a couple of things that we need to change, we need to get better at, and one is to understand the expectations at LSU and right now we're not meeting those standards.
Q. On the field what are the most glaring weaknesses? What does this team need to improve upon the most going forward?
ED ORGERON: It's easy to look backwards. Everybody, hindsight is 20/20. Monday morning quarterbacks, we all got that. Here is our chance and I don't want to talk about the past. I want to talk about the future. Here is our chance to have and are we going to make mistakes? Yeah, but we're going to make 'em going full speed with a lot energy and we're going to fix 'em as soon as we make 'em.
Q. What's the dynamic like when the assistant coaches are your peers and suddenly they're answering to you as the head coach? How does that go?
ED ORGERON: Well, I look at it as if we were building a building and we're all contractors. I'm in charge of the lights. You are in charge of the paint. Other guy is in charge of electricity. Make sure you're doing your job. If we all pull together, we all pulling on the same side of the rope we're going to be very successful. There are things that I do very well and there are things that I don't do very well, and there are some guys on the staff that can't do what I can do, but you know what? They have strengths that I don't have and we're going to lean on each other and pull together.
I think that, you know, adversity makes us all closer and we have some good men on this staff and there's some new leadership in the room on the offensive side. Dave Aranda, as assistant head coach, and leaning on him, bringing Pete Jenkins in, a veteran, not only a great, great Tiger, not only a great defensive line coach, a guy that has a lot of knowledge about winning games and running programs. I think we have a very strong staff.
Q. Coach, this is directed more at the Athletic Director and the President if I may. What change in terms of the optics of last fall versus now and as the state is wrestling and LSU is wrestling with the financial situation the optics of a $12.9 buyout.
THE MODERATOR: This press conference is for Coach O.
Q. You told us you were going to spread out the offense a little more. What does that mean for the quarterback position and is it more of an open position?
ED ORGERON: We're going to be very multiple and I'm still a pro-style guy, but spreading the ball around means 11 personnel, 10 personnel, 21 personnel, spreading it around, going back to 21, throw the ball to the tight ends, short, easy throws from the quarterback, stuff that I'm familiar with in my past, and past offense that we ran and had success.
Also, with Steve Ensminger, he has had some success at other schools. We're putting all that stuff together. Again, it's about the type of players we have, what we can run, what's familiar to them and it's not so foreign that we can't put it in in a week.
Q. (No microphone.)
ED ORGERON: I don't know that. It's my first day, you know? (Chuckles.)
Q. Coach, I'm sure your phone has blown up over the last 24 hours. I know you have a lot of work to do, so you probably haven't heard all the calls or returned them all. But could you share a call or two that meant something to you?
ED ORGERON: Well, the most important call was to Pete Jenkins. After I got the call from Joe and King Alexander last night that I was going to get the job, I called my wife and then I called Pete. I said, Pete, are you coming? And he said, when do you want me there? He was driving from Destin last night, and I think the world of the man and I think our players are going to love him and I think it's a great opportunity for all of us and I'm looking forward to it.
Q. Good to see you, Coach. How would you assure the fans that what we saw at the end of the game last week and the clock management and the stuff that's happened in the past isn't going to happen again?
ED ORGERON: Let me say this to you: We are going to work very hard on that. We're going to work very hard on that in practice. We're going to work very hard on clock management. I will have someone in the press box that is specifically in charge of clock management and game management. That's all they're going to do. Hopefully we can do a lot better job. This has happened to other coaches and other places around the country. We will try to improve on that.
Q. The players mentioned yesterday you talked about it today, the rope metaphor. How important was that to get that across to your players?
ED ORGERON: Yeah, I think if you play all 11 at one time on a football field and all 11 are going the same direction you're usually going to win. Everybody on the sideline pulling for those 11 you're usually going to win if you play as a team. You come to LSU and the expectation is this is the greatest job in America. We all know that. It's the greatest state in the country to recruit. We get the best players, so we have 'em. We need to put it all together. It's not about offense. It's not about defense. It's not about special teams. It's about the LSU Tigers. It's not about one coach. It's not about another. It's not about one player. Not one player can win a football game. I think you all know we have one of the best players in America. It takes all 11. When we pull against each other we don't win. When we pull at same side of the rope, we all win. So that's my job, to get us all pulling on the same side.
Q. Coach, do you feel that this team needs more discipline? And as the guy coming in, that's usually probably not a popular move, but do you feel like it's something that you have to address?
ED ORGERON: Here is what I'm going to tell you: I'm going to coach my style and do the things that I know how to do. I've been accused of being too much of a disciplinarian and I had to let the ropes go a little bit. I had success doing that. I have no problem being a disciplinarian, being a defensive line coach, that comes natural.
But I do believe that when you're coaching the whole team you've got to look at each manner and handle it in the right way and be fair to the young man, but I also believe that once they cross the line there's got to be a disciplinarian action, you can't keep on moving the line back.
Q. Ed, you mentioned needing to increase the energy. Why was the energy not there before? Why do you think that needs a boost?
ED ORGERON: I'm not going to say that. Just everybody has their own style. That's my style is it's going to come up. The teams that we've had in the past win championships. We wanted energy. I think the game is still one of emotion and it's an emotional game. It's college football and the guys want to get fired up. They want to get jacked up. They listen to music before the game now. They want to dance around. They want to have fun, and that's just the guys that we are coaching now. It is the approach that we will take.
Q. Coach, you've always been known as a very good recruiter. Can you speak to maintaining the guys you have committed right now keeping that stability, the ones who are, you know?
ED ORGERON: We were on the phone last night. As soon as we met with the team we got in. We had what we called a LOU pow-wow. We passed the phone. Called all our recruits. Obviously, they was sad. Coach Miles had talked to every one of them almost weekly. They had called him or he had called them. They were good friends with their parents, but they were very excited that I'm the interim head coach. I've known most of them. So the response was very positive. I think there's one area that I know we will do very well in.
Q. Can we talk about the game, Missouri? Can you talk about what you expect this weekend from the Tigers and from your own Tigers, what they need to improve upon from last week?
ED ORGERON: Here is what I'm going to tell you: Our offense and defense is working on Missouri. I was working on other things today like getting the staff together, putting a practice schedule together. So I can tell you a little bit about Missouri, but I'm not really ready to tell you, but tomorrow I will know more about 'em. I will say this, it will never be about our opponent. It will always be about the LSU Tigers. Always!
Q. How important is it to get a guy like Leonard Fournette, specifically Leonard engaged in what's going on right now? He's been dealing with his injury and maybe already thinking about the NFL and his future?
ED ORGERON: I think that's the concept of team. It's important for me to get the whole team bought in. Once you get the whole team bought in you have a football team. Leonard is a big piece of what we're doing. Leonard is a great guy. I've talked to him. He's totally in, and we expect him to do great things. To me, it's all about the team.