Q & A with The Daily Reveille’s Joshua Thornton
What changes have you seen in the culture from Miles to Orgeron just in the team’s chemistry, cohesiveness, atmosphere, etc.?
Ed Orgeron has brought new life to the LSU [program], which was needed for this team. The players loved Les Miles, no doubt about that, but it seemed like his message stopped resonating with the team. Orgeron has changed up the practice schedules, they’re shorter and more time is spent in the film room. The players love Orgeron. He’s [a] fiery guy, and it’s a welcomed change for LSU.
Heisman-candidate Leonard Fournette is listed as questionable, according to Orgeron. Does the running game take a step back in your opinion?
Even without Leonard Fournette, the run game will still be the No. 1 priority for LSU. Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams have shown to be capable backups for Fournette, [and] there isn’t a huge drop-off between the two. The small sample size we were able to see from LSU’s 42-7 win against Missouri was that Orgeron isn’t afraid to throw the ball either, but the heart and soul of the offense begins with the running game.
How will the LSU fans show out with the cancellation of the Florida game, Southern Miss’ close proximity but, it is a mid-major team?
A lot of people around here aren’t happy about LSU not playing last Saturday [against Florida]. With that said, attendance in Tiger Stadium will likely be around 90,000 to 100,000. Fans are pretty excited about Orgeron and what new things LSU will do. Even when LSU faced FCS opponent Jacksonville State, there was still 98,000 people in attendance.
How much improvement has quarterback Danny Etling shown over the few weeks he has replaced Brandon Harris?
LSU’s passing game has definitely grown over the past few weeks. Even before Miles was fired, the coaches felt a little more trust with Etling and even opened up the playbook a bit. The biggest thing with Etling is he doesn’t try to force anything. He hasn’t thrown an interception since the Jacksonville State game three weeks ago. He takes time and goes through his progressions. Miles and Cam Cameron gave Brandon Harris every chance to keep his job, but for some reason things just didn’t click.
Does the LSU defense have any weaknesses?
The biggest weakness for LSU’s defense is the interior defensive line. Greg Gilmore and Travonte Valentine are the main starters, but behind them are two freshmen who aren’t as strong. Valentine is probably LSU’s most talented nose tackle, but he can’t stay on the field for long, because he isn’t in shape. Auburn and Jacksonville State had some success running up the middle of LSU’s defense earlier in the year.
Could this be a trap game for the Tigers?
This is anything but a trap game for LSU. The players are itching to get on the field and play someone after they had what they considered one of the best weeks of practice, last week. It’s very cliche, but Orgeron has gotten LSU to buy into the “one game at a time” approach. The players are also treating this as new season and in their minds, they’re 1-0.
What are the things that Southern Miss could exploit for them to come out of Baton Rouge with a win?
Southern Miss could really attack the Tigers best in the passing game utilizing the tight end. Wisconsin’s Troy Fumagalli had a season-high seven catches against the LSU defense. For Southern Miss to come out with a win they really need to get in a rhythm early and keep the crowd out of it.
LSU 28, Southern Miss 7