Football Season Culminates in BWW Citrus Bowl
Assoc. Athletic Director/Communications
ORLANDO, Fla. – LSU's "One Team. One Heartbeat" motto will face one more challenge tomorrow when the 20th-ranked Tigers face 13th-ranked Louisville and its Heisman Trophy quarterback Lamar Jackson here in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium.
Kickoff for the first meeting between the Tigers and Cardinals in football is scheduled for 10:07 a.m. CT. ABC will televise the game with Dave Pasch (play-by-play), Greg McElroy (analyst) and Tom Luginbill (sideline reporter) calling the action.
The game will also be broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network with the Voice of the Tigers Chris Blair, Doug Moreau (analyst) and Gordy Rush (sideline reporter) calling the action. The game can be heard in the Baton Rouge area on Eagle 98.1 FM or on the internet for free exclusively at www.LSUsports.net/live.
LSU, winners of five of seven games since Ed Orgeron took over the club in late September, is 7-4 overall. The Tigers won their five games under Orgeron by a combined total of 130 points. The two losses came to Alabama (10-0) and Florida (16-10).
The Tigers are a win away from extending their Power 5 conference best mark of consecutive seasons with at least eight victories to 17 straight. LSU has won at least eight games every year since 2000, the longest streak of any team in a Power 5 conference. Boise State currently holds the longest active FBS steak at 18 straight seasons with at least eight victories.
Louisville won nine of its first 10 games and climbed to as high as No. 5 in the College Football Playoff Rankings before finishing the regular season with a 9-3 overall. The Cardinals are coached by former Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino, who went 2-2 against LSU in his four seasons with the Razorbacks.
LSU's "D" vs. Louisville "O"
In what will be LSU's biggest defensive challenge of the season, the Tigers will be charged with slowing down Jackson, who has accounted for 51 touchdowns (30 passing, 21). The Heisman quarterback leads a Louisville offense that leads the nation in scoring (45.3), and ranks No. 2 nationally in total offense (558.8). The Cardinals average 256.8 rushing yards per game and 302.0 passing yards a contest.
Jackson, who has thrown for 3,390 yards, also leads Louisville in rushing with 1,538 yards and an average of 6.6 yards per carry.
The Tigers will counter the Cardinals offense with a defense that is considered among the best in the nation. Only once this year has LSU allowed more than 21 points in a game and overall, the Tigers are allowing just 16.4 points a contest. LSU have given up just 16 touchdowns all year.
LSU ranks No. 2 in the SEC against the run (121.8), No. 3 in scoring defense and total defense (323.0) and No. 4 in pass defense (201.2).
The Tigers will look to match the elusive Jackson with its quickness on defense, which is led by All-America defensive backs Tre'Davious White and Jamal Adams. LSU will once again be without second team All-America linebacker Kendell Beckwith (knee), but have used the 12 bowl practices to prepare backups Donnie Alexander and Devin White to help slow the Cardinal offense.
LSU's "O" vs. Louisville "D"
The Tiger offense has surged under acting coordinator and quarterback coach Steve Ensminger as LSU's numbers have climbed to 28.3 points and 425.7 total yards (238.1 rushing, 184.6 passing) per game. Since taking over after 2-2 start, LSU's offensive output has leaped to 32.4 points and 475.0 total yards (264.6 rushing, 210.4 passing) during the 7-game span.
All-America running back Derrius Guice leads LSU and ranks No. 2 in the SEC with 113.5 yards rushing per game. Guice has rushed for 1,249 yards and 14 touchdowns, which includes a school-record 285 yards on the ground against Texas A&M. QB Danny Etling is 6-3 as the starter for the Tigers and has completed 144-of-240 passes for 1,906 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions.
The Tiger offensive line is back at full strength after a season that saw LSU use four different starting combinations this year. LSU will be able to go at least seven players deep on the offensive line if necessary against Louisville.
The Cardinals will attempt to slow the Tigers will an underrated defense, one that is allowing 23.3 points and 316.3 total yards (110.0 rushing, 124.9 passing) a game.
Notes of Interest for LSU Heading Into the Citrus Bowl:
- LSU is 5-2 in the Season of Orgeron, winning the five games by a combined 130 points. LSU scored at least 38 points in all five victories under Orgeron. Overall under Coach "O", LSU has outscored the opposition 227-103 or 32.4-14.7 per game.
- Sophomore RB Derrius Guice is only the second player in SEC history (other is Kentucky's Moe Williams in 1995) to rush for 250 yards or more twice in the same season. He also joins Herschel Walker (1980 and 1981), Bo Jackson (1983 and 1985), and Williams as the only players in SEC history with two 250-yard rushing games in a career.
- Under Orgeron and acting offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger, LSU's offense produced two 600-yard games (634 vs. Missouri, 622 vs. Texas A&M) and two 500-yard games (515 vs. Ole Miss, 547 vs. Arkansas).
- LSU was the last remaining team in the FBS to hold its opponents to 21 points or less when Texas A&M scored 39 points against the Tigers in the season finale.
- LSU has given up just 27 first quarter points and 33 third quarter points this year. LSU didn't allow a first quarter TD until the sixth game of the season (Southern Miss). Only three teams scored first quarter TDs against LSU (Southern Miss, Ole Miss, Texas A&M).
- LSU 24-22-1 all-time in bowl games. The 24 bowl victories rank 10th nationally, while the 48 bowl appearances stands at No. 8 all-time.
- LSU's current streak of 17 straight season with a bowl appearance is the second-longest streak in the SEC, trailing only Georgia (18).
LSU Head Coach Ed Orgeron
Q. How are the week's preparations going?
ED ORGERON: Been awesome. Our team is prepared very well. A lot of respect for the Louisville football team and Coach Bobby Petrino, obviously the best player in the country, Lamar Jackson. We're excited to go.
Q. We met some of your players yesterday at Camping World Stadium, and they were proudly wearing their graduate patches on the uniforms. That must mean a lot to you.
ED ORGERON: Yes. It means a lot that our guys come to LSU. No. 1 priority is graduation. No. 2 is winning championships.
Q. Hey, Coach, just curious. We've heard a lot about the bowl events and the off-the-field things that the players have gotten to do this week. How important is that as you implement your culture as the head coach for them to have some bonding time off the field?
ED ORGERON: I think it was important that we came here with a business-trip mindset and also to know that, when it was time to focus in on the task at hand, we did it. But also, I wanted to treat them as young men, give them some freedom to do the things that they want to do, come to Orlando, enjoy the fun things that they have here as a team. I believe as a team, when you go eat together, when you go to Disney World together, when you go to Universal together, it's just as important as practice that we bond together. Our guys have had a great week. You come to a different hotel, a different setting, you get closer together, and that's one of the themes of our team: One team, one heartbeat.
Q. Coach, now that they have been here, were they as excited to get here and experience all that Central Florida had to offer? I know we wore them out at the theme parks and a few places.
ED ORGERON: It was beautiful. I mean, the size of the hotels, the magnitude of Orlando, a lot of us have not been here, and the kindness of all the people, and the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl has been amazing, the practice field at Celebration [High School], the food. As you know, those big boys need to eat, and they love the food, and we just had a great experience.
Q. Obviously, you want to win every game you play, but what are the positives you can take away from winning this game, moving forward?
ED ORGERON: Well, first of all, we would have beaten a very good football team. We want to always challenge ourselves to play against the best. So, we think that Louisville is one of the better football teams that we've played this year. They give us a lot of challenges, especially on the defensive side. Dave Aranda, who I think is the best defensive coordinator in college football, has worked very hard. I know he has an excellence plan, but it's hard to simulate the speed of Lamar Jackson. So, we're going to have to -- he's going to make some plays. But this puts us into recruiting. This puts us in the offseason with a positive mindset, and it sets the standard for LSU football, which is to win championships.
Q. Is everybody here that was on the roster for the last game, anybody be left home? Everybody intact?
ED ORGERON: Frank Herron didn't make it because of academics, and we're going to miss him, but it was just strictly because of academics. He'll be back with us in the spring, ready to go.
Q. Hey, Coach, is there anything you need to do to make sure you don't over prepare for Lamar Jackson so you don't get beat some other way?
ED ORGERON: We have not practiced every day that we could. I think we had 15 practices. We practiced 12, which we thought was very good. The idea was to keep the team fresh, ready to go. We did not talk about Lamar Jackson and the Heisman trophy and all that every day. We just went into our scheme, concentrated on us and our technique. Lindsey Scott, a young quarterback from Zachary, who's an excellent young man, has done a tremendous job of simulating him and he's made some plays on us, so we made it tough. But as we know, he's going to make some plays tomorrow. We just need to be patient.
Q. Coach, talk about what it means to you to be the head coach of LSU, being from Louisiana and how the players have reacted to this?
ED ORGERON: Well, it's been very gratifying. Again, this is not about me. This is about the Tiger family. This is about our football team and this is about all the people that were raised in Louisiana. And I think I'm a representative of those people from Shreveport all the way down to Louisville and Louisiana. I just feel a part of something special, very honored to be the head coach. I understand the standards of LSU and we're prepared to meet those standards.
Q. Ed, did you get to watch the Pittsburgh bowl game and also, Matt Canada, where was he at? Do you know where he is right now, where we'll be tomorrow?
ED ORGERON: Yeah, I watched a little bit of it. We watched film. I think I turned it on at tight end and missed the ball in the end zone. That was the only play I got to see a little bit of that. But anyway, he's back with his family. We wanted to keep everything the same. We have a very positive energy on our staff right now. Matt just felt it was the best thing to just simply go home with his family and come to work after. Really, the only changes on our staff has been Carter Blount is in charge of special teams and Bobby April is a consultant with us. That's the only changes that we wanted on our staff. And our guys have done a great job of continuity.
Q. Does it feel any different to be going into a game coaching without the interim tag and, second, do you feel any -- I don't know, added pressure to, like, make a good impression now that it's a done deal?
ED ORGERON: Yeah. You know, that's a natural deal. It is a natural deal and those thoughts have come across my mind but I can't let it be a factor. I promised myself the No. 1 when I got the interim job, I was going to be the head coach at LSU. And there's nothing there's changed in my demeanor or what I've done, but I understand the magnitude and this isn't my first game and I'm going to be judged whether I win or lose. I understand that. But those pressures cannot affect the way I coach or the way our team plays.
Q. With all of those connections to LSU that you just talked about and now being the true head coach, what would a win mean to you and are you trying to push those feelings and thoughts to the back of your mind right now?
ED ORGERON: You know, we've done a good job. Obviously, there was a lot of things that could have distracted us this year and outside of our room. We had a saying that we're going to block out the noise and I asked the team to block out the noise and so I need to do that too. This is not about me being my first game. This is about our players. This is about our coaching staff. This is about the LSU family, going to play a good Louisville football team and wanting to win a game. That's all it's about.
Q. Coach, a lot of talk about Lamar Jackson, obviously. Let's go to your offense. How important is it for Darius Guice now that [Leonard] Fournette's gone to have a big game and really try to explore like you did at Texas A&M?
ED ORGERON: As we go back to the Texas A&M game, Darius had a tremendous game. He enjoys being the man -- the No. 1 man and deservedly so. He's a great back. He's a great young man. We're going to have to run the football. We're going to have to keep the ball away from their offense and do a good job of clock management and he's going to be a big part of it.
Q. Do you feel like to win this game, it could be a game of keep away with the offense?
ED ORGERON: No, no. Uh-uh. We're going to do what we need to do, but there will be some times, as in any ball game, when your defense is on the field for a long time, we may have to stall the drives, run the clock, milk the clock out a little bit, run the football for our defense to catch their breath.
Q. Coach, follow up on Darius Guice. Does his running style lead you to use different blocking schemes or different strategies than would with Leonard Fournette?
ED ORGERON: You bring up a good point. With Leonard, Leonard was best when he cleared the line. And if you could get Leonard free through a line of scrimmage, he was gone. Darius can make you miss. Darius can run more of a zone running scheme. He has a tremendous cut from left to right. It's obviously on film. He's a different runner than Leonard. He does different things and we do have a different game plan for Leonard -- for Leonard and for Darius.
Q. Coach, speaking of the running backs, it seems like Nick Brossette, when you gave him a chance, he did some good things. Now kind of entering his junior year, so to speak. What kind of career could he have moving forward do you think?
ED ORGERON: Well, I believe that Nick is going to compete for a lot of playing time. As you know, we rotate our backs. Darrel Williams will play a lot. Hopefully, we can see Nick Brossettee. He's had a tremendous bowl practice. A lot of young guys have gotten better, which is one of the targets that we try to do. I think Nick Brossettee is going to be an excellent running back at LSU. He's waited his time. He's ready.
Q. Bobby Petrino's been at several different stops. Is he just an example of a guy who if you can call plays, you can get an offense? There will always be a place for you in college football?
ED ORGERON: Well, I don't know that. I don't make those decisions. But I will tell you this, he's an excellent football coach. He has earned the respect of everybody around the country, the type of football coach he is. He always has winning teams. He always has tough teams. He's won everywhere he's been. He's a winner.
Q. Coach, a lot is said about Lamar Jackson, obviously, but can you talk about their defense and what you've seen with what they do on defense?
ED ORGERON: First of all, I have the utmost respect for Todd Grantham. He's a friend of mine. He's a former defensive line coach, like I am. We've known each other throughout our career. He brings a lot of passion, a lot of energy. I believe they're the 12th ranked defense in the nation. They're really aggressive. They force you to do some things. They force you to do some things that are outside the box. He's going to show something and do something else different. They have a lot of speed, a lot of athletes on their team. He's very well -- he's a game caller. They're very well coached on defense. I like their defensive line. They're tough, physical and aggressive.
Q. Coach, a lot of speculation about your quarterback moving forward next year. Do you build for the future with the young guy? What does this game, as far as importance, rank for Danny [Etling] and moving forward?
ED ORGERON: It has nothing to do with it, you know, nothing, because he's been coached by Steve [Ensminger], and Steve's done a tremendous job for us. I love him to death. Danny has done a really good for job for us. And what's going to happen, like I said before, Matt's going to come in, going to evaluate all the quarterbacks. The thing I like about Matt Canada is that he
adjusts to the specific personnel that we have on the team. So that's going to be his job to figure out the best quarterback and the best offense we can be in.
Q. A guy like Tre'Davious White playing in his last game, with everything that he's been through in his LSU career, what are you expecting to see from him, and what do you want him to do in terms of a leadership standpoint?
ED ORGERON: Well, Tre'Davious White, number one, has been a great team guy. He's fun to be around. I love him. He would be somebody that, if he was my son, I would be very proud of. He's going to have an excellent career in the NFL. He wants to go out a winner. We're going to have to do a great job in coverage. Lamar Jackson can throw the ball very well. He's just not a runner. He can beat you with his feet and his arm. They have very good receivers. We're going to have to lock them down. He's going to have to have a good time. Also, he's our punt returner. We have to gain some positive yards and take care of that football.
Q. Coach, with Kendell Beckwith out, I know that's a big miss, senior leadership and obviously a physical presence on defense, how much of a factor do you want Donnie Alexander to be or maybe some other positions that can help fill that void without Beckwith there?
ED ORGERON: Donnie Alexander has done a good job for us, and Dave [Aranda] has done a tremendous job preparing him for the things that we're going to see. Obviously, the speed of the game is going to test us. And their offense, if you do one thing, they're going to do another. We are going to need to be prepared for it, but I do believe that's one of Dave Aranda's strengths. And also Devin White, those guys are doing to have to show up and play. We do have a deficit at linebacker. Kendell Beckwith was a great linebacker for us.
Q. To you try to utilize maybe the defensive backs more to match that speed?
ED ORGERON: Watch the game tomorrow.
Q. Ed, Jamal [Adams] seems pretty pumped about this when he's facing a guy like Lamar Jackson. What are you expecting from just that match up, you know, a safety like Jamal and then a quarterback like Lamar?
ED ORGERON: Here's the deal with Lamar Jackson, once he gets in the space, he can go 60 in a heartbeat. We're going to have to make tackles. We're going to have to game tackle him. We're going to have to do a good job of tackling that space. Although Jamal Adams is one of the biggest safeties in the country, he's very flexible. He's a great tackler in the space. I expect him to have a bunch of plays tomorrow on Lamar Jackson for us to be successful