The Truth: Tigers Set Sights on Strong Finish
Digital Media Reporter
Ed Orgeron has been LSU’s head coach for 771 days.
None were as crucial as Monday, following the Tigers’ loss to Alabama.
“I thought today was my biggest day of coaching since I've been at LSU,” Orgeron said Monday.
Despite the defeat, No. 9 LSU (7-2, 4-2 SEC) still has plenty to play for. The SEC West is out of reach mathematically, but a 10-win regular season and a New Year’s Six bowl are still well within grasp.
“This team's got to be mentally tough,” Orgeron said. “We got a lot to play for.”
It starts Saturday with a trip to Arkansas, where the weather is expected to be in the 30s.
“That’s football weather for me,” said quarterback Joe Burrow, an Ohio native used to frigid falls who added that he’s played in five to 10 degree weather before. “Everybody says here it’s football weather when it’s like 70. You walk out and you’re already sweating. That’s not football weather. Football weather is 35-40 degrees, sunny.”
Burrow’s plan is simple: No sleeves. No gloves. A little extra time on the bike. And figuring out what tips to give his teammates.
“I’ve never had to talk about that before,” he said, “because everybody I’ve played knows, ‘It’s November, it’s going to be cold when you play football.’ I guess I’ll have to think about that a little.”
Leading receiving Justin Jefferson, who is up to 552 yards this year after picking up 81 against Alabama, could use the help.
“In order to be a top player, you have to play in any condition,” he said. “Of course, cold, I’m not a big fan of it, but you’ve got to play every game like it’s sunny outside.”
The forecast for the rest of the season is far less dreary for LSU. They know what’s at stake, even if it doesn’t figure into their day-to-day thinking.
“If we win these next three, we’re going to be 10-2,” Burrow said. “If we’d have told you guys we’d be 10-2 at the beginning of the season, you’d have told us we were crazy. We still have a very successful season potentially ahead of us. That’s what we’re playing for. (A big bowl game) does sit in the back of our mind, but if you focus on that, you can lose track of the day to day, and you can’t do that, because you don’t get better. If we don’t get better, we’re going to lose a game.”
The areas of improvement are simple, from Orgeron’s perspective.
“Start with me,” he said. “Coach better. Put our guys in better position. Schemes could have been better. The guys did a good job for the most part but there's some things that we could have done better for our team. That's number one.
“Number two is execute better. There was some execution that wasn't done and it cost us. You can't do it against a good team like Bama. Number three on offensive and defensive line we have to be better in terms of building more depth, increasing the number of quality players that we already have.”
The weather and the opponents on deck are out of LSU’s control. But their fate is still in their hands, starting with a trip to Fayetteville this weekend.
“We have a chance to have an excellent season,” Orgeron said. “That's what we're going to look at, and we're going to use that as a motivational tool.”