ATLANTA (WAFB) - LSU head coach Ed Orgeron and two of his Tigers met with sports journalists to talk about being in the College Football Playoff Semifinal and spending Christmas in Atlanta preparing for an important game.
Coach O, center Lloyd Cushenberry, and defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence answered questions. Orgeron said it was a “Tell the Truth Monday” and the team had a great practice Monday morning.
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LSU finds itself in an interesting dynamic but also with a great problem to be facing. While many people across the country will be in their pajamas or sitting by the fire with their families for Christmas, the Tigers can’t lose one drop of their intensity or focus going into the program’s biggest game since the national championship in New Orleans in 2011.
“When we took off Thursday, I think the coaches went home with their families Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and some of the guys went home and had Christmas with their families," said Orgeron. “Obviously, Christmas is going to be another day for us. Obviously, we’re going to honor it because it’s the birthday of Jesus Christ, no question about that. But there won’t be any big festivities. It’s going to be a practice day. It’s going to be a workday for us.”
“We’re going to enjoy each other on Christmas Day and on Christmas Eve but we enjoy practicing together and for us, we’re excited to practice on Christmas,” added Lawrence. “We’ve never done that before. So obviously, it’s a good thing when you’re doing that. We’re going to enjoy it and just trust the process.”
The biggest concern lately for LSU fans has been the status of starting running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who suffered an injury at practice on Tuesday, Dec. 17 during a non-contact drill. According to Orgeron, Edwards-Helaire is doing better than they thought he would be. He said Edwards-Helaire is off the crutches and off the scooter.
“He has a chance to play,” Orgeron stated.
Coach O added it will be a day-to-day situation. He reiterated that the other three running backs on the roster who had reps during the season - Tyrion Davis-Price, John Emery Jr., and Chris Curry, will all play. He said they are all getting reps in practice.
According to Orgeron, quarterback Joe Burrow was tired after the whirlwind of winning the Heisman Trophy and the extra responsibilities that came after earning the award. Coach O said defensive coordinator Dave Aranda has lots of “ammunition” to prepare to stop Oklahoma’s offense.
Cushenberry said the running back coaches and Edwards-Helaire will have the other rushers ready to play. He added Edwards-Helaire will be doing everything he can over the next few days to be able to play. He said he thinks everyone is locked in on the goal at hand and will be ready to go. He especially noted it is well-known that everything starts up front and the offensive line knows it has to do its job for the whole offense to be successful.
Lawrence said he thinks trusting the process helps the players stay focused. He added he also thinks they keep the momentum going by doing extra meeting time and film study. A big challenge for LSU’s defense is Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts. Both Orgeron and Lawrence talked about properly reading keys in order to be in the right gaps to stop the Sooners. He also said the Tiger defense needs to get to Hurts and hit him a lot.
Lawrence also talked about the decision to stay at LSU for his senior season. He said it was a big decision and the right decision. He spoke about it was a similar decision for cornerback Kristian Fulton. He said Fulton may be the most underrated cornerback in college football. He added Fulton does not get targeted much because of how good he is.
This will be the third all-time meeting between LSU and Oklahoma. The Sooners beat the Tigers, 35-0, at the end of the 1949 season. Then, in 2003, LSU was the 21-14 victor in the national championship game.
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