‘Offense ... we’re loaded,’ Orgeron says but adds LSU needs to get better on defense

‘Offense ... we’re loaded,’ Orgeron says but adds LSU needs to get better on defense
LSU football players hit the field in March to start spring practice before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down all sports. (Source: Josh Auzenne/WAFB-TV)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - LSU head coach Ed Orgeron is moving forward and preparing his team for what he can control during this continued time of uncertainty for college football in the fall.

The Tigers are scheduled to start the season to defend their national championship in Tiger Stadium on September 5 against the University of Texas-San Antonio.

“If they move it [the start of the season back] back, if they change it, who cares?” said Orgeron. “It doesn’t matter. You call us at midnight and we’ll go play in the pasture.”

Orgeron addressed the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge like he always does before the start of the football season, but this time around, it was via Facebook Live.

Many people are wondering about the offense now that Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow is gone. Redshirt junior Myles Brennan is considered the favorite to land the starting quarterback job. The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder from Long Beach, Miss., patiently waited behind Burrow for the last two years.

“I want Myles to be the best Myles. That’s all. Offense ... we’re loaded,” Orgeron explained.

It will help that Brennan will have 2019 Biletnikoff Award winner Ja’Marr Chase to catch his passes. Chase is on the watch list again, as is teammate Terrace Marshall Jr. The pair will look to lead a talented group of receivers that should present several targets for Brennan. There’s also incoming freshman tight end Arik Gilbert, who was recently named the 2020 Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year. He has already been named to the Mackey Award watch list without yet playing a single down of college football.

There’s also the three-headed monster joining Brennan in the backfield. It should be interesting to see what running back gets the lion’s share of carries between Chris Curry, Tyrion Davis-Price, and John Emery Jr. All three are sophomores and all saw playing time last season behind Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who was taken in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs.

Orgeron talked about the Tiger defense. He said defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin is “too heavy.” He added it’s good to have safety Todd Harris back but the defensive back is not at full speed yet.

“I think one of the things we need to get better at is defense. We didn’t play good defense. That’s why Bo’s here,” Orgeron added, referring to new defensive coordinator Bo Pelini.

Pelini replaces outgoing defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, who was named the head coach at Baylor University on January 16. Pelini will be without former linebacker Marcel Brooks, who many thought would replace edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson, who was selected No. 20 overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Brooks decided to enter the transfer portal and is now at TCU in his hometown of Ft. Worth, Texas. Brooks, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound former five-star recruit, played in 11 games as a backup linebacker his freshman season with the Tigers. He finished the year with eight tackles and 1.5 sacks.

The Tigers have a great addition at linebacker in graduate transfer Jabril Cox, a three-time All-American linebacker at North Dakota State. He finished his career with the Bison with 258 tackles, 32 tackles for loss, and 14 sacks. He also had six interceptions and scored two defensive touchdowns.

The Tigers also return junior Damone Clark, who played his prep football at Southern Lab. As a sophomore, Clark played in all 15 games of the national championship season and started three of those. He finished sixth on the team in tackles with 50. He also had 4.0 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.

Both players have been named to the Butkus Award watch list.

On the back end, LSU returns sophomore All-American Derek Stingley Jr. and senior safety JaCoby Stevens. Stingley started all 15 games and finished his freshman year leading the SEC in both interceptions (6) and passes defended (21). He also tied an SEC Championship Game record with two interceptions in LSU’s 37-10 win over Georgia.

Stevens is going into his third season as a starter for LSU. He earned SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors three times in 2019 and was a second-team All-SEC selection on the national championship team. He is LSU’s leading returning tackler. In 2019, he had 92 tackles, 9.0 tackles for loss, and 5.0 sacks.

Both Stingley and Stevens are on multiple award watch lists.

Orgeron added he doesn’t expect many, if any, of his players to opt out, saying they are anxious to play.

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