Orgeron talks about Finley’s play, defense against Texas A&M, injured players, & more

Orgeron talks about Finley’s play, defense against Texas A&M, injured players, & more
LSU head coach Ed Orgeron (Source: Chris Parent/Chris Parent / LSU Athletics)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - LSU head coach Ed Orgeron held his weekly Zoom meeting with sports journalists to recap the win over Arkansas and preview the upcoming game in College Station, Texas, against No. 5 Texas A&M.

Orgeron points out improvements but adds more work needs to be done
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“We’re going to have to go and play our best game,” said Orgeron. “I think Texas A&M is a much better team when they’re playing at home than when they’re playing on the road, at least our series. They’re going to play their best football. They’re going to have a great crowd. Probably the first time, but - I imagine they’re going to have a great crowd. Probably the first time this year that the crowd noise will be a factor. We’re going to have to be able to handle it, be able to handle our emotions. They’re going to be sky high; they haven’t played in a while, but so will we.

Orgeron talked about the play of freshman quarterback TJ Finley. He was happy that Finley didn’t turn over the ball and thought he made good decisions. Finley led LSU on a drive late in the fourth quarter and found Jaray Jenkins in the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown to give LSU the 27-24 lead and eventual win. Finley was 27-of-42 for 271 yards and two touchdowns.

However, there was a play in the second half in which tight end Arik Gilbert appeared to be open running down the seam and Finley didn’t quite hit him.

“Well, when I saw him in the hall today, I said, ‘Throw to No. 2 (laughing). Okay? If all else fails, throw to No. 2,’” Orgeron noted.

Coach O said running back Tyrion Davis-Price had one of his best games. Davis-Price had 24 carries for 104 yards and a touchdown. Davis-Price leads LSU in rushing yards (349) and rushing touchdowns (3). LSU is 26-1 overall under Orgeron and 3-0 in 2020 when having a 100-yard rusher. As a team, LSU rushed for a total of 148 yards. Orgeron credited offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger with calling a great game to help LSU control the time of possession. The LSU offense won the time of possession battle, 41:43 to 18:17. Offensively, LSU ranks No. 4 in the SEC in scoring (34.3), total offense (451.5), and passing offense (327.2).

Coach O said the LSU defense will need to get a pass rush to try to stop Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond and the Aggie offense, which has only given up two sacks so far this season.

“He gets rid of the ball quick. A lot of play-action pass. But you know what, I don’t know much about them only giving up two sacks. I know that already. I don’t know why. I didn’t study them that much. But I do believe we can put pressure on them. Now, Kellen is a dual-threat quarterback. He can avoid a rush and run the football, much like Feleipe Franks did last week. We have to be able to contain him,” Orgeron added.

One player who may be able to help LSU get a good pass rush is senior defensive end Andre Anthony, who was named co-SEC Defensive Player of the Week after sacking Arkansas quarterback Feleipe Franks twice. He has four sacks on the season, which ties him for the team lead with true freshman BJ Ojulari.

“You know, playing on the edge, you want your best pass rusher at the right end. Him [Andre Anthony] and BJ [Ojulari] play that right end position. He gets a lot of one-on-ones with the offensive tackle coming on the blindside. He’s got a nice what he calls a double-hand swipe. You know, one of the tackles for loss, we had a nice stunt on. It was a triple. He was coming around. We ran right into the mesh point of the quarterback. So, I think the attacking defensive line is what you’re seeing instead of sitting back and reading getting to the backfield and making plays. He’s perfect for that,” Orgeron explained.

Orgeron briefly talked about the health of cornerback and punt returner Derek Stingley Jr. He suffered a concussion after taking a “knee to the helmet” during a punt return against Arkansas in the second half and didn’t play the rest of the game. Orgeron said Stingley will practice in a gold jersey (non-contact) Monday and looks like he’ll be fine to play against Texas A&M on Saturday. He added wide receiver Racey McMath is “very doubtful” for the game. McMath pulled up limping and hobbled to the sideline while grabbing the hamstring area of his leg after running out for a deep pass against Arkansas.

Orgeron said the injury former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow suffered at Washington on Sunday was tough to watch. He said he thought Burrow had a chance to be named Rookie of the Year in the NFL. He added he texted Burrow’s father on Monday and knows he’ll be back. Burrow suffered a reported torn ACL and MCL in the game.

Orgeron talks Finley, defense, injuries, and more

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The Tigers (3-3) edged the Razorbacks (3-5), 27-24.

The LSU secondary still gave up some big plays but the defense was able to do enough for LSU to hold on and get the win. Arkansas outgained LSU, 443 to 419. The LSU defense was able to force six 3-and-outs and Arkansas was 0-for-10 on third down.

“I’m pleased with the way we played most of the game against Arkansas. I thought that we had our cleats in the grass. We had a great plan for the hurry-up offense. But still not pleased with the deep balls, still not pleased with the rub routes. Still not pleased with the explosive plays, and definitely not pleased by the way we played most of the season. We need to improve to be a championship defense, and everybody knows that,” Orgeron stated.

LSU is currently ranked No. 126, which is last in the nation, in allowing plays of 50 yards or more.

Texas A&M hasn’t played since a 48-3 win over South Carolina on Nov. 7. Its game against Ole Miss that was scheduled for Nov. 21 was postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the Aggie program.

LSU is 34-21-3 all-time against Texas A&M, which includes a 7-1 record since the Aggies joined the SEC in 2012. Last year, the Tigers dominated in a 50-7 win in Tiger Stadium.

Kickoff for LSU at Texas A&M is scheduled for 6 p.m. The game will be shown on ESPN.

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