BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - LSU head coach Ed Orgeron met with sports journalists for his weekly Zoom meeting to recap the huge win over then-No. 6 Florida and preview the upcoming matchup against Ole Miss.
He noted 26 freshmen and sophomores played in the game against Florida and every point scored by LSU was by a freshman or sophomore.
“I was so proud of our football team, the leadership, and the older guys that stuck around and stayed,” said Orgeron. “I’m so proud of the younger guys that stepped up, played very well. I’m proud of our coaching staff for blocking out the noise last week and had a tremendous week of preparation. Twenty-six freshmen or sophomores played out of the 48 that played. Every point scored on that field was by a freshman or sophomore. A lot of young guys playing. A lot of next-man-up.”
Coach O said he and the staff will once again take the week to decide on the starting quarterback but added they were impressed with Max Johnson’s leadership, mobility, decision-making, and most importantly, ball security.
“We’ll talk about it this week and see what the game plan is. We wanted Max because of his mobility, not that TJ doesn’t. And wanted to get Max the chance to start. TJ had his opportunity to do it, and he did very well sometimes. I think that we’re very impressed with Max’s leadership, his toughness, his ability to run the football, his ability to make decisions under pressure. And the biggest thing is no turnovers, and going in the swamp, his first game, think about this. You’re a true freshman, you go into the swamp. You’re a 23-point underdog and you win. That tells you a lot about the young man,” Orgeron explained.
Orgeron stated Johnson suffered a minor injury but should be fine.
“He has a small injury. He’s limited today, but I think by the end of the week he’s going to be full speed,” Coach O added.
He made several comments about the shoe throw during the Florida game. He reiterated he has never seen anything like that in football but was quite happy when he saw those three flags on the field.
When you think back on Saturday night, kind of what’s that first thought?
“Yeah, to see those three flags on the field and see the shoe. And by the way, I’ve been asked to give a bunch of shoes for Christmas. I don’t know why. My Christmas list has become shoes. I don’t know why people want shoes from me. But just to see those three flags on the field and see a chance for us to win the game and see the joy in our players and our coaches’ faces in the locker room. Love it,” said Orgeron.
Orgeron also talked a lot about recruiting, as Wednesday marks the start of the Early Signing Period. He said LSU was on solid ground with most of its recruits before the big win but it helps.
“I really believe last year’s recruiting class is phenomenal. A lot of guys are playing already. The sophomores are doing a very good job. We never talked about the future and what we were going to do. We wanted to finish this year strong. But as you look at it, all those guys are coming back. Maybe we can recruit some guys with the extra year eligibility. For next year we should have a very strong team, a very strong nucleus along with this recruiting class we’re going to have this year,” he said.
How big was this game this past weekend to show the kids that the ship will get righted and this team will get back to where it needs to be?
“I think it was huge. I think it’s reassurance. And obviously, recruits have a short memory what you did yesterday, and they all watched the game. But, you know, they’ve been seeing the whole time all the freshmen were playing, all the players that we lost. So I think the game had a lot to do with giving us some momentum this week, but we were on solid ground with most of our recruits before this game. But it does help,” Orgeron replied.
Followup to that, Ed, how many do you think will sign on Wednesday, or this early signing period?
“You know, it’s very fluid right now, and I can say minimum 15 to 16, maximum 20. I think in between those numbers would be a good range,” Coach O answered.
I think you’ve told us before sometimes that recruits don’t think about wins and losses as much as we think they do. So what have you seen them respond to just kind of how the season has gone?
“No. They’ve been very good. Obviously, we’ve built relationships. Again, these guys saw last year one of the best teams to ever play in college football history, and they remember that. And they see all those guys going into the NFL and having a lot of success, and they see us having a young team. Obviously we’ve struggled in some areas that we gotta get fixed. But they know that. It gives them an opportunity to come in and play early, see true freshmen playing, two freshmen quarterbacks playing and having success. And especially skilled positions on offense, they know we have great quarterbacks coming. We’re fixing to sign another great quarterback on Wednesday. So they see the future looks bright,” he explained.
Coach O had lots of good things to say about Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin, whom he’s good friends with. The two were assistants together under Pete Carroll at USC. Also, when Kiffin was the head coach at Tennessee, he hired Orgeron.
“Well, you know, Lane came in as a young coach with Coach Carroll, our first year with Coach Carroll, I believe it was the year 2000. So I’ve known Lane for 20 years. And we became good friends. I respect him as a coach. There’s no question. I respect his knowledge of the game. He got me to leave the NFL to go with him to Tennessee. He was going to come with me when I got the job. If he didn’t get a head job, he was going to be my offensive coordinator. So he’s a great recruiter. Me and him recruited a lot of great players together. We have a lasting bond. We won two championships together. I’ve coached with him at Tennessee. I remain close with him. We talk about personal things. We share things. I just have the utmost respect for him,” he said.
Click here to report a typo.