It was ten years ago when Ed Orgeron last spoke at Southeastern Conference Football Media Days as head coach of the Ole Miss Rebels.
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Orgeron’s time at Ole Miss ended following that 2007 season after his teams won only ten games in three years. Following successful stints as an interim head coach at Southern California and LSU, Orgeron is back as a permanent head coach for the first time.
“I am very grateful for my time at Ole Miss,” Orgeron said. “They gave me a great chance and I was not ready. I did things like I did as a defensive line coach and it didn’t work. I had to find out why I wasn’t successful. I had to find out the things I needed to change.”
Orgeron had numerous conversations with his two mentors – Jimmy Johnson and Pete Carroll. Orgeron had been as assistant on Johnson’s Miami staff and Carroll’s USC staff.
“I have to thank my mentors for me being the coach at LSU,” Orgeron said. “Those guys taught me a lot. There were two things I needed to change. I was going to treat the team the way I treated my sons and I was going to treat every (assistant) coach with respect and let him coach his position.”
Orgeron believes he has nothing to prove in his first season as LSU’s permanent head coach – his first such job since his tenure at Ole Miss.
“(Having something to prove) is out there,” Orgeron said. “But, we have done it. We took a team at USC and went 6-2. Then, we played pretty good (at LSU) last year. We beat Louisville in the Citrus Bowl. I understand the expectations at LSU. I was born (in Louisiana). We need to win.”
Les Miles was fired last September as the Tigers program had dipped. LSU has lost at least three conferences games in each of the past four seasons. By comparison, Alabama has lost a total of three SEC during the past four years.
Orgeron acknowledged that the Tigers must overcome the Crimson Tide. LSU has lost six consecutive games to Alabama – starting with the 2011 national title game.
“They’ve done a great job at Alabama,” Orgeron said. “Coach (Nick) Saban did a great job at LSU. Alabama is the benchmark. To beat Alabama, you have to recruit at their level. Last year, the game was 0-0 going into the fourth quarter. I am not sure there’s that much of a gap.”
Due to the rescheduling of the Florida game for Tiger Stadium last November, the Tigers have five conference road contests this year. LSU will travel to The Swamp each of the next two seasons.
“It is what it is,” said Orgeron, referring to his team’s SEC schedule. “We just take it one day at a time and one game at a time. Our players will accept the challenge and will compete at the highest level when we go on the road.”
Orgeron spent a large amount of time going through the personnel on this year’s squad. Orgeron named Garrett Brumfield as the starter at left guard and Rashard Lawrence as a starter at one of the defensive end positions.
Once again, Orgeron stressed that the quarterback job is not decided. But, Danny Etling is the definite leader.
“I asked (new offensive coordinator) Matt Canada what type of quarterback he likes,” Orgeron said. “He said that he can use a pro-style quarterback or a dual-threat quarterback. We had a quarterback competition in the spring where we wanted every quarterback to show his skill set.
“Danny was the best quarterback, so we are running his system. There is still a quarterback competition going into fall camp. But, if we would play a game today, Danny is the starter.”
Orgeron addressed the situations surrounding his two best players – running back Derrius Guice and outside linebacker Arden Key. There are no questions about Guice – unlike Key, who was away from the team for personal reasons during spring and had shoulder surgery.
“Everything we do is based around our best player, Derrius Guice,” Orgeron said. “I feel he is one of the best players in the country. Derrius runs the ball with an attitude like Warren Sapp when he played defensive line for me at Miami.
“Arden Key is one of the best defensive players in the country. He was away from the team and then he had surgery. I don’t know when he will be back, but he will be back.”