Orgeron after win: 'We finally slept at night'
BATON ROUGE — If the LSU football team was a hitter in Major League Baseball and it had the day at the plate it had Saturday at Florida, it would mimic virtually every step of its routine before the next pitch or the next game.
That is LSU football coach Ed Orgeron's plan ... to a point after the Tigers' 17-16 win over the Gators as they prepare to play No. 11 Auburn (5-1, 3-0 SEC) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Tiger Stadium on CBS.
"We'll do what we did last week," he said at his weekly press luncheon Monday, but with one exception. There was no Monday afternoon committee meeting involving Orgeron, athletic director Joe Alleva, offensive coordinator Matt Canada and defensive coordinator as there was last week in the wake of the upset loss to Troy.
"No, I don't think we'll be doing that one," Orgeron said with a smile.
But he did praise Alleva for his role in the victory week Saturday after the game. "I think Joe Alleva did a tremendous job of supporting us all week," he said.
But now Orgeron, staff and players are on their own.
"All week, it was every ounce of energy," he said. "Every person in the building gave it. And that's what it takes. And our mindset was of that. And we finally galvanized as a team. I don't think before we were playing as a team. I think we galvanized as a staff. I think that was important. We had better practices. The meetings, the intensity, the detail all week was better. When your back's against the wall, our guys responded."
Orgeron said he felt a new vibe before the game and was impressed with the conviction, particularly of the defense, as it shut out Florida on three drives in the fourth quarter to preserve the win.
"You could hear the players saying, 'We're going to stop them.' The leadership evolved," he said. "Through adversity, we became stronger. We felt that going into the game. Our guys were saying, 'We are not getting on this plane unless we win the game.'"
LSU did fly back to Baton Rouge after the game and is somewhat still in the air — on cloud nine. Orgeron was asked how different this week is than last.
"You want me to tell you the truth or sugarcoat it? It's tell-the-truth Monday. Well, it's a lot different. We finally slept at night. It's a testament that we believed in each other last week. I think the staff came together more last week than any week. The team came together.
"But for me, I need to lead this team better. And although we had success, it's tell-the-truth Monday, and we have to deal with this thing. We have to put it to bed, because we've got a very tough opponent coming. So we have another challenge ahead."
For one, Auburn is a much better team than Florida. Auburn's only loss this season was 14-6 at defending national champion Clemson on Sept. 9. And Orgeron knows his team did not exactly light it up Saturday, particularly on offense, as it was shut out from the 10:56 mark of the third quarter on after taking a 17-3 lead.
"Again, it came down to one point," he said. "Let's face it. The kicker missed an extra point. You know what I'm saying? That's what happened. We're in the SEC. It's very physical. When we were up 17-3, I wish we could have kept that lead and kept sustaining. But we let them get back in with some drives, stopped ourselves with some drives.
Orgeron is excited about returning to Tiger Stadium, even though it will be a day game - something LSU's fan base continues to struggle with even though CBS has been nationally televising a top SEC game every week in the afternoon for decades.
"There's a lot of things that we don't like that we have to do in life," Orgeron said. "So hopefully, they (the fans) can get up a little earlier and put a little something in their coffee to make them come up and let's go. We look forward to coming back to Tiger Stadium and seeing Death Valley come alive on Saturday. I just can't wait. What a great day it's going to be."
INJURY REPORT: LSU starting offensive tackles K.J. Malone and Toby Weathersby, who each left Saturday's game with injuries, are questionable for Saturday. Neither practiced Monday afternoon. Starting center William Clapp, who left the game briefly Saturday with an injury, was held out of practice Monday, but is expected to play Saturday. Also not practicing on Monday because of injuries were defensive backs John Battle and Xavier Lewis.
FRANK HERRON RETURNS: LSU senior defensive end Frank Herron, who was expected to share playing time with starting ends Christian LaCouture and Rashard Lawrence this season as the top backup, is expected to play against Auburn after missing the first six games of the season on disciplinary suspension.
"Frank is going to be in the rotation," Orgeron said. "It's going to take a while to get him back in shape. We'll see how he does in the game. But we're going to consider him as a rotating starter. I think he'll be hungry and ready to go."