NEW ORLEANS - LSU interim football coach Ed Orgeron's red letter day is double-digit days away, but he showcased a game day fire on Tuesday at a crowded Cannery banquet room at the New Orleans Quarterback Club meeting in Mid-City.
"Ole Miss put 43 on 'em," Orgeron said of Alabama's 48-43 victory over the Rebels on Sept. 17. "So they're not invincible."
Ole Miss also outgained Alabama with 522 yards to 492 in that game as Rebels' quarterback Chad Kelly completed 26 of 40 passes for 421 yards and three touchdowns. On Saturday, LSU held Ole Miss 325 yards in a 38-21 victory over Ole Miss and shut the Rebels out in the second half while holding them to 104 yards over the final two quarters.
"Monday, we tell the truth," Orgeron said of his team's weekly film studies. "We call it, 'Tell The Truth Mondays.' The truth is we kicked Ole Miss' butt."
And now, it's bring on Bama time. The No. 19 Tigers (5-2, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) host No. 1 Alabama (8-0, 5-0) at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, in Tiger Stadium, and the Crimson Tide has improved much since that conference opener. Alabama is No. 1 in the nation in defensive touchdowns with nine and in sacks with 32. And it is No. 4 in total defense with 274.5 yards allowed a game and No. 6 in points allowed with 14.9. Both teams have open dates Saturday.
The last question from the audience to Orgeron was if his Tigers had the depth "to hang" with Alabama. "Hell, yeah," he fired back through his think Cajun accent from Larose, then stepped off the podium. "See you guys."
Orgeron went into more detail in interviews before addressing the fans, who enjoyed their first appearance at the New Orleans Quarterback Club by a sitting LSU head football coach since the early 2000s with Nick Saban, who is now Alabama's head coach.
"Yeah, it's all about us and the confidence WE have," Orgeron said of playing Alabama, which has defeated LSU in five straight games dating back to the BCS national championship game on Jan. 9, 2012. "Look, we have Pete Jenkins (newly hired defensive line coach) on our staff. Steve Ensminger (newly promoted offensive coordinator) and Dave Aranda (first-year defensive coordinator). We have some excellent football coaches on our staff. We have some excellent players and perhaps the best player in the country in Leonard Fournette (who set the school rushing record for a game with 284 yards vs. Ole Miss). We have some great defensive players. Our linebackers are playing very well. We have great defensive backs. So, I believe we match up with these guys. We've got to go play 'em."
Orgeron does have to wait more than a week, though.
"One day at a time," he said. "It's been exciting ever since I've taken over (on Sept. 25 when Les Miles was fired). I'm honored to be the head coach at LSU. But along with that, being with these players, seeing them grow, seeing them enjoy the game, coming to Tiger Walk, coming to Tiger Stadium, every day has been a blast."
Alabama, meanwhile, has defeated its last three opponents - No. 6 Texas A&M, No. 9 Tennessee and No. 16 Arkansas - by an average of 25 points.
"They're very efficient at what they do - well coached," Orgeron said. "They are a team that prides itself on blocking, tackling. They're well coached with big time athletes. They're big and physical up front."
But Orgeron sees his team in much the same way. "We're a very talented football team," he said. "My job is to get them to play as a team and to play up to their capabilities. The last three weeks, we've done that. Not for 60 minutes and not for 100 percent yet."
Orgeron is the first LSU coach in history to win his first three games by such a high margin - an average of 29 points. "But in order to beat a team like Alabama, we're going to have to be at our best," he said. "And I know they understand that."
Orgeron said starting right tackle Toby Weathersby, who has not played this month because of an injured foot and ankle, has a chance to return for the Alabama game. So does starting fullback John David Moore, who left the Ole Miss game with an injury Saturday after a hard hit. Starting left guard William Clapp, who left the game briefly after aggravating his shoulder injury, is also improving.
"We are well equipped," Orgeron said. "We're going to be well prepared. It's going to be a battle."
A victory could do wonders for Orgeron's candidacy for the permanent job as LSU's coach, and he did not shy away from that.
"Having been through it, I understand things are going to happen the way they're going to happen," he said in reference to going 6-2 in 2012 as USC's interim head coach in very similar circumstances. He did get that permanent job and left USC. He became LSU's defensive line coach in 2015 and later its recruiting coordinator before moving up to interim coach.
"This is my second time," he said. "If I'd be thinking about that - what's going to happen in the future - I would miss today. So I take it one day at a time. Get the most I can out of that day, and let the chips fall where they may."
But he also knows his 3-0 start to what he calls LSU's "new season" has improved the outlook on his possible permanent future as LSU's head coach.
"Yeah, I know that, and I know that the administration is in support," he said. "If I have success, then they'll give me a fair shot. I totally understand it. I've been through it before. And I understand the focus. Whatever's going to happen is going to happen in the next four weeks. I'm going to enjoy the day, and my job is to get this team to play well. And then let's see what happens."
Coverage of LSU and commentary by Glenn Guilbeau supported by Hebert’s Town & Country Automobile Dealer in Shreveport located at 1155 East Bert Kouns Loop. Research your next Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep or Ram at http://hebertstandc.com/.
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