LSU’s Orgeron inches closer to Alabama, by his own design
BATON ROUGE, La. – “We coming,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said after the 24-10 loss at Alabama last season.
The Tigers outgained the Tide 306 yards to 299, including 151 to 116 in rushing yards. In the second quarter, LSU could have drawn within 14-7 after driving 70 yards in 10 plays to a first-and-goal at the Alabama 5, but it settled for a field goal.
LSU tailback Darrel Williams gained 83 yards on seven carries. Tailback Derrius Guice gained 71 on 19 carries. No Alabama tailback gained 50 yards.
Orgeron had been asked if his team’s effort was groundwork for future games when he said, “We coming.”
A follow-up question was asked by the same questioner, but before he could finish, Orgeron repeated, “We coming, and we ain’t backing down.”
Orgeron was talking about future LSU-Alabama games with the next one at 8 p.m. ET Nov. 3 in Tiger Stadium on CBS. That will be the biggest game so far of Orgeron’s career. His Tigers (7-1, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) are ranked No. 4 in the nation, while Alabama (8-0, 5-0) is No. 1.
“I know the energy in the state of Louisiana and the energy in the stadium is going to be something that we haven’t seen for a long time in Louisiana,” Orgeron said this week. “But we’re not going to explode until 7 p.m. Central Standard Time. I know this. Our coaching staff is ready. Our team is ready.”
Star LSU linebacker Devin White is suspended for the first half of the game. He was called for a targeting hit in the fourth quarter against Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald on Oct. 13.
“This team plays well when they are mad,” said Orgeron, whose Tigers were angry after letting one slip away at Florida 27-19 on Oct. 6 and responded by beating No. 2 Georgia 36-16 a week later. “I coach better when I’m mad. I like it. That’s good. We need to be that way.”
In 2016, after Orgeron had taken over for Les Miles, the top-ranked Crimson Tide required a late touchdown run from then-freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts before escaping with a 10-0 victory after both teams entered the fourth quarter locked in a scoreless game at Tiger Stadium.
For senior outside linebacker Christian Miller, it was a quintessential Alabama-LSU matchup in what has become a hotlycontested divisional series despite the Tide’s current sevengame winning streak.
“I remember it was very loud, crazy atmosphere, which I like. I liked the excitement of that,” Miller said. “This is what you come to a school like Alabama for. I remember it was just back and forth, very physical, and overall just a matchup of two heavyweights going at it.
“I expect nothing less this game.”
On his off weekend, Orgeron flew to Birmingham, Alabama, to watch Hewitt-Trussville High School play at Thompson High School Oct. 26 in Alabaster, a suburb of Birmingham, which is 56 miles from the University of Alabama.
Thompson beat HewittTrussville 63-49 on ESPN2. Thompson’s quarterback is Taulia Tagovailoa, the younger brother of Alabama sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who was at the game and was seen talking to Orgeron on national television. He is also the No. 1 quarterback in the nation in passing efficiency.
Orgeron recruited Tua, who was offered a scholarship by LSU in November 2016 shortly after Orgeron was promoted from interim head coach to head coach. Tua was already committed to Alabama, but one has to try.
Orgeron has offered a scholarship to Taulia, who is also committed to Alabama. Orgeron watched Taulia, like his brother a top dual-threat quarterback, complete 14 of 23 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns and rush for 152 yards on 12 carries with touchdown runs of 47 and 14 yards against Hewitt-Trussville.
Paul Tyson, the HewittTrussville quarterback, also is an Alabama commitment who has been offered by Orgeron. Tyson completed 14 of 23 passes, too, for 275 yards and three touchdowns. He is a top pro-style quarterback prospect. He is also the great grandson of the late Alabama coach named Paul “Bear” Bryant, who, by the way, recruited a lineman named Ed Orgeron out of South Lafourche High (Cut Off, Louisiana) in 1978-79 before Orgeron signed with LSU and later transferred to Northwestern State.
Orgeron clearly made his presence known in Alabaster. Alabama coach Nick Saban was not there, but hey, does he need to be? He sent his quarterback and Miller to Alabaster to keep an eye on things ... and talk to Orgeron, which was not in the game plan.
“I think this is what college football is all about,” Tagovailoa said this week about the LSU game. “This is what the fans want to see, this is what everyone wants to see, and getting the opportunity to perform at a place like (Tiger Stadium) is going to be really exciting.”
Win or lose this weekend, Orgeron’s recent trip was bold. It might not net any recruiting gains this year, but it was as if he was saying, “We coming.”
LSU head coach Ed Orgeron says, “This team plays well when they are mad. I coach better when I’m mad. I like it. That’s good. We need to be that way.”