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LSU’s Org­eron inches closer to Alabama, by his own de­sign

USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - INSIDE - Glenn Guil­beau Gan­nett Louisiana USA TO­DAY Net­work Con­tribut­ing: Alex By­ing­ton, Mont­gomery Ad­ver­tiser ❚ Should we con­sider Ge­or­gia a Play­off con­tender? Page 20 ❚ Alabama-LSU pre­view, other games to watch, Page 21

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 first-and-goal at the Alabama 5, but it set­tled for a field 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 effort was ground­work for fu­ture games when he said, “We com­ing.”

A fol­low-up ques­tion was asked by the same ques­tioner, but be­fore he could finish, 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 first 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 flew 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 efficiency.

Org­eron re­cruited Tua, who was offered 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 offered 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 offered 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.”

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