Ed Orgeron deflected any nostalgia after LSU’s spring game Saturday, only once professing his well-documented love for Tiger Stadium and his excitement to finally be on its sideline in a coaching capacity.
No, Saturday was about his players. He sequestered them in a far corner of Tiger Stadium. Just Orgeron and his linemen, away from a throng of recruits, parents and reporters crowded near the north end zone where Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris warmed up.
“Give me a big pop,” he barked, clapping loudly as the lineman ran one-on-one hit drill. “Pop, pop.”
Next were off-ball drills. Orgeron implored his lineman to get off quicker. Beating an offensive lineman off the ball can be the difference in whether backfield pressure is created. Orgeron, as only he could, reminded his lineman of this, starting with his leader.
“You have to tell him,” Orgeron said, grabbing Christian LaCouture’s jersey and pointing to Davon Godchaux. “Line him up, tell him where to go.”
“He was so fired up before practice it wasn’t even funny,” LaCouture joked after the game.
LaCouture is the centerpiece of Orgeron’s line — both literally and figuratively. While already tasked with creating penetration that was nearly absent last season, LaCouture has added vocal leader to his responsibilities. It’s a task that doesn’t quite fit with the quiet junior’s personality, though he’s now channeling his memories of Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson to aid him.
“Coach O expects me to be the leader out there,” LaCouture said. “It’s one of my jobs. When duty calls, I have to do it.”
Orgeron said that trust stems from LaCouture’s knowledge. He said he watches daily as LaCouture mentors Godchaux on the interior, often showing signs of being a leader LaCouture previously thought he didn’t have.
LaCouture teamed with Godchaux to clog running lanes Saturday, limiting the Purple runners to 27 net rushing yards on 24 carries. The longest play from scrimmage for the Purple team against the White defense? A 14-yard scramble from Brandon Harris to evade pressure.
Three of the four starting lineman had a sack Saturday. Maquedius Bain, running with the first team in place of an injured Lewis Neal, had three.
Among the entire White team defense, there were seven tackles for loss. Lineman accounted for five of them. Bain had three.
“The scary thing, though, is we’re only going to get better before it gets over,” Godchaux said.
“This wasn’t our best practice, and that’s OK,” Orgeron said. “We’re going to make some progress, and I think we’ll be pretty good.”