Ed Orgeron declined to detail his halftime speech Saturday night.
LSU was tied with Southern Miss, a 25-point underdog. The Tigers' interim coach laughed when asked about his message.
Outside linebacker Arden Key lifted the veil.
"You got punched in the mouth," Key said Orgeron told his team. "You going to let somebody punch you in the mouth and not do nothing about it?"
The Tigers punched back.
Junior safety Jamal Adams forced and then recovered a third-quarter fumble, and LSU turned a tight contest into a blowout with an electric, 28-point third quarter, roaring to a 45-10 win over Southern Miss on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.
In Orgeron’s second game as interim coach, the Tigers (4-2) limped through a sluggish first half before using four 20-plus-yard touchdowns — and that takeaway from Adams — to break a 10-10 halftime tie with the Golden Eagles (4-3).
"We just kind of woke up," quarterback Danny Etling said. "I think we had a little rust after the crazy week we had last week and were playing a little flat."
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LSU’s defense allowed a game-opening 75-yard touchdown drive but then kept the end zone clean for the next 51 minutes. The offense blasted to touchdowns of 61, 20, 80 and 63 yards in that third quarter. The four TD drives lasted a combined seven plays and spanned less than 3 minutes.
Could Orgeron share what he told his team at half?
"It was good, believe me," he bellowed during his postgame news conference. "But it was no Vince Lombardi speech or nothing. I just challenge them."
Adams’ forced fumble set up running back Derrius Guice’s 20-yard scoring run. Guice, replacing injured star Leonard Fournette, opened the third quarter with a 61-yard touchdown jaunt and finished with 162 yards on 16 carries.
Etling threw for 276 yards and three scores. He hooked up with D.J. Chark and Malachi Dupre for long third-quarter scores, and the Tigers got a dash of revenge against the Eagles. Southern Miss won its previous trip to Tiger Stadium, a 20-18 victory in 1994 that led to the firing of coach Curley Hallman.
Les Miles’ replacement isn’t going anywhere — for now.
Orgeron’s team now braces for a hectic stretch. The final five games are against ranked teams, a string of matchups that will determine Orgeron’s fate as the leader of the program: vs. Ole Miss, vs. Alabama, at Arkansas, vs. Florida, at Texas A&M.
His squad stumbled through the first two quarters Saturday night. Southern Miss held a yardage (135-121) and time of possession (18 minutes to 12) advantage at halftime. The Tigers had just four possessions in the first half.
They walked off the field and into the halftime locker room as Southern Miss' small, rowdy fan section chanted “USM! USM!”
"I think our guys woke up a bit after halftime," Orgeron said, "and just decided to play hard, you know."
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His Tigers rumbled out of the gate in the third quarter and punted just once in the second half. They scored on four of five second-half drives in the third, and the defense smothered the nation's seventh-ranked offensive unit. The Eagles entered averaging 532 yards. They finished with 242 on this night.
Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s unit has allowed six touchdowns in six games, and his crew did it Saturday night without two starting defensive backs. Safety Rickey Jefferson broke his leg in practice earlier this week, and cornerback Kevin Toliver did not play a snap on defense and only played on special teams in the second half, part of what Orgeron termed a "first-half suspension" for "breaking team rules."
Adams stepped up, and so did middle linebacker Kendell Beckwith. Beckwith rolled up a career-high 15 tackles, and Adams had 11, including that forced fumble.
"Those guys are tremendous players," Orgeron said.
Adams, a Texas native, punched the ball from Southern Miss running back George Payne’s arms and then scooped it up inside the 25-yard line with his team leading 17-10. Guice then marched in and, on the next series, Chark out-raced USM defenders for more than 50 yards after his reception from Etling, sending many to the exits with a happy feeling after that sluggish opening act.
To tell the truth, Ed Orgeron’s "Tell the Truth Monday" looked like it needed to come a couple of days early for LSU.
Up next is a much more fierce opponent and one Orgeron is familiar with. He coached the Rebels for three years before being fired in 2007.
"I don't have many memories of that place that I want to remember," Orgeron said Saturday night.
No. 12 Ole Miss (3-3) lost at Arkansas on Saturday night, dropping a shootout to the Hogs ahead of what's sure to be an electric environment Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.
The game kicks off at 8 p.m., and the Tigers should have Fournette back. The coach said he thinks the junior "is going to play."
Fournette, recovering from a lingering left ankle injury, has missed three of LSU's first six games, but he revved up the team at halftime. Orgeron wasn't the only one giving fiery speeches.
"At halftime, (Fournette) told all of us we were playing sloppy and we weren’t playing LSU football," Guice said. "I guess that sparked everybody. The message got to everybody."
The first possession for the Southern Miss offense in Saturday night’s game with LSU left a …