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LSU safety JaCoby Stevens (3) and LSU offensive coordinator Matt Canada shake hands on the field before kickoff against Notre Dame, Monday, January 1, 2018, in the Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK

ORLANDO, Fla. — LSU offensive coordinator Matt Canada exited the team locker room area Monday night and walked with family members away from the Tigers’ team buses.

His future at LSU remains hazy, and coach Ed Orgeron provided no clearer picture after Monday’s 21-17 Citrus Bowl loss to Notre Dame at Camping World Stadium.

“This game was all about focusing on Notre Dame and that’s all it’s been, all it’s about right now,” the coach said when asked about Canada's future.

Canada is not expected to remain the Tigers offensive coordinator for 2018, something The Advocate reported last week, but a timetable for his exit is uncertain. The relationship between Orgeron and Canada is frayed, something the head coach and Canada have made clear in interviews over the past several months.

LSU players, meanwhile, either sidestepped questions about their Canada’s future or voiced their support for him in postgame interviews.

None of them attributed Monday’s sluggish offensive outing — LSU did not score until the third quarter but amassed 399 yards — to the reports about Canada’s future.

“It was like a normal week. Coach O does a great job of keeping everyone focused,” receiver Russell Gage said. “We were more focused on winning this game than anything.

“I wish nothing but the best for Matt,” Gage continued. “Great guy, great coach. He has a great mind, great head on his shoulders, funny guy. I could go on and on about how good of a person he is. I hope nothing but the best. I don’t know the situation, but I hope for the best for him.”

Tight end Foster Moreau declined to speak about Canada’s future, and quarterback Danny Etling shot down any idea that the No. 16 Tigers (9-4) were distracted.

“We just tried to put it away and ignore it, take it in stride,” Etling said. “You try not to think about those distractions and the media that goes with it. Coach Canada did a great job of being a professional and getting the game plan together for us.”

LSU would owe Canada about $3 million if the school were to dismiss him. Sources confirmed with The Advocate last month that officials at LSU reached out to Canada’s representatives in hopes of a potential settlement or assisting him in landing another job. Canada’s buyout is mitigated with his salary at a potential other job.

In interviews last Friday, Canada told reporters that he’d “love” to return to LSU next season.

Guice mum on future, finishes shy of record

Junior running back and Baton Rouge native Derrius Guice declined to announce a decision Monday on his future and said he plans to meet with Orgeron about it soon.

Many expect Guice to declare for the NFL draft, bypassing his senior season. He’s projected as high as a first-round pick, but he has suggested that he’s toying with staying. After Monday’s game, he said he hadn’t thought about the decision and that “the whole focus has been on the last game the past month.

“Me and Coach O have to have a deep conversation about it and see where it goes,” he said.

Responded Orgeron: “(Got to) put my recruiting hat on.”

Guice’s 98-yard, 21-carry day in the Citrus Bowl means that if this was his last game, he falls just shy of breaking Bo Jackson’s Southeastern Conference record for career yards per carry (6.62). Guice's mark of 6.5 shatters the single-season record set by Leonard Fournette (6.22).

The Catholic High graduate became just the fifth LSU running back to crack the career 3,000-yard barrier, moving up to fifth all-time with 3,074 yards.


LSU sold 6,500 of its allotted 9,500 tickets to the Citrus Bowl. That’s about 1,000 more tickets than the school sold last year. The remaining tickets must be purchased by the school. Attendance at the game was somewhat light, announced at 57,726. Weather conditions were chilly, windy and rainy. ... LSU captains were center Will Clapp, defensive ends Christian LaCouture and Rashard Lawrence and quarterback Danny Etling. … Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards attended the game. Edwards has been around the team throughout the season. He traveled with LSU to the Nov. 18 Tennessee game and threw passes at bowl practice before the team left for Orlando. ... Saahdiq Charles, not KJ Malone, started at left tackle, but both players played. Malone replaced Charles when the freshman went out for two drives with a shoulder sprain. Charles started the final six games of the regular season for an injured Malone. Orgeron said Sunday that Malone would start at left tackle. … Redshirt freshman Ray Thornton, not K’Lavon Chaisson, started in place of edge rusher Arden Key. Key did not play Monday or travel with the team while recovering from finger and knee injuries, Orgeron said.

Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.