The LSU football team practiced for 30 minutes in its indoor practice facility Monday. All 30 minutes were open to the media.
If that sounds unusual, that’s because it is.
Practices under coach Les Miles, even walk-throughs, were known to be lengthy. And they haven’t been open to reporters during the season since the mid-2000s.
Clearly, interim coach Ed Orgeron, the former defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator, was running the show for the first time.
A little more than 24 hours after LSU (2-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) fired Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, the Tigers began preparation for Saturday's game against Missouri with Orgeron sprinting up and down the field, shouting in his raspy Cajun accent.
Orgeron made a promise during his introductory news conference Monday: He'll re-energize a demoralized team by doing things his way.
“We're going to flip the script,” he said. “We're going to do things different. We're going to do things that I've done in the past to re-energize this team and the Tiger family.”
A streak was broken on Monday evening: LSU opened practice to reporters.
What will those differences be? Plenty of attention will be paid to what Orgeron and new offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger do to reinvigorate a stale offense. But Orgeron’s alterations go beyond that.
Orgeron said LSU's practices won't be as long. The Tigers will spend more time in the meeting room, studying film and mentally preparing for the opponent.
“I love it,” left tackle K.J. Malone said. “It will help rest our bodies, but I think it’s going to help us more just because we’re going to know more about who we're going against and more about our opponent.”
The players are still trying to come to grips with the idea of not having Miles around. But a different way of doing things, right guard Will Clapp said, brings a level of excitement. All Clapp has known for the past three years is the Les Miles way, including extensive on-field work leading up to games.
“I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily hard to go to practice,” Clapp said. “But when you have a long practice, it’s just mentally as hard as physically, staying focused, all that type of stuff. … Coach O is more (about) time in the meeting room. We’re going to watch film. We’re going to pick up tendencies, stuff like that. I’m excited. I’ve never done it this way. I’m just open to some new stuff.”
As Clapp can attest, even Orgeron’s meetings are lively and loud. Players went from the emotional low of a teary-eyed exit meeting with Miles to a full-throat meeting with Orgeron.
“Dude’s got to have Red Bull or something in his office,” Clapp joked. “I don’t even have that much energy.”
His meetings with the defensive linemen have been animated, nose tackle Greg Gilmore said. The linemen go from breaking down film of NFL players to immediately applying it.
“He’s always positive, and he’s jumping around,” Gilmore said. “He makes us get up out our seats, and we’re working on technique and stuff. He’s fired up. He makes us want to play for him.”
Even with more focus on the mental side of the game, fresh legs can only benefit a team that has suffered plenty of injuries. Four linemen went down against Jacksonville State, including Toby Weathersby, who hasn’t recovered from the injury. Center Ethan Pocic did not practice Monday, either.
Running back Leonard Fournette, who also missed Monday’s practice, has battled a left ankle injury since preseason practice.
Quarterback Danny Etling said added time in the film is beneficial for a different reason.
“It might give me more sleep at night, maybe, because I don’t have to prepare as much at night,” he said. “I think it will change up the flow of how I’ve been going about it the past four weeks. It’ll be a different thing, but it’s something we've got to adjust to, and we've got to move forward.”