LSU nose tackle Greg Gilmore says every game is “personal” for him.
Not having been a starter for three years, he’s constantly trying to prove himself to the opposing center or guard.
“I’m the underdog in every situation,” Gilmore said. “So every team I take personal, as far as their centers, their guards. I want to prove myself to them, to myself, that I’m making progress in this journey I’m in.”
But when asked about last year’s trip to Ole Miss, he paused for a moment. It’s not one he recalls fondly.
“Man, that’s bad memories from going up there,” Gilmore said. “(We had a) bitter taste in our mouth, and we want to correct that, especially me personally with my game. I got something to prove to myself that I’m better player than I was that year.”
The Tigers gave up the most points they had given up all year in a 38-17 loss to the Rebels in Oxford, Mississippi, last season. Gilmore didn’t start in that game, but he was in the defensive line rotation and recorded a tackle.
Times have changed for Gilmore ahead of the game between No. 25 LSU (4-2, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) and No. 23 Ole Miss (3-2, 1-2) at 8 p.m. Saturday in Tiger Stadium.
He’s now a starter and received the most snaps he’s seen all season against Southern Miss last Saturday. Fellow nose tackle Travonte Valentine was benched for underperforming in practice, Orgeron said, leaving more reps for Gilmore and freshmen Rashard Lawrence and Ed Alexander.
Orgeron said Valentine should be back in the lineup this weekend.
Gilmore said he didn’t know ahead of time that he would be playing that much against the Golden Eagles, but he said increased conditioning in practice under Orgeron has benefitted him.
“I wasn’t all that tired,” Gilmore said. “It does test you mentally, getting the calls, the formations, stuff like that. But I felt good.”
J.D. Moore wasn’t always the linebacker-seeking, muscle-bound junior fullback you see today.
Gilmore may feel like he has something to prove against Ole Miss, but he said he also notices something different in Orgeron, who will face his old team this weekend.
“He definitely has that fire in his eyes about this team, and I think everybody has that one personal team,” Gilmore said. “I asked him sometimes too, even the other coaches, ‘What motivates you as a coach?’ It’s just crazy how motivated he is in everything he does and how passionate he is, and I’m glad he got sprinkle that over the whole team.”
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Trying to breath some life into his linebacker corps, Freeze announced Monday that defensive graduate assistant Christian Robinson will now coach middle linebackers, while defensive coordinator Dave Wommack will focus on the outside linebackers.
The Rebels have struggled with depth a linebacker this season and needed to start a walk-on and a junior college transfer in an Oct. 1 win against Memphis.
“There were times the fits were good, but there still too many that it’s not,” Freeze told reporters. “We are going to put another set of eyes on one position and try to help them improve this week, because again, this week it will be vitally important.”
Ole Miss has given up 212.8 rushing yards per game, which ranks 12th in the SEC.
Orgeron said cornerback Donte Jackson should be returning punts “hopefully soon” at the SEC teleconference Wednesday. In a radio interview yesterday, Orgeron said Jackson would be the primary kick returner going forward, and he practiced returning punts in the practice Tuesday. … Linebacker Kendell Beckwith was named the Senior Bowl’s Senior of the Week after setting a career high with 15 tackles against Southern Miss. … Bert Jones, who was named to the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame, will be honored during Saturday’s game against Ole Miss. … During LSU’s open date next week, Orgeron will speak to the New Orleans Quarterback Club next Tuesday.