LSU players can expect an NFL preseason feel to the Tigers’ preseason camp, including preseason-style games, coach Ed Orgeron said.
The team will build up to its Sept. 2 season opener against BYU in Houston with four weekend scrimmages in Tiger Stadium — the highlights of a camp that will resemble an NFL training camp, the coach said.
“We want to create competition at each position. We want to put guys under pressure, so what we’re going to do is treat this like NFL preseason camp,” Orgeron told the crowd Wednesday at the Rotary Club in Baton Rouge. “We’ll have practices during the week and have what we’ll call preseason games right there in Tiger Stadium. We’ll have four of them. Treat it just like the NFL. Our fifth will be our first game against BYU.”
LSU begins camp Monday. It’ll be a challenging four-week stretch in which players’ schedules are jam-packed six days a week. Camp days will begin with morning meetings, followed by a walk-through in the indoor facility. They get a three-hour break for lunch and rest before a 2½-hour practice follows in the south Louisiana sun. They then eat dinner before reviewing practice with a film session with the staff.
“The heat is either your friend or enemy," Orgeron said. "In order for it to be your friend, you’ve got to spend some time with it. In south Louisiana, we want to use that as an advantage for us. Our team’s been working out in the heat. We want to be in great shape so, when we play an opponent, we want to use that as a factor for us.”
The first opponent is BYU. The Cougars normally have older players because many of them take part in two-year missionary trips.
“Let me say this about BYU — 24-, 25-, 26-year-old guys. A lot of them married,” he said. “Don’t have to worry about curfew. They’ll have 4-year-old sons walking into the game. Have a lot of respect for them.”
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Etling expected to start
Orgeron reaffirmed that he expects Danny Etling to be LSU’s starting quarterback when the Tigers open the season.
“We have several quarterbacks that can compete. I really feel like, at the end, it’s going to be Danny,” Orgeron said. “If it is him, we’re going to believe in him to run the offense and let him get after it.”
LSU is leaving the starting quarterback gig open during preseason camp, because the staff has not seen freshman Myles Brennan, a decorated passer from Mississippi. Orgeron again raved about Brennan on Wednesday.
“If we were to play today, it’d be Danny. Danny has gone through the spring, done a great job in (coordinator Matt Canada's) offense, but we haven’t seen Myles Brennan,” Orgeron said. “I think Myles Brennan will be a championship quarterback. When he’ll be a championship quarterback? When he’s ready.”
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LSU coaches are high on their 2017 signing class. How high? High enough to rank eight of the 11 defensive signees as potential NFL first-round draft picks, Orgeron said.
“We ranked our class the other day; coaches ranked our class,” he said. “We had 11 defensive players. We ranked eight of those freshmen as potential first-round draft picks. That’s very strong.”
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O on Freeze: ‘Did a great job’
Orgeron sidestepped two questions about Hugh Freeze, the former Ole Miss coach who resigned amid scandal last week.
Freeze was an assistant on Orgeron’s staff at Ole Miss in 2005-07.
“I think he did a great job at Ole Miss. All I'm going to say,” Orgeron said.
Orgeron was asked if he has reached out to Freeze.
“He did a great job at Ole Miss,” the coach answered.
Key ‘should be fine’
Edge rusher Arden Key continues his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery and is 30 pounds heavier than last season, Orgeron said.
Key gained 30 pounds, to reach 260, while on his leave of absence from the team this spring — something coaches insisted he do. Key recently began running and lifting light weights, the coach said. He’ll miss the start of preseason camp, but the coach is hopeful he’ll return at some point during the early part of the season.
“He should be fine," Orgeron said. "I don’t know when he’s going to be fine, but I expect him to have a great season."