Ed Orgeron’s transformation since he led the Ole Miss program in the mid-2000s has been well-publicized.
There was a time when Orgeron was so frustrated by a Rebels’ loss that he held practices on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday during an off week.
“Didn’t work well,” Orgeron said matter-of-factly on Tuesday.
Now, as LSU’s interim coach, Orgeron is taking a much more measured approach to an off week. The game following the No. 19 Tigers’ bye week doesn’t get much bigger – a home date with No. 1 Alabama at 7 p.m. on Nov. 5.
“The players view a bye week as, ‘Hey, coach, we’re going to give you some effort but we need a little rest too, a little time,’” Orgeron said. “They need a break.”
Orgeron didn’t specify which year he held a full week of practice during an open date, but there’s one bye week during Orgeron’s three-year tenure at Ole Miss that stands out.
In his first season, Auburn crushed Ole Miss, 27-3, on The Plains in late October. Two weeks later, Arkansas ran away from the Rebels, 28-17, in Oxford, Mississippi.
According to an SB Nation story on Orgeron from last year, former Ole Miss linebacker Patrick Willis broke his right foot during the week of the Arkansas game but played the final three games of the season – all losses.
Willis, a two-time All-American under Orgeron, also played with a broken middle finger, a sprained left knee and a partial AC joint separation during the season. He didn’t have surgery on his foot until after the season was over.
“I think if you push too hard, you try to push buttons too hard, it’s the wrong reaction,” Orgeron said this week.
Even during normal game weeks, Orgeron's practice regiment is much different than it once was. The Tigers' (5-2, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) practices are shorter but more up-tempo, and individual work is emphasized.
This week, the Tigers watched film on Monday and held two fully-padded practices on Tuesday and Wednesday. They won’t return to a normal schedule until next Monday.
Orgeron said he believes his players are taking it one day at a time and will embrace the time off after a 38-21 win against Ole Miss last week.
“We just got off an emotion win, and we could use this week,” Orgeron said. “This week is going to be a good week to forget about the last game we played, not get too fired up. You can’t win the game on Tuesday and Wednesday. We got to have a workmanlike attitude.”
Dwayne Thomas is fired up with good reason.
Bowl of fun
One of the ways Orgeron is livening up the off week is by holding LSU’s first “Tiger Bowl,” where the underclassmen scrimmage each other and the upperclassmen coach.
It’s an open-date tradition Orgeron carried over from his time as Miami’s defensive line coach from 1988-1992.
“We called it another thing down there but I’m not going to mention what we called it,” Orgeron joked. “We just let the younger guys play and show their stuff. I said, ‘You know if I ever become a head coach, that’s what I want to do with our team.’”
Orgeron also held a “Trojan Bowl” while he was interim coach at Southern California. The upperclassmen found out their coaching assignments at a team meeting Wednesday.
The assignments range from head coaches, coordinators, position coaches and water boys.
“Hopefully, I’m not a water boy,” said wide receiver D.J. Chark. “Hopefully, I’m something important.”
Chark said he wants to be a quarterbacks coach so he can “shake it up a little bit” with freshman quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr.
Quarterback Danny Etling said he’d prefer to be an offensive coordinator than a head coach. Cornerback Tre’Davious White, on other hand, would like to run the show.
“I want to be head of it all,” White said with a laugh. “I want to be head coach. I want to see oversee everything.”
Injuries not serious
Chark, along with fullback J.D. Moore and tight end Colin Jeter, missed practice Tuesday with varying injuries, but all three said their injuries weren’t serious enough to keep them from playing next week.
Chark, who is suffering from a sprained finger, said he was “mostly like going to do something” in practice Wednesday. Chark wasn’t sure exactly when he injured his finger but thought it happened at some point in the first half against Ole Miss. He said the swelling in his finger is lessening.
“I got it looked at it, and they wanted to just keep me out for a minute to make sure it was fully well for next week,” Chark said.
Jeter said he “rolled up” on his wrist during the game, keeping him out of practice yesterday.
“It will be fine,” Jeter said.
Moore sustained a cervical strain in his neck on the opening kickoff against Ole Miss and did not return to the game. Moore said he “feels fine now” but suggested he wouldn’t practice Wednesday as a precaution.
“If this was a game week, I probably could have already returned,” Moore said. “But because it’s a bye week, we’re taking advantage of the extra rest.”