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LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (9) carries the ball in the first half against Ole Miss, Saturday, November 16, 2019, at Ole Miss' Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss.

Quarterback Joe Burrow answered questions from reporters on Monday afternoon, two days after he had broken the school record for passing yards in a season and led LSU to a win over Ole Miss.

Burrow, the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, discussed the development of his leadership, running into the referee and his ability to evade pressure in the pocket.

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Do you have mood swings?

I don't know about that one. You'd have to ask — I don't know. Maybe?

Ja'Marr Chase said you have mood swings. You stared at him.

During the game I definitely have mood swings. Normally, probably not.

What is this "look" everybody keeps talking about?

*laughs* Well, when something doesn't go exactly as I had planned, I usually shoot them a little look and they usually know what that means, so I don't have to say a lot of words.


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Thaddeus Moss said you gave one to the referee you ran into.

No, I gave them to the refs a couple different times during the game. I don't think it was that one, though.

Running into the referee, how many times has that happened during your career?

Honestly, I don't think that's ever happened to me before. I was just trying to get away from the safety. I thought it was going to be a big run and then I ran into somebody. Turns out it was the ref.

After you picked him up, you had a couple words for him. What was the exchange?

I told him he was going to be a little sore tomorrow.

Your pocket presence, how important is that to you? How much have you worked on that the last couple years? Has that always been part of your game?

I think I've always been pretty good at it. Last year, I hadn't played football in three years, so I was re-learning that skill that I had before. This year, I worked a lot in the offseason on off-platform throws, moving my feet in the pocket without anybody in front of me. I think it has really paid off for me.

Can you sense the pressure or is it looks you know are coming?

I have my eyes in certain spots pre-snap knowing if somebody's coming. Then, I'll peek a different side post-snap. I'll know where everyone is at different times and know my escape routes within the protection knowing the rules of the protection upfront and knowing where I can get in and out.

What else can you do to know when pressure is closing in on you?

That just comes with being a quarterback. Playing quarterback for a long time, you know when you got to get the ball out, when the rush is going to get to you based on the play, based on the protection and all of that.

There's a lot of times the last few games you've had pressure on you and you've escaped it at the perfect time.

Our receivers do a great job in the scramble drill of realizing when the pressure is coming and getting open when they need to, and then the o-line has done a great job of when there is pressure not giving up on the play, realizing I have a chance to get out of it and maintaining their blocks.

Saturday you had two new tackles and you've had different guards. Have you felt much of a difference along the offensive line?

That's the main thing in this program. There's no difference in the twos and the ones. I feel very comfortable with every guy we put in there. Coach O always says, 'You put 11 on the field and fight like a Tiger.' That's the words we live by.

How do you define toughness?

I think you define it as when you get knocked down always getting back up, never staying down. I think leadership is a big part of it, too. I think if you want to be a leader, you have to be tough.

Is that why you slow-played your hand coming here? Doing the wind sprints and not saying anything?

Absolutely. You have to build a rapport with your team before you can be vocal. You have to lead by example before you can say anything.

If you win this game, you're in the conference championship for the first time in eight years here. Coach Orgeron said that's not being discussed. Is that the case?

Yeah, that's the case. Obviously it's a big opportunity for us, but we're focused on beating Arkansas this week.

You talk a lot about leadership. It's something you think about, clearly. How much of leadership is preparation, and how much of it is improvised?

I like that question. It's kind of both. As a leader, you do think about it preemptively because going into every week you have to decide what the team needs to hear, what the team needs to see from their quarterback. A big of part of being a leader is also adapting to different situations that you see and how you respond to those situations. As a quarterback, everybody's looking at you. If you respond poorly to a situation, then they're going to respond poorly as well.

How did you get like this? Most people don't have this awareness. They don't think about their ripple effect.

I think it's a merging of everything. Dad being a coach. Coach (Urban) Meyer talked a lot about leadership. I was a backup watching J.T. Barrett, one of the best leaders I've ever been around. I've got to sit back and decide — not everybody has the luxury of sitting back for three years and deciding the kind of player and leader they want to be. I'm grateful for that time because I got to watch two, three, four really great leaders and take things from each and every one of them and mold it into myself as a leader.

Email Wilson Alexander at walexander@theadvocate.com