Ed Orgeron can’t yet say that LSU's first-string offensive linemen have scrimmaged together in preseason camp.
He can’t declare a starter at three defensive positions, either.
And he can’t announce a starting quarterback.
By Sunday, he might be able to do all of that.
Orgeron oversees his team’s final full scrimmage of the preseason Saturday, a 140-play whopper of a practice that starts at 11 a.m. in Tiger Stadium. The first and second team will each get 70 snaps, Orgeron said. The scrimmage is closed to media and the public.
“This scrimmage is going to say a lot,” Orgeron said Thursday. “After this scrimmage, we’re going to start practicing next week (the) guys who are going to be in the position in which they are going to play in the game.”
That includes offensive line, quarterback and three defensive positions up for grabs: freshman K’Lavon Chaisson and redshirt freshman Ray Thornton at the rush end/outside linebacker spot Arden Key normally mans; the fight at free safety between senior Ed Paris and freshman Grant Delpit; and who among three freshmen — Jacob Phillips, Patrick Queen and Tyler Taylor — will join Devin White and Donnie Alexander in a three-man rotation at inside linebacker.
Orgeron hopes to sort all of those out in this scrimmage, the final one of camp.
Preseason camp breaks Monday with the start of school, and coaches plan to then turn their attention to the season-opening opponent, BYU. The final preseason scrimmage, next Saturday, is "strictly a mock game for substitutions," Orgeron said.
This scrimmage is the big one. It will focus on an assortment of things: short yardage, goal-line and red-zone work, 2-minute drill and overtime, the coach said.
Maybe the most important part of it: His starting offensive line is expected to be healthy enough to scrimmage together for the first time. That group is left tackle K.J. Malone, left guard Garrett Brumfield, center Will Clapp, right guard Lloyd Cushenberry and right tackle Toby Weathersby.
Orgeron wants to see better pass-blocking from a group that allowed a host of sacks while starting freshmen during the first two camp scrimmages.
Late in the first quarter of LSU’s win over Texas A&M in November, Drake Davis raced dow…
“We feel like we can run the ball very well, but feeling like our passing game is catching up,” Orgeron said. “But we need to protect up front. Our guys know that. We’ve been working hard on protection.”
The offense Orgeron will watch Saturday is supposed to be farther along than it has been since coordinator Matt Canada arrived in January. He has installed “most” of the scheme, Orgeron said Thursday. The last few trinkets will be added next week.
“He’s close. I don’t think you say (installation) is ever over, but he’s very close,” Orgeron said. “His goal was to have everything in by (this) Saturday. There’s a few things he needs to put in.”
Orgeron could name a starting quarterback soon after the scrimmage, too, he suggested Thursday. He has kept the battle open during camp, despite naming senior Danny Etling the leader. The staff will review the scrimmage, discuss the starting job and could deliver a decision to the team.
“No. Not over yet,” Orgeron said when asked about the battle among Etling, true freshmen Myles Brennan and Lowell Narcisse and third-year sophomore Justin McMillan. “We’re going to go all the way through the scrimmage and talk about it. Danny is going to be our starting (QB) probably, but it’s not over yet.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if something would happen,” he continued. “We’re going to keep that open until we’re final. We’re going to sit down with the staff and say, ‘OK, which direction we’re going?’ And then we’ll let the team know.”
Ed Orgeron reasserted Thursday that he does not expect record-setting edge rusher Arden Key …
There are other, tighter position battles.
Paris and Delpit continue fighting at free safety, where Orgeron announced last week Delpit should be “considered” a starter. Thornton and Chaisson are competing to potentially replace Key, the All-America junior recovering from shoulder surgery.
Orgeron does not expect Key to play in the season opener against BYU, opening the door to Thornton or Chaisson.
“(If) K’Lavon’s got to start, I have no problem with it,” Orgeron said. “Eventually, he’s going to somewhere, play somewhere.”
One of the most heated battles is at inside linebacker. Alexander and White seem to have the starting jobs secure, but defensive coordinator Dave Aranda hopes to use a three-man rotation, Orgeron said.
“There are some battles between Tyler Taylor, Jacob Phillips, Patrick Queen,” he said, naming his trio of decorated linebacker signees. “Who’s going to be in the rotation right there? Who’s going to play? Who’s the second-team linebacker? Dave is going to play three.”
- Saturday: Final full scrimmage of preseason
- Monday: First day of school (camp breaks)
- Wednesday: Orgeron's first radio show
- Aug. 26: Mock game/scrimmage
- Aug. 28: Game week begins with Orgeron's first in-season news conference
- Sept. 2: Game 1 vs. BYU in Houston