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LSU linebacker Duke Riley (49) returned to deliver a speech that coach Ed Orgeron says turned around the Tigers' season. 

Foster Moreau knows Duke Riley as a goofball.

He’s a jokester, a funny guy, always smiling and cracking one-liners.

The Duke Riley he saw on Oct. 5 was not the one he remembers on the LSU football team. This Duke Riley returned to campus angry, prepared to express those emotions in a speech to the LSU football team after a home loss to Troy five days before.

“You could tell when you greeted him he wasn’t the same,” said Moreau, the Tigers’ tight end. “He didn’t come into the team meeting, wasn’t hanging out with his linebackers. He was serious.”

Some might have written off Riley’s return as just another pep talk from a former LSU player. It wasn’t that at all, coach Ed Orgeron revealed Monday.

“I think the true turnaround of our football team was on (that) Thursday,” he said. “Duke Riley watched us practice, and he lit into the football team like I ain’t never seen before!”

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Since the talk, the 24th-ranked Tigers (5-2, 2-1 Southeastern) are 2-0, with wins over then-No. 21 Florida, 17-16 on the road, and then-No. 10 Auburn, 27-23. The latter made history as the biggest comeback in an SEC game in Tiger Stadium.

Riley, a former LSU linebacker and third-round draft pick now playing for the Falcons, visited campus during Atlanta’s bye week days after that 24-21 loss to Troy. He delivered his speech after a Thursday practice in the team’s indoor football facility.

“I thought he was going to get us fired up but he got us prepared to play in a different way, which was really awesome,” Moreau said. “We owe him big for that.”

So what’d he say?

“He was calling out old and young, saying ‘Old guys, you can’t let this happen and young guys you can’t think because you got here, you’re afforded everything,’” Moreau said. “He kind of poured his heart out to us, let us know what we needed to do, what he would do, what a professional would do in that situation.”

Silence filled the indoor facility after Riley’s speech, which lasted no more than 10 minutes long, Moreau said.

“You could kind of tell guys were like, ‘He’s so right,’” he said. “It’s like that quiet, somber silence. He’s right — something needs to change. Friday you kind of reflected on it, and Saturday you put it into motion.”

Happy for Les

Orgeron is happy LSU fans greeted his predecessor like they did during halftime of Saturday’s game against Auburn.

Les Miles returned to Tiger Stadium for a ceremony at halftime honoring the 2007 national championship team, and fans greeted him with a roaring ovation.

“I'm glad that Coach Miles came to the football stadium. They had a great reception, which he deserved,” Orgeron said. “What an honor it was to have him there.”

While LSU fans roared for Miles, current coaches and players were in LSU’s locker room making adjustments in a game in which it trailed 23-14. The Tigers, with Miles in the building, stormed back to win.

Miles hired Orgeron as his defensive line coach in 2015 and promoted him to recruiting coordinator in 2016, just six months before Orgeron replaced the man after Miles’ firing.

Orgeron said the two coaches have been close for years, since their families used to vacation in the same city, Destin, Florida.

“It's kind of like we've been friends. He hired me to come here. I didn't have a job,” Orgeron said. “So I'm forever grateful of that.”

Injury update

Right tackle Toby Weathersby returned to practice Monday, but the Tigers were without left tackle KJ Malone.

Malone is not scheduled to practice this week and is “questionable for a questionable amount of time,” Orgeron said. Both Weathersby and Malone missed the game against Auburn. Malone suffered a left knee injury against Florida. Weathersby suffered an undisclosed injury against the Gators.


LSU linebacker Devin White and receiver DJ Chark were named SEC defensive and co-offensive players of the week, respectively. It’s the first time since 1985 that two LSU players have claimed such an honor in the same game. … LSU F-back Bry’Kiethon Mouton and cornerback Xavier Lewis returned to practice Monday after missing the last two weeks for undisclosed reasons.

Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.