LSU had a chance to relive its national championship campaign Wednesday night with the airing of ‘One for the Ages,’ a documentary of the 2019 season.
Mixed with behind-the-scenes footage, postgame interviews and game film, the documentary provides a recap of the Tigers’ undefeated season.
Here are the most memorable moments from the hour-long film, which opens in preseason camp and stretches through the national title game.
Sean Payton appearance
Early in the broadcast, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton appears at a coaches clinic. The footage is used to help explain why LSU hired passing game coordinator Joe Brady from the Saints.
Payton discussed how to attack certain defenses and breed a winning culture through easily digestible statements. The speech impressed Orgeron. Then Payton emphasized the importance of the quarterback position, and the documentary cut to a preseason interview with quarterback Joe Burrow.
“I need to be one of the best quarterbacks in the country,” said Burrow, whose hair still flowed toward the base of his neck. “If we want to reach our goals and finish No. 1 in the country instead of No. 6, I need to be up there with Trevor Lawrence and Tua (Tagovailoa). That’s my goal going into the season.”
Orgeron: “He’s going to take us as far as we can go.”
The task for filmmaker Jim Jorden when crafting a documentary on LSU’s historic 2019 season was not how to fill up an hour — but what to leave…
Ed Orgeron up close
Orgeron’s methods for motivating a team before games have become the stuff of legend. Multiple times, the documentary gave a glimpse of his pregame speeches, beginning with LSU’s first Southeastern Conference game against Vanderbilt.
“S-E-C play!” Orgeron said, screaming so loud his voice strained. “LSU Tigers go to war!”
The film later showed Orgeron coaching senior defensive lineman Rashard Lawrence at practice, and after LSU’s 23-20 win over Auburn, it reused a conversation between the coach and Auburn defensive linemen Big Kat Bryant and Marlon Davidson.
“First round pick,” Orgeron said. “First round pick. Just like I told y’all in recruiting. Hey, I’m proud of you guys.”
Soon, Orgeron appeared in the locker room. He yelled encouragement to the players, and the documentary began transitioning to the Alabama game. As hype gathered before one of the most anticipated matchups of the college football season, Orgeron instructed LSU how to approach the upcoming game.
“Keep your mouth shut,” Orgeron said. “Don’t say a word. We don’t need to win the game on the Twitter machine. We’re going to win that game on the field, and we’re going to win it with effort.”
LSU intends to bring student-athletes back on campus June 1 when the Southeastern Conference lifts its suspension of activities, but athletic director Scott Woodward said the athletic department can adjust if plans change.
Inside the booth
The end of the documentary featured snippets of conversation between Brady, offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger and Burrow during LSU’s postseason games. The trio led LSU’s record-setting offense, and these moments let viewers see how they worked together in the middle of games.
During the section about the College Football Playoff Semifinal against Oklahoma, Brady told a sideline assistant to put Burrow on the headset. Brady and Ensminger coached from the booth and could not speak with Burrow in-person before possessions.
“All right Joe, couple thoughts here,” Brady said before listing potential plays. “This is a huge drive right here, man. Let’s go right down the field right now.”
Later, Ensminger spoke with Burrow on the headset. They discussed what to run against a defense with two high safeties if the cornerback dropped into deep coverage.
Once LSU reached the national championship, the documentary showed more of Brady and Ensminger working together to dissect Clemson’s defense, which finished the season ranked No. 3 in scoring.
“Play within the system, everybody,” Brady said. “Play within the system.”
When Clemson ran a cover two scheme, Brady said to target wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. Ensminger asked Burrow if he wanted to avoid pre-snap motions. Burrow told his teammates they’ll throw the ball deeper their next drive. And before tight end Thaddeus Moss scored his second touchdown, Brady asked an assistant what defender had covered Moss.
“What number?” Brady said. “Nineteen? Yeah, we’ve got to take advantage of that.”
Leave it to the ever-optimistic Ed Orgeron to find the positives in the middle of a pandemic.
Reliving the glory
More than anything, the film recapped LSU’s season with footage that brought viewers onto field level, allowing them to remember one of the greatest years in school history.
The documentary focused most on the games, but it also mixed in Burrow’s multiple trophy receptions, the College Football Awards and the custom jersey Burrow wore during his senior night presentation.
As the broadcast ended, the film spliced together clips of LSU’s celebration inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Players jumped into one another’s arms. Coaches hugged. Confetti fell over the field.
The film cut to Orgeron and Burrow on stage before the trophy presentation. Before they lifted the trophy for the first time, Orgeron spoke to his quarterback and explained his mindset before the game.
“I wasn’t looking at the trophy,” Orgeron said. “I wasn’t looking at it. My focus was on beating Clemson. You understand that? Now we can look at that trophy.”