Ed Orgeron revved up a small crowd gathered in New Orleans on Tuesday afternoon, calling them "family" and talking with the confidence of a man who’s undefeated as LSU’s interim head coach.
“Monday, we tell the truth,” he said, referring to his themed Monday practices. “The truth is we kicked Ole Miss’ butt.”
The line drew applause from a couple of hundred people gathered at the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation Quarterback Club luncheon at The Cannery, a special events venue in Mid-City. The Tigers (5-2, 3-1) are fresh off a 38-21 victory over the Rebels on Saturday in Tiger Stadium, a win over Orgeron’s former team and a victory that pushed him to 3-0 since taking over for the fired Les Miles a month ago.
The game against Ole Miss produced more than a ‘W,’ Orgeron told the crowd. His players are believing in a system that he’s slowly installing within the program.
“I’ve been at places we’ve done this. I thought this was a pivotal game for us. I thought it was a game that they’d really start believe things we’re doing,” Orgeron said. “We beat a drum on Friday (in a meeting). They really said, ‘You know what? This stuff is working.’”
Up next is the biggest challenge of the year. No. 19 LSU hosts top-ranked Alabama (8-0, 5-0) on Nov. 5 in Tiger Stadium, a marquee matchup that will air in prime time on CBS.
The Tigers are off this week. Orgeron rushed back to Baton Rouge after the noon luncheon Tuesday to attend a 2:15 p.m. team meeting. The team practiced at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday and will practice Wednesday before conducting a “Tiger Bowl” on Thursday, Orgeron said. The Tiger Bowl is a scrimmage for underclassmen, coached by upperclassmen.
“A lot of people ask me, ‘Coach, how are you going to handle the open date?’ In past jobs that I didn’t have success, I would have been scrimmaging today during the season. I would have wore them out,” he said. “That’s not what we’re doing.”
Tuesday and Wednesday will be spent on the Tide, a squad that’s beaten all but one opponent by double digits. The only one that hung with Alabama: Ole Miss. The Tide won 48-43 in Oxford, Mississippi, in Game 3.
“Ole Miss put up 43 on them,” Orgeron said to a man in the audience who asked him specifically about Alabama. “They’re not invincible, like you said.”
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Orgeron called New Orleans “the most fertile recruiting area in the country” and, while recruiting for other schools, he said he has lost several Louisiana prospects to LSU on the night before national signing day.
“I’d have a guy coming and then all the sudden Tuesday night he’d call me, ‘Coach I’m changing my mind,’” Orgeron said. “‘I said, ‘I understand.’"
The Tigers' Louisiana-born coach left the event on a high note, ending his 15-minute talk with just five words.
He was asked if LSU has the depth to hang with Alabama.
“Hell yeah!” he yelled, before stepping off the podium.
“See ya guys!”