LSU's Orgeron opens with difficult practice to remind national champions it won't be easy

Glenn Guilbeau
Lafayette Daily Advertiser
LSU and coach Ed Orgeron are not sure when they can start defense of their national title.

BATON ROUGE - LSU coach Ed Orgeron has learned from previous national champion coaches that the best way to treat a fresh national title is with the silent treatment.

"One of the most common mistakes is to mention last year's team and compare the new team to it all the time," Orgeron said Tuesday on a teleconference. "So, we don't do that. But we do mention leadership. We mention LSU standard of performance."

And that set up the Tigers' first practice for the 2020 season on Monday.

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"Yesterday, I purposely made the first practice very tough to make sure that we're doing the little things right," Orgeron said. "That's how I got my message across. Just because we won the championship last year doesn't mean we're going to win it again this year. It's through a process and through hard work."

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Team analyst Bobby April, a former special teams coach with the New Orleans Saints, interviewed several players from former national championship teams over the off-season and reported that back to Orgeron.

Orgeron also remembers how former USC coach Pete Carroll ran things following the 2003 national championship season when Orgeron was an assistant with the Trojans from 1998-2004. USC repeated in 2004.

"He didn't say anything," Orgeron said. "He just kept on coaching the way he knew how to coach, and it worked."

Orgeron opened his teleconference by saying there were a lot of good things to watch at the Tigers' practice Monday.

"I'm excited about this football team," he said. "I think they're very talented. Very talented group of freshmen."

Orgeron mentioned incoming wide receiver Kayshon Boutte, the No. 6 prospect in the nation at his position and No. 1 player from Louisiana by out of Westgate High in New Iberia, and No. 1 tight end and No. 9 national prospect Arik Gilbert of Marietta, Georgia. Orgeron referred to Gilbert as a wide receiver.

Defensively, Orgeron singled out true freshman Jaquelin Roy, the No. 8 defensive tackle in the nation and the No. 2 overall prospect in Louisiana out of University High on the LSU campus.

"The guy I'm excited about is Jaquelin Roy from U-High, No. 99," he said "Man, he showed out. He's been aggressive. I think he's going to be a great defensive lineman."

Orgeron said Jacobian Guillory, who is the No. 10 defensive tackle in the nation from Alexandria Senior High, is "going to be outstanding."

Nose tackle Tyler Shelvin, a junior from Notre Dame of Crowley, continues to improve.

"Tyler is practicing very well," Orgeron said. "He's at 370 right now."

Orgeron sounded as if he is leaning to more of a running attack this season with the loss of Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Joe Burrow, who is expected to be replaced by junior Myles Brennan, and the loss of passing game coordinator Joe Brady. Burrow was the first pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, and Brady is the new offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers.

Dec 28, 2019; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; LSU Tigers running back John Emery Jr. (4) celebrates with wide receiver Racey McMath (17) after scoring a touchdown against the Oklahoma Sooners during the fourth quarter of the 2019 Peach Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

"The running backs looked fantastic yesterday," Orgeron said. "John Emery had a fantastic day. Chris Curry and Tyrion (Davis-Price) are bulls, big guys, work hard. I think you're going to see a different team this year. Obviously, the guys we had last year were very good throwing the ball."

Brennan has not played in a game that was in doubt since the 2017 season, however.

"I think we're going to be very good throwing the ball again, but our running game's going to be a lot better," Orgeron said. "I do believe that."

Starting offensive right tackle Austin Deculus was not at practice Monday but is expected back soon.

LSU senior defensive end Justin Thomas of Daphne, Alabama, has left the team, Orgeron said. Thomas had left the team last season for personal reasons, but returned. He is the third player to leave the Tigers in recent weeks.

Starting senior defensive end Neil Farrell Jr. of Mobile, Alabama, opted out of the season on Aug. 8 due to COVID-19 impacting his family, and starting senior nickel back Kary Vincent Jr. announced on Monday he would not play this season to get an early start at his preparation for the 2022 NFL Draft.

Sophomore Cordale Flott could fill Vincent's spot at nickle - a fifth defensive back in the usual four-player secondary.

"Cordale has had a tremendous camp and a tremendous summer," Orgeron said. "He can play cornerback or nickel."

The starting cornerbacks are expected to be sophomore Derek Stingley Jr., a consensus first team All-American in 2019, and incoming freshman Elias Ricks, who was the No. 1 prep cornerback in the nation and No. 6 overall prospect out of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, and Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, California.

Orgeron said LSU has had very few players test positive for COVID-19 as of Monday.

"Maybe two or three," he said. "I think we have two or three guys that are out. I do believe we're ahead. Not to say we're better, but we're ahead with our program."

Orgeron praised LSU's medical team of Shelly Mullenix and Jack Marucci as well as athletic director Scott Woodward.

"The players feel comfortable that they're getting the proper care," he said. "We practice COVID-19 principles in here. Our guys don't blink."

LSU will practice Tuesday through Friday before taking the weekend off. Classes begin on Monday.

"Everything's looking up right now for the Tigers," Orgeron said.