No. 1 LSU has a chance to clinch the SEC West this weekend as the Tigers face one of the worst teams in SEC history when Arkansas comes to Baton Rouge on Saturday.
Arkansas sits at 2-8 on the season and has not won an SEC game this season.
“The next game up,” said LSU coach Ed Orgeron. “We said we’re going to look at where we’re at at the end of the season. We want to win every game, that’s one of the things we did want to do. Arkansas is our next game. This is game number 11. Our goal is to beat Arkansas.”
The Razorbacks are playing their first game under interim head coach Barry Lunney Jr. Coach Chad Morris was fired after a 45-19 loss at home to Western Kentucky. Morris did not win an SEC game during his two seasons at Arkansas and finished with a 4-18 record.
Orgeron believes that this Arkansas team will rally behind their new head coach and put up a competitive game against the Tigers.
“Every time I’ve been an interim coach, the next week we came out on fire,” Orgeron explained. “But you try to change things up, you try to flip the script, get your coaches home early.
“Obviously they’re going to be fired up. Interim coach, they had an open date, obviously he’s changed things around. He’s going to rally the troops. They going to come out and give their best effort. We know they will.”
Orgeron has themed practices for every day of the week and this weeks Tell the Truth Monday was brutally truthful for coaches and players alike following a poor second half performance for the defense against Ole Miss.
He mentioned that Arkansas has similar type of spread offense and they made use some of the same quarterback runs that Ole Miss used.
“First thing I do is look at myself,” Orgeron said. “I coached the defensive line with those guys, too. We’re going to give them that today and we’re going to put them in great position. Obviously they’re going to have to make the plays. I think it’s a combination of both. But I’m never going to put it on the players. I’m going to put it on me first.”
Despite Orgeron’s insistence that LSU cannot overlook Arkansas, the Razorbacks will not challenge the Tigers anywhere near as much as Ole Miss managed to do.
Arkansas’ only wins have come against Portland State and San Jose State and the Razorbacks are averaging 22.3 points per game while giving up 36.2.
Orgeron emphasized that these last few weeks of the season — against Arkansas and Texas A&M — are important to the ultimate goal of the team and they should not be taken lightly from a mental standpoint. He know that motivating the Tigers to keep playing to their potential is an important part of his job.
“I have to make sure that we’re practicing well,” Orgeron said. “I think we practiced well last week, except on Tuesday. We were not prepared. I didn’t think it was going to get that cold. That wind started blowing. We didn’t have as sharp a practice as we wanted to. Wednesday we did.
“I have to make sure we have great practices this week. I know our defense is going to be motivated. Our offense is going to be motivated. I talked to Coach Ensminger, thought we were sloppy at things, the interceptions, turnovers. There’s a lot of things we can get better at. This is a highly motivated staff, a highly motivated team.”
Orgeron said they’re going to give All-American safety Grant Delpit — who didn’t practice during the week leading up to Alabama — a few days off this week and hope he will be 100 percent for the weekend. Delpit has struggled with an ankle injury for the last month.
“Obviously that ankle is very sore, not getting reps hurts sometimes,” Orgeron said. “Making tackles in open space hurts sometimes because he can’t bend or run like he wants to. We’re going to give him a couple days off this week and hopefully he can get healthy for this weekend.”
Later at the Monday practice open to the media, LB Michael Divinity returned to the lineup. Divinity had left the team prior to the Bama game due to “personal reasons.“ Officials confirmed to The Advocate that Divinity is back with the team, but would not comment on if he would be eligible to play.