The last time there was an SEC Media Days Ed Orgeron had not won a National Championship, LSU had lost eight straight games to Alabama and LSU was picked to finish fourth in the SEC in 2019.
After two wildly different seasons, Orgeron is back in Hoover along with junior corner Derek Stingley Jr. and senior tackle Austin Deculus. Let’s go over everything that was said today.
Orgeron gave his typical SECMD briefing where he goes over virtually the entire starting roster, but this one was a little more abbreviated to focus on the two new coordinators. He didn’t shy away from admitting both new hires were hired because of their connections to the 2019 coordinators, even going so far as to say LSU will run the “Joe Brady’s offense” in 2021.
As expected, no updates were given on the quarterback competition other than Orgeron saying he believes in both guys and think they’re both championship quarterbacks. He pointed out that Austin Deculus will break the record for games played at LSU, and credited him with convincing the entire starting offensive line to return. He said Tyrion Davis-Price is in the best shape of his life (playing the hits) and also said John Emery was poised for a big year. Kayshon Boutte was the only other offensive player he named. It’s no secret that the No. 2 and 3 receiving options are somewhat of a question right now.
Orgeron praised new defensive hires Daronte Jones, Blake Baker and Andre Carter before mentioning the return of the entire defensive line and the shutdown duo of Derek Stingley and Eli Ricks. He then spoke about new additions like two top safeties in recruiting (Sage Ryan and Derrick Davis) and two linebackers acquired through the transfer portal (Mike Jones Jr. and Navonteque Strong).
He finished it off by shouting out the GOAT Cade York and kickoff specialist Avery Atkins. This was less detail than Orgeron has gone into in the past, but all the players mentioned by name we already knew were supremely talented.
On Team Vaccinations
Orgeron could not give a rough estimate of how much of the team has been vaccinated against COVID-19, but said a lot of the team is and he is hopeful most will be before the seasons begins. Greg Sankey said six of the 14 teams had passed the 80% threshold of vaccination and Charles Hanagriff says LSU is one of them.
Orgeron was supportive of the new Name, Image and Likeness rules and said these guys deserve the compensation. He clarified LSU has people in place to help make sure everything is structured and in place. He said his job is to make sure the focus is on football and that guys know when to focus on football and when to focus on NIL. He said football is changing and he has to change with it.
On Title IX Lawsuits/Investigations
Orgeron was asked a few times about various things relating to LSU’s Title IX scandal, but gave no direct comments saying he won’t comment on anything relating to active investigations or lawsuits.
On New Coordinator Hires
Orgeron said during interviews he imagined how he would feel about the coaches if he were a player and thought about how he would get along with them. He never said it explicitly, but it’s clear the players didn’t connect with the 2020 staff. He also clarified a statement he made in the Spring about him supposedly not interviewing some of the coaches he hired. Orgeron revealed the coach was Bo Pelini and he was never formally interviewed face-to-face because the two knew each other and instead of an interview, talked about strategies and things they would want to do on defense. Orgeron said if he did interview Pelini formally he still would have hired him.
He did make clear he did a lot of background research and called people about the new coordinators before hiring them, sand said they have great chemistry and relationships with the current players.
On Drug Policy
Orgeron was asked how he would feel about the SEC adopting a uniform drug policy, something he said he hadn’t thought about. He said LSU has its own policy and they follow it, and he isn’t sure if a uniform policy would help or hurt. This has been a talking point among LSU fans recently after Dare Rosenthal transferred following drug-related suspensions.
On Lessons From the 2020 Season
Orgeron said he is going to do things his way, no matter what.
DEREK STINGLEY JR.
On High Expectations and Draft Buzz
Stingley said he’s excited about the praise but is excited about the team as a whole. He praised Daronte Jones and the chemistry on the defensive side on the ball. He said Jones brings energy and the whole defense is tight-knit, not just close with their position group.
On Playing Offense
Stingley said he’d suit up on offense if Orgeron needed him to. He didn’t go into more detail, but it sounds like this option was never seriously on the table.
On Wearing No. 7
Stingley said he’s excited about wearing the iconic number because he’s seen guys make plays in it ever since he was a kid and he hopes to leave his mark on the number’s legacy. He said he reached out to Tyrann Mathieu about being a leader since Stingley is a quiet guy, and Mathieu told him that he shoud lead in his own way and being a leader doesn’t always mean being a loud rah-rah guy.
On Playing Three Different Defenses In Three Years
Daronte Jones’ NFL background has been a helpful teaching tool according to Stingley. He said a lot of the film Jones uses is from the NFL but he presents it in a way that simplifies it. Stingley said although Aranda and Pelini run different defenses, it’s very much the same for him at the core.
On NIL Deals
Stingley (who announced a Walk-On’s endorsement deal within hours of NIL legalization) said he’s carefully navigating the waters of NIL, trying to find deals and partners that are right for him. He said everyone is trying to figure out the right approach because it’s something brand new to the sport.
On Bouncing Back From a 5-5 Season
LSU’s subpar 2020 campaign is a motivating factor for the team according to Stingley. He said everyone on the roster has a chip on their shoulder (another classic!) to prove .500 is not the norm.
On the QB Competition
Deculus said the competition has been great for the other offensive players because both players are talented and the competition raises the level of play by everyone on the field. He said both are leaders but in different ways, one by example and one vocally. He compared them to Lloyd Cushenberry and Damien Lewis in 2019 where both were leaders for younger guys but handled their business differently.
On Jake Peetz’ Offense
Deculus called Jake Peetz’ system an energetic offense similar to 2019 and the similarities were easy to see. He said the O-line takes the blame for the subpar running game in 2020 and the bounce back will open up the 2021 offense even more.
On the Offensive Line Coming Back For 2021
Deculus said the O-line looked back at how when the 2018 line returning for 2019 they all improved greatly and won the Joe Moore Award. That leap was a big motivating factor for this group returning for 2020.
On What Brad Davis Brings
Deculus described Davis as stern and willing to put his foot down, but said he’s a great asset and the having a different mindset under a new coach can be beneficial for a player’s growth.