If Thanksgiving was any indication of what's ahead in the permanent tenure of head coach Ed Orgeron, LSU has a lot to be thankful for heading into the future.
If Thanksgiving was any indication of what’s ahead in the permanent tenure of head coach Ed Orgeron, LSU has a lot to be thankful for heading into the future.
Less than 48 hours after the Tigers went into College Station and powered past Texas A&M, 54-39, Tiger Athletic Director Joe Alleva officially announced that the school would be removing the interim tag and making Orgeron their new head coach.
He certainly made the decision easier for Alleva on Thursday night.
Despite coming off of a soul-crushing defeat against Florida, operating under only four days of rest and heading into the game with four key starters in Leonard Fournette, Kendall Beckwith, Arden Key and Travin Dural out with injuries, the Tigers dominated from start to finish.
The offense piled up 622 total yards and a whopping 28 first downs.
Over 300 of those yards came on the ground. Derrius Guice led the charge as he broke Fournette’s five-week old school record of 284 yards rushing in a single game. Guice finished with 285 and four touchdowns.
The passing game was hitting on all cylinders as well. Danny Etling had his best game as an LSU starting quarterback as he went 20-28 for 324 yards and two touchdowns.
During the game, reports began to surface that the school had already agreed to a deal that would bring in Houston’s Tom Herman as the new head coach.
LSU would later release a statement saying that no offer had been made to any of its potential candidates.
On Friday, Orgeron had his formal interview with Alleva. Herman was supposed to meet with the school on Saturday, but he informed them early that morning that he was now seriously considering the move to Texas.
That’s when Alleva decided that Orgeron was the best move for the program.
Under Coach “O,” the Tigers went 5-2 and improved dramatically on offense.
In the four games under Les Miles, LSU was averaging just 21 points per game. In the seven games under Orgeron, that total jumped up to 32.
The Tigers scored at least 38 in all five of their victories. In those five wins, they outscored their opponents by a combined margin of 217-87.
Orgeron made it clear what to expect with him as the new LSU head coach.
“We understand LSU, what it means to Louisiana and winning championships,” Orgeron said. “My goal is to build a championship program fast, very fast. I understand the expectations at LSU. I have the same expectations of myself and my staff.
The two top priorities for the Tigers will now be keeping first-year defensive coordinator Dave Aranda and bringing in a new offensive coordinator.
Aranda has done wonders for a Tiger defense that uncharacteristically struggled at times last season.
In 11 games, LSU has only allowed 16 touchdowns and 16 points per game. They have only allowed more than 20 points on two separate occasions.
Orgeron called him “the best coordinator in football.”
The school has offered him a contract extension that includes a raise and the new title of associate head coach. Though Aranda has not signed the contract just yet, he has reportedly agreed to its terms.
After three years of struggles in the passing game, all eyes are now on the coach Orgeron brings in to run the offense.
“We’re going to be looking to recruit the best offensive coordinator in football and bring him to LSU,” Orgeron said. “I do believe that nowadays, you have to run the spread offense. You have to have duel-threat quarterbacks that can run the ball and throw it. You have to have somebody that knows how to run it. We still want to be a physical football team. We have great backs at LSU.”
There are already rumors that Orgeron will be heavily pursuing current Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. Orgeron coached under Kiffin when he was the head coach at USC.
When Kiffin was fired midway through the season, Orgeron took over as interim head coach and guided the Trojans to a 6-2 record.
For the past three seasons, Kiffin has been able to improve the Alabama offense. It has culminated in two straight playoff appearances and a national title last season.
Orgeron also indicated that improvements in recruiting will be key in getting LSU back to championship contention.
He said that he wants to be sure to lock up Louisiana recruits, and he referenced the linebacker position as a vital need along the recruiting trail.
Orgeron had just a 10-25 record during his three years at Ole Miss, but he said that he’s a completely different coach now.
“I’m trained. I’m ready to do this,” Orgeron said. “I’ve had my chances before; I’ve learned from my mistakes. I’m ready to build a championship program, along with a great staff. I’m going to need great support in all areas. We’ll get the best staff and best players together.”