BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — LSU coach Ed Orgeron understands what lies ahead of his 24th-ranked Tigers.
After back-to-back victories against Florida and Auburn to revive their season, the Tigers will attempt to extend their Southeastern Conference winning streak to three games Saturday when they visit Ole Miss. Orgeron spent three years as the Rebels coach from 2005-07. During that stretch, Ole Miss won just 10 games — three against SEC teams.
But, the Louisiana native knows nothing will come easily for LSU against a Rebels squad that has split its first six games.
“I know what this game means to all of us,” Orgeron said. “It is a rivalry game. Our players are going to understand about this game. They are going into a hostile environment. Ole Miss will play their very, very best.”
Orgeron was interim head coach when the Tigers defeated the Rebels 38-21 in Baton Rouge last season. He also was a member of former coach Les Miles’ staff when LSU was soundly beaten by Ole Miss 38-17 in Oxford two years ago. Now, Orgeron will take his own team into Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
“This game is not about me,” Orgeron said. “LSU-Ole Miss means a lot. It is about the teams. I had a tremendous opportunity at Ole Miss and I didn’t get it done. I am so happy to be a LSU Tiger.”
Orgeron acknowledged that his time as Rebels head coach had a big effect on his career.
“I would not be at LSU today without being at Ole Miss,” Orgeron said. “It was a stepping stone for me. It was (experience) I needed. I’m grateful for the mistakes that happened there. I learned my strengths and weaknesses as a head coach.
“I learned how to hire guys who are good at what I’m not good at. We are doing that here. We’ve got some guys who are very strong in a lot of areas I need. I rely on them. Back then, I wouldn’t do that.”
Orgeron’s current Tigers team appears to have smoothed out some problems evident in a 30-point loss at Mississippi State and a loss at home to Troy in a three-week span. Since those humbling setbacks, LSU has held off Florida 17-16 on the road and overcame a 20-point first-half deficit to beat Auburn 27-23.
“The team showed leadership and true grit and determination against Auburn,” Orgeron said. “We were down 20-0 and nobody blinked. The touchdown right before halftime made the score 23-14 and gave the team the belief that they could do this thing.”
Numerous meetings were conducted among different groups following the loss to Troy. LSU athletics director Joe Alleva met with Orgeron, offensive coordinator Matt Canada and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. The players had their own meeting and then a group of them got together with Orgeron.
“We used Troy as a turning point,” Orgeron said. “I met with 11 of these men (players) in my office. I asked them ‘what’s going on.’ They threw everything out there. Then, they went back to the other players. What was supposed to be a half-hour meeting ended up being an hour meeting for the players.”
Orgeron said that the most effective message was delivered by former LSU linebacker Duke Riley, who addressed the team two days before the Florida. Riley was at practice that Thursday since his Atlanta Falcons were in their off week.
“The difference was the talk Duke Riley gave to the team,” Orgeron said. “He watched us practice and then he lit into them about the things he observed. Since then, things have changed.”
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