Can Auburn end its football road losing streak at Tiger Stadium this year?

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247Sports 19 July, 2021 - 05:07pm 7 views

When is SEC Media Days?

SEC Media Days start Monday, July 19, and run through Thursday, July 22. The event will be live streamed on fuboTV. The event certainly will have its fair share of talk about the College Football Playoff expansion as well as name, image and likeness. There will also be a number of first-time SEC coaches at the podium. al.comSEC Media Days 2021 live stream: How to watch online for free, TV, time, full schedule

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Can this be the year that Auburn returns from Baton Rouge with a football victory at Tiger Stadium for the first time since the 1999 season? Auburn’s new head coach, Bryan Harsin, will make his SEC debut on Oct. 2nd at LSU, facing a team that slumped to 5-5 last season following an undefeated, national championship run in 2019.

The last Auburn coach to win a game in Tiger Stadium was Tommy Tuberville, who in his first season at AU saw his team cruise to a 41-7 victory. Since that happened Auburn has lost to the Bayou Bengals on 10 consecutive trips to Baton Rouge.

Tuberville’s teams were 1-4 at Tiger Stadium. Coach Gene Chizik’s Auburn teams posted an 0-2 record at LSU and Gus Malzahn’s teams finished 0-4 in Baton Rouge, including a three-point setback in Auburn’s previous trip to LSU and a four-point loss in the road trip prior to that.

Awaiting this season will be one of the SEC’s most experienced teams with LSU returning nine starters on offense and nine on defense. However, Auburn returns majority of the starters from last season’s team that whipped LSU 48-11 with Bo Nix passing for 300 yards and rushing for 81 more.

Ed Orgeron, who owns a 45-14 record as head coach at LSU since taking over as interim coach in 2016, said at SEC Football Media Days on Monday that he has high expectations for his 2021 team.

“Maybe last year we weren’t as hungry as we needed to be,” Orgeron said. “I think last year is a thing of the past...I do think you will see the Tigers have a very good football team.”

One of LSU’s key returning starters, offensive tackle Austin Deculus, said on Monday to expect a “very energetic offense” from the Bayou Bengals that will remind fans of LSU’s 2019 squad. Deculus said the theme heading into preseason practice has been “coming together as a team.”

LSU’s offense averaged a healthy 32 points per game in 2020, but gave up an unhealthy average of 34.9 points per contest while surrendering an average of 492 yards per game. Orgeron hired Daronte Jones, previously defensive backs coach for the Minnesota Vikings, to do something about the defensive struggles.

Defensive back Derek Stingley, Jr., said on Monday that the chemistry has improved with a new coordinator on board. “On the defensive side of the ball when Coach Jones walks into the room he gives us energy,” Stingley pointed out. “As a group from the front line to the secondary, we are all hanging out outside of football and interacting more. It is showing on the field and it is going to show this fall.”

QB Battle: Redshirt senior Myles Brennan and sophomore Max Johnson are competing to be the starting quarterback. “In my opinion it is dead even going into camp,” Orgeron said.

“Look at the work Myles Brennan did the way he started the season and the success he had as far as yardage, it wasn’t his fault that we lost the games. There is no question about that and then he got hurt.” Brennan became the first player in LSU history to throw for at least 300 yards in his first three starts. He hit 79-131 passes for 1,112 yards last season.

T.J. Finley started five games, including the loss at Jordan-Hare Stadium, before giving way to Johnson, who was 2-0 as the starter. Finley transferred to Auburn following spring drills.

Johnson completed 88-150 passes for 1,069 yards with eight touchdowns and one interception while playing as a backup in four games and the starter in the final two contests.

“You look at the way that Max kept on fighting, just kept on competing and just waited his turn like so many players at LSU,” Orgeron said. “Then his turn comes against Florida in The Swamp, a 27-point underdog, and he wins that game. We come back and we beat a very good Ole Miss team and he did some tremendous things in that football game.”

Bad Days (and nights) in Baton Rouge: Auburn’s all-time record at Tiger Stadium is 5-19-1. Here are the scores of the games in Baton Rouge since Auburn’s last victory at Tiger Stadium.

Hot on the Bayou: LSU already has 15 commitments for 2022 class and is the top-ranked SEC team in the current 247Sports ratings. Orgeron said last season’s 5-5 record has not had a negative impact on recruiting and that the 2019 championship season is fresh on the minds of recruits, especially prospects from the state of Louisiana.

“Recruiting is our strength,” the head coach said. “We have a great staff for recruiting at LSU. The state of Louisiana is loaded this year. We have some great relationships with all of our players and some of our committed players have become great recruiters for us so we have got things going in the right direction.”

Lead-In Matchups: Prior to playing host to Auburn the Bayou Bengals will be facing their first SEC game with a road trip to Mississippi State. The week before traveling to LSU the Auburn Tigers will play their final non-conference game on the 2021 schedule, a Homecoming contest vs. Georgia State.

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Orgeron shuffles assistants after 5-5 season

WholeHogSports 20 July, 2021 - 03:10am

HOOVER, Ala. — LSU Coach Ed Orgeron overhauled his coaching staff after the Tigers fell from winning the 2019 national championship to a 5-5 finish last season.

Orgeron hired six new assistant coaches, most recently offensive line coach Brad Davis — a Baton Rouge native — from the University of Arkansas in June. Davis replaced Jim Cregg, who was fired for undisclosed reasons after spring practice.

“Brad Davis is a guy from Baton Rouge, a tremendous recruiter, up-and-coming offensive line coach,” Orgeron said Monday at SEC Media Days. “You always have a group of coaches on a list in case something happens. Something did happen and he became available, and we’re very happy to have him. He’s happy to be home in Baton Rouge.”

LSU has two new coordinators in Jake Peetz on offense and Daronte Jones on defense to replace Bo Pelini and Steve Ensminger.

LAST SEASON 5-5 (4th in SEC West)

COACH Ed Orgeron (45-14 in sixth season at LSU, 61-41 in 10th season overall)

RETURNING STARTERS 19: Offense 10, defense 9

KEY PLAYERS CB Derek Stingley Jr., CB Eli Ricks, DE Ali Gaye, QB Myles Brennan, OT Austin Deculus, RB Tyrion Davis-Price

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR Jake Peetz (1st year)

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR Daronte Jones (1st year)

The Tigers are looking for a bounce-back season after falling to 5-5 to follow up their 14-0 national title run in 2019. Plenty of talent is back, and Ed Orgeron has overhauled his coaching staff with new coordinators on both sides of the ball. The combination should make LSU a West title contender again, but settling on a starting quarterback between Myles Brennan and Max Johnson will be key.

Pelini resigned under pressure after LSU finished 13th in the SEC in total defense (492.0 yards per game) and 14th in pass defense efficiency (323.0 yards).

Ensminger is now an analyst for the Tigers. Passing game coordinator Scott Linehan was fired. Defensive line coach Bill Johnson became an analyst.

Peetz comes from the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, where he was the quarterbacks coach and worked with offensive coordinator Joe Brady, the Broyles Award winner in 2019 as the nation’s top assistant when he was LSU’s passing game coordinator.

Jones previously was an NFL assistant coach, most recently with the Minnesota Vikings as defensive backs coach. He coached at Wisconsin with Dave Aranda, LSU’s defensive coordinator in 2019 who left to become Baylor’s coach.

“Me relying on former coordinators that I trust was very, very instrumental in me hiring both of our coordinators,” Orgeron said. “In fact, that’s about 80% of it, to be honest with you.”

Other first-year assistant coaches for the Tigers are Andre Carter (defensive line) from the NFL’s New York Jets; Blake Baker (linebackers) from the University of Miami; and DJ Mangas (passing game coordinator), who worked with Peetz at Carolina and was an analyst at LSU in 2019.

“Our coaches didn’t know this, but when I was interviewing them, I was pretending I was one of our players,” Orgeron said. “I wanted to see how well they would communicate to our players.

“Coaches are going to know a lot of football, but it’s how much that they can get to our players and how much our players will know.”

Orgeron said his assessment is that the new coaches relate well to the players.

“They average 20 years younger than the coaches I had on the staff,” Orgeron said. “Every one of these coaches made an A-plus in communication with our players.”

Senior offensive tackle Austin Deculus said the new coaches have helped energize the players.

“I think it’s great to bring in young coaches,” Deculus said. “I’m not trying to point fingers at anyone, but whenever you have young guys, they’re going to bring a little more energy into the room.”

Junior cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. said Jones relates well to the players.

“Coach Jones is upbeat, very energized,” Stingley said. “We feed off that. We believe in him, and he believes in us.”

Senior quarterback Myles Brennan, who started the first three games last year before suffering a season-ending abdominal injury, will try to regain the No. 1 job. Sophomore Max Johnson started the final two games last season when the Tigers won 37-34 at Florida and beat Ole Miss 53-48.

“We’ve got a battle at quarterback,” Orgeron said. “I think it’s healthy for a football team. I believe in both quarterbacks.”

Stingley said the Tigers gained some momentum by winning their last two games, but they are motivated for redemption after what overall was a disappointing season.

“We looked much better in the spring than we showed last season, and now we’ve got fall camp coming up,” Stingley said. “We’ve got to keep building on what we’ve got going, and I think we’re going to be pretty good.”

Orgeron is feeling better, too, after a 2020 filled with players opting out before, in the middle and late in the season.

“Obviously, you come off the 2019 season, you’re feeling good, you had a great season, and all of a sudden, stuff hits,” Orgeron said. “But that’s life.

“You’ve got to be prepared. I think that some of the stuff we were prepared for, some of the stuff we weren’t, but we stayed together. As an administrative staff, as a staff, we fought through it.

“I think it shows, when you go to Florida and you’re a 27-point underdog, your back’s against the wall, you have a freshman quarterback, you beat them in The Swamp. You beat a great Ole Miss team.

“Then you have the No. 3 recruiting class [nationally], and 19 of your 22 starters decide to come back.”

Orgeron said the Tigers have to eliminate big plays their defense allowed last season starting with a 43-34 loss to Mississippi State in the opener.

“Too many explosive plays, too many missed assignments,” he said. “Too many busts. Too many receivers running down the field free.”

LSU played a lot of man-to-man coverage, Orgeron said, and at times the scheme was too complicated.

“We’re going to simplify stuff,” he said. “We want our players to have their cleats in the grass. We’re going to play a lot more zone. They’re not going to be switching off of this level, switching off of that level. We want our guys to keep the ball in front of us and make plays.”

On offense Orgeron said LSU will return to the Spread scheme that helped make quarterback Joe Burrow the Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals.

“I don’t know if we’re going to see another Joe Burrow,” Orgeron said. “I hope we do. But the type of offense we’re going to run, the style of offense of 2019, the type of checks that we had, the type of protections, that’s the stuff I’m talking about now.”

Orgeron said he’s glad to hear LSU players say they’re excited about the new additions to the staff.

“That’s the reason I hired those guys, and I did my research,” Orgeron said. “I called people that knew them. I wanted to know how they interacted with the players.

“I called some of the ex-players that they coached, I said, ‘Tell me how he is on a daily basis.’ Everybody can be one way in an interview, but I want to know how they’re going to be every day.

“They match everything that the ex-players told me, the ex-coaches told me, and the knowledge that they have.”

Peetz and Jones are first-team coordinators.

“They’re tremendous leaders,” Orgeron said. “They’re in the office early in the morning. They’re very well organized.

“Sometimes, when it’s your first time as a coordinator, you don’t know how well organized that you have to be or the work you have to put in. These guys are A-plus in that area.”

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Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and a voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year three times.

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