Abell Images - 2019 Peach Bowl
LSU head coach Ed Orgeron spoke with reporters on Thursday morning at the Peach Bowl Media Day ahead of Saturday's game vs. Oklahoma. Here's part 1 of what he had to say:

Q. Ed, you've had an adventurous career. What does it mean for you to get the Tigers to this spot?
ED ORGERON: This is my job. It's not about me. It's about the team, it's about the state of Louisiana. When you come to LSU, the expectations are high. Obviously, when you have the amount of talent we have on this football team, and the great coaches that we have, these are expectations that you have to meet at LSU.

Obviously, proud of our football team. This is not our final destination. We came here for a playoff game. We're looking forward to playing a great Oklahoma team.

Q. Is this what you expected when you took over a few years ago?
ED ORGERON: Yeah, yeah. You know, you're expected to do this at LSU. I didn't know it would happen so fast, in our third year.

I think in your third year, any time you're a new coach, that you have to show that your program's going in the right direction, and we've done it.

Q. What does it mean for the state? The Louisiana people seemed to have embraced you because you're one of them.
ED ORGERON: It's been phenomenal. To me, it's one of my favorite parts. I'm blue collar, a lot like they are. I tell them I represent them in every way I can. All the former players, all the former coaches, all the alumni, we want them to make those guys proud of Cajun. I have a Cajun accent. They like it. I like it.

It's just been a wonderful mix of coming to LSU, coming back home, and us winning.

Q. What's the latest with Edwards-Helaire and his hamstring?
ED ORGERON: He hasn't practiced yesterday. He may practice a little bit today. We're not sure yet. If he is going to practice, he's questionable for the game. I do believe that -- if there's any shot of him being cleared to play medically, that if our trainers and doctors say that he can play, I think he is going to try.

I don't know what's going to happen. I hope he does play.

Q. Jalen Hurts has had an interesting 12 months. What do you make of what he's done since he got to Oklahoma?
ED ORGERON: I'm so proud of him. I got to know him going to the awards banquet and stuff like that. Obviously, I know his history. We've played against him twice. We still ain't stopped them, and he made some big plays.

We were talking about him this morning, the 10-0 game, it's 0-0 going into the fourth quarter and he makes two tremendous plays to win the game.

His character, his grit, his determination, meeting his mom and dad, getting to know a little bit about him and the way he fought, I couldn't be more proud of the guy, to be honest with you.

Q. Is he different than when he was at Alabama? What do you see?
ED ORGERON: Yeah, they're running him more. Believe it or not, they're running him more. He has 1,200 yards. He and CeeDee are the keys to the offense. Similar plays in some ways, but some plays a little bit different.

He's the key to the game. I think that the runs -- he's running inside the tackle, he's running outside, the quarterback powers, the lead draws. There's more runs in this offense -- the counters, the counter read -- than there were for him in the Alabama offense.

Q. You guys have gotten a lot of attention for your makeover on offense. What about Oklahoma's defense, the way they've made over the defense?
ED ORGERON: Outstanding. 24 points a game. That middle linebacker is one of the best guys we're going to see all year. They play good, sound, fundamental football.

The things that they do up front, they stunt a lot, they try to get you out of your gaps. They try to create negative plays, tackles for a loss. But, again, the 24 points per game says a lot especially in that league.

Q. What goes into something like that, Ed, when you're 114th in the country and you're beat down and you have to have a complete mental makeover? What goes into that from your perspective?
ED ORGERON: I think it probably -- just like us on offense, it probably started in the meeting rooms. It probably started with an attitude. It probably started about the way we walk through stuff, the way we do everything.

Probably a complete different change. I think schematically, players, their great coaches, and then you've got to go out there on the practice field and do it. Obviously, they have.

Q. Ed, what's Clyde's status?
ED ORGERON: Clyde has not practiced yet. He ran a little bit yesterday, ran straight ahead. Medically, hopefully, he's cleared to practice. I don't know if he will. It would be the first day he would. I think he may try something today. I'm not sure.

It's going to be a game-time situation. Knowing Clyde, if he can play, he's going to try. We're really not sure yet. Do I want him to play? Yes. Do I expect him to try to play? Yes. How much he can play? I don't know.

Q. Is he getting treated now instead of being here?
ED ORGERON: Um-hmm, yeah.

Q. You guys, obviously, this is the first trip for LSU. Oklahoma, on the other hand, has made a habit of this. Is there an advantage?
ED ORGERON: I'm sure they have the advantage. I'm sure they know to how to handle the situation, handle the hype. They've come from behind in big-time games. They have great players, great coaches. Probably gives them a little advantage of being here before.

But the newness also gives you an advantage. We're excited to be here, man. This is fun. When we walk into the Dome and we see College Football Semifinals in the playoffs, it means a lot to us. It means a lot.

We're prideful to be here, so it works on both sides.

Q. On the outside looking in, you're a double-digit favorite; they're the underdog. Do you talk about that with the players?
ED ORGERON: Not at all. We don't talk about that. We block out the noise. We focus on the task at hand. We don't pay attention to it.

Q. What have been your thoughts on Joe's return -- I don't know, the attention that Joe has gotten?

Q. Not just as the Heisman winner, but bringing attention back to Athens and things like that.
ED ORGERON: I think it's been great, to be honest with you. It comes along with it. Obviously, we all know Joe's a great team player. But to put him in the national spotlight, to win the Heisman, very deserving.

But typical Joe, he's going to help somebody else. I think he raised maybe half a million dollars for the kids of Athens, and it goes to show you the heart that he has, the character that he has. I think Joe's just getting started. I think the more Joe has success, the more he's going to help people. That's the type of guy he is.

Q. Ed, I know you've been around Edward Aschoff, he's been in your program for a while. Just thoughts on his passing.
ED ORGERON: What a shame. What a shame. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. Great guy. I loved having him around. I read his stuff, thought it was outstanding. When I heard what happened, I was really sad.

Q. If he isn't able to play, do you change stuff up in your game plan or plug and play with the next guy?
ED ORGERON: We have three backs. Clyde does it all. Now, we've got three backs that are strong in each one of those areas, so we're going to have to use them. Tyrion, John Emery, and Chris Curry.

You can expect all three of those backs to play in different situations.

Q. Ed, when you started this thing, how much of a focus was Alabama for you? Was it just them as an opponent?
ED ORGERON: We knew that we had to beat them. No question. It wasn't a focus every day. It wasn't thebiggest game of the year or nothing like that.

I think that you can make those things too big, and obviously your players feel that.

But I knew that we had to get the type of offense that could score points on them. I knew we had to get the linemen to match the physicality of their football team.

Q. As a program, once you overcome that, what do you have to do to maintain it, because you know that they're going to come back strong?
ED ORGERON: You look at what they've done over the years. They've done a phenomenal job of staying on top. As they say, it's hard to get there. It's even harder to stay up there. We have to remain focused. You have to block out the noise. There have been a lot of accolades for this team already. That's not going to win the football game for you.

It's about fundamentals, it's about getting better, staying hungry with a great mindset. I believe we have the coaching staff and focus to do that.

Again, these guys are not satisfied. Although we've had success this year, they're not satisfied.

Q. You talked about how this is all exciting for your players, being here for the first time, seeing their names. What's kind of the coolest thing for them so far?
ED ORGERON: You know, I think winning the S.E.C. Championship, which was a goal of ours, to see them on the stage, happy and stuff like that. And then just coming here, being as a team.

I do believe, like I said, when you walk in the Dome and you see College Football Semifinals, it hits them. It's all on the line.

I think these guys are going to be ready. They've been fantastic. We'll see happens.

Q. Coach O, you mentioned that the guys are excited to be here. Especially here. You have Blake Ferguson, who is a hometown kid, right up the street in Buford. Can you tell me a little bit about him as team captain?
ED ORGERON: We had an awards banquet the other night, and he got every major award. Goes to show you what the strength coach thinks about him, what they think about him in academics, about his character, about his leadership on this football team.

You know, the deep snapper, he never gets any attention unless he gets a bad snap. And he hasn't gotten that much attention because he hasn't had a bad snap.

But, you know, Blake does a lot of things for SCA. He does a lot of things for the students. He's very involved in college football and wants to help in college football. He's a great leader, great young man, great family.

It just so happens that our snapper has been from Buford the last three generations and we're going to continue -- Will's from Buford. We're going to continue that.

Part 2
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