Auburn football: What Ed Orgeron said about Tigers this week was telling (or was it?)

LSU coach Ed Orgeron handed out plenty of compliments to Auburn this week. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
LSU coach Ed Orgeron handed out plenty of compliments to Auburn this week. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The No. 7 Auburn football team moves into conference play Saturday when No. 12 LSU comes to town.

Auburn vs. LSU has given fans from both sides great memories and incredible heartbreak.

This week, Gus Malzahn and Ed Orgeron both previewed the game.

The LSU head coach had plenty to say about the Auburn football team.

And let’s be real for a minute. Most coaches engage in praising the other team leading up to a game. Especially in a game like this, a huge game between two SEC West rivals. The last thing anyone wants to do is say something that becomes motivational fodder in the other team’s locker room.

So Orgeron did just the opposite. He said one good — no great — thing after another when discussing the Auburn football team.

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Orgeron on Auburn’s offense

"Jarrett Stidham is one of the best quarterbacks we’re going to see all year. JaTarvious Whitlow, excellent, physical running back. Ryan Davis, excellent athlete out there. Six returning starters on offense. Very well coached by Gus Malzahn. They are up-tempo, physical. They get the ball to the perimeter and hit shots. Very explosive, explosive football team, averaging 500 yards of offense."

Orgeron hit most the high points there in a flurry of sentences. He complimented the quarterback, a running back, a receiver and the head coach. Check, check and check.

And here’s the thing: He’s not sugar-coating a single thing with coachspeak.

Jarrett Stidham is one of the best quarterbacks LSU will see all year, if not the best quarterback LSU will see all year. JaTarvious Whitlow has shown to be a physical running back. Yes, Ryan Davis is an excellent athlete. Orgeron clearly remembers Davis’ 52-yard catch-and-run in last season’s game. Auburn does like to get to the perimeter and hit shots, but Orgeron was a little too gracious in his yards-per-game assessment: Auburn is only averaging 493.5.

Let’s move on to the next topic.

Orgeron on Auburn’s defense

"Derrick Brown who I tried to recruit, reminded me of Reggie White when I met him. He’s that size, he’s that type of football player. I think he’s outstanding. Dontavious Russell, Marlon Davidson, Nick Coe, I know all these guys, I tried to recruit them all. They’re fast at linebacker, aggressive in the secondary. Their safeties hardly miss any tackles and they’re very solid on special teams."

I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to feel like LSU won’t score a point or pick up a first down Saturday. And I know Auburn football fans love Derrick Brown. He’s a future NFL player, possibly a first-round selection. But mentioning anybody in the same sentence as Reggie White? Well, that’s just crazy talk. But no one on this side of the fence will complain if Brown channels his inner Reggie White on Saturday.

Orgeron is a defensive coach at heart, so he knows defense and speaks more truth here.

  • Let’s be glad that Auburn ended up with Brown, Dontavious Russell, Marlon Davidson and Nick Coe instead of those four winding up in Baton Rouge.
  • Auburn’s linebackers are fast.
  • Auburn’s secondary is aggressive.

Better yet, someone make sure Orgeron’s compliments aren’t finding their way into the Auburn locker rooms. We don’t need players feeling too good about themselves.

Orgeron on Kevin Steele

"Kevin is a great friend, great coach, great recruiter. I’m happy for him. I hope he gets a shot as a head coach again. I think he’d be fantastic. Tremendous man to work with on a daily basis. He’s calling the right defenses and he has his guys in the right places. It looks like he’s having fun. I’m happy for him."

Coaches, especially defense-first coaches, tend to stick together. But let’s hold the phone here, Ed. We’re OK with you and Kevin Steele being pals, but let’s not start throwing his name out there as a head coaching candidate. We think he’s just fine coordinating the Auburn defense.

Orgeron on what he expects Saturday

"They’re going to come out on the perimeter. They’re going to want to throw screens, throw sweeps and try to get you tired. They’ll come pound you and as soon as they pound you they’re going to try and throw over your head. That’s the way the guy (Gus Malzahn) has been all his career. He’s been successful and we expect the same thing."

Is Orgeron trying some reverse psychology on Gus here?

Because he’s right in his assessment of what Auburn would like to do.

Spread out the LSU defense, run between the tackles, a lot of motion and with Stidham at quarterback, Auburn will throw it over your head. (Especially with that new guy Anthony Schwartz. You saw that Saturday, right?)

Malzahn had plenty to say about LSU, too. But one statement stood out:

“This goes way back in history that whenever LSU and Auburn get together, it’s going to be a physical game,” Malzahn said. “They know that, we know that; it’s always a good one, so the intensity will be very high.”

Malzahn has that right. It will be intense. He knows and Orgeron knows the importance of this game even though it’s only Week 3 of the season. Both coaches are going to say all the right things and hand out compliments like shakers inside Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday.

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“So it’s obviously a big game,” Malzahn said Tuesday.

You got that right, Coach.