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LSU's Orgeron praises new staff, admits he didn't interview some previous hires

Ed Orgeron is a changed man.

At least, LSU's coach with the larger-than-life personality now insists he is going to more carefully choose his words.

The Tigers are winding their way through spring camp, with four practices complete, after a disappointing 5-5 2020 campaign that came on the heels of their dominant national championship season.

Entering last season with Orgeron proclaiming the defense better than at any point during the title year, LSU promptly was gouged for 44 points in an opening loss to Mississippi State. LSU then parted with defensive coordinator Bo Pelini after finishing the season with a 53-48 win against Ole Miss.

“You know, I'm going to be careful what I say about last year to this year, because last year I said something and it come back to bite me,” Orgeron said of the Tigers' defense. “So I'm going to be guarded in what I say.

“I do see a difference. I see our guys with their cleats in the grass. I see communication being better. I see the defense simpler. I see our guys attacking and playing football. But I'm going to hold judgment to the season. Lesson learned.”

Orgeron's also applying more of his old program management style to an overhauled LSU coaching staff after he says he “stood out” of much of the Tigers' defensive work a year ago. It was one of LSU's worst defenses in history, allowing 35 points per game.

He likes what he is seeing from new defensive coordinator Daronte Jones, but Orgeron also is owning top-down responsibility in the program.

“I know that I've coached defense for 40 years. Last year I kind of stood out of it, this year I'm not,” Orgeron said. “If I see something I don't like, we're not doing it. I'm very hands-on.

“Daronte is very capable. He knows the back-7. He knows the front-7. He's an excellent coach. But it's my responsibility; I'm not letting it go. If there's something our players can not perform, we're not doing it. I want to keep it simple, I want to keep our cleats in the grass and I want to play good fundamental defense.”

Jones, offensive coordinator Jake Peetz, passing game coordinator DJ Mangas, defensive line coach Andre Carter and linebackers coach Blake Baker are five of the new additions to the Tigers' 10 on-field coaching spots.

This time, Orgeron says he got to speak with all those coaches prior to them joining the LSU staff – something he admits did not happen in every instance beforehand.

“First of all I think we did a great job hiring the coaches and doing the interviews,” Orgeron said. “I hired some coaches, I didn't even interview them from the last staff. I'm not doing that again. I interviewed everybody. We didn't get the first, second … I tell you what, we got them on offense. I'm happy with them.

It was widely discussed in coaching circles last year that Scott Woodward, not Ed Orgeron, was the one who decided to hire and negotiated the deal with Bo Pelini.

“You know, Daronte was like the fourth or fifth choice. But so was I. Who cares? He's here. He's doing a tremendous job. Andre Carter, I'm so excited about him as d-line coach. Blake is doing a tremendous job. DJ and Jake are doing great jobs. … I trust our staff. You know, I said it to myself, I'm not going to let things slip by. Not one thing. I'm going to identify it, I told the coaches. They might think nothing's good enough but I'm going to be hands-on. I'm watching every piece of film and I'm marking it down. Just like I did in the years before, and they're going to have to explain to me what are we doing.”