Ed Orgeron views LSU's season opener with UCLA on Sept. 4 as quite simply the most important start to a season he's ever had while being the head coach of the Tigers.
Orgeron knows how important a fast start is to a season and how the perception of a team can change with both a win and a loss. That Mississippi State opener this time a year ago was about as deflating a loss as the Tigers have had under Orgeron's guidance.
But this year more than any other, in order for LSU to get back on the right path towards championship level, the purple and gold need to look the part out west against the Bruins.
"It always is but especially this year and our team knows it. We're playing on a national stage. We didn't play like we wanted to last season but we got two big wins, hopefully we can continue to play well and build a championship program. For us to get where we wanna be, we got to start well."
Locking down the cadence and rhythm of how the team integrates a gameplan throughout the week is an important part of being ready on Saturdays. With a new staff and plenty of new players expecting to carry on large roles with the team, it was important for LSU to use this week of implementing the gameplan and making adjustments next week.
The last few weeks has been about bettering LSU and developing the chemistry and talent on the team to help win all types of games. But until the Tigers strap up and lace their shoes for a live action game, it's impossible to know what to expect out of the 2021 version of this team.
"We have a new staff on offense, new staff on defense so they're getting used to the way we do things as far as gameplanning and our team's getting used to them," Orgeron said. "I think we did a very good job this week but as the deadline approaches we see different things we have to fix. The margin of error we know is very small so we're trying to cover everything we possibly can for our football players, especially in the first game."
One of the benefits the purple and gold will receive is an opportunity to watch UCLA during week zero of the college football season on Saturday against Hawaii. The game is set for 2:30 p.m. and will be a first look opportunity at the style and players to really focus on over the next week of practice.
How significantly the one performance will alter the Tigers gameplan is anyone's guess as Orgeron said it's most likely going to be minor adjustments the team prepares for.
"I don't know about altering the gameplan but maybe we see something new that we have to adjust to or maybe run. Maybe a new blitz, maybe a new coverage, maybe a new front, new run play or pass route," Orgeron said. "Usually that's what happens in the first game, we can see the tempo of the game and how they're going."
Whatever LSU sees in the first game against Hawaii, Orgeron thinks UCLA head coach Chip Kelly will have a few tricks up his sleeve for the Sept. 4 game at the Rose Bowl.
"The first game sometimes you run some of your stuff but not all of your stuff and I'm sure that Chip [Kelly] will have a plan for LSU that he doesn't show Hawaii," Orgeron said.