LSU Coach Ed Orgeron Says Program Has Done a Great Job of Maintaining COVID-19 After Initial Spike

Glen West

LSU, for the first time since March, took the football field for practice on Friday to begin its preseason training portion for the upcoming season. Up until Friday, voluntary workouts and film review were the only allowed team activities.

Coach Ed Orgeron said earlier this week that the team would practice twice a day on Friday and Saturday in the “OTA style” walkthrough practices that are allowed for the next two weeks.

While teams like LSU are business as usual prepping for the season, one of the major decisions that will be made in a matter of days by the SEC is whether to push back the start of the season and also potentially alter the schedule. Orgeron says he has not had the TV on in five weeks and is instead preparing each day like the team will kickoff against UTSA on Sept. 5.

"Every day you have an opportunity to exercise mental toughness," Orgeron said on Sports Talk with Bobby Hebert and Kristian Garic. "Whether you're running, working out, going to the grocery store, whatever it may be. I've talked to our team about blocking out the noise. If they deal us another hand, we're going to be ready but the last thing you can do is have your team with their hands down, not prepared. I think we'll use that mental toughness advantage and it'll pay off for us."

The LSU medical and training staff have been at the epicenter of the SEC on how to handle COVID-19 positive cases. Since an initial spike of positive tests when the players returned in early June, Orgeron says the program has done a great job of eliminating the virus from the team.

Currently, Orgeron says there's one positive case within the team but didn't say whether it was a player, coach or staff member.

"We're doing a good job, I think we're giving our guys the best care available," Orgeron said. "Our players feel safe, they feel like they are getting the best care. They're going out there and practicing with their masks on. I do believe we can have fans in the stands and that we can fight through this."

One of the videos to go viral on the LSU front was junior quarterback Myles Brennan lifting part of a tree trunk while he was back home during the pandemic. Because he didn't have the requisite weights at home, Brennan had to improvise and cutting down, benching and squatting tree trunks was a way he lifted.

Orgeron said he saw the video and came away very impressed with the work ethic shown by his expected starter. 

"I love it, I saw that today, that's great by his parents, that's all want to and that's going to pay off for Myles," Orgeron said. "I believe in Myles, what a great opportunity he has but I also believe in Max [Johnson] an TJ Finley. It's going to be a fun battle in fall camp, I can't wait to see it."

Brennan isn't the only expected starter that's eager to prove himself in these walkthrough practices and fall camp. Orgeron mentioned that LSU's move to the 4-3 on defense has brought out a new side of senior defensive lineman Andre Anthony.

A few freshman were also mentioned as guys that will be jockeying for starting positions over the next few weeks as well as graduate transfer Liam Shanahan.

"He's probably going to start for us this year," Orgeron said of Anthony. "Then you look at Jaquelin Roy and Jacobian Guillory, who are possible first round picks one day if they do what they're supposed to do. We're going to try Liam out at center and he's eager to prove himself."

With a select few states electing to push the start of their high school seasons back, Orgeron reiterated the point that it'll be very difficult to find those "late bloomers."

Former linebacker Duke Riley, center Lloyd Cushenberry and safety Todd Harris were just a few names that came to mind for Orgeron as guys that received offers late but have become integral parts to the program. Orgeron was asked how often he'll look at a player's junior film and not think he's quite ready but then pops in the senior tape a year later and offers a scholarship.

"It happens all the time, I could name 15 to 20 young men throughout my career that we gave scholarships to as seniors and they became great players," Orgeron said. "Most of the decisions have been made in recruiting this year. However, especially in Louisiana, there are always diamonds in the rough."

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