Ed Orgeron sat his players down after practice on Thursday and told a hypothetical to his players about how to approach this ULM game. He asked his players if they had a job, worked all week and payday was Saturday night, would they not show up to work to collect their check?
Orgeron told this story to get through to his players that the week of work put in ahead of Saturday night's matchup with ULM needs to be "cashed" when the players hit the field, no matter who the opponent is.
"It's payday for us and you think about things to play for, No. 1 winning the game," Orgeron said. "But these guys wanna play in the NFL, they're putting some good stuff up. They're upping their status each week as we go so there's a lot to play for."
LSU will be getting offensive lineman Ed Ingram as well as safety Sage Ryan back against the Warhawks but the team is much less certain about linebacker Micah Baskerville, who he called a game decision. Additionally the Tigers only have two fully healthy running backs in Tyrion Davis-Price and Corey Kiner as Armoni Goodwin, Josh Williams and Kevontre Bradford are all either doubtful or out.
With LSU moving back to Max Johnson as the starting quarterback, Orgeron would also reveal that freshman Garrett Nussmeier had accepted a redshirt freshman season and won't play in the final two games.
"We talk to our team about competition all the time and I want them to invite competition," Orgeron said. "Max is our starter and Garrett's gonna take the redshirt year."
Orgeron also challenged the offense this week to be more creative than it's been in recent weeks. This group has been in a major funk and while Orgeron is the furthest thing from an offensive mind, he's adamant about spicing up the offense.
"I told them, gave them an example on defense, we were creative, we were stopping the run and mixing things up," Orgeron said. "I asked them to be creative, I don't get into what they call, I just ask them to look at the things we're doing and be more creative so we can score some points. Hopefully it works."
As for the defensive turnaround, Orgeron harked back on a conversation he had with Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin following the Tigers loss to the Rebels.
"We weren't playing the run in our 4-3 and I talked to Lane Kiffin and he said 'Coach you're playing the same thing every time,'" Orgeron said. "I said 'I know.' It just sparked and the 3-4 stuff is the stuff I ran with Pete [Carroll] and Dave [Aranda] so the players knew it. We came in and put it in and it's worked fantastic. We're playing the best defense we've played in a while."
With two games left in Tiger Stadium, Orgeron is still as excited about the game day experience as when he first took over as interim coach back in 2016.
"I'm still as excited today as I was the first day," Orgeron said. "I know it's coming to an end but I'm not thinking about that. When it's done I'll have no regrets and I'll walk out the door, one door closes and another one opens."