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Ed Orgeron Praises Improvement from Multiple LSU Veteran Players Throughout 2021 Season

Clark, Jenkins and Farrell among the players who have stepped up in recent weeks

Though the Tigers have gone through a difficult stretch this season, the veterans in the locker room continue building up this team. From Damone Clark leading the nation in tackles to Jaray Jenkins making the most of his opportunities, it’s been the voices in the locker room keeping this unit together.

Orgeron harped on the growth Clark has made from a season ago to now. Playing like an All-American, his incredible work ethic is what has him putting NFL scouts on notice, still with room for improvement.

"He is relentless," Orgeron said. "He’s a big, strong athlete, very fast. Now he’s working on his flexibility where he can flip his hips in man coverage. His open field tackling has just been off the charts. That tackle he made on the quarterback on the sideline and him running the quarterback down was a phenomenal football play."

This season isn’t just for Clark. Representing those who have worn the No. 18 jersey, Clark has important shoes to fill. Leading this team through thick and thin while putting up ridiculous numbers, it’s his drive that separates him from the rest.

"The number 18 is about the character of what you do on and off the field, sort of like the perfect player," Orgeron said. "Not necessarily is the best player, and we gave him the number 18 because of academics, his leadership, his work in the weight room, the way he handles himself and then to be a great player on top of it just adds to the number."

For the defensive line, Neil Farrell has really begun taking control with the loss of Andre Anthony and Ali Gaye. A razor thin unit, Farrell has been one to take a step in the right direction and step up when needed. 

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Still getting his legs under him from a conditioning standpoint, Orgeron detailed the importance of Farrell for the rest of this season.

“I think that his awareness, his ability to shed blocks,” Orgeron said on what he’s enjoyed seeing from Farrell. “It’s been hard for them [opponents] to single block him. He has destroyed some single blocks. He’s played really, really well with his technique because he explodes out of his hips and uses his hands.

Making the most of opportunities has been the main takeaway with such an injury riddled roster this season. Players not used the getting as much volume may see the field more than usual. It’s been the case for junior wide receiver Jaray Jenkins.

With the loss of Kayshon Boutte for the season, along with a myriad of other injuries, Jenkins has seen his number called on a number of occasions. Orgeron has been impressed with the “go get it” attitude of Jenkins, never letting his confidence waver despite freshmen getting more balls than him at times.

“He’s stepped up,” Orgeron said. “He saw an opportunity and he competed. Who was going to be the next guy and without verbally saying it, he went out there in practice and proved every day that he was going to be the next guy. He’s turned out to be a guy that we can count on, he’s always been that, but now he’s getting more balls, he’s getting significant balls that maybe Kayshon may have got. So he’s earned his way.”

Continuing to step up and lead this team, it’s the veterans on this squad who have kept this group afloat. With a week off for this unit to get healthy again and prepare for the homestretch of the season, Orgeron expects his upperclassmen to take charge of this locker room.