While the players are taking a four day rest after a dominant 63-28 win over Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl, coach Ed Orgeron and the coaching staff are hard at work preparing for Clemson. Orgeron had his first media availability on Tuesday where he gave his first thoughts on the matchup and what the Clemson Tigers do so well.
"I think the thing, when you look at Clemson's offense, you think about athletes and speed in space," Orgeron said. "When you look at defense, you think about Brent Venables, the great job he's done, his ability to adjust against the different offenses he's seen. I think he's an excellent coach. I've always known Brent for a long time and respected him as one of the best defensive coordinators in all of football. Their defensive line is quick and strong, can rush the passer, his blitzes are phenomenal."
A lot of the talk over the next few weeks will revolve around the quarterback battle between Heisman winner Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence, who is 25-0 as a starter for Clemson. Orgeron was asked about Lawrence, praising the way he takes command of his offense and the fact he's never lost as a starter.
"Hasn't been beat yet. That tells you a lot about him," Orgeron said. "Just watched the film, watched several games this morning, three or four games the last couple of days. The way he takes command, the way he takes charge, obviously, the RPOs, his reads are right on it, has a strong arm. But his ability to run, he surprised me. Obviously, he made some big gains against Ohio State, which helped them win the game."
One of the surprises to come out of the Oklahoma game was the 16 carry, 89-yard performance out of freshman running back Chris Curry, a guy who had been lost in the running back shuffle for much of the 2019 season.
Orgeron was proud of the way Curry stepped in for hobbled back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who was active but only played a handful of snaps against the Sooners.
"I've got to say something to Chris Curry. In this world of transfer portals and all that, taking the easy way out, it says a lot about his character, his grit, his toughness," Orgeron said. "He told me, he said, Coach, I'm going to be one of your best backs. Just watch."
"Obviously, those two young guys are ahead of him, but he has some great practices, and the plays that we're running, the style of plays that we run, we felt that Chris was the best one to run it. Boy, I'll tell you what, he took his opportunity. We said next man up, we put 11 men on the field, and we fight like Tigers, and he did it. I'm so proud of him."
Because Curry was so efficient with the ball, it allowed LSU to rest a clearly not 100% Edwards-Helaire who will now have two weeks to get back to full strength. Orgeron went over what the process will be like for the junior running back over the next few weeks, saying the team hopes to have him back at full health by Wednesday of next week.
"We're going to look at how much he can do. Our first practice is going to be on Thursday, and we have Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday practice," Orgeron said. "We'll go through a week of preparation and then we'll start the preparation on Wednesday. So I think by next Wednesday he should be full speed. We'll take it slow with him, see what he can do. He's getting treatment right now. He's a little sore. We'll see how much he can do this week."
It's been well reported by now but on Monday, Orgeron received a phone call from President Donald Trump. Orgeron said the president was complimentary of the team and the season LSU has had to this point.
"Yes, he called me yesterday morning. I was very honored to get a call from President Trump," Orgeron said. "He was very pleasant to talk to, very complimentary of our football team, our coaching staff, complimentary of the way the state of Louisiana has rallied around us, and was complimentary to the way we played all year and wished us good luck in the game."
Orgeron said he was surprised to get a call from President Trump and admittedly revealed when he was told the president was calling, his first thought it was the president of the university.
"Yeah, it did. They told me the president's office called, and I thought it was the president of the university," Orgeron said. "He said, no, the White House. I said, okay, here we go."