Ed Orgeron explains why UCLA had upper hand vs. LSU football, and you're not going to like it

Glenn Guilbeau
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

BATON ROUGE - LSU football coach Ed Orgeron did not come right out and say it, but it was painfully clear throughout the 38-27 season-opening loss at UCLA that  the Tigers' pair of rookie coordinators got schooled.

UCLA coach Chip Kelly, a former Philadelphia Eagles and Oregon head coach who runs the Bruins offense, and Jerry Azzinaro, UCLA's defensive coordinator since 2018 and a defensive line coach with Philadelphia and San Francisco, coached circles around LSU defensive and offensive coordinators Daronte Jones and Jake Peetz, who each made major college play-calling debuts.

"They knew what we were doing," Orgeron said Tuesday. "They out-schemed us in a lot of situations on offense and defense. There is a lot of things we could've eliminated as coaches, and we didn't do it."

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The secret of football coaching is in-game adjustments. LSU and UCLA were tied 0-0 after the first quarter, and then came the adjustments, particularly from UCLA, which started gashing LSU's defense left and right.

After LSU drove impressively to a 7-0 lead, UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson found wide open tight end Greg Dulcich for a 75-yard touchdown. Following a three-and-out by LSU, UCLA went 71 yards for a 14-7 lead as tailback Zach Charbonnet shredded LSU on a 20-yard run and 35-yard reception.

After LSU quarterback Max Johnson threw an interception, UCLA went 17 yards in three plays for a 21-10 lead. LSU got within 21-17 on a 44-yard touchdown catch by Kayshon Boutte, but it was a gift as the umpire accidentally blocked out Boutte's defender.

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UCLA put the game away with two more gashes - a 43-yard run by Charbonnet to set up a touchdown and a 45-yard touchdown catch by wide receiver Kyle Phillips for a 38-20 lead.

"We gave up 11 explosive plays," Orgeron said. "And that's way too many."

Kelly shredded Jones with crossing routes.

"We saw some different stuff that we hadn't showed them in practice," Orgeron said. "So, that's coaching. I saw live action for the first time with our defensive coordinator, so he's got to learn our players. Our players have got to learn our defensive coordinator."

And Peetz needs to put in more runs, particularly on the edge to take advantage of LSU's speed and to complement what at times was a good passing game.

"The more we can get the ball outside, the better we're going to be," Orgeron said. "It starts with us as coaches."

The Tigers managed just 49 yards rushing on 25 carries as Kelly's offense rushed for 210 on 47 carries with Thompson-Robinson throwing for 260. That's balance.

"We need to help our offensive line with a variety of runs," Orgeron said. "With only one or two, people are going to key on it. They know what you're running. They'll overload the box. They practice against those runs, and here they are. They get coached, too."

Yes, it was obvious UCLA was coached better than LSU. An LSU program, by the way, with four top 10 recruiting classes since 2017 to none by UCLA, which had three classes not reach the top 30 from 2019-21.

"It was nowhere the variety of runs, nowhere the style of runs that we need to run at LSU," Orgeron said. "And we had a meeting on that, and that's going to get fixed."

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But Orgeron just can't blame his coordinators. Surely he was in the meetings before the UCLA game when the offense's lack of running plays came up. Orgeron was asked a great question about that Tuesday: "Did you not know that (more diversity) was not in the game plan, and couldn't that be adjusted during the game?"  

His answer only illustrated more how much UCLA's coaches X'd and O'd LSU's into submission.

"The game plan got bundled down a little bit because of the blitzes and stunts they were doing," Orgeron said of a defensive strategy not exactly new or West Coast. "We spent a lot of time on Sunday going through those things. We've got to eliminate those things."

Or some coordinators could be eliminated yet again, but head coaches only get to fire so many coordinators before that happens to them.