LSU's Coach Orgeron will make sure his team is careful in the 'City That Care Forgot'

Glenn Guilbeau
Lafayette Daily Advertiser
View Comments
Dec 28, 2019; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; LSU Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron celebrates with safety Grant Delpit (left) and wide receiver Justin Jefferson (2) after defeating the Oklahoma Sooners in the 2019 Peach Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

BATON ROUGE — It's too bad the LSU football team could not just hop on a train right outside the football facility and head to New Orleans for the national championship game a week from Monday.

Just about 40 yards from LSU's facility parking lot is a train track that runs parallel with Nicholson Drive, also called LA 30, toward the Crescent City. But the No. 1 Tigers (14-0) will bus 87 miles down the Mississippi River on Friday to play No. 3 Clemson (14-0) on Jan. 13 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. 

The Tigers have 15 players on their roster from the New Orleans area or very close to it, including star players and starters such as wide receiver and Biletnikoff Award winner Ja'Marr Chase, wide receiver Justin Jefferson, cornerback Kristian Fulton, outside linebacker Michael Divinity Jr., defensive end Glen Logan and Thorpe Award winner Grant Delpit, whose family moved from New Orleans to Houston after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

More:Suspended LB Michael Divinity Jr. to play vs. Clemson

The bus will pass through or close to other players' hometowns such as center Lloyd Cushenberry of Carville, offensive tackle Cameron Wire of Gonzales, tight end Stephen Sullivan of Donaldsonville, and defensive back Jontre Kirklin of Gonzales.

The Stat Monster: LSU's offense requires a calculator

"It's going to be a cool bus ride," said Cushenberry, a junior from Dutchtown High. "It will be like going to the state playoffs in the Dome, which is something I never got to do. This is going to be like a big state championship."

LSU coach Ed Orgeron is from Larose, which is 62 miles south of New Orleans. He was a lineman on the 1977 state champion South Lafourche High Tarpons with quarterback Bobby Hebert, but the state finals were not in the dome annually until 1981.

More:Success for LSU football all the sweeter under Louisiana native son Coach Ed Orgeron

"I think the ride down there is going to be special," Orgeron said.

LSU did play in the Superdome to open the 2017 season, beating Brigham Young, 27-0.

"But that was nothing like this," Cushenberry smiled.

"This means a little bit more to the players from New Orleans," Orgeron said. "All their families are going to be in the stadium. I think when we get in that Dome, it's going to be an all-time high. These guys understand that. Most of the guys grew up here wanting to play in the Dome in high school for the state championship."

The Match-up: LSU needs to play a team like Clemson

LSU will be playing in a national championship game in the Dome for the fourth time since the 2003 season. LSU won the national title Jan. 4, 2004, by beating Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, and won it again on Jan. 7, 2008, over Ohio State, before a loss to Alabama on Jan. 9, 2012. The Tigers also beat Clemson on Jan. 1, 1959, in the Sugar Bowl in Tulane Stadium after already being crowned national champions at 10-0.

The Tigers have won non-national-title Sugar Bowls in the Dome in the 2001 and 2006 seasons.

"They know the magnitude of the Sugar Bowl, and the national championship here, which just so happens that when it's in New Orleans, we seem to be there," Orgeron said. "It's going to mean a lot. But that's not going to win the game. As soon as the ball kicks off, it's just like a fight, man. You get the first punch, and that's it. All that other stuff's out the window. You've got to win."

Chris Curry: From 4th team to starter in 60 seconds

And for that reason, most of the LSU's players' views of "The City That Care Forgot" will be through a bus window — back and forth from practice in the Dome and the team headquarters at Marriott Hotel on Canal Street in the French Quarter. The Tigers will also not arrive until Friday — just three days before the game, whereas LSU was at the national semifinal in Atlanta for nearly a week before kickoff.

"Three nights in New Orleans," Orgeron said with a grin. "No more. That's good enough. We're going down there to win the game. There will be early curfews. There will be no going outside the hotel. There will be nothing but business, and our guys will be ready to go."

Sightseeing for the players?

"They can enjoy the bus ride," Orgeron said.

View Comments