LSU has beaten Auburn each of the last two seasons. But that was without Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn calling the offensive plays.

This Saturday when Auburn visits LSU in the annual all-Tiger battle, Malzahn will be calling his offense, and LSU head coach Ed Orgeron says that will make it “a lot harder” for his defense to defend.

Orgeron called Malzahn an “excellent play-caller” because of his offense’s ability to give defenses a hard time with things like checks at the line of scrimmage. Orgeron also said the Auburn zone-read running attack with its quarterback is “tough” to defend.

For that reason, the LSU coach cited controlling the line of scrimmage on defense one of the biggest keys to the matchup. Auburn returned five starting offensive linemen this year, and with that line, Orgeron says Auburn “wants to run” the ball along with feature trick plays and “shot plays.”

He also mentioned that the LSU crowd in Death Valley will be a “deciding factor” as well.

Here’s what else Orgeron said during his Wednesday press conference:

  • On Kardell Thomas’ return to practice: He’s done a great job, and we look forward to him being back. He can’t go full speed… he’s not ready to play yet.
  • Timeline for Thomas to return? We need to see him go full speed in practice, we haven’t done that… we’ll see how he progresses.
  • On the Swamp getting to Bo Nix, can LSU do it? I know our fans will show up, start early. I relate it to the Georgia game, the whole state was on fire last year. They were the deciding factor in the game and I’m sure it will be the same.
  • On Avery Adkins: Huge. He is a game-changer for us. He is a great young man, getting those kickoffs out the end zone is big for us.
  • On changing the offense, do you think there is any humility there? I think it is because the game changes, it changes daily. Spread offense, new ideas. I’m 58 and been coaching a long time… we have plenty of young coaches and I listen to them, especially where I’m not an expert… my expertise is on the DL and coaching the lineman.
  • On Gus Malzahn calling the offense: A lot harder to defend. I think he is an excellent play-caller… he knows how to give defenses programs… he likes to check at the lien, he’s good at that. This is the old Gus Malzahn, very hard to defend.
  • On Auburn’s run game: Same run game, this guys is pin and pull, zone read, QB run guy, all the things that make it tough.
  • On Derek Stingley Jr: Game changer. #1 player in teh country, his dad is a coach. He came prepared to play for us… he is a leader, very quiet, very humble, he’s a game changer.
  • How has Terrance Marshall looked in practice: He looks well, I’m always asking him like he’s my son, I’m worried about him and he says “I’m fine, coach.”… He will be ready to go on Saturday… He and Joe have a special connection out there.
  • How has his development grown? Skyrocketed… he was injured in HS, he was still injured last year but the work they did in the offseason… made a big difference in Terrance.