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Theme days, high tempo among new facets of LSU practices under 'Coach O'

"There's a lot of ways to skin a cat, but this is the way that I have seen work, the methods I've learned under some great coaches," said Ed Orgeron of his changes to practice. Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Today is "Competition Tuesday" at LSU.

Tomorrow will be "Turnover Wednesday" followed by "No-Repeat Thursday" and "Focus Friday" as the Tigers push toward Saturday's key SEC game at Florida (Noon ET, ESPN).

Perhaps themed practices sound a bit silly, but they are among the changes interim coach Ed Orgeron ushered in over the last week in an effort to inject energy into the program.

"They are pretty funny, but it is [effective] because it actually goes with the way practice is set up," running back Derrius Guice said. "Whatever the theme is for that day, that's the layout for the practice."

Orgeron has made a series of minor tweaks since taking over for fired coach Les Miles last Monday. He handed over offensive play-calling duties to Steve Ensminger, who added new formations and a quick-pass philosophy that helped the Tigers gain 634 yards in Saturday's 42-7 win over Missouri. And on the practice field, Orgeron not only employs a theme for each day, he gets things done much more quickly than Miles did.

Where a game-week practice often stretched past the two-hour mark under Miles, Orgeron is getting the Tigers off the field in about 90 minutes -- a change that several players credited for keeping them fresh on game day.

"I don't think I can speak for the team, but I personally felt really fresh [Saturday]," tight end Colin Jeter said. "It was a little weird honestly. It was the first time I'd felt that fresh in a while. The team was excited and juiced and everyone's legs felt right, so we were energized and had a fun time."

Added offensive tackle K.J. Malone, "Normally after practice I'll be tired or hurting, but now I'm just tired. The body feels good."

The practice themes are brand new at LSU, but they aren't an original concept. One of Orgeron's mentors, Pete Carroll -- his former boss at USC -- uses the very same themes with his NFL team, the Seattle Seahawks.

Each day has its own special focus. "Tell-the-Truth Monday" allows coaches to honestly analyze the previous game's effort, pointing out errors and praising exceptional plays. Tuesday centers around one-on-one competition and Wednesday's focus is generating turnovers on defense and ball security on offense. With the next game rapidly approaching, the Tigers strive for perfection on "No-Repeat Thursday" and finally put the finishing touches on the game plan on Friday.

"There's a lot of ways to skin a cat, but this is the way that I have seen work, the methods I've learned under some great coaches," Orgeron said. "So I always said, when I get my opportunity to do it, that's what I wanted to do, and the guys are going to enjoy it. It's a fun, exciting system."

Along with Orgeron's structural changes, he also sought to generate energy and enthusiasm in practice. Players move rapidly from period to period, and Orgeron is willing to crank up the volume on music during practice.

"We're not on the field as long, but it's more high-tempo. We're always moving around," receiver Malachi Dupre said.

So far, so good if Saturday's blowout win over Missouri is any indication. It remains to be seen whether fresher legs will yield more positive results over the long haul, although fullback J.D. Moore believes that will be the case.

"I think in the long run it'll probably prove more beneficial," Moore said. "This has been one week of lightened practices. I think over a season is when it really proves beneficial."

That's the goal, or one of them anyway. Orgeron also wants his team to loosen up and have fun playing football again.

He made that a point of emphasis as USC's interim coach in 2013, earning praise for his motivational ploys that turned around a lost season. He let the players listen to the music they liked. He called out for team meals of ribeye steaks and In-N-Out hamburgers. He emphasized family at every turn.

It's unorthodox, sure, but it worked. USC went 6-2 under Orgeron's leadership and his players seemed to favor naming him the full-time coach before USC athletic director Pat Haden went in a different direction.

Orgeron is using those methods again at LSU in hopes of getting similar results out of another potential-packed team.

"I think it lets the guys play under their own personalities, have some fun and not so strict on every little thing," Orgeron said. "The bottom line is, these guys, I think these football players are the most important people that walk in the building. You know? They are the ones that play the game."