LSU's Stingley is expected to play at Vanderbilt, and Orgeron can't wait to have him back

Glenn Guilbeau
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

BATON ROUGE — It appears that much-missed LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. will play in the No. 17 Tigers' next game on Saturday at Vanderbilt.

"I think Derek's going to be back," LSU coach Ed Orgeron said Monday on his weekly teleconference after talking to trainer Jack Marucci. "We're waiting for all the medical exams to clear, but I expect him back as early as maybe tomorrow (Tuesday)."

Orgeron, LSU, and Stingley's family continue to be ultra secretive about Stingley's illness, which remains mysterious because of that.

He was taken to an emergency room at an area hospital on Friday night after becoming "acutely ill," a LSU release said on Saturday morning.

The sophomore from The Dunham School in Baton Rouge missed LSU's season opener on Saturday afternoon in Tiger Stadium, and he was missed in it as 17-point underdog Mississippi State upset the No. 5 Tigers, 44-34, behind a Southeastern Conference record 623 passing yards by quarterback K.J. Costello.

Stingley was released later Saturday.

"I'm hoping he can play," Orgeron said. "Obviously, he makes a difference on our team. It's a position we need. We're very short there, but we're always going to put his health first. I'm going to listen to the doctors. Talk to his mom and daddy. If the doctors say he can play, if Derek says he can play, and his mom and daddy say it's OK, he's going to play. If not, he won't. But I expect him to play. I expect him maybe to be back at practice as early as tomorrow (Tuesday). But we'll see."

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Dec 7, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; LSU Tigers cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. (24) celebrates an interception with cornerback Cordale Flott (25) in the second quarter against the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2019 SEC Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

LSU (0-1) and Vanderbilt (0-1) kick off at 6:30 p.m. on the SEC Network at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville. The Commodores lost, 17-12, at Texas A&M on Saturday.

New LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini's game plan when he assumed Stingley would play featured mostly man-to-man defense, which Stingley excels at. And he was a consensus All-American last season.

But Pelini did not change that plan when Stingley was ruled out of the game. LSU does not have any very experienced cornerbacks other than Stingley.

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Senior Darren Evans, a transfer who arrived just last month from lower level Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) school Nicholls State, started in Stingley's place. True freshman Elias Ricks started at the third cornerback, or nickel back, in a five-man secondary. And sophomore Cordale Flott, who started one game last season, started at the other cornerback slot.

Sophomore cornerback Jay Ward, who started one game last year, played a lot despite missing two weeks recently with an injury. He may have been held out had Stingley been available as Ward was listed as questionable last Monday.

"Jay Ward was out of practice two weeks," Orgeron said. "Obviously was a little rusty there. So, I think it was a combination of things. We were short on corners."  

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The decision to go into the game in man-to-man defense without Stingley and stay in it was not Orgeron's.

"All those are Bo's decisions," Orgeron said. "We're talking about it. They were hitting us on some pick routes, some over routes. Some of it was scheme. Some of it was adjustments that we can do, not necessarily play zone, but you can do some adjustments in man."

New State coach Mike Leach's "Air Raid" offense featured his receivers were running open most of the day, and three of them had 100 yards or more receiving.

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"Not having Derek hurt us," Orgeron said. "We had a game plan, and we were going to play man. And man 'em up, and we thought we could man up with their receivers. We should've made a couple more adjustments during the game."