Two hours before LSU began working on its no-huddle install Wednesday, junior quarterback Joe Burrow was buried in film of the Tigers’ offense from the spring.
Thursday afternoon, as Ed Orgeron departed Baton Rouge for a media appearance in New Orleans, Burrow was still at work watching tape.
Whether or not he took a break between viewings or enjoyed a continual 30-hour cram session is unclear. What’s crystal clear, however, is Burrow, the Ohio State graduate transfer with two years of immediate eligibility and the favorite to land LSU’s starting gig under center this fall, is doing all the right things this summer in Baton Rouge.
“I’m very impressed with him,” said offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger, who hasn’t seen much of Burrow on the field due to summertime restrictions imposed by the NCAA on team activities. “As far as maturity, as far as football knowledge, as far as wanting to be good, being in there every day wanting to learn our offense, he’s been outstanding.”
The buzzword most associated with Burrow seems to be ‘humble.’ While LSU fans might’ve already anointed him as St. Joseph, the answer to their long-uttered quarterback prayers, Burrow’s approach to acquainting himself with the team has been sans ego.
“He’s been humble,” Orgeron said. “Works hard. (I) watched the conditioning test. He’s competing to be first on every sprint. The other guys are competing with him also. He’s very smart, gets along well with the team. In the player practices I can’t watch, I hear he’s doing very well and the team is accepting him as just another player.”
Added Ensminger: “To me, if you come in with some maturity, if you come in saying I just want to be a part of your team and be very humble to be a part of the team – which he’s done – it gives you a chance in the locker room. It gives you a chance in the huddle. It gives you a chance in practice. He’s done everything you can expect. He’s been welcomed by our players.”
Orgeron also singled out Burrow’s drive as an endearing trait in the locker room. That he was able to graduate from Ohio State in the spring – by crunching in what Ensminger thought was 18 or 21 hours of coursework – Burrow is also able to use summer workouts to build relationships with his teammates.
“I think it’s perfect the way it happened,” Orgeron said. “He has the whole summer to become friends with them. The thing with Joe is impressing everybody is his work ethic. He works hard in the weight room, he works hard in conditioning, and he’s always watching film.”
Film is how LSU’s coaches are getting to know their new quarterback best. While Burrow crams frame after frame of Ensminger’s schemes, Ensminger has been poring over what little Burrow tape he can find to learn his quarterback’s tendencies and talents. He plans to build his offense to his quarterbacks’ strengths, and, fortunately for him, Burrow has plenty.
“He’s a big, strong athletic kid,” Ensminger said. “He is football intelligent. I’ve watched some of his spring games, games he played in the past. He doesn’t make many mistakes mentally. He knows where he’s going with the football. Watching his film, I questioned his arm strength. I don’t question it anymore.”
The only question left is how that talent will fit into Ensminger’s offense – and where it will fit. Of course, Burrow may be the presumed starter outside of the program, but Ensminger and Orgeron both declared the job open to all four candidates: Burrow, junior Justin McMillan, sophomore Myles Brennan, and redshirt freshman Lowell Narcisse.
There’s still work to be done for Burrow to beat out the competition. According to his coaches, he loves work – about as much as he loves film.
“He’s a football junkie,” said Ensminger, who could safely be described as a football junkie himself. “He wants to learn football.”