By CODY WORSHAM | Tiger Rag Editor
Spring football is here, and Ed Orgeron appears to have brushed up on “Breaking Bad.”
The theme of the spring, Orgeron told the gathered media Tuesday morning, ahead of Saturday’s initial spring practice, is straight out of Walter White’s playbook.
“We’re using a term now: full measure,” said Orgeron. “Are you going at a full measure, or are you compromising? We’re trying to push it, see how far we can take this thing.”
As LSU enters its last week of offseason workouts and gears up for Saturday’s spring kickoff, here are a few themes Orgeron touched on.
Orgeron’s staff has a new look to it, as the Tigers will debut three new offensive coaches this spring. Foremost among them is offensive coordinator Matt Canada, who will hope to breathe new life into an LSU offense in need of consistency.
“I’m really excited about Matt Canada, what he’s brought to our football team, our staff,” Orgeron said. “He’s an energetic guy, an energetic recruiter. He coaches very hard on the field. He’s a hands on coach. I believe he’s going to do tremendous stuff with our offense.
He’ll be joined on that side of the ball by running backs coach Tommie Robinson and wide receivers coach Mickey Joseph, both of whom Orgeron heaped praise upon.
“We have three new coaches on offense,” Orgeron said. “It’s exciting. It’s exciting to come into the staff meetings. I’m excited about those guys.”
There are new names to know on the field, too. LSU has six early enrollees on campus already. Quarterback Lowell Narcisse is still rehabbing his knee, Orgeron said, but two young Tigers ready to compete for snaps on day one are safeties JaCoby Stevens and Grant Delpit. Both have impressed their head coach in agility drills and spring workouts.
“I smile every time I see them out there, I promise you that,” Orgeron said. “Those are two tremendous safeties. Both of them look fantastic. Let’s see what happens when the pads come on.”
Orgeron noted the quarterback position remains an open competition, even with the transfer of Brandon Harris. Danny Etling brings back 4,613 yards and 27 touchdowns in his career under center. Lindsey Scott, Justin McMillan and Narcisse will push him for snaps this spring; Myles Brennan will do the same when he arrives in the fall.
“Danny is the leader, clearly, right now, and will probably end up being the leader,” said Orgeron.” I wanted to make it open for Justin, for Lindsey, for Lowell, for Myles…Matt’s going to run his offense, but he’s going to be able to adapt to the type of quarterback he has.”
D.J. Chark returns as the Tigers’ top receiver after his 26-catch, 442-yard junior season. No other Tiger wideout caught more than five passes in 2016, and none has a leg up on the other for No. 2 duties entering the spring, Orgeron said.
“We’re going to give them all opportunities. There’s no certain pecking order. We’ve got some athletes there, Stephen Sullivan, all those guys are good athletes. We’ll see.”
Dave Aranda’s defense will have to replace five players from its 2016 front seven. Orgeron noted Donnie Alexander and Devin White are the starters at middle linebacker for now, and even with Arden Key out for the spring tending to personal matters, he likes his talent on the edge.
“Andre Anthony has had an excellent offseason,” he said. “Ray Thornton has had an excellent offseason. Sci Martin is coming along. We’ve got some guys coming, now.”
Orgeron said he didn’t know the status of Isaiah Washington, and noted that Christian LaCouture will play the end role Davon Godchaux filled last season.
As LSU and the rest of college football awaits an NCAA ruling on a 10th assistant coach, Orgeron has divided the special teams duties among a number of his assistants. Robinson, Dennis Johnson, Corey Raymond, Jeff Grimes, and Joseph will all fill roles on special teams.
“It will be an outstanding, cohesive effort among our staff,” he said.
Former NFL special teams coordinator Greg McMahon remains on staff as a special teams analyst. That means he can’t coach on the field or in meetings. He’ll “coach the coaches,” per Orgeron, but his impact has been immediate on a unit that was highly volatile a year ago.
“It’s amazing to see a guy with 11 years of experience as a special teams coordinator, the knowledge and technical expertise he has brought to our special teams,” Orgeron said. “I expect a tremendous improvement in our special teams.”