New LSU passing game coordinator Joe Brady has garnered a lot of attention since he arrived on campus as the promised savior of the Tigers’ offense.
The young gun hired away from the New Orleans Saints organization worked closely with offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger, throwing ideas at the veteran coach just to see what stuck, and what has reportedly resulted is a brand-new, up-tempo, run-pass option-heavy offense.
Brady’s so confident in the new scheme, he has told LSU fans to get their popcorn ready.
He finally spoke to the media en masse for the first time at LSU’s final stop in the Coaches Caravan in Metarie. Here’s what he had to say at the event about everything from schemes to offensive philosophy to how he likes coaching multiple positions.
When you’re trying to implement a new offense, what are the first steps? What’s the learning curve?
“The first thing that we had to do was put together a system that… was easy for the guys in the run game, but the formations matched up in the pass game. In the spring we were being just very generic with what we were doing. If you equate it to college we were on the 100 or 200 levels. You didn’t want to put a lot on the guys in such a short period of time. So I think from the passing game, we just threw some ideas on the table that are easy for the quarterback to process, easy progressions, quick game where, we might not see it in the fall, but throwing those ideas out there, allowing you to expand on more packages.
“So from a system standpoint, we were just trying to get our speed in space and how we can get our offense to play how they have to with 11 players. We have to get our running backs and tight ends involved, our quarterbacks involved in the run game. We didn’t have a lot of time to do that. From the time that I got there finding out what we did as an offense last year, getting with coach (offensive coordinator Steve) Ensminger and talking about what we wanted to do, it wasn’t a lot of time but I think we put together an identity of what we were looking for.
How much does having veteran quarterbacks and receivers help when implementing a new offensive scheme?
From a quarterback perspective, Joe Burrow is everything you’re looking for in a quarterback. I’ve said it before, give me 11 Joe Burrows and we’re going to be a winning football team. Having Joe behind center as a quarterback, you have a chance of winning every single game. He makes everyone around him better. I know we don’t huddle, but he’s that type of quarterback that if he got down in a huddle and looked everybody in the eyes they’d be ready to go. I know everybody on the team, every offensive person, they’ll run through a wall for him. As a coach, he’s the type of guy you want to coach because he always wants more.”
“The receivers, I know it might seem like we have a veteran receiver group, but remember last year a lot of these guys were freshmen. It’s still a relatively young receiver group. But they push themselves. I’ve never seen anybody work as hard as these guys do. They don’t blink. There’s nothing that these guys waiver at. No matter how much we’re running or how much we’re working. It’s a fun group to work with every single day.”
How much influence as Joe Burrow had in the development of this new offense?
“We’re always asking Joe (Burrow) what his spots are because at the end of the day, you could really believe in a scheme, but if you the quarterback with the ball in his hands doesn’t feel comfortable with it, are you really going to get what you want out of it? I don’t think we can force plays. We’ve gone through this summer, putting in some new plays, some new ideas. This week, we’re going to sit down together and ask him ‘Hey, what do you feel comfortable with?’ or ‘Are you seeing this the way that we’re seeing it?’ and vice versa.
“I think it’s important going into games, sitting down before the game with the quarterback and asking him what he’s comfortable with. What are they’re favorite plays? Because at the end of the day you can call it, but he’s got to be the one to execute it. So I’m huge on all of our quarterbacks having input.”
Why did you leave a job with the New Orleans Saints to join LSU?
“I know this might not be the right terminology, but I’ve always been one where my head is always where my butt is. I’m never looking for the next job. What I mean by that is, if you take care of where you are, everything else will take care of itself.
“I saw LSU as an elite opportunity. I know LSU is an elite program. The receiver unit at LSU is… it’s hard to find a better unit to coach, both from a historic standpoint and the group I’m coaching right now. So I thought having an opportunity to put a stamp on the offense to help take LSU to the next level from an offensive perspective was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”
How quickly did Joe Burrow catch on to the new offensive schemes you were throwing at him?
“He picks things up so fast. He’s not a rep guy who has to mess up to figure it out. He can take the coaching. He can take the meetings to (individual drills) to the seven-on-seven then take it to team practice. If he does make a mistake the first time, as soon as he throws it he knows right away. So you coach a guy like Joe, from a decision-making standpoint sometimes it’s like ‘wow, you picked that up pretty fast.’
The offense that we’re installing right now, it isn’t just a generic, baseline, easy offense. We’re asking a lot of our receivers, our tight ends, our quarterbacks, our running backs. I kind of went into spring ball like let’s hit these guys with a hose and see what they can pick up. Seeing our quarterbacks being able pick that stuff and being able to add more and continue rolling with it has been impressive.”
What do you think about Justin Jefferson’s technical ability and attention to detail?
Look, the receivers as a whole, every receiver that we’re looking for and everybody in that room thinks they’re the best wide receiver. And if you don’t think you’re the best wide receiver in that room or in the class or anything like that, then we’re not recruiting the right guys. Every single day they come to work, it’s everything they got, 100 percent at all times.
“You don’t have to motivate the receivers at LSU. That was something that I was looking for in this opportunity. At LSU, there’s a mentality in that wide receivers room. There’s a physicality. There’s that willingness to compete every single time. When I walk into the door as a coach, I don’t have to coach that. It’s understood, and it’s the Jarvis (Landry), the Odell (Beckham), the players before that that kind of set that foundation.
“I tell those guys every single day this team is going to go as the receivers go. There’s not a day that we can take off. This receiver unit is going to make this team who we are. I want them to have that mentality. … I’ll be damned if those receivers before us turn on games this Saturday and they don’t see that physicality, that mentality from this wide receiver unit. So we don’t have to push them.
“We don’t ever speak on our guys individually. I love how Justin’s working. But as a group, these guys work each other. We’re understanding this offense. Everybody’s going to have their opportunities. We say everyone’s going to eat. Everyone’s going to have their opportunities. We’re going to embrace that culture and everything else will work out.”
How much will the running backs be involved in the passing game?
“When a defense has to defend all 11 on the field, it limits what they can do. Statistically it shows that when you’re in five-man protection, five-man protections give up less sacks. A lot of people think when you get a lot of pressure you need to bring the box in and bring in max protections, seven-man protections. But I think when you actually go five-man protection, you actually get the ball out faster. You limit what defenses can do.
“So as an offense we want to get the running backs out in routes. … Running backs, at the end of the day, they’re here to run the ball and catch passes. They’re not signed to play at LSU because they’re dynamic blockers. That’s what offensive linemen are for. Are they going to have to do it? Yes. But the more we can get them in routes, the more defenses will be limited in what they can do because they have to take that into consideration.
“And yeah, the screen game. You can’t allow teams to continue to send pressure. You have to keep them on edge. We’re going to be able to, as an offense, apply pressure. If we can do that, if we can get the ball to the running back and keep them off base by throwing in screens then we’re doing our job, as opposed to waiting for a defense to apply pressure to us to take the protections in.”
Do you do anything different when working with receivers than perhaps previous LSU teams?
“At the end of the day, receivers at LSU have always stood out and had success. I think it’s important for a receiver to have fun playing football. I played wide receiver and I was very… black and white. I think the game of football is very gray. We’re paying attention to detail in the things that we do, but at the same time we’re not going to coach the athletes out of our football players. We’re going to allow them to have fun. We’re going to allow them to do what they do best. From that standpoint, we go out to practice, sometimes the drills we do are unconventional. But we’re trying to bring that athletic ability out of our guys.”
Last season receivers essentially stuck to their position exclusively. How will that change moving forward?
“We don’t want any of our guys learning a position. They’re learning concepts. We can move everybody around the field. And ideally the type of receiver that we’re recruiting can play all three or four positions. So they’re learning concepts, not necessarily ‘this is what I do on this play,’ so I have the ability to move a guy from the boundary to the slot, from the slot to the field. So at the end of the day, his job doesn’t change. He just knows the scheme. We’re not teaching guys to be strictly X or Z receivers. If people know exactly where guys are going to be, defenses can do what they want to do and take guys out of the game. If we can move guys around and get them into positions that they want to get into to attack the people in the coverages in areas where we’ll have the advantage, we’ll know exactly where our guys are and we’re in the advantage.”
What will this offense look like? How would you describe it?
“You’re going to see an up-tempo offense that’s going to get our speed in space. That is different than things I’ve seen in the past. When you’re an up-tempo offense that gets your speed in space, good things are going to happen. You can get the best players on the field with the ball in their hands, I think then you’re sitting back and enjoying what you’re watching. So when I say get your popcorn ready, when you’re sitting there enjoying a movie and everything’s good, I think that’s what you’re going to be doing when you see our offense this fall.”
Photo Credit: James Moran