TRANSCRIPT: LSU offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s introductory press conference

Head coach Ed Orgeron opening statement…

COACH ORGERON: Welcome, everybody. Good to see everybody, what a great day for LSU football. It’s been a tremendous process of going out and being able to recruit the top, the best offensive coordinators in the country, and we got him, Matt Canada. We are excited to have him. He’s a great man. He’s put up tremendous numbers at several different spots that he’s been at. Everyone I called, people that work for him, he’s a great team guy. Win first. The players love him. He’s great on game day, a great caller, multiple shifts, multiple formations, makes it tough on defensive coordinators that are called across the league that played against them, one of the toughest guys to go against, very creative mind, can make adjustments during the game, and is very hard to go against. You know, one of the things I really liked in our interview is that I felt that he fit in with our staff. One team, one heartbeat. And he’s about team, he’s about winning. He didn’t talk to him about the lofty numbers that he put up, the things that he did, the great things that he did as a coordinator, but I know this: He’s had success in several different systems. He’s done a great job of coaching quarterbacks, whether it be in a spread offense, whether it be a pro-style offense, whether the quarterbacks are running the ball or throwing the ball, the guy knows what he’s doing. We’re very fortunate, very fortunate, to have, in my opinion, and the opinion across the country, two of the top coordinators at LSU in Matt Canada and Dave Aranda. We are looking forward to him coming to the LSU Tigers after the bowl game. He’s going to be able to start calling recruits today, and he will go back and coach his team in the bowl, which is very honorable. He wanted to go back and talk to his coach last night, do it like a man, and he came back. We are excited to have our offensive coordinator. Give him a hand, Matt Canada. Welcome.

Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada opening statement…
COACH CANADA: Well, when you talk about big days in your life, to stand up here at a place that you know is nothing but excellence everywhere you go. You look at the stadium, look at our facilities.

First off, to Coach O, I’m humbled beyond belief that he called me. Had a chance to visit with him yesterday. I was blown away that I was extended an offer; for Mr. Alleva for making it happen and everything he did, and just for the LSU community, I’m humbled and excited to be here. I’m just a ball coach. I don’t have any fancy name or anything else. I love coaching ball. I love coaching kids, and when you come to a place with the great players that are here and the history of this program, what coach brings in. Dave, we crossed paths. He actually bought my house back up in Wisconsin, when I left and he was coming. So that’s the history we have, so that’s how it works out, and now we’re coaching at the same place, but obviously, the best defensive coordinator in a nation. To come to a place with all of the pieces already lined up and just to get to be part of that puzzle, I’m blown away and so, so humbled.

My fiancee, Erin, is here. I’m fortunate she’s here. I’m fortunate that she’s here and she’s an amazing part of my life. My children, Tori and Chris, they are probably somewhere watching this. We’ve moved a lot and done a lot, but I love them to death and very fortunate to have them.

We’re going to do a great job of winning games, period. If we win 10-7, we talked to coach and that was what is important, we want to win. If we need to score more than that, we’ll find a way to score more than that. But we want to use our personnel. I think the best thing we’ve done is find a way to maximize our strengths, and minimize our weaknesses, maximize strengths of players that we have at the moment. Our system is versatile enough. And coach mentioned it, I don’t think it’s anything magnificent or super creative, but we’re going to use our players talents to find a way to win. Stats are overrated. Stats are funny to talk about when you need to have something good to say. It matters bout winning games. For me my job is to score enough points to win games, and that’s what I’m going do, in leading our offense and leading our team.

I’m excited to go back to Pittsburgh. I want to thank Coach Narduzzi and allowing me the opportunity to work there, and Scott Barnes, the athletic director there. That was a great place, and our layers did a great job. I’m thankful Coach O. will let me go back and finish it the right way and coach our bowl game and allow our players and coaches here to finish their season. When it’s all said and done, I’ll be back and I’ll be ready to go to work. So, very excitement to be here, and would love to answer any questions you might want to ask me.

Q. Coach, have you gotten a chance — I know it’s early, but to look at any LSU personnel, particularly the quarterbacks? Do you have any thoughts?
COACH CANADA: You know, I am. Obviously, it’s been a quick process here. I was in with Coach O. yesterday. I’m aware of some of those guys, and certainly, through recruiting, as we all recruited different places we are. To start talking specifics, I think that would be unfair. I’m very excited, again, to allow them to finish their season with where we are. We’ll get another win and we’ll get in and start dissecting what we’re going to do and put in our program. But there’s great players here, and I do believe we’ll find a way to always maximize our talents at quarterback. We’ve have running quarterbacks. I just coached Nate Peterson that came from another place. I think he had 28 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. The guy before that I coached, Jacoby Brissett, his two-year career ended in 44 touchdowns and 11 picks. He came from a place, too. So, I think we find what our guys do well, and I have great faith we’ll do that with the guys we have here. We have great pieces already in place.

Q. Hey, Coach, what impact and what role do you see yourself in recruiting, and right away?
COACH CANADA: I think I’m — I hope I have a major impact. I’m excited to get on the phone with the young men that are committed to us, to get on the phone with the young men considering coming to play at this great place and tell them what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it. I’m just a part of it. I certainly am not any major deal, and I’m going to express to them what we’re going to do, the honest and straightforward approach we’re going to have, and what we want to do is score points. I believe that’s the best way to do it in recruiting, to tell it like it is so there’s no confusion.

I think that’s — Coach O and I hit it off pretty well yesterday, because we both were pretty direct what was important to us from family to football to everything in between. That was a great feel for me, and I think that will continue on in our recruiting. I can see that with what we do and that’s what I do.

Q. Just a quick follow-up, are you looking to find the best quarterback or are you looking for a quarterback to fit A system?
COACH CANADA: The best quarterback. We got — plays are — we can all draw plays. Everybody in here and everybody in America can call plays, right? Everybody can call the right play after the play is over. So, plays are overrated. The players you get win the games. Players win games, not plays. So we’re going to find the best player that we can who’s a winner, who is a student of the game, who’s accurate, and if he can — again, everybody asks that question. I would like him to be 6’6″, and run a 4.1 and throw the ball 100 yards and be the smartest person you ever met, but that doesn’t happen. We’re all blessed with different talents. Some of us are bigger, some of us are faster, some of us throw it better. We want to find the best players we can who fit Coach O’s philosophy, the excellence we have in this program, and we’ll find a way to score points with those players. As long as they’re a winner, as long as they’re a winner, we’ll find a way to win.

Q. Matt, a year ago you were out of a job. Tell us about — did you ever imagine yourself in this position now, just a year after that happened, and then what happened there?
COACH CANADA: No, I didn’t. I mean, this has been professionally and personally the best and the hardest year of my life, I would say both ways, however you want to look at it. What happened there is irrelevant. I have answered the question. I was surprised, and I didn’t see it coming. We were third in the league in scoring, but people make changes and I’m very, very fortunate that change was made because I’m standing here talking to you right now. So, I don’t — to say I saw it there — I do believe there’s a plan. I do believe as life goes on, things work out the way they’re supposed to and you just have to keep believing in that and do the right thing. So, I’m very, very humbled to be here, and I believe that’s the way it was supposed to work out. At the time, we all struggle sometimes to believe that when those events occur, but obviously there was a reason.

Q. Coach, just curious, you had a couple different stops. Just one year at Pitt, you guys were setting records up there. What is it about your system that allows you to have success so quickly when you go to new places?
COACH CANADA: I think we’re proud of that. If you talk — I appreciate the question. We’re proud of that. I went to Northern Illinois, and we won a championship in the first year, and I had a chance to go on. I’ve only chose to take two jobs, you know? When you talk about the moves, things happen. When you’re not in charge, certain thing occur. So, we went on to Wisconsin and we won the Big Ten and we had a great year this year with Pitt in our first year.

Again, I do believe what I’m saying. It’s not clinic talk. It’s not here for the press conference. It’s about players. It’s about player, not about plays. Our system is very easy. It’s very easy to learn. We find a way to teach it in a way that our kids understand it and they believe it and we want them to learn as fast as they possibly can. I don’t get any points for us to stand up saying, two years from now, you’re really going to understand this offense. That doesn’t matter. We’re going to win right now. That’s why we’re here. We got to win football games and my job is to do whatever Coach tells me to do and score enough points to win games. So, our system is easy for our players to learn. We believe that. We have done that, and we’re proud of that.

Q. That said, there is kind of a mandate for the person in your job to kind of change the offensive culture of this program. Is that something that’s been communicated to you and is that part of the appeal for you to take this job?
COACH CANADA: The appeal for me is this is LSU. That’s the appeal. This is the greatest football program in the country. I got a call from Coach O to come to LSU. That’s the appeal. We just got to win games. I think it’s a tame game. Coach talks about one heartbeat. That’s what it is. I don’t think there’s any mandate. We’re going to do what we can to win games. We’re proud of what we’ve done. We scored points on some really good people, and we’re going to do what we have to do to do that, but I don’t think there’s any — I’m not looking to come in and change this or change that. We have a system that we believe in. That’s what we’re going to do. I believe our players will be excited about our system. I believe our players will see the production that it has had. We’re certainly going to show them, as we install plays, we’re going to use the plays, and they’re probably going to see some players that — you know, our running backs, you talk about the running backs that had production in our system, you have James Connor right now, which is a phenomenal story, you go back a little bit there, Montee Ball, pretty good player, Melvin Gordan still playing right now, James White still playing. Those three kids were all in the same system at the same time, so we had three backs on the field a lot. Again, I think that’s what we’ll do. I think our players will see that and understand that.

Hopefully, what you say when it’s done, they maximize their talent, whatever their players could do, and they score points. Sir?

Q. Coach Orgeron, in his search for a new offensive coordinator, stressed spread concepts and principles as being very important to the future of LSU’s offense. How would you describe your offense? Does it — would you call it a spread offense and who are — who have been your most significant influences in your offensive system, what coaches have been?
COACH CANADA: I think, and we’ve had — I went out — when I was at Indiana, I went out and met with Coach Kelly at Oregon. That’s obviously very much of a spread style. When we were there, that’s what we did. So I think we — our offense hasn’t changed the way we — the philosophy hasn’t changed. What’s changed, if you look at the places I’ve been, has been the players. When we were there we threw the ball a lot in that league. We weren’t the biggest or strongest. When I went to Northern Illinois, we had two running quarterbacks. Jordan Lynch ended up being second in the Heisman the next year at Northern Illinois. So that was a running power read. That is what we did there. That was certainly a spread offense. I think we have to utilize our talents. We do have a spread component. We can be spread. We watched the game yesterday, doesn’t matter which one. I would say, if you look at it, it looked like a spread team for sure. We were doing a lot of things. We were trying to find ways to score points. So, I don’t like to pigeonhole us that we’re this or we’re that. I think when you watch teams in the league right now. I mean, the Patriots, what are the Patriots? Are they a pro style team, are they a spread team? Obviously, our team here, the Saints, they’re a pro team.

So we’re going to do what we have to do to get our players on the field. If we have a multitude of tight ends, you’ll probably see more of those guys on the field. If we have great receivers you’re going to see them on the field more. Each defense — every defense — and Coach can stop them all, but every defence can decide what they are going to stop. They can stop a play. We have the next play, and they may stop that one, too. But we do, I believe, have the plays off the plays and the answers in our system that we can at least have a chance to move the football.

Q. Would you say that’s your best strength your adaptive nature? You talked about it being about the players and not necessarily the scheme as much. So what were you selling in your meetings with everyone about yourself?
COACH CANADA: I don’t really like — again, that’s a humbling question, I don’t know that anything’s a great strength. I do think if you look what we’ve done, we’ve used different — as you would look at it I guess from the outside, hey, they’re running, they’re a power team here, a quarterback run team here, but it’s been the same offense.

So, I guess, I think, if you say, what am I, I’m proud that we do that. I’m proud that we find a way to maximize our talents and have a fullback, a walk-on fullback this year have nine or ten touchdowns that probably nobody thought was going to — but he’s a tough guy that plays blocks, and plays so hard, so we’re going to use him. That allows the personnel grouping to give us an advantage. All we are trying to do when we play is find a matchup for us to take advantage of the defense, because defenses great, and it’s hard to score points, we all know that. So, I’m proud of that. I don’t know if that’s a great strength, but I’m proud we do that.

Q. Coach, just curious, with what LSU has been able to do on defense, how much do you look to play a complementary style that kind of helps out the defense or is that maybe something that’s overrated?
COACH CANADA: It’s not overrated at all. I think what we’re going to do is win football games. And that was a great conversation Coach O and I had: stats and where you rank. I know that something — it’s something we all do in fantasy world and fantasy football. Total offense, well, really, if your total offense is something, what does that mean? That might mean you were getting the ball in bad field position. That might mean special teams weren’t getting the ball in the right spot, or what have you.

Really, the biggest stat I look at for us is scoring points. That’s what I’ve always said, but in a game it’s scoring more points than they score. We’re not going to keep being silly to try to get this score up, so we have this kind of a scoring average. We’re going to go. Coach O will certainly dictate what the plan is for each game, and like we said, we’ve got a great defense and great talent. We just want to win. There’s nothing like Saturday night when you win a football game. You feel really, really good, as a coach, as a player, as a fan, and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to win. So, some games it changes.

So, some games it doesn’t bounce your way, a couple things happen. You get a guy nicked up. So have to do what you have to do, but we’re going to win games. So, without question, we are going to complement our entire team, however the game goes. Each and every game is different.

Q. Coach O had mentioned he consulted with some of the coaches in the league about you. Aside from Coach Bielema, who are you familiar with and who is familiar with you in the league?
COACH CANADA: OH, in the SEC? Obviously, Coach B, I worked for him obviously in Wisconsin. I don’t know a lot of guys in the league we’re coming into personally. This is obviously the top league. This is football. This is the whole deal. So, all those guys are people we look at and study and go after and try to make ourselves as much like them as we can. So I’m excited to study our opponents. I’m excited. Everybody has a feel. Everybody has what they do on game day, but then everybody changes week to week. So, I don’t have any specifics on any coach that way, as far as working with anybody. I mean, there’s certainly guys I know and we’ve crossed paths with, but there’s nothing, no specifics there.

Q. Along those lines, Coach, this will be your first time coaching full time against SEC competition. I wonder what your experience has been coaching against any SEC teams and, you know, what do you think of that level of competition that SEC defenses will present?
COACH CANADA: Well, I’m 1-0 at Alabama. Northern Illinois, we beat Alabama in 2003, so, I guess I’ll go with that. Huh?

Q. Alabama must love that.
COACH CANADA: Well, it’s a true statement. Obviously, I’ve been in a lot of different places. You play crossover games. Again, this is the top. I’m excited about it. I think — I’m certainly — I’m proud of where I’ve been. You look at some — Coach Venables is a tremendous coach at Clemson. Coach Foster is a tremendous coach at Virginia Tech. Coach Pruitt, obviously is at Alabama now. I played him at Florida State, and he certainly got after us. There’s a lot of guys out there that I’ve competed again in different places. It’s still our game. It’s still about blocking, tackling, and finding some way to score one more pint than they score. I certainly understand the level of play that I’m getting into. There’s no doubt about that. It’s the top.

Q. Coach, you’re obviously still learning the players and everything but what does it mean to start with a guy like Derrius Guice coming back to be in your back field next year?
COACH CANADA: That’s a really good perk, when you get to take a job and have a guy like that. I think he’s going to be excited. Again, we’re going to get moving, but we’re going to allow everybody to finish the season. But I think when he looks at what we do, and again, those backs I mentioned, those are real tangible people that he’s seen and knows about. I think he’s going to be excited with what we do and excited with the way we are going to progress our offense, but I’m very excited about him and all our players. The talent in this program is awesome.

Q. Matt, you’ve had so many offenses with different focal points that you alluded to from 3,000-yard passers that ran for a thousand, the running backings at Wisconsin and what you had this year. Was there ever a year where it didn’t really quite fit into your system and you really had to expand it? Everywhere you go it all kind of fits into your system in a different way.
COACH CANADA: I would say if you look at 13 our first year at NC State, we didn’t have a very productive year. We struggled. We played a lot of different quarterbacks. I obviously take all of the blame. So, we obviously didn’t do a good job that year. I think when you look at us, we are proud of that, and I coached with a lot of great coaches on our staff. From running it, just like you mentioned, if you watched us, you wouldn’t think we ever had a quarterback who would have that many yards rushing. If you watched us hit, you would never think we had a quarterback that would lead in pass efficiency. So, we’re going to maximize our talents. I think that’s our job as coaches. It’s not to have a system. It’s to score points in the red zone. I think we’re pretty good at that. We’re pretty proud of that. How do you score points in the red zone? You got to do it. You got to be pretty good on third down. We believe you got to run the football. Running the football is a big deal. So we’re going to run the football. But how we’re going to run is — dictates on our players, and defense does too. Defense has a lot to do about it, but we’re going to be — Coach mentioned it, we are going to shift a little bit and we are going to move. We’re going to change the tempo. We’re going to do everything we can do to give ourself an advantage to be offensive. We’re on offense. It’s called offense for a reason.

Q. Coach, couple things, how much no huddle and huddle? And Coach Orgeron is known for giving his coordinators a lot of autonomy to do the job the way they want to do it. Did that freedom appeal to you as part of the reason why you would take this job?
COACH CANADA: Yes, sir, it did. I mean, I think this is an amazing place. I do think I mentioned, and I’ll mention it again, because it was a special place with Coach Narduzzi, he allowed us the freedom to do our job and Coach O certainly said that. He’s the head coach. Whatever he tells me to do, I’m going to do. I’m a chain-of-command coach person. I believe in it to the end. But I do believe if you have too many things going on, it’s very hard to have success at anything in life. We’re talking about football right now which is really a big deal, but I think that’s hard. Too many cooks in the kitchen, it’s hard. So, that conversation was a very, very big deal for me to feel confident in making a decision, and obviously, you wanted the opportunity to be given to me first, but once that occurred, to have the chance to come here and to know his philosophy of running the football, which we’re going to do, of having a standard of excellence, of all of the things he’s instilled in our player, I’m going to follow that. But we’re going do it in our way which allows us to win football games. So that was a big deal.

Q. Are you huddle or no huddle?
COACH CANADA: Huddle or no huddle? We are a huddle team. We believe in huddling. There’s probably a game we didn’t huddle at all. I believe it comes back to the game, comes back to the situation. We will change the tempo at times. We’ve been very productive with that. We’ve done it all, and we could go back to anything. We’re not going to pigeonhole ourself right now either. But there’s merit to going fast. We all understand that. You see what it does to the defense.

But, again, in our conversation, Coach and I really, in my belief, hit it off very well. We want to win. And you can go very, very fast all of the time and score a lot of points maybe, but you might do this and your defense is out there a lot. We just want to win. We just want to win. I’m here to be part of the excellence of LSU in winning. So, we’re going to do both.

Q. Coach, aside from your real estate connection with Coach Aranda, do you have a connection with LSU, any of the coaches on the staff or Louisiana in general? And what of your thoughts about LSU and Louisiana?
COACH CANADA: Nothing direct. My thoughts are again this is the premiere program in the nation. I was able to take a tour yesterday and walk around and see our facilities, see everything we have here, which is obviously first class. To go into the stadium, that was a unbelievable moment. So, I’m excited to be here. We plan on being here for a long, long time, and we’re excited just to be part, a small part, of this program and on Coach O’s staff.

Q. Thanks you, Coach.
COACH CANADA: All right.

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