New coaches making noise this spring
Things must going pretty well in LSU’s spring football exercises.
It always a good sign, or at least nothing gets fans’ juices flowing, like scattered reports of broken furniture and flying bottles.
These rumors are generally deciphered as a “new intensity” on campus, usually the residue of a new sheriff in town.
That’s not the case here. Ed Orgeron is still standing watch. But there are enough new deputies around with five new assistant coaches that wetted fingers must be raised into the air to test the new atmosphere.
That’s a pretty good overhaul Orgeron executed almost immediately after going 5-5 last season — he says he knew walking off the field after the Ole Miss game what staff adjustments were coming. So things will surely be different.
And you know the drill here.
In the young innocence of spring, even a pandemic spring, everyone will notice the immediate difference, all for the better of course.
History says sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t.
The most notable misfire came in the dark ages when Curley Hallman arrived at LSU.
His remedy for the back-to-back losing seasons that landed him the LSU job was to ban players from wearing earrings, a fad then in its infancy.
Middle-aged fans loved it of course. And players mostly grinned and beared it — anything for the team.
Oddly, however, the solution to a then new-age problem, one never faced by the likes of Bear Bryant and Gen. Neyland, bore mixed results.
The results were hard to quantify as four more losing seasons followed and manly jewelry returned to the locker room, along with a new head coach.
So there’s no surefire way to turn things around, even when last year’s travails are widely viewed as an aberration, mostly because of departed defensive coordinator Bo Pelini.
But new regimes do bring new ideas, new ways of doing things.
So players come forth in predictable wonder — in this New Normal, via virtual calls — to marvel at the changes, at the new intensity, the new attention to detail, mostly at the new enthusiasm.
It’s almost as if they have to tiptoe around suggesting that, compared to these guys, the old regime was well meaning but clueless. A light bulb has gone off in the team’s collective helmets and happy days will surely be here again.
Warning: Round II of this phenomena will come in August when the team reconvenes for the actual season.
So what do we know so far?
Maybe the biggest news that new offensive coordinator, Jake Peetz, is prone to wildly flipping over tables and throwing around water bottles with a spiral.
This is viewed as this kind nutty, masculine attention-getter that every team has to get from somewhere.
One in every crowd. LSU is just mining it from an unlikely source.
The wild and crazy guy to open your eyes and shock you into wild-eyed passion for practice doesn’t usually come from a coordinator, almost never from the offensive staff.
Think of an unbridled Orgeron, back when he was testing out the head coaching starter’s kit in his Ole Miss days — for shock value, he’d rip off his shirt every day or two in team meetings.
Fortunately he outgrew it and now presents a (relatively) stately head coaching presence, the Cajun version anyway.
Anyway, it’s almost unheard of for this wild-man coaching cliché to mentor the quarterbacks, generally the more cerebral branch of the varsity.
But don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
For now the players are loving the “new energy” brought by Peetz, a Joe Brady disciple who replaces the calm and unflappable Yoda, Steve Ensminger, now semi-retired to the analyst room.
Meanwhile, on the normally nuttier side of the ball, we have learned that the new defensive coordinator not only isn’t Bo Pelini, Daronte Jones just might be the snappiest dresser in the Power Five, with a penchant for suits and ties in a torn T-shirt occupation.
No reports of shattered furniture yet. But for some reason he does like snakes, so there’s that.
Still, you have to like what we’ve heard from Jones — beyond the standard (fan-pleasing) vow to be more of an “attacking” defense.
Pelini was brought in last year because Orgeron wanted to switch from the 3-4 alignment to the 4-3.
This year’s plan is that it will be … whatever.
“It’s just numbers,” Jones said of alignments, confirming a long-held suspicion of mine that they all just gang up around the line of scrimmage anyway.
LSU won’t be married to either of those numerical stagings, and will do what its players do best, which sounds like a solid plan.
It has to be. It’s part of the new regime, and spring optimism is required.
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU
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