LSU coaches already see Joe Burrow's leadership rubbing off on his new teammates: 'He's a football junkie'
Outside of Baton Rouge and in the hearts of LSU faithful across the nation, the perception of the Tiger program was on a steep decline this offseason. That feeling was palpable following the team’s disappointing loss to Notre Dame in the Citrus Bowl, the departures suffered to the 2018 NFL Draft, a lackluster recruiting class (by LSU’s lofty standard) and was culminated by ESPN’s Football Power Index projecting the team would go 6-6 in 2018.
Much of the negative speculation surrounding the program had to do with the fact that the Tigers were poised to once again start an unknown commodity under center. While Myles Brennan, Justin McMillan and Lowell Narcisse are all said to have flashed during spring camp, none separated themselves from the others, leaving the quarterback competition to linger on and into the summer.
Fortunately for the Tigers, Joe Burrow decided against sticking around to wait out the conclusion of Ohio State’s quarterback competition and chose to become a graduate transfer, where he soon decided to finish out his career in Baton Rouge. Now he’s poised to potentially start for the Tigers come the fall, provided he wins the job during fall camp.
While the LSU coaching staff has yet to work with Burrow on the field, they cannot do so at this time, they are permitted to work with him in the film room and meeting room while the players are under the direct supervision of the strength coach and his staff this summer. During their Tigers Caravan tour appearance in Metairie, Ed Orgeron, his offensive coordinator, Steve Ensminger, and his receivers coach, Mickey Joseph, were all asked to share their initial impressions of Burrow since his arrival.
Based on their responses, the coaches have been immediately impressed with their new signal caller this summer.
While eager to not suggest Burrow is the frontrunner to win the starting quarterback duties in Baton Rouge, LSU’s head coach was asked if the graduate transfer can really be expected to win over his new teammates following his summer arrival.
“We’ll see. He’s doing a fantastic job with the team right now — so are all the other quarterbacks,” Orgeron said in a YouTube video posted by NOLA.com.” I think the competition is very equal with all of our quarterbacks right now. Going into camp, we are going to give everyone an equal chance and let the best man win.”
Until a final decision is made on the starting duties in Baton Rouge, Orgeron should be expecting to face questions regarding the decision and a timeline for making it. The Tigers Caravan tour was no different as Orgeron was asked when he could make the call.
“Here is the perfect scenario: the best man would win, it’d be clear,” Orgeron answered. “I want the team to see it, I want the coaching staff to see it. If you are the LSU quarterback, you should be able to stick out. If it’s very close, we may play two quarterbacks. But I think day in and day out, the camp grind and the activities that we are going to do with our quarterbacks, it should be a no-brainer.”
LSU’s new offensive coordinator had more to say specifically about Burrow during his appearance at the event.
“I’m excited about him. He’s a big, athletic kid. A very mature kid,” Ensminger noted in the YouTube posted by NOLA.com. “A mature kid who is a coach’s son who loves football, who wants to study, who wants to learn everything you got out there and wants to be in the film room every day and try to get better.”
When asked about Burrow’s best physical attribute, Ensminger commented that he hasn’t been able to work with the quarterback in-person. So aside from his physical skillset, the thing that stands out to the OC regarding his new QB is his willingness to work off the field at his craft.
“I really haven’t had a chance to see him throw, in-person. We are allowed to watch film with him and everything else but in the film room, he knows football. He’s been around it his whole life,” Ensminger said. “He knows football, he knows where he’s going with the football and everything else. I’m curious to see him throw the football, I’ll be honest with you but he’s a football junkie.
“As a quarterback, I’ve always felt that way — we were talking about it on the way over here — I had nothing better else to do other than sports growing up. Nowadays, they have all kinds of things to do. For that young man, in 2018, wants to be at that office as much as you, is a big deal.”
Meanwhile, the team’s receiver coach has noticed Burrow’s addition has brought extra juice to LSU’s program — something Orgeron also noted during his media availability.
“Joe is a good quarterback… Joe has brought more competition to the quarterback room and that’s why you come to LSU; you know every room is going to be a challenge,” Mickey Joseph said in his recorded video session with the media. “No one is going to say, ‘Hey, I’m the starter.’ You have to battle at LSU, you have to fight to keep your position and that’s how we want it. We wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“The guys are competing more in the weight room, they are competing more when they are running. I think he’ll bring a tremendous amount of leadership and competition to our team,” Orgeron added in regards to Burrow.
The fact that a summer transfer has come in and energized the program to an extent has to be a good sign for his leadership skills and ability to motivate. If nothing else, that may be exactly what the LSU program has been missing under center all the years the Tigers lacked a gamechanger under center.