Living in the past? Ed Orgeron tries to turn back the clock with revamped staff
Ed Orgeron set the tone for his SEC Media Days appearance during his opening statement Monday afternoon.
The LSU head coach ran down the list of new coaches on his staff and said he hired offensive coordinator Jake Peetz and passing game coordinator DJ Mangas to run “Joe Brady’s offense.”
The 2021 LSU season is all about avoiding a repeat of the 2020 season while trying to recapture the magic of the 2019 season.
The Tigers might not be ready to challenge the accomplishments of the 2019 CFP championship team, but they should be ready to surpass the 5-5 struggles of the 2020 team.
Orgeron was understandably focused on pointing the program back toward 2019 as he revamped his coaching staff during the offseason. He hired 6 new coaches and was fixated on the 2019 staff and season as he did so.
He fell short last season in hiring replacements for key members of the 2019 season and vowed not to repeat those mistakes this offseason.
When offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger retired and passing game coordinator Scott Linehan was not retained, Orgeron turned for advice to Brady, the 2019 passing game coordinator and Ensminger’s partner during the championship run, for advice.
Brady, who became the offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers after the Tigers’ championship, recommended Peetz, who was his quarterbacks coach last season, and Mangas, who was a Panthers offensive assistant last season.
Orgeron still had 2019 on his mind when he addressed the leadership on his defensive staff as well. His hiring of Bo Pelini after Dave Aranda parlayed his coordinating of the 2019 defense into the head coaching position at Baylor did not work out as LSU had one of the worst defenses in school history last season.
When Orgeron’s attempt to hire New Orleans Saints defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen was thwarted by the Saints, the head coach turned to Minnesota Vikings secondary coach Daronte Jones, who had coached with Aranda at Wisconsin in 2015.
Orgeron emphasized that the “trust” he had in Brady and Aranda’s opinions was “80%” responsible for him following their advice in making the hires.
The head coach said he called coaches and players who had worked with his prospective coordinators during the interview process. He heard high opinions of how the candidates “interacted” with their players.
“Everyone can be one way in an interview,” Orgeron said. “I want to know how they’re going to be every day.”
He said he interviewed the coaches by playing the role of an LSU player, trying to get a handle for how the coaches would communicate with the players.
“When I interviewed them they matched everything the ex-players and coaches told me,” Orgeron said. “I’ve been very impressed how guys who have never been coordinators have the ability to lead and the organization skills they have. They are A-plus.”
Orgeron also gave the coaches an “A-plus” for their communication skills, noting that his new coordinators on average are 20 years younger than their predecessors.
He said some of the interviews he did with coaching candidates last season were not face to face.
“It didn’t work, and I’ll never do that again,” he said, though he added that even though he didn’t meet with Pelini face to face, he would have hired him if he had because he knew him so well.
Orgeron also added Andre Carter as his defensive line coach, Blake Baker as linebackers coach and Brad Davis as offensive line coach.
“Every one of these guys I interviewed I specifically told them what I wanted done,” Orgeron said. “They agreed with that. They understand the format of practice and what I want. Now we have to coach and play better.”