BATON ROUGE, La. — How is Matt Canada’s offensive system going to fit with LSU?

If you ask Canada, it’ll be about paying attention to what he has in guys like Derrius Guice and Danny Etling and D.J. Chark and on down the list before he starts force-feeding them a “system.”

“It’s about players, not about plays,” said Canada, who was introduced as LSU’s new offensive coordinator Wednesday afternoon. “Our system is very easy. It’s very easy to learn. We find a way to teach it in a way the kids understand it and they believe it.”

What being “very easy to learn” allows is for Canada to customize the offense to the talent in a given year.

That explains how Canada, now OC at his seventh school in a 25-year career, has had offenses that looked so different yet all from basically the same offense.

At Northern Illinois, he mentored spread quarterback Chandler Harnish (with Jordan Lynch as the backup), a 3,000-yard passer and 1,000-yard rushers in the same season. Then there was a stop at Wisconsin, where power football prevailed and his feature running back, Montee Ball, was the Doak Walker Award winner.

Then, it was on to N.C. State, where he helped Jacoby Brissett reclaim his career and became an effective spread quarterback, then to Pitt where the offense was … well, it didn’t look quite like N.C. State, certainly not like Wisconsin, and definitely not Northern Illinois.

So, yeah, it’s not lip service Canada gives to adaptability. It’s his identity.

Read More

Sports betting in Louisiana is live and running. Whether it is betting on SEC football or LSU football games or the Heisman race each year, if you live in Louisiana, you can now do it from your mobile phone.

“I believe in what I’m saying,” he said. “It’s not (coaching) clinic talk.”

Most recently, in his one season at Pitt, the Panthers set a school-record by averaging 42.3 points per game while doing it without earth-shattering talent at the skill positions.

It was a great Pitt offense, but one with roots at Oregon, although you’d swear that’s wrong.

If you dig into his roots, Canada will talk about visiting Chip Kelly at Oregon during his time as offensive coordinator at Indiana and he says that makes him still a spread coach. But you won’t conclude that watching his Wisconsin film or, for that matter, his Pitt film.

With the Panthers, his offense was multiple, using a lot of misdirection and jet sweeps with wide receivers to go with an efficient passing game and a 1,000-yard feature back in James Conner.

If there’s a coach he could be compare his knack for adapting to talent to, it would be Dave Aranda, LSU’s defensive coordinator.

In the oddly close world of college football coaching careers, the two nearly crossed paths before. Canada was offensive coordinator at Wisconsin for one year — 2012 — before leaving for N.C. State. Aranda arrived as defensive coordinator the next year and actually bought the house previously occupied by Canada.

But if there is one thing Aranda is noted for as a defensive coordinator, it’s adjusting his base 3-4 defense to fit the players, a very similar approach to Canada.

“I was just asked (by LSU) my opinion and I told them I thought very highly of him,” Aranda said of Canada. “Any time you come to a new stop, you want to be players first. You want to be able to adapt whatever you are doing to your players and he’s done that wherever he’s been.”

What does that mean for LSU in the short term?

That might be a spring practice question for Canada, who will return to Pitt to run the offense for the Pinstripe Bowl Dec. 28 before rejoining LSU full time. The Tigers have plenty of solid pieces back, starting with Guice at running back — “That’s a really good perk when you start with a guy like that,” Canada said — and continuing with a returning quarterback in Etling and veterans at receiver and the offensive line.

It might also mean that LSU won’t be quite as married to the spread as what head coach Ed Orgeron was selling at his introductory press conference in November, when he said he thought you needed a dual-threat quarterback and and a spread approach.

The guy who Orgeron is trusting with his offense might decide that the pieces call for something else, at least for the short term. After all, Etling is not a prototypical spread quarterback and LSU has pieces that appear to do well in a conventional offense.

Whatever the case, he won’t try to force the Tigers to do something they can’t. His track record says just the opposite will happen.

“I’m proud that we find a way to maximize our talents and have a fullback (Pitt’s George Aston), a walk-on fullback this year have nine … 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 …. 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.”