Here's what we can expect from Joe Brady and LSU's new offense
It was Matt Canada’s debut as LSU’s offensive coordinator 2 years ago.
The Tigers lined up for their first offensive play in their first game against BYU.
Canada was a highly regarded offensive mind brought in to jazz up LSU’s relatively mundane offensive scheme.
Before that first snap, 2 tight ends went in motion from the right side of the formation to the left before settling into a 3-point stance.
An audible “oooooooh” rose up from the Superdome crowd.
It was as if Canada had revolutionized offensive football, or at least dragged LSU into the 21st Century.
That’s how low the bar had been set for creativity and perception of LSU’s offense.
Ultimately Canada wasn’t a great fit with head coach Ed Orgeron and Orgeron made another change after that season. He promoted tight ends coach Steve Ensminger back to the coordinator position he held on an interim basis after Orgeron was promoted to interim head coach 4 games into the 2016 season.
And now, Ensminger has first-year passing game coordinator Joe Brady at his side. The 29-year-old disciple of New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. – as well as Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead when Moorhead was coordinator at Penn State – will help Ensminger take another crack at uplifting the offense.
Brady said the chance “to put a stamp on the offense” made the LSU offer “an elite opportunity.”
But as the Tigers begin preseason camp, what can fans expect from the new offense?
“You’re going to see an up-tempo offense that’s going to get our speed in space,” Brady said.
Orgeron said in the spring that he “finally” has the offense he has wanted all along.
Brady’s plan is to spread the ball among every eligible receiver on the field – “everyone’s going to eat.”
He plans to do so while emulating the Saints’ ability to use any formation with any personnel group, meaning running backs and tight ends will be split wide. He’ll also incorporate more RPOs than LSU has used, though Ensminger did allow Joe Burrow to do some of that late last season.
Brady plans to maximize 1-on-1 opportunities for skill players, whom he thinks will win a lot more of those than they lose. Included in that are the wide receivers, which is Brady’s position group.
On a basic level, Brady’s task is to make LSU more difficult to defend, especially in the throw-and-catch stuff.
But just because in his last job Brady was working with an offense in which Drew Brees became the NFL’s career passing leader, don’t expect LSU to necessarily start breaking passing records.
In fact, in terms of yardage, the Tigers’ productivity might not be drastically different from last season. After all, they actually ranked higher in the SEC in passing yards (7th) than they did in rushing yards (8th).
But where you might see a difference and where Brady can have the greatest impact is in completion percentage (11th), passing touchdowns (T-11th) and – even though it’s not directly in his purview – yards per rush (12th).
Playing at a faster pace, restricting defensive substitutions and producing more favorable matchups should all make it easier for Burrow to raise his completion percentage from last season’s 57.9.
If Burrow completes passes at a higher rate, it should force defenses to commit more resources to defending the pass, thereby making it easier to run the ball for a better average.
And if all of that stuff happens, LSU is bound to have more than the meager 17 touchdown passes it had last season. The Tigers haven’t topped 20 in a season since throwing 23 in 2013.
So ultimately, if Brady is successful, the oohs and aahs won’t be coming from how many guys go in motion or even from the statistics as much as from the won-lost record.