ATLANTA (WAFB) - LSU football head coach Ed Orgeron has known offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger since 1979 when he worked as a graduate assistant coach for Ensminger at McNeese State University.
“He and I have been friends. I trust Steve. I really trust him as a person. I trust him as a coach,” Orgeron told reporters at a media briefing ahead of the Dec. 28 Peach Bowl.
After LSU failed to score points against Alabama in 2018, which Coach O called “a low point,” he told Essminger that the Tigers needed to move to a spread offense.
Ensminger agreed and told Orgeron he would open to another coach coming in and teaching the new offense.
“When Steve tells you ‘yes’ it means ‘yes,’” Orgeron said.
“I think the Saints had just lost a game they shouldn’t have lost. He said ‘what did you think of Joe Brady.’ I said get him here tomorrow. And he brought a lot to our offense. And to be honest, I’m appreciative of him. He deserves everything he’s gotten, I can promise you that,” Ensminger said.
Orgeron said Brady and Ensminger meshed perfectly.
“There are no egos with both of those guys. It’s not ‘us, us, us,’ it’s ‘we, we, we.’ Steve has been the MVP of the whole deal,” Orgeron said.
“The biggest thing that they do that I appreciate is, they ask for my input in the offense. They not only ask for it but they implement,” Joe Burrow told reporters.
“And Coach E and Coach B will come to me on Monday, ask for ideas and they’ll be in the game plan on Tuesday, and then Thursday and Friday, I’ll get a play sheet and cross out the ones I don’t like and they won’t call it. And so it’s been a great meshing together,” Burrow said.
Burrow isn’t the only one happy with the changes to the offense. LSU wide receivers Justin Jefferson and Ja’marr Chase also appreciate the work of Brady and Ensminger.
“He (Joe Burrow) has had a long journey. And he is very blessed to be in the situation and so is the rest of us,” Jefferson told reporters.
“You know he (Joe Burrow) is a hard worker. He comes in every day ready to work. With a quarterback like that, he’s great. He makes sure his receivers are good, his running backs, his (offensive) line. He takes care of everyone around him,” Chase said.
“Back in the stone ages, we didn’t do this kind of stuff. But it is fun. It’s fun for a number of reasons. It’s fun because of the number of guys sitting next to me that can make those plays. There’s no doubt. It’s fun as an offensive coordinator, you go years, I think it’s my 38th year of coaching, to coach a QB like Joe and to have receivers to throw the ball to and to have running backs that we have. It’s a special year,” Ensminger said.
Oklahoma’s defense is not taking the task of facing LSU’s high-powered offense lightly.
“Well, it’s an elite group. Obviously tremendous skill. I think certainly the best offensive line, I think they’re named the best offensive line in the country, their quarterback is the Heisman, the receiver is the Biletnikoff Award winner. Obviously (we) couldn’t have any more respect for an opponent that way. You know, how they attack, their coaching does a tremendous job. So, it will certainly be a challenge for us.
You see spread offenses and those things weekly in our conference (BIG XII) but what you don’t want to be naïve and say ‘well ok because we’ve seen x,y, and z that execution on our part all of sudden gets easy.’ And so no, we couldn’t respect an opponent more and they have done a tremendous job and it’s going to be a major challenge,” Alex Grinch, Oklahoma’s defensive coordinator, told reporters ahead of the Sooners’ Peach Bowl matchup with LSU.
“Coach Grinch’s expectations and standards for us so high. You know, we really appreciate that because he’s always trying to find ways to get the most out of us. And you know, just kind of putting us in uncomfortable and stressful situations. But you know, that helps us to build as a football player and build our character,” Oklahoma Defensive Tackle Neville Gallimore told reporters.
“Coach Grinch and the rest of the defensive coaching staff they’ve done a great job of just getting across to us. I think for them, you know it’s really on a daily basis, it’s something that maybe at other programs they don’t hear a message every day. But every day we hear a message from our coaches. So that pretty much sets the tone for the day. And as players I think we’ve done a pretty good job of being able to take that and run with it,” Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray said.
The LSU offense isn’t taking Oklahoma’s defense lightly either.
“We’ve played some great defenses but this might be the fastest defense we’ve faced. They can run. Their defensive line can run, their linebackers can run, their secondary can run. They present problems with their speed,” Ensminger said.
A sentiment that Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts agrees with. Hurts knows good defense, he was won the College Football Championship with Alabama in 2018.
“I think our defense is playing really well. Coach Grinch has done a great job. Just going against them in practice every day it gets very competitive. Just executing the scheme and being disciplined in what they do. It’s been fun to watch,” Jalen Hurts said.
“All of those guys, they play hard. A lot of speed, not really the biggest guys we’ve seen throughout the season in the SEC but they play fast and they play hard,” LSU Center Lloyd Cushenberry III said.
Kickoff for the CFP Semifinal at Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta featuring LSU against Oklahoma is set for Saturday, Dec. 28 at 3 p.m. (Central).
The game will be shown on ESPN.
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