Less than two minutes into Ed Orgeron’s opening statement introducing new offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger, the coach declared the top priority for the new play caller: developing a championship-caliber quarterback.
In recent years, there’s been little secret LSU has failed to develop — or even keep — a quality passer over the course of four seasons.
But Orgeron said Ensminger is the man to fix the issue that’s plagued the Tigers for the last decade.
The hiring of Steve Ensminger this week was the first of four new staff moves coming to LSU.
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“At LSU we must and we will develop championship quarterbacks to be a championship caliber team,” Orgeron said. “We have three outstanding quarterbacks coming back. All of them have different skill sets. Steve is equipped, and also his offensive staff is equipped, to run the offense to utilize their skill sets.”
Ensminger has Myles Brennan, Lowell Narcisse and Justin McMillan to work with this upcoming season. Former Tennessee Tech starter Andre Sale also transferred into the program as a walk-on earlier this week.
Ensminger did not rule out the possibility of playing a two-quarterback system, similar to the one he was part of under former LSU coach Charles McClendon in the late 1970s.
Narcisse and McMillan are considered the more mobile options, while Brennan is a pro-style passer.
Orgeron called Brennan one of the best pure passers to come through LSU in a while. Brennan was the backup all year behind starter Danny Etling. He threw for 182 yards and a touchdown on 14-of-24 passing in six appearances, mostly in mop-up duty.
Narcisse received a redshirt.
Steve Ensminger paused for a moment at the podium. The former LSU quarterback was choked up.
John Thompson was there for Steve Ensminger’s rise.
“We have a great group of quarterbacks,” Ensminger said. “We have three outstanding quarterbacks, and as offensive coordinator, it’s my job to develop them, it’s my job to take what’s best for each one of them. It’s my job, if they are in the ballgame, to prepare them to win the ballgame and I do what’s best for them and put them in that position there.”
Ensminger has been LSU’s tight ends coach since 2010, except when he was named interim offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2016 after former coordinator Cam Cameron was fired.
He was also the quarterbacks coach at Auburn (2003), Clemson (1997-98), Texas A&M (1994-96), Georgia (1991-93), Louisiana Tech (1988-90) and McNeese State (1984-86).
While the interim offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for LSU, the Tigers averaged 32 points and 465 total yards in the final eight games of the season.
LSU threw for 1,690 yards and eight touchdowns during the same span.
“Working with and developing quarterbacks, I look forward to it,” Ensminger said. “It’s kind of like riding a bike. You don’t forget how to be a quarterback. You don’t forget the three-step drop. You don’t forget how to throw a damn out route or a curl route or anything else. That’s just part of being a quarterback.”
It’s a busy week and a busy weekend for LSU – and it has nothing to do with the coaching staff shuffling.
Ensminger will not have history on his side when he tries to develop a new quarterback.
Since 2005, LSU has had four quarterbacks finish at the school while remaining at the position. In the same time, 13 quarterbacks who signed with the Tigers — either out of high school or as a transfer — have transferred, been dismissed or changed positions.
Jordan Jefferson in 2011 was the last quarterback to complete all four years of eligibility at LSU.
All three quarterbacks currently on the roster have the opportunity to be the first since Jefferson.
“I’ve talked to every one of them,” Orgeron said, referring to the Tigers’ current roster of quarterbacks. “They’re all good. When this plan was coming through, I told them my plan. I had meetings with every one of them, had meetings with most of their families. Got a meeting this afternoon with their families. They’re all in. They want the opportunities to do what they do best. They’re excited.”