Like everyone else on the practice field Saturday — recruits, players, reporters, etc. — Ed Orgeron got his first look at Matt Canada’s on-field coaching personality.
Turns out, it’s just like his.
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“He coaches offense like we coach defense,” Orgeron said, “and I love it.”
LSU opened spring practice Saturday afternoon with its new offensive coordinator catching the spotlight with his fiery screams, animated actions and fast-paced style.
Reporters were given a 30-minute window to watch drills, a portion of which included an up-tempo passing drill that Orgeron raved about in a post-practice news conference. Canada led quarterbacks, receivers and tight ends through the drill, running with them up and down the field as QBs slung a variety of passes to receivers in multiple directions.
Ed Orgeron wasn't lying — new offensive coordinator Matt Canada fits right in with the head …
He barked at them, yelling loudly at times, and even lost his whistle on one occasion while sprinting from field to field.
“Danny,” Canada yelled at one point after an under-thrown pass, “throw the ball, brother!”
“"Higher!" he screamed at the other QBs later on.
“This is a fast drill!” he barked while players lagged in effort at one point.
Hired away from Pitt in December, Canada didn’t arrive in Baton Rouge until the first week of January. He’s spent the last two months mostly recruiting and implementing his offense during staff meetings.
Everyone got to see him on the field Saturday morning under cloudy skies.
“I’ve seen him recruit like that,” Orgeron said. “He beat my expectations.”
Canada has already made noticeable changes to LSU’s offensive practice habits, aside from that new, fast-paced drill. LSU fullbacks are now practicing with the tight ends, as the positions are morphing into one, an H-back role that blends both.
The fullbacks are taking a break from working in the I-formation and are at least temporarily learning the H-back position under tight ends coach Steve Ensminger.
“Those fullbacks are going to be like moving tight ends. H-back,” Orgeron said. “(We’ll have) tight end stationary positions and an H-back. Some of those guys will be split out. Some will eventually get back to the I, but I think they had enough practice there in the I that we don’t’ have to practice it.”
Special teams roles
Orgeron announced earlier this week that he’ll split up special teams duties among five assistant coaches.
He revealed each of their assignments Saturday: Running backs coach Tommie Robinson (punt team), secondary coach Corey Raymond (punt return), offensive line coach Jeff Grimes (FG team), outside linebackers coach Dennis Johnson (FG block and kickoff teams) and receivers coach Mickey Joseph (kickoff return).
Orgeron opted not to hire or name anyone as special teams coordinator. Longtime Saints special teams coordinator and LSU consultant Greg McMahon is serving in that role behind the scenes. Consultants are not allowed to coach on the field, according to NCAA rules.
“Greg McMahon runs the coaches’ meeting, tells us what to do. It’s his system,” Orgeron said.
LSU practiced with just eight scholarship offensive linemen on Saturday, as injuries have plagued the unit even before drills get into full swing.
Right tackle Toby Weathersby is expected to miss all of spring practice, Orgeron said. Weathersby underwent an offseason procedure. He was replaced in the lineup with redshirt Jakori Savage.
Will Clapp will indeed move to center this fall, Orgeron confirmed Saturday, but he will miss spring practice while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, expected news. U-High product Garrett Brumfield practiced at left guard, Clapp’s old spot, with Maea Teuheme at right guard.
Sophomore lineman Donavaughn Campbell wore a gold jersey, signifying limited contact for a player with an injury. Campbell is expected to return at some point this spring, Orgeron said. He underwent shoulder surgery in December.
Muñoz to speak at coaching clinic
Anthony Muñoz, a 1988 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, will be the keynote speaker at LSU's annual coaching clinic, which will be held March 23-25 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Muñoz, an 11-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle, has a connection to Orgeron, both having spent time at Southern California. Muñoz played both football and baseball for the Trojans and was member of USC's 1978 baseball national championship.
LSU coordinators Matt Canada and Dave Aranda will also speak at the clinic, along with former LSU and NFL center Kevin Mawae and former Saints running back Deuce McAllister.
Coaches can register for the clinic, which cost $65 and includes meals, online at LSUsports.net/coachesclinic.
Several players switched numbers. Receiver D.J. Chark, No. 82 last year, is No. 7. Linebacker Devin White, No. 24 in 2016, is No. 40. Edge rusher Andre Anthony is wearing 46 now, and receiver Russell Gage went from No. 39 to No. 83. … Defensive end Isaiah Washington returned to practice for the first time since he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee during preseason camp in August. Orgeron said he’s “not full speed yet, but he’s getting back now.” … Coaches have switched Devin Voorhies, from inside to outside linebacker, and Michael Divinity, from outside to inside linebacker.