Mickey Joseph arrived in Baton Rouge less than two months ago.
For now, the LSU receivers coach is working out of a hotel, and he’s running, “just running,” he says. He jumped in just after signing day, began learning Matt Canada’s offense and is now teaching it to players who have had more time around the system than him.
“Big time offense,” said Joseph, a 20-plus year coaching veteran from New Orleans. “Big time offense.”
Joseph spoke to The Advocate during the LSU coaches clinic last week, touching on several subjects. He discussed veteran receiver D.J. Chark’s heavy role in Canada’s scheme and young receivers like Drake Davis who are shining. He discussed how much of the offense rests on the receivers’ shoulders, as far as defensive reads and shifts.
Wideouts are adjusting to the amount of pre-snap motions and shifts, he said, an exhausting change from LSU’s old offense, and he touched on midyear enrollee Mannie Netherly’s progression.
You got here about six weeks ago. What’s this transition been like for you?
It’s been just feet on the ground running, just running. Really trying to transition (from) up north (in Louisiana) to down in Baton Rouge. Trying to get the family straight, trying to learn a new system, trying to get to know your kids. It’s been a fast transition. It’s been real, real cloudy. I’ve just been working.
It feels like you haven’t taken a breath?
I haven’t. I haven’t. That’s what I’m saying. I haven’t taken a breath since I arrived. I know it’ll probably slow down some time this summer. I was prepared for that. We’ve just got to keep going. Kids are doing a wonderful job, doing a great job.
Let’s talk about a few of them. D.J. Chark first.
D.J. has been great. He’s been a true leader, working. We’ve got him doing a lot of things right now at the receiver position. Whatever I ask him to do, he’s been doing. He’s been a great leader. He understands this is him and Russell (Gage). They’re seniors. It’s their receiving corps.
D.J. has mentioned how much of the offense falls on receiver decision making and running. How much is on the shoulders of the receivers?
The thing about it, we preach it. It’s our offense. It’s not Matt Canada’s offense. Matt is telling the same things – it’s our offense. He wants them to own it. Yeah, it’s going to be … you try to get the ball to your best players. He’s one of our best players. He’s going to be heavily involved.
You’ve been around a lot of offenses. How does this one compare to others as far as what’s expected from the receivers?
It’s new. It’s a little bit more running. It’s more running, more spread, more reading the coverages and seeing what the coverages are doing. It’s more. I take my hat off to them. They’re giving you everything they’ve got. And Coach O has been great with them, understanding that it’s a learning curve for them.
On offense, we can’t be more proud of these kids. Not one kid that hadn’t brought in.
The injuries the LSU football team has endured through seven spring practices are not limite…
There seems to be an excitement among the players about the new offense. You sense that?
Yeah, D.J. could easily be one that’s sour – going into his senior year and the offense is changing. They understand it’s changing for the better, and that he’ll be involved because he’s one of our best players. We always ask them to give their best. If you give your best and your best is good enough, then you’re going to get the ball.
There’s D.J. and Russell and then a big drop off in age, right?
No doubt. You’ve got Drake (Davis). Drake is coming along well. (Stephen) Sullivan is coming along well. Derrick (Dillon) is coming along well. They’re trying. We’re trying to get Dee Anderson to come along. He’s trying to come along also.
Thing about it, as a group, I’m proud of them. This is something new for them. It is more running for them. Like I told them, just coming in from a spread set, I understand that. We did it at (Louisiana) Tech, did it at Grambling. It’s a lot of running, a lot of running on them.
I talked to Coach (Tommy) Moffitt today. He said, ‘When it’s time to eat, they’ve got to eat. When it’s time to sleep, they’ve got to sleep.’ That’s what I’m telling them. That’s what I think they’re going to start doing. They’ve got to be in the whirlpool, but they’ve got to snap back. We’ve got to run and run full speed.
How do you get them to get to that level where they’re not exhausted because of the amount of running?
The way you think is the way you feel. If you don’t think you’re tired, you won’t feel tired, and that’s what I tell them. They understand that. I tell them, breathe through your mouth and not your nose. This is the offense. This is what we’re going to do. They’ll be fine.
How do all of those young guys differ from one another and what stands out about each?
Drake’s really explosive and very athletic, and he’s really, really fast. Sullivan is a big explosive big body, more of a possession receiver. Derrick (Dillon) is a little shifty, quick-twitch shifty guy. They’re doing fine, even the young kid Mannie. He can run. He’s supposed to be getting ready to go to his prom right now, but he’s working his tail off trying to learn the offense. We’re trying to bring him along slow, so he doesn’t lose any confidence, but he’s a very confident kid.
He’s doing well in school and he’s adjusting. We have to understand that he’s a kid that’s supposed to be in high school right now. Other than that, they all bring something different to the table.
As Matt Canada explains it, his offense — the one so hyped up and ballyhooed since his Decem…
Mannie is fast huh?
He can run. He can run. Sometimes when he gets confused, he slows down a little bit, but he can run. He’s going to be fine. I’m really, like I said, happy with where he’s at.
Does the terminology change at receiver? Under Cam Cameron, you had the X, Y, Z, etc.
Same thing. At the end of the day, it’s football. Everybody does something different. We spread it out, spread it out. That’s what we’re going to do.
Certain guys at certain positions?
You’re outside or you’re inside.
Specific guys who only play inside and only play outside?
Yeah, like the quick twitch kids. You try to keep them inside. But they’ve got to know outside and inside. To play in this offense, everybody’s got to know every position. That’s how we teach it. You coach one, coach them all.
How does this offense compare to others you’ve seen?
Big time offense. Big time offense. Matt is one of the brightest guys I’ve been around. He’s a true players coach. A lot of enthusiasm. He’s a great teacher. I know people are going to enjoy him. I know just in the short time being around him, I’ve learned a lot of things. He has a wealth of knowledge.