Danny Etling, as you might imagine, is the "clear" leader in LSU's starting quarterback competition, Will Clapp, J.D. Moore and Arden Key are expected to completely miss spring practice, and the Tigers don't plan to designate a coach as a special teams coordinator. 

Those are some of the highlights from coach Ed Orgeron's first address to reporters Tuesday ahead of spring practice.

The Tigers begin drills Saturday. Here's most of everything Orgeron said Tuesday:


Opening statement

I’m excited about the direction of our football team. We have been led by (strength and conditioning coach) Tommy Moffitt and his staff. I believe Tommy is one of the best guys in the country to be leading our staff, leading our team. His staff is very energetic. We’ve worked hard this offseason on competition, and our drills have been predicated on competition, forcing us to get out of a comfortable zone and get into a zone where you have to give it everything that you have. Tommy has done a good job of that with our football team. I believe we’re bigger, stronger, a little bit faster. We’re heading into the last week here of the offseason, and we’re getting ready for spring practice on Saturday.

Our team is excited. Our coaching staff is excited. I’m really excited about Matt Canada, what he’s brought to our football team, what’s he brought to our staff. He’s an energetic guy. He’s an energetic recruiter. He coaches very hard on the field. He’s a hands-on coach. I believe he’s going to do tremendous stuff with our offense.

(I'm) also excited about Tommie Robinson. Tommie is our assistant head coach, recruiting coordinator, running backs coach. I’m excited to see Derrius Guice, his development under Tommie, how he’s going to get better, his fundamentals. I’m excited to see the rest of our running backs develop under Tommie. When we were at USC, we had a young man named (Javorius) "Buck" Allen that was on the scout team. Tommy believed in Buck, put him in and Buck became one of our best players. So I know Tommie is big on development, and I’m looking for Nick Brossette, Darrel Williams and the rest of our guys to flourish under him.

(Wide receivers coach) Mickey Joseph is a high energy guy. He fits in with us. He’s a great man from Louisiana. He loves being an LSU Tiger. Our receivers love being around. He’s a fundamentalist. He’s a player’s coach. He’s an excellent recruiter. He’s going to do a tremendous job for us in New Orleans.

We have three new coaches on offense. It’s exciting to come into the staff (meetings). It’s exciting to listen to those guys talk. It’s exciting to see guys love being at LSU and loyal to the program, and I’m excited about those guys.

Looking at spring (and) some of the key battles: as we all know, on offense, we opened up the competition at the quarterback spot, and Danny has had an excellent offseason. He’s been a leader. He’s been working hard. Justin McMillan looks good, Lindsey Scott. Lowell Narcisse is coming here. He’s rehabbing his knee. He’s looking good. He’s working hard out there. He’s lost a little weight, enjoying being an LSU Tiger. And also we have Myles Brennan, who’s going to arrive in June. So those guys are going to be vying for the starting quarterback (job). It’s going to be fun to see those guys flourish under Matt Canada.

Like I said, at running back, we’ve got one of the best guys in the nation in Derrius Guice, and I know he’s going to improve under Tommie. Wide receivers (are) led by D.J. Chark for his senior year. We need some young players to develop, and I know Mickey Joseph is going to do a great job with that.

I just walked out of a defensive meeting. It’s just good to see the defensive staff together, cohesive. Our second year under Dave Aranda, we’re excited about the things that he wants to do. Again, his notebook is full. He has a tremendous mind for football, and we’re looking forward to this spring.

On defense, we’ve got to replace Duke Riley, who was here today. We’re very proud of all of our guys that went to the NFL combine. We showed our team the performances of our (former players at the NFL combine). We’re proud of them. They’re our family. Once you’re a Tiger, you’re a Tiger for life. Duke came back today and was talking about the differences (of preparing for the NFL). It was really good to hear. Replacing him and Kendell Beckwith is going to be a challenge, but we’re going to get it done. Devin White and Donnie Alexander are going to be playing middle linebacker right now, but we’re also excited about (incoming freshmen) Tyler Taylor, Jacob Phillips and Patrick Queen. Those guys are going to have to come in and contribute.

On the defensive front, we’re excited about Christian LaCouture coming back. I think he brings tremendous leadership to our football team, and we’re so happy that he came back. He looks quicker. He’s healthy. He’s ready to go. We’re going to play him at, what we call, the end position, where (Davon) Godchaux played last year. We expect him to do well. Frank Herron has got to come along. Losing Lewis Neal and Godchaux was a blow to us up front, but we expect those guys to be able to come in and compete hard for (the other defensive end) position.

In the secondary, (we’re) losing Jamal Adams and Tre’Davious White — two first-round picks, ‘DBU' under (defensive backs coach) Corey Raymond, who does a tremendous job of recruiting (defensive backs) and developing. He’s very proud of his tradition that he’s built here and carried on, and I’m proud of Corey Raymond. He’s an excellent coach. He’s an LSU Tiger and he’s doing a tremendous job for us right now. We’re excited about our safeties with Grant Delpit and JaCoby Stevens coming in, Todd Harris. We got some guys coming in at safety that can play. We’re looking forward to these guys in spring ball, especially with Grant and JaCoby being here.

On special teams, we will split up the duties between each assistant coach, and our guys are excited. Tommie Robinson will lead one, (outside linebackers coach) Dennis Johnson will lead a couple of them, Corey Raymond will lead some, Mickey Joseph will lead some, (offensive line coach) Jeff Grimes will lead some. It will be an outstanding, cohesive effort between our staff. I want to say this to you: we have Greg McMahon as our special teams analyst, and Greg can only coach the coaches. He will not coach on the field. He will not coach in the meeting room. But he has done a tremendous job. It’s amazing to see a guy with 11 years of experience as a special teams coordinator — the knowledge and technical expertise that he has brought to our special teams. I expect a tremendous, tremendous improvement in our special teams.

Some important dates: obviously, Saturday, March 11, is the first practice. March 23-24 is a coaching clinic. Anthony Muñoz will be our speaker. Anthony is a friend of mine, a Hall of Famer, one of the best left tackles to ever play football. I know our coaches are going to be excited to hear Anthony Muñoz talk about his development as a man, as a football player. We’re excited about Wednesday, April 5 — LSU pro day. Our team is going to be here to support these guys. We welcome all the NFL coaches here. It’s a big day for LSU. We have more guys on NFL rosters than anybody, and we want to continue that tradition. We’re going to have a tremendous day that day. Our team is going to support our guys going into pro day, and I expect it to be a great day.

April 8-16, we have spring break. April 22 is our spring game. As you guys know, we’re going to be playing (the spring game) at night. We’re excited about what’s going on here. I’m excited about being the head coach at LSU. I’m excited about our staff. Any questions?

Is there an overriding theme to this spring?

We’re going to build on the way we practice, and these guys believe in the way we practice — with high energy, going full speed. We’re using a term now: ‘full measure.’ 'Are you going at a full measure or are you compromising?' That’s a thing we learned at some leadership seminars that we’ve taken. So we’re trying to push it, see how far we can take this thing.

Do you think there’s a guy behind Danny that can seriously push him for time? 

Oh, yeah. Sure. But Danny’s the leader, clearly, right now and will probably end up being the leader. We don’t know that, but I wanted to make it open for Justin, for Lindsay, for Lowell, for Myles. That’s what we told them when we recruited them. We want to give them a chance. Matt’s going to run his offense, but he’s going to be able to adapt to the type of quarterback that we have. He’s proven that throughout the years. And we’re still going to run the football here, with Derrius Guice and our running backs. But we are going to open up the offense — throw it down field, multiple shifts in formations. That’s what he’s known for.

Is there anybody else, aside from offensive linemen Will Clapp, that will miss spring practice?

For right now, that’s all. Will is not practicing this spring.

Are you looking at Clapp at center? 

There’s a possibility he’ll play center.

Who will play center during spring practice?

I’m going to let Jeff (Grimes) handle that. We’ll try several different guys.

With Arden Key missing spring, who are some guys you’re looking at there?

I’m excited about our guys at the outside linebacker position. Andre Anthony has had an excellent offseason. Ray Thornton’s had an excellent offseason. Sci Martin is coming along. We’ve got some guys coming.

Will Isaiah Washington be healthy enough to practice?

I don’t know his status yet. I need to find that out.

You mentioned D.J. (Chark) as the leader at receiver. How’s the pecking order behind him?

Mickey (Joseph) is going to have to work with those guys. We’ve got a new coach there. We’re going to give them all opportunities. There’s no certain pecking order. We’ve got some athletes there, Stephen Sullivan, all of those guys are good athletes. We’ll see.

How important will this spring be for Matt (Canada)?

He’s worked very hard. Here’s the deal: as coaches, we can sit in this office and have great ideas, but we’ve got to go out and execute it on the field. I think he’s going to start slow and feel his offense. Kind of like Dave (Aranda) did last year. Dave has a menu of defenses, and we only ran three last year.

I think it’s (being) able to adjust to the personnel. I think he’s going to get most of the stuff, the basics that he wants in, and see where we go from there.

How much do you feel like this is your chance, where you want to start from?

It’s our team. It’s always going to be our team. It’s about those guys. We feel like we have an excellent staff. We feel like we have an excellent football team. We have some holes to fill. I’m excited about going out to practice with these guys and getting them better at technique and fundamentals and toughness and playing at a full measure. I think that's what spring is about. 

How confident are you that the NCAA will improve a 10th full time assistant coach?

That’s going back and forth. I don’t know. We were hoping it was going to be in April. Now we’re hearing that it’s going to be (pushed) back (to) December. I hope it gets approved soon.

You don’t think it’s likely to be approved in time to help this season?

No, I don’t think so.

You’ll go with this formula for this season with several assistants splitting special teams duties?

The formula we have now is what I plan to go with throughout the season.

How much do you look for your defensive line to improve having Pete Jenkins coaching them for a full year?

They’re going to improve. They improve on a daily basis with that guy. Every time they get better and better and better. We have to. Those guys play very good, especially towards the end of the season. Output in the Citrus Bowl was outstanding, but we’ve got some new guys.

I believe we’ve got to replace five guys out of the front seven, so we need to get back to the fundamentals of technique and test those guys.

What have you learned about Matt Canada’s demeanor and coaching style. Is he more reserved?

There’s no reserve about that guy. He’s full speed. Fits in right with us. He’s a go-getter, very intelligent. He’s loud on the field. He has a commanding presence about himself, very detailed in the meetings. He’s a good guy to work with, happy and fired up. Happy to call recruits, text recruits. He fits in right in with us.

How do you handle spring when it comes to contact?

There will be times where we’re scrimmaging. There’s a lot of teaching going on in spring. The first two days are in helmets (and no pads), a lot of teaching going on. The days that we can scrimmage, we’ll scrimmage some. You got to just watch your team as they go along. I think we're in good shape. I want some toughness. There are times where we’ll get after it, times we’ll pull off.

You talked after the Citrus Bowl about how Lindsey Scott mimicked Lamar Jackson so well. Was that the first time you realized Lindsey Scott had some talent and could be a starter?

Yeah, you’re exactly right. He showed that that week, but, you know, before I became head coach, I used to run the scout team and Lindsey was my quarterback. Year before that, our (scout team) quarterback was Danny Etling. I saw it in Danny. I see the same things in Lindsey. I think Lindsey is tremendous. He’s very smart. He can run the ball. He’s strong, throws the ball well. He’s going to be right up there in the competition. He is a good quarterback. 

How do you divvy the second-team QB snaps?

That’s going to be interesting. Matt (Canada) is going to handle that. I don’t tell (assistants) how to work their reps or nothing like that. So (Canada) handles all that.

Will you designate an assistant to be in charge of special teams calls during games?

We’ll see how it goes in the spring. I’m going to be heavily involved in that. We’ll see.

Kevin Toliver didn’t play as much last year. He’s ready to go?

He’s ready to go. We made a 15 good/bad tape of each player. I watched it myself with the coaches. I wanted to learn about the whole team. I really learned a lot about all of our players. I learned what they do well, what they need to improve on, and that meeting with their (position) coach was tremendous. Same thing we did in the NFL.

Reason I’m telling you that is I learned a lot about Kevin Toliver. Kevin Toliver can be an excellent football player. He just needs to remain more consistent.

You lost a lot of leadership. We saw it at the combine. Is that with the spring is about too?

Yes, it is. We’ve had two leadership seminars already. We have them every Monday. They’ve involved some pretty good stuff that our guys are learning. Guys are taking notes. Guys like Christian LaCouture, Derrius Guice, Danny Etling, D.J. Chark … those guys are there for us. We'll see how the leadership unfolds. But I do believe as coaches, we provide leadership until the leadership shows up for the team.

Is guard the biggest question mark on the offensive line?

We lost some good guys there, we did. Some guys are going to have to step up. Donovaugh Campbell, young guys like that, going to have to step up. (Garrett) Brumfield is going to have his chance. Those guys are going to have to come after it.

How do you handle mid-year enrollees Grant Delpit and Jacoby Stevens? A lot are expected from them.

I smile every time I see them out there, I promise you that. Those are two tremendous safeties. Again, I’m going to let Corey (Raymond) handle that. He handles his position. All of those guys are going to get a tremendous amount of reps. They’re going to get a great look. We’ve already seen them in agility drills, seen them move and cut. Both of them look fantastic. Let's see what happens when the pass comes in. 

Will spring practices be similar to how you practiced in the fall – short and quick?

Well, you have a day of rest in between, so they’re going to be slightly longer. But the same tempo. Everything is faster. It won’t be much longer. Might be a couple more plays in a period that we didn’t do last year. It’s not the season yet, so we can go a little longer. But it will be the same tempo, same expectations.

Will fullback J.D. Moore is out for spring with his wrist injury?

Yeah, I think he may be out. I think he may be out.

Do you anticipate Dave Aranda getting into his binder more?

Here’s what happens. We lost some good (pass) rushers. We had a guy like Lewis Neal, who could play the 3-4, play a 4-technique and go out to the edge and rush. That’s valuable. Godchaux was a pretty good football player inside. We’ve got to replace those guys. It all depends on the rush. If we can generate a four-man rush, we’ll rush with four. If we can’t generate a four-man rush, Dave will have to blitz more.

Having the spring game at night, was that your idea?

I think it was an idea to get a big crowd. I think it had a lot to do with TV times. We play at night. It will be exciting for our guys, exciting for the fans. I think we'll get more (fans) there and make it like a real game.

All of these guys that were stars who are gone now … Guice is kind of the star of the team. He’s one of them. Is he ready for that responsibility?

Here’s how we handle it here: One team; one heartbeat. No super star. There’s no MVPs here. Everybody has their role, and everybody’s role is just as important as the other.

Now, obviously, he is one of our better players, along with Arden Key. But Derrius Guice has handled everything thrown at him so far. He’s doing excellent in the classroom. He's been a leader for us. I think when you’ve got a guy like Tommie Robinson, who has coached some big-time player, he will get tremendous mentorship from Tommie Robinson.

Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.