To listen to Ed Orgeron, it’s not difficult to envision a vault deep in the recesses of the LSU football operations building where rare practice tapes belonging to defensive line guru Pete Jenkins are securely stored.
College and pro coaches from far and wide would love to get their hands on the tapes the 76-year-old Jenkins has been putting together during a coaching career that has spanned nearly half a century, Orgeron said recently.
But it wouldn’t be easy.
“I'll tell you a story about Pete,” Orgeron said of one of his longtime mentors. “When we were young, everybody tried to get a copy of his drill tape. He wouldn’t let (it) loose. If anybody got a copy of the drill tape, we’d all pirate it, copy it and not tell him.
“He’s got so many tapes now, it’s unbelievable.”
It’s one of the things that helps Jenkins relate all these years later to players young enough to be his grandchildren.
In fact, he’s more than four times older than the freshmen he tirelessly works with each day in the meeting room and on the practice field — but especially in the meeting room.
It’s there that Jenkins plants the seeds for that day’s practice for a position that is LSU's strength this season. He produces and shows a tape that includes 15 plays that will be highlighted on the field.
“I build a film every day for them, which shows what we’re going to be working on in practice,” said Jenkins, who is in his third stint with the LSU football program. “It’s not just game tape, we integrate some other stuff into it so it’s a visual aid for them. Seeing it is important.
“I really believe in it,” he said. “I started building a (tape) library in 1980 here at LSU. Anything you can think of is in there, and it’s all catalogued. It’s been a great thing all these years because it paints a picture for the players.”
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Contrary to popular belief, the tapes aren’t all grainy black-and-white film that Jenkins pulls out of a silver canister and puts up on a rickety projector.
The tapes have been digitized by LSU video director Doug Aucoin so the players can easily see what Jenkins is trying to get across to them with the help of the latest technology.
Jenkins said his oldest tapes are from 1978. Many include his star LSU pupils from the 1980s and 1990s: Leonard Marshall, Henry Thomas, Ramsey Dardar, Karl Dunbar, Marc Boutte, Karl Wilson, and, more recently, Davon Godchaux.
Godchaux was a fifth-round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins this spring and is vying for a starting job as a rookie.
“There were some things last year, two or three plays against Alabama and some plays against Louisville, that he did correctly,” Jenkins said. “We show these guys that tape because we’re trying to teach them to do it that way.”
Jenkins’ current group includes sophomore defensive end Rashard Lawrence, a five-star prospect a year ago who’s working to win the starting job at right end in defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s new 3-4 alignment.
Orgeron noted last week that the 6-foot-3, 300-pound Lawrence has been the Tigers’ most consistent defensive player since the start of fall practice.
“When he left practice today, it was, ‘Go see your daddy! Go see Uncle Petey,’ ” Orgeron said with a laugh. “Pete is a master of technique, and Rashard is a very smart guy, 4.0 GPA. He studies and learns the technique.”
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Lawrence said his goal going into camp was to be more consistent overall, working against the run and pass with the help of Jenkins’ teaching as well as studying Godchaux on tape.
“Rashard is a student of the game. … He’s a smart kid, and it makes a lot of sense to him,” Jenkins said. “He sits on the edge of his chair in meetings, so he’s really interested in learning. There’s a lot of want-to there.”
“I feel my game’s gotten better since last year, against the run and pass, with the help of coach Pete and coach O every day in the film room,” Lawrence said. “It’s about being consistent and being able to do things the right way over and over, not just doing some plays right and then taking plays off.”
He knows they’re lessons well-learned.
“(Jenkins) does a great job getting his point across. We have all the film we need from the 1970s to now,” he said. “He’s coached some of the best players in the country over the years and continues to, so being able to watch them has been very helpful.”
Which is why Orgeron called on his old friend when he succeeded Les Miles four games into last season.
“He has a teaching process second to none, and he sticks to that process,” Orgeron said. “Pete is 76 years old, but if they’re not doing it right he’ll let them know … and there’s no sugarcoating it. They just don’t want to let him down.”
Ross Dellenger contributed to this report.
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