If they had been charging admission to the LSU Coaches Caravan stop at the Metairie Walk-On’s restaurant Monday, it would have been new passing game coordinator Joe Brady that folks would have paid to see.
There was coach Ed Orgeron, of course, the gregarious Coach O who fills the room with his special brand of South Louisiana charm. There was the bookish defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, The Professor, who makes you hang on every word but increases your football IQ while doing it.
There was hometown hero Mickey Joseph, LSU’s wide receivers coach, and of course folksy Steve Ensminger, the former Tigers quarterback turned offensive coordinator, the bridge between LSU’s past and future.
Orgeron said he went to Ensminger in the offseason and said, “We’ve got to go to the spread. He said, ‘I agree. Let’s get somebody who knows it and let them put it in.’ ”
Joe Brady waited patiently, recorder in hand, then stepped forward when Steve Ensminger finished answering a reporter's question.
Enter Brady, 29, the bespectacled wunderkind of this year’s LSU coaching staff.
Brady arrived at LSU bearing the run-pass option knowledge he gleaned from Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead when he was offensive coordinator at Penn State and the passing game savant tactics he picked up the past two seasons under New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton.
“Joe put in a lot of plays,” Orgeron said, while stressing that it is still Ensminger’s offense to call.
Can't see video below? Click here.
Ensminger, about as unpretentious a character as you will find, welcomed this May-December melding of offensive thoughts.
“I’ve enjoyed it since he showed up,” Ensminger said.
"I have no ego. I want help.”
For LSU fans who have watched for years and years as their Tigers won but employed horse and buggy thinking on offense while other programs installed warp drive engines, Brady is seen as something of a savior. The Zion Williamson of LSU’s offensive strategy, if you will.
Ed Orgeron leaned back in his chair and smiled.
It is easy to imagine that Orgeron lured Brady away from the Saints with the carrot that if things work out productively for the Tigers that he may be the offensive coordinator in waiting when Ensminger, who turns 61 in September, closes his playbook for the last time.
Brady, drawing on a reservoir of natural political panache, audibled away from such pressure as he hopes Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow does this fall.
“It’s not about me,” Brady said. “I still have the mentality that I’m a graduate assistant, that I’m an offensive assistant. I’m still trying to learn. We’ve got great coaches on our staff, and anything I can pick up from them is only going to make me a better coach.”
Still, there is no mistaking that Brady will play a major role in LSU’s offense. Orgeron said Monday that Brady will be with Ensminger in LSU’s booth in the press box, multiplying the brainpower attacking opposing defenses.
“Steve’s going to call the plays,” Coach O said. “Joe is going to have the next play ready. If Steve wants it, he takes it. If he wants to call his own play, he’ll call his own play. I think that’s going to be a big plus for us.”
It also has the potential to lead to big friction within the LSU offensive meeting room. But if the Tigers play their cards right, this could be the up tempo answer to many of an LSU fan’s frustrated dreams.
“Sometimes (people ask), ‘Is it Steve’s offense? Is it Joe’s offense?’ ” Brady said. “This is our offense. We’re all in this together.”
And just what kind of offense does Brady think fans will see? To build upon one of his pet phrases, one that has LSU in full popcorn mode.
“You’re going to see an up tempo offense that’s going to get our speed in space,” Brady said. “When you can do that, good things are going to happen. When you can get the best players on the field the ball in their hands, we’re sitting back there enjoying and watching.
“I say, ‘Get your popcorn.’ When you’re sitting there enjoying a movie and everything is good, that’s what you’re going to be doing when you see this offense this fall.”
A big key to that will be a bunch of lightly buttered Tiger receivers and backs slipping through the gaps in defenses spread out from sideline to sideline. Defenses accustomed to stacking the box against LSU offenses bent on overpowering instead of outsmarting the other team.
Frankly, after the missionary zeal for the Power-I formation of the Les Miles years and the failed experiment that was the Matt Canada shell game of 2017, belief in true change from LSU’s offense has to be seen to be believed.
Until the games start, the only thing to go on are words. Words like these that Brady used to describe Burrow’s leadership chops:
“I know we don’t huddle, but he’s that type of quarterback where if he got in a huddle and looked everyone in the eyes they’d be ready to go. Every offensive person would run through the wall for him.”
“We don’t huddle,” he said.
This LSU offensive definitely bears watching.