When asked about how frequently LSU rotated Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams at running back against Missouri, interim coach Ed Orgeron wanted to make something clear: it wasn’t his call.
Nor was it new offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger’s decision.
“Again, here's a part of the new system,” Orgeron said Monday. “Jabbar Juluke is the manager of the running backs, and he's going to handle them in the way that he feels that we could have the most success, and he did well.”
And it wasn’t just the running backs. Wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig inserted Russell Gage and Jazz Ferguson more frequently than normal.
“I kind of just gave it to our coaches,” Ensminger said on the LSU Sixty radio show. “I said, ‘You know what, Darrel can be productive for us. Those young wide receivers can be productive for us.’ I said ‘Keep them fresh, get them in the game.’ I had nothing to do with the substitution. I put it on our coaches. I said, ‘You know what you’re doing, and put the best ones in the game,’ and they did.”
Update, Thursday afternoon: LSU vs. Florida has been postponed.
In this new era of LSU football, the position coaches have autonomy over their units.
Orgeron wouldn’t discuss how much input assistant coaches had under Les Miles. But since becoming head coach, Orgeron has often gone out of his way to explain how he’s altered the system.
He’s delegating responsibilities and considering all ideas from assistants. It’s a change from how Orgeron operated while the head coach at Ole Miss. With the Rebels, Orgeron tried to micromanage his coaches and handle position groups he admitted he “didn’t know nothing about.”
Allowing position coaches to utilize their personnel has a positive effect on the players, too, he said.
“More guys play, more guys are happier,” Orgeron said. “They'll come to work happier today. It just strengthens the team.”
Part of LSU’s game plan was getting speed on the field, Ensminger said, and using different personnel proved to be beneficial last Saturday. The Tigers (3-2, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) recorded a 634 yards against Mizzou, a school record in an SEC game.
Even with new spread wrinkles, offensive efficiency improved, which is something Orgeron said LSU practiced in the latter half of the game week. Guice noticed the difference with Ensminger running the offense even before kickoff against Mizzou.
"With him, I guess it was better communication all week,” Guice said. “We got the plays in faster. The quarterbacks signaled the plays in quicker, and everything was just more efficient."
Orgeron acknowledged the efficiency may have been related to the simplicity of the changes to the offense. But that doesn’t mean the offense won’t continue to expand as the season goes on, he said, including this weekend against Florida.
“We're not going to show them the same thing and run the same play this week and give them what they expect,” Orgeron said. “Steve is going to make some changes this week. We'll see what we can do. But also, we're very effective in doing the things that we did, so we don't want to completely get rid of it.”
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