THIBODAUX — Steve Ensminger spent the spring like LSU's players, learning coordinator Matt Canada's new offensive scheme.
"I can’t tell you I know all of it yet, because I don’t," Ensminger said, "but I enjoy studying it."
Ensminger made an impromptu appearance at Thursday night’s Tiger Tour event here, replacing head coach Ed Orgeron.
Orgeron missed the event while with his wife Kelly, athletic director Joe Alleva told the crowd of more than 400. Alleva said Kelly Orgeron is recovering from surgeries and is "OK." Kelly, Ed's wife of 18 years, told The Advocate earlier this spring that she was scheduled for back surgeries in California in mid-May.
Kelly was born with scoliosis and has a metal rod down her spine, she said in an interview last fall.
“He wanted to be here," Alleva said of Orgeron. "I’ve talked to him numerous times over the past few days. Unfortunately his wife Kelly is having some surgeries. She’s OK, but he needed to be with her right now. He told me he’ll make it up to y’all. He’ll be back here. He sends his best, but he has to be with his wife right now."
Orgeron was scheduled to attend the tour stop at the Thibodaux Wellness Center, a $70 million structure in its first year of operation. This is just the second tour stop of the previous five that the coach has missed. He’s spoken at events in Bossier City, Lafayette, Lake Charles and Covington.
Coordinators Matt Canada and Dave Aranda attended the stop in Baton Rouge last week. One final tour event remains. It’s scheduled for June 6 in Jackson, Miss.
LSU and BYU will battle in primetime.
In his place this time was Ensminger, the Tigers' interim offensive coordinator last year and current tight ends coach who Orgeron called off the road recruiting to be here.
Esnsminger's exact title on staff is debatable. He's no longer only in charge of tight ends.
Under Canada, Ensminger is now coaching the fullbacks and tight ends. The positions have merged to form what Ensminger called the F-back, similar to an H-back position in many spread offenses.
Some players, like sophomore Caleb Roddy, still remain tight ends only, playing what's called the Y position. Others, like Bry'Kiethon Mouton, are exclusively playing the F, the old fullback spot with more movement.
All other players are learning both the Y and F positions, Ensminger said.
"We don’t line up in the I, per se. (The F) is more of a moving tight end, which J.D. (Moore), I think, will be outstanding in. And Foster (Moreau) has done it," he said.
"The (position) room is smiling. You kind of notice which ones want to do it all and you notice which ones are struggling to learn that new position, and you kind of fit the offense to it, but our guys are excited."
Canada installed about "50-60 percent" of his offense during spring practice, Ensminger said, and coaches plan to finish the installation over the summer. He's still learning it himself, in fact.
The toughest part about digesting the scheme is the movement, Ensminger said. Canada's system is known for its pre-snap shifts and motions, specifically the jet sweep portion.
Several aspects of the offense will remain the same.
"As for the running game is concerned and passing game, the routes are the same, zone blocking is the same, gap blocking is the same, but we moved them around a lot more," he said. "Our shifts and motions has a lot to do with the tight ends and the F position, (which includes) our fullbacks and tight ends. There’s a lot more movement, a lot more learning, a lot more shifts and motions, a lot more studying."