Ensminger to be judged as LSU offensive coordinator on results, not pedigree
For the LSU football fan, the New Year is off to a rocky start.
The Tigers frittered away several chances to beat Notre Dame in the 2018 Citrus Bowl.
Then, SEC West rival Alabama won its fifth national title in nine years under former LSU head coach Nick Saban. For lagniappe the winning touchdown pass was caught by a wide receiver who played his high school football just an one hour’s drive from Tiger Stadium.
Now the naysayers are singing like canaries over the promotion of Steve Ensminger at LSU to offensive coordinator.
Bad hire, they say. The LSU offense, they say, will continue to sputter like it has for most of the 10 seasons that have passed since the Tigers won their last national championship.
Ensminger doesn’t seem a bit concerned about public perception though.
“I had a guy call me and say ‘you read the paper?’ I said hell no, I haven’t read the paper in 20 years.”
There’s only one way for LSU to change public perception that the Ensminger hire was a step back. Win big games.
If LSU scores 38 points and whips Miami in the 2018 opener, Ensminger will suddenly look smart. It’s that simple.
After 55 years of watching LSU football, I can recall a litany of offensive coaches perceived as inferior.
Charlie Pevey was the whipping boy for Charlie McClendon haters, especially when the Tigers couldn’t beat Alabama.
In 1983, quarterbacks coach Morris Watts was identified as the problem in Jerry Stovall’s last season. The bumper sticker in Baton Rouge asked the pertinent question of the day:
“Watts wrong with LSU?”
In 2001, Jimbo Fisher looked bright. One year later, LSU couldn’t find a capable signal caller and slumped. In 2005, LSU played three quarterbacks in the Capital One Bowl, a loss to Iowa.
In 2007, Gary Crowton was imaginative. Two years later, with no Matt Flynn under center, Crowton’s offense was apparently too complicated.
In February of 2014, a reporter stood in the gym at John Curtis Christian school and listened as five star wide receiver Malachi Dupre said a big reason for his choosing LSU was to work with offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
After Odell Beckham Jr, Jarvis Landry, and Jeremy Hill, bolted for the NFL, Cameron was perceived in an entirely different fashion.
My take on Ensminger is the following.
In 2016, the offense got much, much better when he was handed the job by interim head coach Ed Orgeron.
We discovered that Russell Gage was indeed a talented receiver and that Danny Etling was a capable quarterback. Five times in eight games under Ensminger the Tigers scored 38 points or more.
When Orgeron’s interim tag was removed, he was mandated to hire an offensive mind from outside the building. But he wanted to give Ensminger the job at the time.
Now in charge of the offense, Ensminger has an arduous task, but not an impossible one.
Through recruiting and transfer, LSU’s wide receiver corps and offensive line are being re-stocked with plenty of capable options. Ensminger also has two talented young quarterbacks to mentor.
If Myles Brennan and/or Lowell Narcisse are top performers at quarterback, LSU can move forward in the SEC.
Remember, at halftime of the CFP title game, Alabama’s offensive coordinator Brian Daboll didn’t appear to be so smart. The Tide offensive was stalled to the tune of zero points.
Saban then turned to a lefty quarterback with the first name of Tua, a gunslinger who was incredibly cool for a true freshman. The relief arm delivered. Daboll’s play-calling suddenly worked just fine.
Great quarterbacks make great offensive coordinators.
If Ensminger can develop just one of those passer at LSU, the naysayers will no longer be singing like canaries.
They may be quiet as church mice while fat and happy eating the cheese.
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Ed is a New Orleans native, born at Baptist Hospital. He graduated Rummel High School, class of 1975, and subsequently graduated from Loyola University. Ed started in TV in 1977 as first sports intern at WVUE Channel 8. He became Sports Director at KPLC TV Channel 7 in Lake Charles in 1980. In 1982 he was hired as sports reporter…