Orgeron emphasized player interaction during offseason in hiring assistants

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Daronte Jones
First-year LSU defensive coordinator Daronte Jones

LSU had to replace twice as many assistant coaches as starters this offseason, and Ed Orgeron took a different approach to rebuilding his coaching staff.

“When I was interviewing,” Orgeron said Monday at SEC Kickoff at Hoover, Alabama, “I was pretending I was one of our players. I wanted to see how they would communicate to them.

“I did my research. I wanted to know how they interacted with the players. Everybody can be one way with an interview; I wanted to know how they’re going to be every day.”

Offensive coordinator Jake Peetz and defensive coordinator Daronte Jones are both first-time coordinators.

“One thing I’m very impressed with is their ability to lead,” Orgeron said. “I think they’re tremendous leaders.”

Peetz worked for Joe Brady last year with the Carolina Panthers, while Jones spent one season under Dave Aranda at Wisconsin before moving to the NFL.

“Relying on former coordinators I trust was very important,” Orgeron said. “That was about 80 percent of it.”

Other first-year assistants on the Tigers staff are passing game coordinator DJ Mangas, offensive line coach Brad Davis, linebackers coach Blake Baker and defensive line coach Andre Carter. Only four of 10 on-field assistants from 2020 are back.

While the majority of people leading positional meetings will be new, the people sitting in the front row will be familiar faces.

“(Tackle) Austin Deculus was instrumental in getting our whole offensive line to come back,” Orgeron said.

Jones is transitioning the Tigers defense to a 4-3 look this season, but it’s more than scheme that needs to change this fall.

“We have to eliminate explosive plays,” Orgeron said. “We had too many explosive plays, too many missed assignments. We’re going to simplify stuff. We’re going to let our guys play … and make plays.”

Orgeron said Myles Brennan and Max Johnson go into preseason camp in a battle for the starting quarterback job.

“I think it’s healthy for our football team,” he said. “I believe in both quarterbacks. They’re both championship caliber.”

While neither Brennan nor Johnson is expected to perform like Joe Burrow did in the national championship season of 2019, Orgeron is looking for similar attributes to the offense, especially with Peetz and Mangam guiding the way.

“I want to see the same types of plays, the same types of adjustments (as 2019),” Orgeron said.

Orgeron is supportive of the name-image-likeness rules that have gone into place this summer.

“Whatever we can give to our players legally, I think they deserve it,” said Orgeron, noting his program has a large off-field staff in place to help support their efforts. “A lot of our guys have taken business on their own. I do hope when we get to the locker room, the focus is on football.

“I’m going to turn 60 this summer. Football’s changed and I’m going to change with it.”

After a season of all conference games because of COVID-19, LSU opens with two non-conference games in 2021 – a first-ever trip to the Rose Bowl to play UCLA Sept. 4 before the home opener the following Saturday against a McNeese team quarterbacked by Orgeron’s son, Cody.

“I’m excited to play UCLA,” Orgeron said. “I’m excited to play my son.”

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Lenny Vangilder


Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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