BATON ROUGE, La. — For all the hype and excitement surrounding the arrival of offensive coordinator Matt Canada at LSU, there is still a pretty important question that remains unanswered.
What, exactly, will the offense look like when the Tigers play Brigham Young in the season opener on Sept. 2?
Not even the LSU players running it have a definitive answer just yet.
“We’re going to find out what our strengths are this spring,” said quarterback Danny Etling. “Coach Canada is such a versatile offensive coordinator that we’ll adjust to whatever our strengths are going to be, and that will be our offense.”
Etling isn’t just saying Canada’s versatile because it’s the company line. He’s done his studying.
“I watched a lot of film of Pitt, North Carolina State, Wisconsin, even some Northern Illinois film,” Etling said. “Obviously we’re different from those teams. We’re not going to do the exact same thing.”
There are some common elements between those offenses, though, that fans should anticipate seeing this fall.
“Just off the first practice, we’re going to move around a lot more (pre-snap),” Etling said. “We’re going to spread the ball around. We’re going to get the ball into all types of playmakers hands in all types of ways. That’s the best way to describe it. Those are the three things we’re looking forward to as an offense.”
Positions no longer stationary
Tight end Foster Moreau, for instance, is learning that his position will entail much more than it ever did under Les Miles.
That may not seem like it’s saying much considering that tight ends were used primarily as blockers by Miles. But as Moreau explained, being a traditional tight end is only part of what he might be asked to do by Canada.
To hear Moreau describe it, Canada’s offensive philosophy sounds a lot like the soccer concept of “total football” mastered by the Netherlands in the 1970s – any skill player is liable to end up anywhere on the field.
“You can be used for any position. You can do anything except throw the ball, honestly. That’s the only thing that I haven’t seen,” Moreau said. “On film I’ve seen (tight ends) get handoffs. Reverses. A lot of different stuff. The shovel pass is something that he does.”
And that’s not all.
“You can play the 1-receiver and run go routes. You can play as the 2-receiver and be running lateral quickness, slants or digs,” Moreau said. “You can be the No. 3 receiver and have a clear-out. You can do whatever.
“That’s the cool part of the offense. You can line up wherever. I could lineup as the halfback, wind up as the No. 1 receiver, motion to the other side in the slot and run a dig. There’s a lot of stuff.”
Obviously, with every player having increased responsibilities over the old, simpler offense, it will be important to pay attention this spring. But Moreau isn’t worried anyone will be in over their heads.
“Once you get the first installation, it will start getting more routine,” Moreau said. “… There might be one or two things that trip (guys) up right now, but that’s what spring is for.”
And by spring’s end, we may even know what the 2017 LSU offense will resemble.
“It was pretty cool to see how many different offensive schemes he’s had,” Etling said. “We’ll have a lot of options once we figure out what we’re good at and this team has an offensive identity. We’re going to try to figure that out this spring and just go from there.”