Even since he’s gotten to LSU, senior defensive lineman Greg Gilmore has thought of Pete Jenkins as a medicine man.
“I call coach Pete for medicine sometimes,” Gilmore said. “When you’re sick, you go to the doctor. When you have technique problems, he helps you envision them in ways that help you get it down a little better.”
Well now, the doctor is making house calls.
With Ed Orgeron, LSU’s previous defensive line coach, relieving himself of his duties to run the team, Orgeron has hired Jenkins, his mentor, to fill the post. Jenkins is a veteran defensive line coach who has been on the staff of five SEC championship teams (four at LSU) and also two NFL playoff teams.
But Jenkins is far from the only coaching change that came when Orgeron took over for Les Miles. The moves include the promotions of graduate assistant Dennis Johnson to outside linebackers coach, the move of Bradley Dale Peveto from coaching defense to focusing exclusively on special teams and the expansion of wide receiver coach Dameyune Craig’s responsibilities to also include being the team’s recruiting coordinator.
But perhaps most importantly, Orgeron promoted tight ends coach Steve Ensminger to the position of offensive coordinator.
A Baton Rouge native, Ensminger played quarterback at LSU from 1976-79 and has been a coach for the Tigers dating back to 2010. Tight end Foster Moreau described Ensminger as imaginative, innovative and efficient, while another tight end, Chase Jeter, said that Ensminger is like a second dad to him.
“I really haven’t even congratulated him for being the OC now,” Jeter said Monday afternoon. “But I’m sure I’ll be cracking jokes to him all week. He’s just that kind of guy. He likes being a players’ coach.”
The expectation under Ensminger’s offense is for LSU to open up its attack a little more. Orgeron said that the plan is to “spread the ball out a little bit, do some different things, change the style of play,” a plan that hopefully can do a better job of feeding the ball to LSU’s playmaking wide receivers on the outside and also clear the box out so Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice have to deal with fewer defenders.
But the expectations on defense are different. Now that Orgeron, Jenkins and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda are in the fold, defensive end and outside linebacker Arden Key said the defense, which already is allowing fewer than 17 points per game, is about to be even better.
“You’ve got Coach O, and then you got his mentor coach Pete Jenkins coming in, and then you’ve got coach Aranda,” Key said. “There’s too many brains. The more knowledge is the more power.”
Key was then asked if the coaching changes affect his personal goal of 20 sacks this season. The answer is yes.
“It might be 30,” Key said. “But we don’t know.”