In the modern game of football everything is being dictated by analytics. Coaching hires, play-calling and even player development are giving way to years of traditional theory. As a result, the sport is changing. However, Louisiana State University’s head coach Ed Orgeron is a classic throwback reminiscent of legendary motivators. The player’s coach shows an innate ability to connect with players and find different ways to motivate them, while relying on his coaching staff to put the team in the possible position to win. To sum things up, the coach’s ideology on football leadership is paying off as his LSU Tigers have risen to the number two spot in most national polls, just a step behind rival and standard-bearer Alabama Crimson Tide.
One Team, One Heartbeat…This is the motto Orgeron embodies, instilling the mantra within his team on a regular basis by way of a barrel-chest and gravel voice, that is sprinkled with a hint of cajun. That message is resonating on this current Tigers team, especially with team-leader and Heisman Trophy candidate Joe Burrow.
Burrow is setting the standard for Tigers players this season. The quarterback’s business-like approach to the game this season is a big part of the reason LSU has turned things around with their high-octane, spread offense. The offense currently ranks first in the country, averaging 52.5 points per game. The Ohio State transfer has been wowing fans, analysts and critics with his impressive passing performances week-in and week-out. On the season, Burrow is completing nearly 80% of his passes. He also has thrown for over 2,000 yards and 25 touchdowns en-route to garnering an incredible passer rating of 219.2, which if the season ended today would be the best NCAA FBS single-season mark of all time.
When asked about Burrow’s impact play this season during a press-conference on Monday, Orgeron told media members, “That’s what we want. That’s what we want. We want to be mentioned as one of the top teams in the country. I want our guys to get a Heisman. Inside our room, it’s about fundamentals, about the task at hand, and beating Mississippi State.”
The coach is always recruiting future players and resonating his message with the current team in a simultaneous fashion. He added, “But it does do something for your program. That’s why you come to LSU. You want the expectations to be high, but you also want to meet those expectations. Doesn’t mean a hill of beans when you go to Mississippi State and not play well. We have a lot riding on the line. It’s one game at a time. Mississippi State is in our way.”
Orgeron can’t take all the credit for LSU’s turnaround this season. It would be easy for the coach to bask in the ambiance of his team’s success. However, the credit can be divvied up between Burrow and the offense as a whole, which includes new passing-game coordinator Joe Brady.
Brady, 30, was hired away from the New Orleans Saints to help the Tigers offense evolve into a modern run-pass option scheme. The former William & Mary receiver is proving to be a profitable investment. In seasons past, LSU’s identity has been historically rooted as a smash-mouth defense, backed by a run-first, clock controlling offense. However, the modern game has changed and LSU has lagged behind in recent seasons, while falling from grace in the eyes of college football’s ranking and playoff decision-makers. Now, Brady’s schemes and concepts are generating a metamorphosis, as Burrow brings those ideas to life on the field.
Oregeron is a self-aware man. After failing during his previous tenure at Ole Miss, the coach knew he had to change. Loosening the reins and empowering his staff has paid dividends, and allowed Ed to do what he does best. Which is recruit, and lead young men. He has made stops during his career with many top programs, including Miami and USC, and the New Orleans Saints of the NFL. He’s taken a little bit from every program, mixed it up “Louisiana” style and produced and incredible dish of Baton Rouge gumbo.
Despite the success, Coach “O” still maintains the ability to make people laugh, and recently put his sense of humor on full display during an interview on ESPN’s SEC Network. Journalist Alyssa Lang asked him if he were a menu item at Taco Bell, which one he would be. Orgeron’s response was both classic and confident, “Burrito Supreme”.
With Nick Saban and top-ranked Alabama still ahead on the schedule, Orgeron will certainly need to continue his “supreme” and superb act as LSU’s charismatic leader.
Header Photo Credit: The Advocate