How a complete overhaul of the coaching staff could reshape the Tigers


With Brian Kelly With the arrival at LSU comes a new wave of excitement and optimism for the future of the football program.

His resume speaks for itself as he turned every school he coached into a proven winner. But how did he do it? What does a team coached by Brian Kelly look like on the pitch?

We spoke with the two new coordinators, as well as a handful of impact players ahead of the Tigers’ 2022 season to help paint the picture of what LSU fans can expect to see on Saturday night.

THE OFFENSE UNDER MIKE DENBROCK

Denbrock and Kelly’s relationship goes way back, so this hire made a lot of sense on paper.

The duo worked together at Grand Valley State in the 90s and reconnected for six seasons when Kelly was hired at Notre Dame in 2010.

Denbrock, who helped lead Cincinnati to its college football playoff appearance last year, is now heading to Baton Rouge as the pair try to recreate the successes they had in their previous stops.

“(LSU), to me, is amazing destination work,” Denbrock said. 225. “It’s a program that I watched from where I was in the coaching profession for many, many years. I’ve always been a little impressed by the great things that have happened here and the great players who have passed through here. When the opportunity presented itself for me to be part of the program, it was something that was just too good to pass up.

Despite the Tigers’ lackluster record over the past two seasons, Denbrock certainly doesn’t inherit an empty closet.

Mike Denbrock. Photo courtesy LSU Athletics

But in order to maximize the talent at his disposal, the 58-year-old playmaker says it all starts up front.

“Number one: we’re going to establish the run and establish the line of scrimmage with a physical and intense style of play,” he said. “We’re going to play hard and we’re going to conduct our business in a way that would make the LSU community really proud of how hard we play. It starts with setting the tone for the whole offense. And then I think on top of that we want to be a team that stretches the field vertically. We want to create explosive games and be an explosive attack. (We want to) attack defenses and play the game offensively on our terms, and not be dictated by what the defense does against us.

In the running back room in particular, Denbrock heaped praise on John Emery Jr., saying, “I don’t think there’s anything he can’t do,” in the attack, while naming Noah Cain, Armoni Goodwin and Josh Williams. as promising and versatile full-backs.

Denbrock will have a decision to make at quarterback as it looks like a three-way race on the wire, but no matter who ends up taking the first-team snaps, the Tigers know they’re spoiled for riches. to work with outside.

“(Wide receivers) are really fun to watch,” Denbrock says. “This group is as talented and deep as any member of this team. There are a number of guys in this room that I think can be the type of explosive, dynamic players that we will need to be successful. There are more truly good, quality football players on a roster than perhaps anyone should be allowed to have. But we are terribly proud to have them.

And according to those players, Denbrock’s new system seemed like a relatively seamless transition from attack. Conceptually, this probably won’t be much different from the LSU attacks of the past few years.

The Tigers averaged 254.5 passing yards and 114 rushing yards per game last season, compared to Denbrock’s offense at Cincinnati, which averaged 241.2 passing yards and 173 rushing yards per game. match.

“It’s pretty simple,” said catcher Jack Bech 225. “We try to get the ball in the hands of the playmakers and do what we do best. We obviously have some really great concepts and different ways to get different players into different situations. But it all comes down to getting the ball back into the hands of the playmakers.”

Photo by Sean Gasser

THE DEFENSE UNDER MATT HOUSE

Every football coach has their own key words or phrases that they try to instill in their players.

At any practice given at LSU, you’ll likely hear the Tigers’ new defensive coordinator, Matt House, spout three simple words: “Grit to strain.”

The saying is essentially an effort to establish a mindset for the style of defense House wants to implement at LSU — athletic, disruptive, and a masterful mastery of the football basics.

Matt House. Photo courtesy LSU Athletics

“Number one: (We’re going to) be fundamentally sound,” House said. 225. “We are going to be great tacklers. We will force to run football. We are going to have the attacking mentality and we are going to play with a lot of passion and energy.

House comes to LSU after spending two seasons coaching linebackers for the Kansas City Chiefs.

He helped assemble a strong defense that won the Super Bowl in 2020 and earned praise from a former Tiger who was a member of that title-winning team.

“I’m thrilled for Coach House and all of Tiger Nation!” tweeted former LSU star Tyrann Mathieu after the hiring announcement. “This man loves football and teaching! One of the best I have known. This Tiger defense will be well coached from day one! Let’s all join!!! FOREVER LSU!”

House has a long coaching history that started at Michigan State in 2001 and sent him through the college and pro ranks several times.

He has coached the defensive line, linebackers and defensive backs and also called up SEC defenses, giving him full experience as he takes charge of the LSU unit.

“Coach House can coach anyone in any position, and all they’re trying to do is push your game to the next level,” says senior defensive end Ali Gaye. “He wants a lot from us and he challenges us to do our best. His energy is just different. Even in the meeting room, he is so energetic, and that motivates everyone and is ready to go. It’s very intense there, and there are guys who have the meanest mindset when we’re on the pitch.

Positionally, there’s still a lot to work out, especially when it comes to linebacker and cornerback depth.

But House knows he has a loaded defensive line at his disposal, led by guys like Gaye, BJ Ojulari and rising sophomore star Maason Smith.

“I really feel like we’ll be a really good defense,” Smith said. 225. “Everything Coach House has done so far has been a positive progression for our defence. I think the program we run is good, and I think it holds us accountable. It just preaches competition. It doesn’t wants no one in the field who doesn’t know what he’s doing so he preached (about) getting into the playbook and studying film and taking notes during the movie He treats it like a league environment, because he just got out of it, so his mind is still connected to the NFL, he teaches guys how to do it the right way before they even go to the league.


This article originally appeared in the August 2022 Tiger Pride issue of 225 magazine.