How the coaching staff overhaul will reshape LSU football

(Sean Gasser)

With the arrival of Brian Kelly 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.

The Offense Under Mike Denbrock

Mike 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 Cincinnati to its first college football playoff appearance last year, is now heading to Baton Rouge as offensive coordinator as he and Kelly try to recreate the successes they had in their previous stops.

“(LSU), for me, is an incredible destination job,” Denbrock told 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 bit impressed with the great things that have happened here and the great players that have come through here.When the opportunity came 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.

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.

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 with a masterful grasp of the football basics.

“Number one: (We’re going to) be fundamentally sound,” House said at 225. of passion and energy.

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

“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.

This article originally appeared in the August 2022 Tiger Pride issue of 225 magazine. Read the full story here.