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Offseason highlighted by coaching changes ends with spring practices

LSU Opens Spring Practice Saturday
Posted at 8:48 PM, Mar 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-04 21:51:43-05

BATON ROUGE — LSU's coaching staff felt a bid like a revolving door since beating Clemson 42-25 in the College Football National Championship in January. All that will be behind the Tigers when they open up practice Saturday.

"Dave Aranda was fantastic, I loved him, but Bo (Pelini) has brought some fresh ideas, a new pair of eyes, and a defense that I’m familiar with," said LSU head coach Ed Orgeron.

An expected spin of "excitement" and "change for the good" was a theme in Ed Orgeron's pre-spring media conference on Wednesday.

This winter the Tigers opened the exits and watched coaches move on to mostly bigger and better things. Passing-game coordinator Joe Brady jumped to the NFL, joining the Carolina Panthers. Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda took over as head coach at Baylor. (Does anyone know who a defensive guy will do in a conference like the Big12?) Running backs coach Tommie Robinson left Orgeron's side to coach at Texas A&M. And those are just the marquee names.

To fill the voids, LSU brought in guys who have been around the block. Bo Pelini, who's had mixed results since leaving LSU after the 2007 championship, returns as the team's defensive coordinator and brings Orgeron a much wanted 4-3 scheme.

"Looking at the guys I've got, TK McLendon, he's the perfect 4-3 and so is Justin Thomas," said Orgeron. "Those guys will play in four techniques, that's inside the tackle, now they're playing outside, more of an attacking defense. Then you've got some linebackers with speed. They can run and we can blitz them. We're going to blitz the corners, we're going to blitz the safeties, I think the 4-3 is built on speed and aggressive nature, and I think we have that."

New passing game coordinator Scott Linehan comes to LSU after nearly 20 years in the NFL. Linehan served as an NFL head coach, and an offensive coordinator at a number of stops, most recently for the Dallas Cowboys. It's that experience Orgeron is enticed by.

"I believe the knowledge he has in the passing game, in the red zone, the empty packages and the things he did especially when he was the head coach he ran the stuff he ran in Detroit," coach said. "There's an old saying "if it's not broke, don't fix it". We don't need a whole lot of new stuff in our offense. It's more his knowledge, his coaching ability, and his fit for the staff is the reason we hired him."

At running backs coach there was a natural fit already on the LSU staff, Kevin Faulk. The Carencro native is LSU's all-time leading rusher. Orgeron hired him in 2018 as director of player development. Wednesday Orgeron lauded Faulk for his work ethic telling a story about a recruiting trip to Lafayette.

"The coaches get there by 7:30 and I said, 'Kevin I'll meet you there.' well I left early to beat the traffic over the bridge, you never know what you're going to get over the bridge," said Orgeron. "I pulled up to the school at 6:30; there was one car in the parking lot, Kevin Faulk. He said, 'I knew you would be early.' So that tells you a lot about his work ethic, about him, about what he is, and he backs it up."

Wednesday LSU made two other coaching announcements naming Mickey Joseph (wide receivers coach) the assistant head coach. The Tigers also announced New Iberia native Corey Raymond (defensive backs coach) would take over as recruiting coordinator. Both coaches will continue their positional coaching duties.

LSU begins spring practices Saturday.