Steve Ensminger Q&A

With Cam Cameron bringing a new offense, there's renewed optimism that the tight end will finally have a major role at LSU. The Tigers' TE coach Steve Ensminger talks about what effect Cameron will have on his position, the strengths of his players and how freshman DeSean Smith is developing.

Hunter Paniagua: Desean Smith has come in and obviously shown his receiving skills, but what does he need to do to make his game a bit more well-rounded?

Steve Ensminger: "He comes from a passing system. We want to use him as a pass-catcher, but we're asking him to put his hand on the ground and learn how to block. That's something that has to develop. He's done a good job. It's new to him. He's not used to putting his hand on the ground. He's not used to blocking a 260-pound DE. That's the developmental part that he has to learn."

HP: With Cam Cameron coming in, it sounds like he wants to get the TEs involved a lot more in the passing game. How does that change the way you coach or maybe which personnel you put on the field?

SE: "The biggest deal is we have to evaluate every one of them and find their strengths and weaknesses. If we're running the football, can we leave DeSean Smith in the game or does Dillon Gordon need to come in? We're trying to develop each one of those great TEs. Gordon's a great blocker, but he has to develop his route-running skills. DeSean's a great route-runner, but he has to develop his blocking skills. So that's the process we're going into the next few days. We'll take their weaknesses and make them better. We'll take their strengths, put them on the field and use it and see if we can get a pretty good medium."

HP: You've said a lot about Dillon Gordon and DeSean Smith, but what about Travis Dickson?

SE: "Travis Dickson has had a great camp. He will be on the field a lot because he's one of the guys that's been here a while. He's developed great blocking skills. He has great passing skills. He's not going to beat people vertically, but when we throw the ball to him, he catches it. We have a spot for Travis and he knows it."

HP: When it comes down to who will get the most playing time, does it come down to who's the most balanced?

SE: "It does but it will be TE by committee. It really will. We're not going to change our philosophy. We have to be able to run the football. Coach Cameron likes the two-TE set and the versatility of them. We have to develop that. I'm a believer that since I've been here, we haven't played one TE for 80 plays. It's always been TE by committee. I want a fresh guy out there."

HP: Is this the first time in a few years that you've had so many TEs that can fit so many different roles?

SE: "It is different. It really is. I think our TEs embrace it. I embrace it. I think it's good. It makes them work harder. It makes them study more. It gets them get more involved in the ballgame. It's important to them, so they're excited about it."

HP: With Cam Cameron being here, he brings a history of using the TE in the NFL. Do you think that translates here and do you think your guys are anticipating that happening?

SE: "It does. They've embraced it. They're excited about it. We caught 100 passes in spring scrimmages, which hasn't happened in the last four years. They know they have to develop into not just a blocking TE, but into a more mobile TE. They've worked all summer into doing it, and they're looking forward to what the rest of the process holds to see where they fit in this system."

How important will the TE be in Tigers' new offense?


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