The LSU passing game will take on a much different look in 2014 without experienced receivers Odell Beckham, Kadron Boone and Jarvis Landry. Aside from Travin Dural, the Tigers will lean on a host of freshmen and untested returning players.
On the brink of a new campaign, TSD caught up with receivers coach Adam Henry and tight ends coach Steve Ensminger to get their takes on how the Tigers will operate this fall at both positions.
Henry touched on the development of the freshmen and Dural’s versatility while Ensminger looked ahead to Desean Smith’s impact and helping the young quarterbacks out as safety blankets through the air. All that and more is below.
Henry on the freshmen receivers . . .
“They’re progressing well and getting to learn the offense, that’s the biggest thing. They’re getting down to minor details. We’ve gone through the installation, and now it’s about the technique and fine-tuning. They’re all doing well. All the young guys came in in shape and ready to go.”
Henry on the returning cast other than Dural . . .
“Q Leslie has been doing well, John Diarse too. A number of the guys who’ve been here (are stepping up). Even Kevin Spears had a great day [last week]. Other guys are stepping up, and each and every day they’re getting better and working hard.”
Henry on if it’ll take several games to identify leaders . . .
“Exactly. We progress day-by-day, and the maturation process has to begin. I think it has begun. Now we just have to speed it up. We have standards at the receiving corps on what we do and how we do it. Just because some of these guys are young, they’re still standards.”
Henry on if Dural can play multiple positions . . .
“His maturation process has continued. We can put him at a couple of different places, so I’m very pleased with that and what he’s done so far.”
Henry on potentially different role for WRs in offense . . .
“It’ll be a little different. We’re going to do what we do, but of course we have to suit their needs by personnel and try to get them to do things that they can do. We won’t try to make them be Odell or Jarvis or Boone. That’s not what they are. We want them to be themselves. What we do as coaches is try to put them in positions to be successful.”
Ensminger on DeSean Smith’s role . . .
“I’m pleased with DeSean because he has improved so much on his blocking. And I’ve talked to him about it – ‘If you can block and we can put you on the line and block, you become a much bigger weapon in the passing game.’ But we actually can use him in a two-tight end set also, so he can be an opposite-side tight end or we can put in him the slot or use him in a third-wide receiver role. He really can do them all, but the more he learns and the better he learns to block, the more of a weapon he’ll be for us.”
Ensminger on being security blankets for young QBs . . .
“I think we have to (be). We have to learn our role. With young quarterbacks we have to be multiple. They are athletic quarterbacks, so we’ll have to be a little bit more spread. That also means we have to become more of protectors. We have to be in pass-protection, but we have to be able to run routes also. I’ll be honest: for those guys it’s been a tough two-a-days because we’re asking them to run a lot. Now that we’re past the first week we can hone in a little bit more on what we want each of them to do, and then we’ll figure out what we want to do for the first game.”
Ensminger on having different types of TEs . . .
“We’re big on two-tight end sets, which allows us to pound people and everything else. But we’re trying to recruit a big one and an athletic one, so now we can put two of them on the field and be multiple in formations. We can be in a one-back set with two tight ends in the ballgame, which puts a little bit more pressure on the defense. This year I feel really good about it. We’ve got some big ones that can really block, and we’ve got some athletic ones that can really run routes. I think we’ll be able to get into different personnel groups and do everything we want to do.”