We should probably know better by now.
LSU has said for years it wants to get the tight ends more involved in the offense. Before every season, Les Miles will say something to the effect of, “We’ve got the personnel, we’ve got the talent, we’ve got to get them the ball.”
But LSU hasn’t with any regularity. The tight ends have only caught 12 passes each of the last two seasons. That’s less than one catch per game.
So why should we believe 2015 will be different?
“We’re getting a lot more balls in practice, catching a lot more,” said junior tight end Desean Smith. “We have to prove to our coaches we want the ball, and we’re going to do good with it in our hands.”
Smith knows just how fragile the coaches’ confidence can be in the tight ends. He dropped a pass against Wisconsin in the first game and didn’t catch another until the last one.
But he ended last season on a high note, and that has him optimistic about this coming season. He had four catches for 66 yards in the bowl game against Notre Dame. He also had a pair of grabs for 62 yards in the Spring Game.
A four-star prospect ranked as one of the top tight ends in the 2013 class, Smith hasn’t had much impact through two seasons, but he feels his third will be his best.
“We’re definitely playing a big role this year,” Smith said. “I always have patience. It’s finally my time. I have to take advantage of it.”
Smith expects to be on the field a lot more in 2015. Last season, LSU typically sent out the big blocker Dillon Gordon in three-wide sets with one in-line tight end. Now Smith may see more action in those formations because he’s improved so much in the other critical skill for a tight end.
“He never blocked in high school,” said LSU tight end coach Steve Ensminger. “But he can do it, and he’s doing it right now. When he’s at tight end, we’re a threat to run and throw the football.”
Smith hopes there’s more of the latter. So too does his position-mate Colin Jeter.
Colin Jeter was a surprise contributor in 2014
Jeter was one of the bigger surprises in 2014. He didn’t land a spot on the team until the summer of 2014, earning an offer at the first and only junior college prospect camp LSU has ever held. He arrived on campus less than two months before the start of fall camp but quickly made an impact.
He played in 11 games but didn’t record any catches as he was utilized primarily as a blocker. Jeter hopes to expand his role this season though.
If Gordon is the blocker, and Smith is the catcher, Jeter sees himself somewhere in the middle.
“We all have our different skills,” Jeter said. “I can do a little blocking, a little catching. We’re all smart. We know our assignments. We all have different roles, and we know that helps our offense score.”
Jeter just wants those tight ends to be the ones to score.
He said Logan Stokes used to joke with the others last season that he was the only one to actually catch a touchdown — his game-winner against Ole Miss.
Both Smith and Jeter hope they get their own bragging rights this season. They know how strong the offense can be if they do target the tight ends.
“If we spread the ball, there’s no doubt we’re going to win every game,” Smith said. “We’ve got all the talent, and we’re going to put that together to be a great team this year.”
Is 2015 the year for LSU's tight ends?
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