Now Louisiana State University is cooking with gas.
With the hire of former University of Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Matt Canada, to the same position, head coach Ed Orgeron has, perhaps, struck the perfect balance of continuing the evolution of the Tigers' offense while maintaining a semblance of what has made the program a second home for NFL scouts. (And I'm talking actual NFL scouts, not inauthentic, draftnik wannabes.)
When a prideful Orgeron stated, at his introductory press conference, that LSU needed to "run the spread," might heart was ripped open like a bag of Skittles at the thought of LSU abandoning the pro-style concepts that make for smoother film evaluation when you can see players doing the kind of work they'd, ultimately, be doing in the pros.
While I readily admit that football is undergoing somewhat of an evolution, the facts remain: If you can't physically compete along the line of scrimmage, your reign on the top will be short like leprechauns -- to quote a great American linguist, Biggie Smalls.
Those guys in Tuscaloosa, despite how most have portrayed it, still establish the line of scrimmage by way of the run while integrating concepts from yesteryear that appear to be futuristic to the common man.
But they still pull back-side guards and drive block you into oblivion when necessary.
This type of balance is not lost on Canada, as his style may be the perfect blend of physicality, creativity and timing. Where I fretted that traditional quarterbacks like, say, 2018 super stud Trevor Lawrence (Cartersville (Ga.) Hurricanes) would be no longer welcomed in Baton Rouge, with Orgeron's statement at that presser, the end results suggest otherwise.
LSU is about to overload defenses with the trade game while providing multiple looks and varying its tempo. It won't be a stark departure from what former head coach Les Miles used to implement, in relation to core philosophy, but I guarantee you he'd be dizzy and confused as to how all of it is derived. (I can see you, the reader, thinking of some type of snazzy joke about my guy Miles as I typed that!)
It's about to go down, folks.
Obviously, the first thing 99 percent of the media and fans did was hop on their search engine of choice to see what old Canada had to offer the Tigers, which is always a slippery slope; I can bet the results were of the mixed variety, too.
While he's riding high due to the success he just had with Pitt, North Carolina State fans probably couldn't wait to put him on the first thing smoking just two seasons ago.
Prior to that, which is where my expertise comes into play, Canada was virtually punked out by one of my absolute favorite coaches that I've been studying for well over a decade, current Arkansas head man Bret Bielema, as the pair just couldn't get it going -- for the most part -- for the lone season Canada was in Madison as the replacement for the uber-talented Paul Chryst (who has since returned as the HC for Wisconsin.)
The Bielema-Chryst pairing was almost flawless, as the latter completely understood the physical approach that was wanted at the time. Bielema loved to operate, from under center, with multiple tight ends and a fullback -- all while shoving multiple running backs at the opposition.
And the results were about as physical as it gets.
Canada, to his credit, tried his best to emulate what Chryst had done before, but I don't believe he was being true to himself in doing so. It's not as if Canada's philosophy is lacking in physicality, he just has a unique way of getting there.
The trade game, which is my jargon for the shifting of multiple players, coupled with a ton of motion (Orbit and Jet), runs rampant throughout Canada's playbook. It's nothing to see a player trade place -- multiple times -- on a singular play. So much so that it looks a bit cartoonish.
But as someone who played on the defensive side of the ball (linebacker/safety), I cringe to think about how much I'd have to adjust my keys because of all that "Jive Turkey" motion and trading (haha); it's a paralysis-by-analysis scenario.
Case in point above.
Canada has been known to empty his toolbox and use every weapon available. It's nothing to see a ton of receivers running Jet action; FBs will bend the edge in the run game; RBs will get a good amount of targets out of the backfield.
This leads me to my next point.
The ability to keep you off balance, by doing the exact opposite of what it appears he will do, is my favorite thing about Canada's philosophy. He will jump in "13" or "22 personnel," in tight splits, then spread the field and go empty for a vertical passing approach.
Or he'll come out in Pro, spread the formation, and then make the TE and FB the focal point of the pass play. You may also see gadget plays with offensive linemen being the target.
He'll simply do whatever it takes to keep the defense's mind racing -- pre and post snap. I believe he'll be pretty balanced in his run-pass approach, but his 60/40 ratio this season at Pitt is right up my alley as someone who believes in establishing the LOS.
We can expect efficiency from whoever the QB is, as he'll support the run with the quick game while going vert on plays you wouldn't think he would.
Supplying him with the type of athletes the Tigers possess may mean he can dig even deeper into his bag. I, for one, can't wait to see this one unfold.
Check out the video for some further analysis.