Crowton bringing wider open approach to LSU

After fans witnessed an offense that at times last year appeared a bit too conservative for its own good and the departure of Offensive Coordinator Jimbo Fisher, Les Miles raised a few eyebrows with the hiring of Gary Crowton.

Crowton, most recently the offensive coordinator at Oregon, likes to throw, likes to have his quarterbacks run by design, and run the option. He plans on having all three of those components as part of LSU's offensive attack this year.

"Matt Flynn is very athletic," Crowton said. "We want to use his strength. He's not a running back; he's a quarterback. He will run the ball and run the option a little bit. But we don't want to beat him up either, so we will pick our times when to do those plays. We will try and keep him as healthy as possible. If he does run the ball and has an open field I want him to get as much as he can then get down. That's what I've been preaching to him. This season you might see him run a little more. We just have to see how the team will develop. He has strength but we will try and protect him."

Despite the fact that Flynn is a senior and has Fisher's playbook ingrained in his head, he has adapted to the change of coordinators quite easily, according to Crowton.

"Matt has been such a pleasure to coach," Crowton said. "He's intelligent and has a great work ethic. He has leadership quality and is easy to coach. It makes it really nice for a coach. When I came in as a new guy and coming into a program that has had a lot of success with the coordinator before me, he accepted me very well and listened to me. He worked with me and really led the young guys in the right direction. I've been very pleased with him. He was a one game starter in that Miami (Fla.) game and didn't get a lot of starts after. I've watched him on films from last year and I've watch him on film now. I've seen a lot of improvement and I think good things are going to happen."

Actually, as Crowton works to further Flynn's development, the topics of conversation are more focused on defense than anything else.

"We have young quarterbacks that we have to teach the plays to," Crowton said. "So we talk to the young guys about the plays and talk with Matt about the defense. We go in and talk about recognizing a coverage and the strengths and weakness of the coverage. So the more Matt knows those things the quicker he can make a decision and get the ball out on time. Matt is very receptive and understanding. I think he likes that kind of rhythm and those have been fun conversations and I'm really enjoying coaching him."

With a stable of running backs at his disposal, Crowton will put the ball in the hands of the player who has the hot hand. He isn't necessarily married to the thought of sticking with one back all the time and is willing to do whatever it takes offensively to put points on the board.

"You always want to go with the hot hands in games, and you always want a touchdown," Crowton said. "But what we are going to do is let them compete and battle to find a place for as many players who will help us win through the season. Seasons are longer than they use to be playing 12 games, playing bowl games, and championship games. With that in mind you have to have a lot of guys ready, especially in a game so physical. We will have a starter and then we will play more backs. That's what I feel we need to do to win."

One of Crowton's potential weapons on offense is a player that is following in the footsteps of recent Tigers such as Josh Reed and Skyler Green. He may not be the biggest player on the field, but if he has any semblance of green around him, he's likely to go the distance.

"Trindon (Holiday) is so explosive," Crowton said. "He has the ability to just outrun anyone. He can go from north to south to east and west and that's what we will use him as. He's not the tallest kid in the world but he's one of the fastest so we are going to try and use him to create space. A lot of time it's a running game. It's hard for us to run rotates because it's hard to see him. But, around the edges is where he is seen the most.

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"I've had the experience of using a guy like Trindon he's small but makes big plays. He can make a touchdown at anytime as long as we get him in the space. He's going to get a lot of touches, anywhere from five to 10 touches a game. Good things will happen in those touches. Hopefully we can keep him healthy enough to use that speed always."

Just as Crowton has had experience with utilizing talent others thought would be impossible to implement, he also has experience with being a coach in Louisiana. From 1995-1998, he served as offensive coordinator at Louisiana Tech. From 1996-1998, he served as the Bulldogs head coach. Louisiana was one of the enticements that brought Crowton to LSU.

"I really enjoyed the southern hospitality and the pride in the football," Crowton said. "The climate was hard to get use to, but the longer I was in Louisiana the more I liked it. The experience from Louisiana Tech really made me come back. When it comes to big-time football, there is no question that LSU is big-ime football. So having the opportunity to come back and work with Les Miles is very exciting."

Coincidently enough, the Tigers face Louisiana Tech this year. Although none of the players Crowton coached are still around, there are a few coaches still there.

"It will be a nice reunion to see them and their families," Crowton said. "But, believe me, I just want to win that game and more forward."

November's homecoming tilt against the Bulldogs is in the far off future at this point. In fact, that will be the Tigers tenth contest of the season. The Tigers are no doubt hoping that by that time the offense will be on fast forward.

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