Crowton adding 'wrinkles' to LSU offense

There has been a great deal of media attention surrounding the arrival of new offensive coordinator Gary Crowton.

It is no secret Les Miles and former offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher didn't share the same offensive philosophies. It was so surprise when Fisher, who remained as a holdover from Nick Saban's staff for two seasons, bolted for Florida State literally minutes after the Tigers' Sugar Bowl rout of Notre Dame.


While the natives got a bit restless following Fisher's departure, the anxiety subsided when Miles made a grand slam hire in acquiring the services of Oregon offensive coordinator Gary Crowton.


A former head coach at Louisiana Tech and BYU as well as an offensive coordinator for the NFL's Chicago Bears, Miles made a quality "name" hire in bringing in Crowton.


Crowton made a splash on the college football scene with his high-flying aerial assault at Louisiana Tech. The combination of Tim Rattay and Troy Edwards proved to be one of the most prolific pass-catch tandems in the history of college football. Edwards brought in some pretty impressive hardware while a Bulldog winning the Fred Biletnikoff Trophy.


After a two year stint with the Bears, Crowton assumed the reigns of his alma mater BYU and made a dramatic switch in philosophies. While the "spread" offense is his m-o, Crowton turned to a punishing rushing assault led by Doak Walker Award winner Luke Staley.


While Crowton utilized his "spread" philosophy the last two seasons at Oregon, don't expect the Tigers' new coordinator to implement his system at LSU. With the personnel currently on this Tiger offense, Crowton has said he plans to apply different wrinkles to the LSU offense, but not change everything completely.


"I have had a lot of experience at different places with many types of personnel and I know what we are going to try and do here," Crowton said. "We are going to use the personnel that we have. I have been around a lot of football and the main thing you do is adjust your offense around the defensive personnel that you face. We want to put our players in a position where they can score."


Crowton explained the average fan might not recognize any differences in LSU's approach on the offensive side of the ball. But he did say every once and while you'll notice a play that is not typical of an LSU offense. That will be his influence.


"This league allows opportunities to execute some wide open plays," he said. "The smash mouth mentality down here comes from having big, strong running backs and offensive lines and the need to feel like you control the game from that standpoint. I think you are going to see a little bit of both styles this year."


Crowton said the offensive will revolve around fifth-year senior quarterback Matt Flynn. An athletic player, who can move around in the pocket as well as deliver the ball accurately through the, Flynn is the type player Crowton enjoys coaching.


"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."


Miles has taken some heat over the last two years for not focusing on a "featured" running back, rather utilizing LSU's running backs in a rotational system. Crowton will continue the "hot hand" philosophy.


"You always want to go with the hot hands in games 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."


Keiland Williams ended the season in that starter role, but heading into the Mississippi State game, Jacob Hester is listed as the Tigers' first team back. Hester was overjoyed with Crowton's arrival and is looking forward to this season and LSU's new offensive wrinkles.


"When he was the coach at Louisiana Tech, I was the biggest Tim Rattay (former Tech QB) fan in the world," Hester said. "When I heard he was coming, I knew he was going to open up the passing game for the running backs.  He has some plays for the running backs that we aren't used to, and that other teams aren't going to be able to just focus on the receivers or the running game.  He brings a whole new dimension to the game compared to the pro offense we ran last year."


One player that Crowton likes to mention when talking about those "wrinkles" is Trindon Holliday. Holliday is yet to catch his first career pass, but Crowton likes the possibilities that come along with college football's fastest player.


"Trindon is so explosive. He has the ability to just out run 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. 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 ten touches a game. Good things will happen in those touches. Hopefully we can keep him healthy enough to use that speed always."


Crowton may be one of the most innovative offensive minds in all of college football. While he spends most of his time with his head buried in an offensive playbook, Crowton understands the lay of the land in Tiger Town.


"I know how important football is here. I knew that when I was here before coaching at Louisiana Tech, then coaching in the NFL and at other schools, the expectations are great and people loved Gameday," Crowton said. "I knew down here it is a special place and with that comes a lot of expectations. I knew what I was getting into down here. People here love their football, that's for sure. It is probably one of the main reasons I came here."

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