With the offensive talent that hit the field for LSU in 2009, one would figure that the Tigers would have been able to average more than 180 yards of passing per game.
When they fell short, changes were made, bringing in Florida wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales to fill the void left by D.J. McCarthy, who resigned from the LSU staff after three seasons with the program.
However, there was an added title: passing game coordinator.
As soon as the Gonzales hire was announced by LSU, head coach Les Miles acknowledged that the Tiger staff would quickly work their newest assistant into the team’s preparations for their New Year’s Day date with Penn State.
Though the team has practiced nine days in preparation for the Capital One Bowl, Gonzales has only been on hand for two sessions, making his debut on Monday after hitting the recruiting trail over the weekend.
So far, Miles likes the direction that the new-look staff is headed.
“[Gonzales] is very good in our meeting rooms,” he said. “When we are involved in strategic planning, game plan, his ideas are very good.
“He works well with [offensive coordinator] Gary Crowton,” he added. “I hope he has a great impact as a position coach. Certainly his suggestions and development of the passing game’s been very, very good. He’s going to be a contributor, big time.”
After serving as wide receivers coach at Florida for five seasons, how much of the Gator offense will Gonzales attempt to work into the mix?
“I don’t think it would be out of the ordinary (to run a Florida type play),” Miles said. “I think there were some similarities between the offenses, at times.
“I think his expertise period is being appreciated.”
On Tuesday, Gonzales worked alongside the team in his first scrimmage as a Tiger coach.
“We got to speed well,” Miles said. “We practiced hard. There was a lot of improvement in my opinion. I can tell you this; his players have certainly enjoyed him. He’s got a great enthusiasm.”
Any bit of help will be welcomed to an offensive side that finished the season ranked 108 out of 120 NCAA teams in production, one reason that Miles is not hesitant to let Gonzales get his hand into the game plan early and often.
“I think we’re all a little dissatisfied with our offensive production,” Miles said. “There’s a bunch that goes into a team or a part of a team not necessarily coming together.”
Beginning Wednesday, the Tigers will take three days off for the holiday break before heading to Orlando on Saturday.
And even with the late addition of Gonzales, Miles – who sports a perfect bowl record (4-0) at LSU – said that everything is moving on schedule.
“I think there’s a lot in the game plan that’s in,” he said. “It’ll be bits and pieces that we might add, and there might be bits and pieces that we subtract.”