By Ed Daniels, Clarion Herald Sports
You can’t blame him, not one bit.
LSU head coach Ed Orgeron raised a few eyebrows when the school announced last week in a news release that the media would be barred from practice for the entire preseason.
The policy isn’t that much different from the one employed by then-head coach Les Miles one year ago.
An LSU spokesman said media was allowed in for a “handful” of practices. And, then, it was kept out.
In an interview July 27 in New Orleans, Orgeron was asked how much of the new offense being installed by coordinator Matt Canada was used in the spring game.
“About 20 percent,” said Orgeron.
The coach then threw in this nugget: “Some of the plays he (Canada) used at Pittsburgh we will use, but some will be new.”
Closing fall practices isn’t anything new. In 1971, Alabama head coach Bear Bryant closed practices before his team’s season opener against the University of Southern California. After spring practice, Bryant had decided to change offenses. After to back-to-back, six-win seasons, Bryant junked Alabama’s pro-style offense and turned to the wishbone.
When out-of-town writers would come to practice and visit, Alabama ran its old offense. In September of that season, Alabama, running the wishbone, beat USC 17-10. Running out of bone, Bryant went on to win 123 more games at Alabama.
What Canada is doing at LSU isn’t that dramatic, but the stakes are incredibly high. Since 2014, the Tigers have finished 80th, 39th and 59th in total offense in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
In the last seven meetings against Alabama, LSU has not scored more than 17 points. That offensive inefficiency has been used against LSU in recruiting.
“We are going to play three wide receivers, sometimes four,” Orgeron told reporters in New Orleans.
He added this about his new offense: “The quarterbacks and wide receivers we are recruiting are good to see it. That will help us in recruiting.”
The effects of a long offensive hibernation in Baton Rouge are still being felt. Archbishop Rummel wide receiver JaMarr Chase committed to the University of Florida. Texas Christian owns a commitment from Justin Rogers of Parkway High School in Bossier City. Rogers is rated by ESPN as the third-best, dual-threat quarterback in the country.
So, getting off to a fast start for the LSU offense is critical. Orgeron obviously feels the less opponents find out about fall practice, the better.
Orgeron has made more headlines in the offseason, including muscling the University of Michigan out of co-hosting a satellite football camp at Tulane University. But the biggest headlines are to be made starting Sept. 2 against Brigham Young in Houston.
If the LSU offense goes past efficient to explosive and entertaining, practicing during the fall in a cloak of secrecy will be a mere footnote.
Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at email@example.com.