For those of you looking for a football fix, you get it starting this week. LSU and Tulane both kick off spring practice. And, both face challenging 2018 schedules.
The website www.southern pigskin.com says LSU has the ninth-toughest schedule of the 66 schools in Power 5 conferences. Only Texas A&M, at No. 6, has a tougher schedule in the Southeastern Conference. By the way, Alabama’s schedule checks in at No. 57.
Former St. James football coach Rick Gaille, co-host of “The Three Tailgaters” radio show on Saturday mornings on WGSO, also spent time as an assistant coach at Tulane University. He offered his spring insights.
The most high-profile battle this spring at LSU will be Myles Brennan competing against Lowell Narcisse for the starting quarterback job. Gaille said the battle won’t be difficult for the LSU coaching staff to evaluate.
“The players will tell you who is the starting quarterback,” said Gaille.
Gaille said the team will naturally gravitate to the player who performs best at that position during the spring. He said it is important that offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger and head coach Ed Orgeron “not have pre-conceived notions” about who is the most effective player.
Gaille says early in spring, the installation of offensive terminology will be key.
“They must get the system in place,” said Gaille. “Both players and coaches must be using the same language.”
Gaille said Ensminger was at a disadvantage when he took over as the interim offensive coordinator in 2016 after the dismissal of head coach Les Miles.
“The offensive coordinator must use his own language,” said Gaille. “In 2016 he had to use the language that was in place.”
Gaille said Orgeron must be more discerning in what he says to the media.
“You have to keep some things internal,” said Gaille. “You cannot publicly say that you don’t have a placekicker.”
He said Ensminger is the perfect offensive coordinator for Orgeron. “Ed trusts Steve,” Gaille said. “If there is an issue, it will stay in house.”
At Tulane, the Green Wave came within a whisker of beating SMU in the season finale to be bowl eligible.
“Getting to a bowl game is huge,” said Gaille. “It would be validation for the program.”
Gaille is impressed with the work of head coach Willie Fritz. “He has systems in place on offense, defense and in the kicking game,” said Gaille, which is key in spring practice. “His teams already know how he wants to practice.”
Last season, Tulane was 116th out of 129 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision in passing. Gaille said improvement there is important, even for an option-oriented offense. He said the Green Wave players must work on the passing game every day, much like Evangel did in Louisiana high school football.
“Evangel practiced the passing game 365 days a year,” said Gaille. “They did the work without their coaches.”
He said spring practice is the best time of the year for full contact, something he says is limited in the fall.
“Tulane must get more physical on the offensive and defensive lines,” Gaille said.
Tulane opens the 2018 season at Yulman Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 30 vs. Wake Forest. LSU opens against the Miami Hurricanes on Sunday, Sept. 2, in Arlington, Texas.
Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at email@example.com.