Unless you’re feeling particularly masochistic, I would advise you to avoid reading Bruce Feldman’s piece ($$) on LSU’s preparation for the SECCG. It’s thoroughly depressing from a Dawgs perspective. But there are a couple of little tidbits in there about Joe Brady, the guy Orgeron brought in to invigorate LSU’s offense, worth sharing.
One, here’s something Brady did in an attempt to fix a problem with the Tigers’ passing game:
Brady, who also coaches wideouts, has been creative at hard-wiring his players’ hands and minds. During downtime at practice, he will gather some of the receivers in a circle for the football version of pepper, where he’ll fling a tennis ball randomly at each from five feet away while calling out a play, expecting each to respond with his assignment while making the grab. A year ago, LSU ranked No. 96 in FBS in catch percentage, dropping almost 16 percent of catchable passes, according to Pro Football Focus. After an off-season spent catching thousands of passes in spite of all sorts of obstructions, the Tigers rank No. 8 in catch percentage, and that drop rate is down to less than 5 percent.
Baglio says, “That’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.”
I’m not suggesting that everything translates over neatly between football programs, but apparently there are detail-oriented exercises that can lead to improvement. I’ve got to believe that someone as obsessed with details as Kirby Smart appears to be can find a few fixes of his own this offseason.
Oh, and did you catch that “also coaches wideouts” reference? Here’s what Feldman was referring to.
“See Joe right there?” The head coach pauses the film and triggers the laser pointer at Joe Brady, the Tigers’ 30-year-old passing game coordinator standing by some of the LSU defensive backs. “See where Joe’s at, right? He makes sure those coverages are exact. He works his ass off. He is friggin’ making sure that them dang coverages are exactly how he wants them…”
The passing game coordinator was working with the defensive backs on coverage. Again, I know it’s his bailiwick and I’m not suggesting that Kirby has to slavishly copy what works for another program, but, damn, there’s nothing wrong with having a fresh eye look over things.
The big lesson from the piece is that after a few shots at head coaching, Orgeron has finally reached a place where he’s comfortable hiring people and giving them room to operate. Obviously there’s a happy medium there — his one-year run with Matt Canada was a disappointment, to say the least — but look at the results when you get the right people and let them do their jobs. Good things can definitely happen.