“But the difference in the game is the quarterback.”

Really good Q&A with LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger here.  They touch on a lot of subjects, including Kirby changing his defense for the SECCG and an Eric Zeier comparison with Joe Burrow, but for my money, this was the most interesting exchange, if you’re wondering how the interaction between he and Brady went during games:

Q. (On the credit for changing the offense)
STEVE ENSMINGER: I don’t give myself any. Well, I knew we had to change. Coach O said, Hey, let’s do this. I said, let’s go.

It’s not about me. It really is not. It’s about LSU. I played there, I went to school there, I love that school. Whatever we could do to make LSU great, I’m in. I appreciate Joe Brady, I promise you. He’s brought a lot to the table. I couldn’t be more happy for him.

Q. How do you two decide how the calls will be made during the flow of a game?
STEVE ENSMINGER: We talked about it before the game. I tell him, I know what my strengths are and I know what my weaknesses are. Joe is better with our compact packages. Joe is better at our empty package than I am. So I tell him, we talk about it before the game, Look, when I want to go empty, be ready. If it’s third and whatever, and I have a call, I make it. If not, I tell him. He has it all highlighted. I’m like, Take it.

We can go to empty right now. I said, Joe, I’m going empty. Take it, he’s ready for it.

Compact meaning our bunch packages, a condensed formation, stuff like that. He’s better at that than I am. I know it. I tell him, Hey, I want to go whatever it is, bunch, pack ’em all in here. I said, Call it. He’s ready for it.

It helps to lack a big ego to make something like that work seamlessly.  That, and Joe Burrow, of course.

81 Comments

Filed under SEC Football, Strategery And Mechanics

81 responses to ““But the difference in the game is the quarterback.”

  1. Corch Irvin Meyers New USC Trojans Corch (2020)

    After reading this and then reading Mark Bradley talk about Coach O making the changes needed to create a dynamic offense makes me even angrier to know Kirby Smart is going to stubbornly and stupidly do NOTHING to change Georgia’s offense for 2019, except to add a mobile QB who can gain some yards on the ground when playing teams who can easily defend his predictable, unimaginative, and let’s be honest, shitty offense.

    This is Kirby’s answer to the realities of modern college football: I’m not going to change. I’m not going to allow my offense to attack the middle of the field. I’m going to keep pretending that it’s 2009 and I don’t care two shits about taking advantage of the rule changes to spread the field and win with offense.

    Kirby Smart is going down the same damn path as Les Miles, except Kirby Smart doesn’t have a National Title for built-in forgiveness. If he keeps refusing to change, to evolve, this thing won’t last long. Especially if Sideshow Dan wins a couple down in Jacksonville.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I realize that your football acumen surpasses everyone else’s here, but considering that Georgia’s offensive S&P+ ranking in 2018 was third, isn’t it within the realm of possibility that Kirby recognizes the value in having a good offense?

      Like

      • Corch Irvin Meyers New USC Trojans Corch (2020)

        My football acumen is no better or worse than anyone’s. I believe what I believe, and will argue for what I believe, as I would expect anyone else to do for what they believe.

        The reality of Kirby’s play not to lose style of offensive coaching is Georgia’s offense will dominate teams they can out-talent. As we’ve seen since 2017, when the talent is equal, or even in some cases, unequal in the other team’s favor, we will not win those games. That goes to both the style of offense Kirby wants to run, regardless of the S&P rankings, and also due to Kirby’s inclination to tactically play not to lose during the game itself.

        Analytics are the beginning of knowledge. The results on the field are that Kirby’s given away two games Georgia dominated because he’s scared to play to win. At the end of the day, that’s the problem, and good luck with expecting him to change. As we saw with Coach O, people almost always change after they hit rock bottom. I’m guessing Kirby won’t reach rock bottom until a firing.

        Like

      • MGW

        Yeah but it was only 7th in 2017.

        Like

      • Charlottedawg

        I think a valid question is why you would retain the coaching staff that inherited that offense and oh btw 2018’s 5th best QB in the nation by passer rating in Fromm and turn it into a shadow of their former selves. I get we had a bunch of departures at wr but if you as a coaching staff can’t put a roster with Thomas, Fromm, Wilson, Swift, Pickens, blaylock, etc in a position to succeed how are we to expect you’ll ever be able to get your players to execute?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

          Don’t forget Cook. Kirby and Coley’s misuse of James Cook this year was a freaking crime. This is a kid with the speed and agility to be our Percy Harvin, and he’s never used. Ever.

          You don’t think Joe Brady or Ryan Day or Lincoln Riley or one of the Clemson OC’s would’ve found a way to incorporate James Cook into their game plans?

          Like

        • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

          *And NOT as a RB running up the gut from the shotgun into a 9 man box without the benefit of a lead blocker.

          Like

    • Greg

      Execution makes “scheme” work….but you knew that right??

      Like

      • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

        When you never attack the middle of the field in the passing game, giving up half the field to the defense, throwing online outside the numbers to WRs running outs, boundary screens, or curls, meaning there is absolutely no chance for YAC, your scheme sucks.

        When you constantly run into 9-man boxes out of the shotgun without the benefit of a lead blocker (fullback), your scheme sucks.

        But you knew that, right?

        Like

        • Greg

          It all works when you play “John Madden”, right?

          Should work on playing field….

          Like

          • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

            So, because you can’t argue the two points I just made, because you know they are true, instead you attack me personally. Sounds about right, Greg.

            As a principle, when you intentionally limit yourself on offense, as Kirby does, for whatever the reason (play not to lose), your scheme is easier to defend and less likely to succeed no matter how well its executed.

            The Senator has a saying for this: Manball can’t be failed, it can only be failed.

            But sure Greg, you can continue to attack me personally instead of arguing against my points. Doing so let’s everyone else know you have nothing of import to say.

            Like

            • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

              *Manball can’t fail, it can only be failed.

              Frak.

              Like

            • Greg

              Who’s insulting you??

              Don’t have time or the inclination to rehash the entire season with you AGAIN…..you apparently didn’t get it the first time I explained it to you, didn’t watch the entire season, or didn’t/don’t understand what you were seeing.

              As the once great CD said, “it’s hard to explain barometric pressure to a DA”.

              If everything upsets you this much, you are probably voicing your opinion in the wrong place.

              Or, you can spend another 237 days being miserable here….bitching about what Kirby might or might with the offense, silly boy.

              Whatever works for you…good luck & God bless!

              Better get inside, the sky is falling.

              Like

              • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

                Again, you never addressed what I said,arguing against what I said, as you did before, only insult me personally.

                You never “explain” anything. You only insult people who don’t blindly believe in what Kirby’s doing, and that’s fine if it’s your thing. To each his own. If you have neither the time nor inclination, why comment at all? To get your jabs in and to feel superior? That you never argue against anyone’s points with which you disagree, again, tells us all we need to know.

                Like

                • Greg

                  “you apparently didn’t get it the first time I explained it to you”

                  Either you don’t remember our discussion a few days ago, or again….you just do not get it, want to get it or listen. Not my job to teach you, change your mind, make you understand or convince you. But please carry on, it is entertaining….

                  BTW, I’m not insulting…it is just an honest observation.

                  Like

                  • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

                    We didn’t have a discussion a few days ago. I made points, as I did here. You didn’t argue the points, as you’re not doing here. That isn’t a discussion, it’s you grandstanding instead of engaging, as again, you’re doing here.

                    Like

    • spur21

      Les Miles lives in your head rent free. Please find something else to say – you are boring beyond boring with the same shit over and over for the past few years, Give it a rest we all KNOW you hate Kirby and you positively know far more than Kirby.

      Like

      • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

        If you think I hate Kirby, you know nothing, Jon Snow.

        What I hate is intractability, a refusal to adapt or evolve, and the inability for self reflection. I find those characteristics to be anathema, and as long as Kirby continues to display them, I will continue to decry that.

        Like

  2. Bright idea

    I already believed it and after reading this I am convinced that Brady calls all of the LSU plays. Ensminger as much as said so and he’s just happy to be along for the ride because he’s an LSU guy. I can see him retiring after tonight. He’s right, Burrow is what makes it go because he can scramble with his eyes down field.

    Like

  3. Former Fan

    Ego, or pride, is one of humankinds worst enemies. It undermines all forms of prosperity in many ways.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Charlottedawg

      Every successful person and competitor has an ego. You are not going to succeed in any arena if you don’t have a firm belief in oneself. The trick is balancing the fire and determination with reflection and adaptability.

      Like

    • Bulldog Joe

      True. Lasting success often comes with experience. Steve is 61 now.

      Auburn fans used the term ‘Nallsminger’ to describe the run-heavy pro-style ‘manball’ offense Ensminger and Georgia grad Hugh Nall deployed at Auburn in 2003. Auburn underachieved that season despite having future NFLers Jason Campbell, Carnell Williams, Ronnie Brown, and Brandon Jacobs on offense. Post season, Auburn brought in Al Borges, who scrapped that offense, simplified things for the QB, and went undefeated the following year.

      Steve got demoted at Auburn and found himself coaching high school ball a few years later before working his way back at LSU. How quickly a leader recognizes ‘failure’ and adapts in a positive way ultimately determines the level of success achieved.

      Like

  4. ApalachDawg

    Brady could be the greatest thing evuh but if Joe Burrow was G Talley/Joe Cox/Lambert, etc, this “greatest lsu team evuh”, ain’t happening.
    College football always will be about the team with more talent.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. MGW

    Yeah I’ve mulled that whole ego thing over. I just don’t think that whole Ensminger/Brady thing can just be grafted onto any ole staff. Takes the right personalities and the exact right situation.

    But I won’t be surprised if a few programs try to do it so they don’t have to outright fire an OC, and the whole thing just completely blows up in their faces.

    Like

  6. Jack Klompus

    Your comment at the end is absolutely on target. This is 80% about Joe Burrow. Emsinger and Brady are great and very bright. A great combination to take advantage of JBs skills and talent. I’m guessing, however, if you would have plugged Brady into UGA with the WRs we had last year, he would not have been the miracle worker he’s made out to be.

    Brady would be wise to ride the wave of success he’s had this year at LSU. His star could easily dim with an off-year, which is a distinct possibility with JB leaving.

    Like

    • Jack Klompus

      Oh and I do admire Emsinger for being willing to be a team player and doing what’s best for the team. It’s pretty fucking rare anywhere.

      Like

    • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

      You don’t think getting better coaching (Brady was the WR coach) and being plugged-into an offense that is designed to scheme receivers open in space to catch the ball opposed to being shackled to an offense where every catch is contested because the scheme does nothing to create mismatches in the secondary wouldn’t help Georgia’s WRs or QB? Really?

      I’m tired of the “we didn’t have any talent” at WR b.s. winning the day. We had plenty of blue chip talent at receiver. None of them are being used correctly. D-Rob goes for 1000 yards as a freshman in a scheme designed to get him open in space to catch the ball, but at Georgia he can’t catch a cold. You don’t think he’d excel in LSU’s offense?

      It’s the coaching, not the players. Between Hankerton and Coley, the coaching is garbage.

      Like

  7. Mayor

    Burrow isn’t the Second Coming. He’s just a good quarterback coached to excel. Jake Fromm could have been Burrow. IMHO he was just as talented in 2018 as Burrow. But something happened. Joe Burrow got coached up. Jake Fromm got coached down. So now we have one, Burrow, winning the Heisman and the other, Fromm, turning pro to get away before the Georgia coaching staff completely f*cks up his career.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

      BINGO!!!

      Like

    • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

      Also, Andy Staples made this exact argument at The Athletic in his post-SEC Title Game column, in which he implored Kirby Smart to embrace the realities of modern college football and open up his offense.

      Like

      • Jack Klompus

        Look, you could have opened up that offense and Fromm wasn’t the guy to run it, nor was Matt Landers or Tyler Simmons the two guys to be the receivers.

        We schemed Drob open and he consistently dropped the ball. Tyler Simmons was schemed open as was Matt Landers. Don’t try to tell me that those three guys are anywhere near the quality of LSUs receivers.

        Finally, as far as the talent gap between Fromm and Burrow, um, who is projected to be the #1 pick in the draft and who’s projected to be the 4th QB taken? There is absolutely a different level of talent.

        Like

        • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

          To address your points:

          We didn’t scheme D-Rob open. He got open a couple of times against busted coverage. That’s not the same thing as using motion from the slot to scheme him against linebacker coverage and then throwing to him over the middle of the field in space to have YAC opportunity. Also, you didn’t address the point that a different coach (Brady) would help D-Rob more than a lesser coach who’s a good recruiter (Hankerton).

          You cherry pick D-Rob, Landers, and Simmons, and linsinuate like I’m talking about only those guys. Not Pickens. Not Blaylock. Not Cager. And not James Cook. Yes, James Cook who was criminally underutilized by Kirby and Coley. But even if it were just those three, you don’t think a better coach could’ve helped them?

          That last illustrates another problem with Kirby: he promotes good recruiters to on-field coaching positions where they fail. Coley and Hankerton are prime examples of this.

          Finally, Andy Staples completely obliterated your assertion that there is a talent gap between Burrow and Fromm. Fromm has been stuck in an offense that asks him to do nothing. That won’t let him throw over the middle of the field. Fromm ran a spread offense in high school and set state records. He can sling the ball all over the yard and be a difference maker. Kirby and Coley (and Chaney before him) don’t let him do that until the two minute drill, when guess what? Fromm slings the ball and makes a difference.

          I appreciate the discussion, but I’ve now answered your points of contention.

          Like

    • Jack Klompus

      So, you’re saying with a little coaching up, Fromm could’ve made plays like this?

      Like

      • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

        You’re point to one play and making that the entirety of your argument. The issue is, Fromm doesn’t have to be that guy. Burrow is a great talent, I’m not saying he isn’t. What I am saying is that Fromm is a great talent, too, with a different skill set that was ill-used by his play not to lose coaches at Georgia who wouldn’t let him do anything that played to the strengths of his skill set. This argument that Fromm has to be Burrow to be successful or succeed in a similar offense is bogus. We know Fromm can succeed in an offense where he throws over the field to WRs that are open in space because of the spread scheme, and move the offense down the field in the HUNH because he’s done it. He did it in high school and he’s done it in Georgia in the two-minute drill.

        The problem was never Fromm, who remember NFL Scouts said was a first round draft pick before Coley tanked his mechanics and confidence as both a bad QB Coach and bad OC.

        The problem is not the players at Georgia on offense. The problem is the coaches. The scheme. The play not to lose philosophy. The problem is Kirby.

        Like

    • Derek

      Greyson Lambert is Tom Brady without a coach.

      Richard Samuel would have been Herschel Walker but Herschel had the great Ray Goff to coach him up.

      Smrt!

      Like

  8. Texas Dawg

    A lot of the arguments that I read here could have been applied to Les Miles when he was at LSU. Loaded with talent. Smothering defenses. Very talented but unimaginative offenses. He caught lightning in a bottle and won a NC with the that formula. It also cost him his job.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mayor

      The Hat lucked into that nattie. Georgia, at the end of the season at least, was the better team but was prevented from playing for the championship by the most vicious lobbying campaign ever conducted by ESPN talking heads to keep the Dawgs out of the BCSNCG. Georgia played LSU the following season and beat the Tigers by 2 TDs proving that Georgia had the better team and better team.

      Like

      • Texas Dawg

        Just made my point for me. He LUCKED into a NC. The LSU crowd will tell you that they had a shot at several more. He had phenomenal defenses (just ask Bama). He had offenses that had NFL talent all over the field, and had to luck into the NC. Why? Because he stubbornly refused to do anything different than what he had always been successful with even while the world around him changed. Not saying Kirby can not evolve. I am highly enthusiastic that he will this season. It does not have to be radical change, but he has to move the meter a little or else he is headed towards the same ending as Les.

        Like

    • Derek

      Les was also very unlucky to have been a position to have to beat Alabama twice in 2011.

      Like

    • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

      We didn’t play in the SEC Title Game because we let a terrible South Carolina team beat us at home because Soft Willie refused to change his defensive gameplan to stop the run, which Spurrier gleefully gashed us with the entire fourth quarter. Even with the blowout loss to Tennessee, again because Soft Willie refused to adapt his approach and let Ainge pick apart his soft zone coverages, it’s the unforgivible South Carolina loss that kept us from winning a National Title in 2007.

      Don’t let Richt and his terrible choice for DC off the hook.

      Like

      • Derek

        The 44 pass attempts in a 16-12 loss probably were a bad idea. 4.8 ypa. Atrocious.

        Moreno had 104 on 14 carries or 7.4 per tote. We might have given him a few more.

        USC ran for 4.1 ypc so you’re no doubt right about the REAL issues.

        Like

        • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

          I was at the game in the student section in the West Endzone. I watched South Carolina run the ball the entire fourth quarter and our defense never adjusted to stop it. They ran the ball for 4 yards a carry? Guess what, when you continue to do nothing but run on first, second, and third down, and the defense isn’t respecting the run, that’s a first down keeping the clock moving.

          But Derek knows all. LOL.

          Like

          • Derek

            I was at the game too if that matters.

            Btw the play by play says you’re fos. https://www.espn.com/college-football/playbyplay?gameId=272510061

            Only one drive is as you described.

            You’re completely full of shit.

            Like

            • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

              Where am I wrong? I see 11 play, 5 play, 6 play drives kept alive by the run that Georgia never stopped, even though they had the defensive line talent to dominate the line of scrimmage in 2007. Every drive ticking valuable seconds off the clock. I’m full of shit? No one in the history of the internet is more full of shit than Derek. LOL.

              Like

              • Derek

                Everything. You said they only ran the ball in the fourth. Its not true.

                Sixth to last drive: 6 plays 3 passes and 3 rushes
                Fifth to last drive: 5 plays all passes
                Fourth to last drive: 2 runs, 1 pass
                Third to last drive: 7 of 11 plays were passes.
                Second to last drive: 5 plays all passes.
                Last drive 6 rushes for 40

                You are full of shit. You’ve invented a reality that does not exist anywhere except in your own head.

                Like

                • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

                  “You are full of shit. You’ve invented a reality that does not exist anywhere except in your own head.”

                  Kind of like when you assert that Fromm and Georgia couldn’t succeed with an LSU-style pro spread offense because of D-Rob, Landers, and SImmons, while never mentioning Cager, Pickens, Blalock, or Cook?

                  Something like that, Derek?

                  Or maybe my memory of something from 12 years ago focused on that final Carolina drive and that what was burned in my memory. How a Georgia defense with that d-line talent couldn’t adjust to stop all those runs as time ticked-away?

                  See the thing is Derek, is you’re an asshole. I may disagree with people, I may say people are wrong and argue as to why, but I’m not going to argue minute details of something that happened 12 years ago, and then if they get something wrong, say they’re full of shit. Now, some people may think I’m an asshole, and I’m okay with it.

                  But Derek, you’re a REAL asshole.

                  Like

      • Texas Dawg

        Break out the popcorn, this is getting good!

        Like

  9. Derek

    “But the difference in the game is the quarterback. They make the plays. You go watch the Oklahoma game. Joe Burrow made some throws, some back shoulder throws, that people don’t make. You have to have that. I mean, that doesn’t happen every year.”

    Ensminger on not being a very good coach some years.

    Like

  10. Derek

    “Joe Burrow is a hell of a lot smarter than I am, okay? That’s a fact. He does stuff that I’m like, Why in the heck did you do that?”

    -Ensminger on its all about coachin’!

    Like

  11. Derek

    “Georgia, Kirby, heck, I was at Georgia when Kirby was there, good friend of mine, for them to show us a total different defense, they’re the No. 2 defense in the country at the time. He’ll never change. I said, Look, I know Kirby, he’ll never change, that’s who they are.

    For them to come out and play a different defense, obviously we’re doing something right. But it all comes back to we got No. 9 at quarterback. That’s the whole deal.“

    -Ensminger on the QB position being “plug and play.”

    Like

    • Russ

      So why couldn’t Burrow do all this last year when Brady wasn’t there? Why didn’t he do it at aOSU instead of having to transfer?

      Burrow’s got great talent, no doubt, but Brady and his scheme allowed Burrow to excel. You’ve conveniently left out the quotes from Coach O saying the Pro Style wasn’t going to win for them and they had to go spread. That’s a coaching change that allowed their athletes (Burrow and the receivers) to excel like they hadn’t before.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

        Shhh. Don’t appeal to Derek or others with logic and reason, Russ. For it is logic and reason they lack.

        Like

  12. Derek

    Dummies. The quotes above aren’t about Fromm.

    They’re Ensminger making the point that its Burrow, not him or Joe Brady, that make the difference. That’s not false modesty either. Its reality.

    The football players on the field make the plays OR do not make the plays. This isn’t chess where each side gets exactly the same pieces.

    Like

    • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

      The point’s been made by people smarter than you or I that Jake Fromm can be every bit the dynamic QB throwing the ball had he been in a scheme that utilized those strengths properly, instead of being constrained by Kirby’s play not to lose offensive philosophy.

      But sure. You keep thinking otherwise.

      Like

      • Derek

        With Tyler Simmons and Matt Landers and Wolf and Woerner as targets?

        I fucking doubt it.

        You are stupid to think any human being could have taken that roster and turned it into an offensive juggernaut.

        It was not going to happen. Joe burrow would not be playing tonight had he transferred to Athens with Joe Brady in tow.

        Quite frankly as limited as they were we should be happy that we beat UF, AU and won the east and the sugar bowl. Lesser coaches would not have won the east without cager in the mix.

        Like

        • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

          Why do you people keep bringing up the worst of the Georgia pass catchers as if that makes your point? This is the dumbest argument that you and others keep making, and yet, no matter how many times it gets pointed out how ludicrous this argument is, you keep making it. You argue that the bottom of Georgia’s bench at WR were the only pass catching options or would’ve made Georgia unsuccessful running an LSU-style pro spread offense?

          Where was the bottom of the bench for LSU this year? Oh, what’s that, they had pretty much three or four primary pass catchers this year that excelled on the field?

          Cager, Pickens, Blaylock, and Cook in an LSU-style pro spread with Jake Fromm throwing to them would be ever bit as good as LSU has been this year. I also submit, AGAIN, that D-Rob and the others who struggled, but particularly D-Rob who HAS BEEN SUCCESSFUL ELSEWHERE, would’ve been better under Brady’s coaching as opposed to Hankerton.

          Jesus Derek… it’s like you don’t even try. You argue poorly.

          Like

  13. Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

    I just got an email saying TexasDawg left a reply, I clicked the reply link, and it had Derek instead of TexasDawg as the person who replied.

    Weird. Wait… are TexasDawg and Derek the same guy?

    Like

  14. duronimo

    Professionals working together. Ego’s checked at the door. Excellent results
    …. likely easier to accomplish in sports than in politics or religion.

    Like

  15. It’ll be interesting to see that offense without Burrow because as of today, I believe he’s had the most to do with their offensive success. Well, the play calling is probably equal but Burrow is just one of the best QBs in a long time. At least this year. He sees the entire field, can make any throw and is athletic enough to make something from nothing.

    Of course, having those WRs and that OL helps. Their offense was the polar opposite of ours for the most part.

    Like

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