The Tigers have completed their coaching staff, and it will take some time for LSU fans, as well as writers, to get to know the new members of the coaching staff. One coach the LSU faithful really need to get to know would be Joe Sloan.
Now the LSU Quarterbacks Coach, Sloan has overseen really good offenses in Ruston for Louisiana Tech since 2013, and he’s been a versatile commodity for the Bulldogs by being the Inside Wide Receivers Coach, Assistant Head Coach, Recruiting Coordinator and Offensive Coordinator.
Finding a young and spirited coach to be a part of the LSU staff that also has such a wide variety of coaching skills was a coup for Head Coach Brian Kelly. Here are three areas to follow closely for the fans of the purple and gold.
Straight to the point, LSU needs to add bodies to the LSU quarterback room. Until another recruiting class comes about, however, that’s not likely barring Coach Kelly giving the okay to take a graduate transfer or underclassmen transfer.
So, who’s going to be the signal caller in Baton Rouge during this transition year? There’s Myles Brennan, a fifth-year senior that’s struggled to stay healthy, then two young guns in sophomore Garrett Nussmeier and incoming freshman Walker Howard from Lafayette (La.) St. Thomas Moore, a national recruit and one that LSU had to have.
Considering Louisiana Tech’s high-powered offenses over the better part of the last decade were pass-first, it’s going to be interesting to see how Sloan not only develops the LSU signal callers but how much he places on their plate in year one.
In 2016, Louisiana Tech’s passing game was truly elite. Quarterback Ryan Higgins completed 329 of 496 passes for 4,617 yards, 41 touchdowns and nine interceptions. That high-flying offense also utilized the talents of two wide receivers – Trent Taylor and Carlos Henderson – that combined for 3,338 yards and 31 touchdowns. To say that Coach Sloan has been directly involved with coaching elite passing games would be an understatement. That stated, it’s not all that he’s overseen.
Before anyone jumps into the discussion of LSU being predominantly a passing offense, do note that Louisiana Tech’s rushing attack averaged between 148 and 172 rushing yards per game from 2013-2017. There will be some balance with how the Tigers move the football based on history. Now, consider the following about Louisiana Tech’s 2019 All-Conference USA quarterback J’Mar Smith.
His statistics for 2019 include completing 236 of 367 passes for 2,977 yards, 8.1 average, 18 touchdowns and five interceptions. One other quick note prior to talking about the wide receivers room.
Smith also rushed for 264 yards and four scores in 2019. LSU has better athletes at quarterback than many people probably know. The Tigers could utilize the quarterback position to run the football from time to time.
The Next Great LSU Wide Receivers
LSU has a plethora of great wide receivers from the past 10-15 years that have gone on to NFL riches. With that said, each wide receiver must be developed to fit into the new system. With players coming back like Kayshon Boutte, Jack Bech, Malik Nabers, Chris Hilton and Brian Thomas, Jr., the wide receiver room is stocked with some high-end talent.
Everyone knows about Boutte, but can LSU find that No. 2 wide receiver that stretches a defense and is consistent with his technique and being a good soldier by blocking during running plays as well? That’s the mission.
Assuming the quarterback position pans out in 2022, LSU could really explode as a passing offense with all of its wide receiver weapons. Let’s see how that develops through spring and then reconvene about where the position stands.
Just want to touch on this area. Coach Sloan has been a recruiting coordinator, which means he’s overseen the day-to-day developments of how and where a program goes about attracting talent. That’s a huge responsibility and it will lend experience to him and the LSU staff as he gets settled in Baton Rouge.
A well respected recruiter, Coach Sloan will now be entering the SEC recruiting battles that are so often talked about. Battling Texas A&M and Alabama will be pivotal, two SEC West foes that are recruiting at ridiculous levels. LSU absolutely must close the recruiting gap immediately or be left behind. Sloan’s recruiting acumen will be key in that happening. He’s also now going to be involved with a different kind of recruiting situation that’s political and tactical.
Can he help the LSU coaching staff figure out how to balance the in-state and out-of-state scholarship balance to keep the vast majority of top Louisiana prep players at home while still plucking a handful of top out of state players to add to the Tigers’ roster? That’s the goal.
Alabama has raided Louisiana for years and now other programs are starting to raid Louisiana as well. LSU needs to do a far better job of keeping in-state talent home than it has in the last decade. It’s still harder to do than what a person might know, however.
There are a lot of politics involved with in-state recruits to offer, as well as when to offer. It’s touchy when an out-of-state recruit is evaluated and ranked higher by the LSU staff than an in-state player.. If they do not appease high school coaches locally, going after out-of-state players can backfire in multiple ways. That’s the recruiting world he’s also now going to be a part of.
LSU brought in a coach with experience and versatility with Coach Sloan. Much of LSU’s progress will have his fingerprints all over it. Can he make an immediate impact as the Quarterbacks Coach? How about the overall development of the offensive scheme? Then, there’s the need to vastly improve the recruiting aspect of what LSU needs to do to compete with other SEC schools like Texas A&M and Alabama. Coach Sloan is going to be a valuable piece of the LSU coaching staff in several ways. He has difficult tasks ahead of him, but he’s a proven winner.