LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger doesn't want junior Myles Brennan to try to be Joe Burrow. Following an act like Burrow's is no easy feat for any young quarterback and Brennan, who’s thrown 70 career pass attempts, is still in his infancy as an SEC quarterback.
"You're not Joe Burrow, you just be the best Myles Brennan you can be and it'll be enough I promise you," Ensminger told Brennan. "I still think he can be a great quarterback and this is why I don't do interviews, but I challenged our offense to break every record that offense broke last year. Can we achieve it, I don't know but we set some standards that we're going to go after."
Ensminger has seen Brennan develop in a myriad of ways over the course of the last six months and said the most important improvement he's seen Brennan make is his poise in the pocket and demeanor at the line of scrimmage.
"I think it's composure, his competitiveness and his studying of football. I think spending a year behind Joe Burrow really helped him,” Ensminger said. “Just in three short practices, I thought his patience in the pocket was different and I thought his demeanor of being able to check our protections at the line of scrimmage, he has studied that and has done a great job. I can't wait to get back to work with him.”
Ensminger, alongside Joe Brady, constructed the most dominant offense in college football history in 2019, one that scored a combined 726 points, the most points ever scored in a single season. On Monday night, Ensminger joined LSU play-by-play man Chris Blair on "LSU Sixty" to talk about what the 2020 offense will look like.
Ensminger said even before spring practice started and was ultimately cut short, he would take the offensive players out to the field to run through the plays. Even though a football was not allowed, the players were able to learn their individual assignments through those practices.
"Before spring started, we're allowed to go on the field for two hours per week so we kind of used that time of going out there and basically install our spring practice," Ensminger said. "You're not allowed to have a football with those practices but it was more for assignment purposes."
So the Tigers were already ahead of the curve in terms of installation but when spring ball was shut down after three practices, Ensminger had to adjust course. When the NCAA started allowing teams to “zoom” with their players for two, four and most recently, eight hours per week, Ensminger and the staff have used that time to completely install the offense.
The last couple of weeks have revolved around installing situational schemes such as red zone, tight zone, goal line and third down sets. As a result, when the time is safe for the team to reconvene on the field, Ensminger feels the team should be prepared mentally to hit the ground running.
"We're not slowing down either and now we're watching film with them as we install the offense," Ensminger said. "Mentally we should be prepared for it we just have to make sure we come back in shape and get ready for the season."
LSU lost enough weapons from 2019 to fill a small swimming pool including Justin Jefferson, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Thaddeus Moss, Stephen Sullivan and Derrick Dillon, but Ensminger is excited by the weapons the 2020 offense has returning and incoming.
"You've got Ja'Marr Chase coming back, Terrace Marshall coming back, I think Racey McMath is going to have a breakout season," Ensminger said. "Then we've got three receivers coming in [Arik Gilbert, Kayshon Boutte and Koy Moore] and I told somebody this last week when those three guys walk in, the competition begins. They might add more speed to the team than we had last year so I'm excited about it."
That not to mention the three running backs, who Ensminger reiterated on Monday, will be a by committee basis between Chris Curry, John Emery and Tyrion Davis-Price.
The challenge, Ensminger said, will be finding ways to get all of these weapons on the field, something he said he misses about spring ball. Spring practice allows Ensminger to move guys around to different spots and see what best fits the offense but that opportunity hasn't presented itself yet.
"We're not going to substitute, we don't want to take them off the field so it's about finding the right fits for a particular series," Ensminger said. "We don't want the defense to substitute, we're going to try and be a faster team and take our offense to another level."