Ed Orgeron wants to take his time with the defensive coordinator hire. Orgeron knows better than anyone that getting this hire right is just about the most important element to an improved LSU roster that was 124th in total defense in 2020.
While he and his staff are thoroughly discussing and evaluating potential candidates, he's spearheading the meetings on the defensive side of the ball with "Football School" right around the corner. In terms of where the search currently stands, Orgeron said on Off the Bench Tuesday that there is a lot of momentum building and believes this is a job that should be among the most coveted because of the talent that's returning.
"Looking good, we have a lot of great candidates, it's about getting the right fit," Orgeron said. "Hopefully we can get it within the next week but we're gonna take our time and get the right people in here. I think eventually all the pieces will fit together."
Orgeron mentioned that one of the reasons LSU can be a little more lenient in terms of the timeframe of hiring a defensive coordinator is because of the coaches that are still on staff including him, Corey Raymond, Christian LaCouture and a number of analysts.
"We can take care of it until we find the right guy. I've been coaching defense all my life. I do believe the right guy will come along," Orgeron said.
With the entire starting defensive line returning and one of the best cornerback tandems in the country in Derek Stingley and Elias Ricks on the outside, Orgeron sees no reason why this LSU defense can't be a top-20 unit in 2021. Those are always the standards in Baton Rouge but after such a down season, there is still concern about how much this unit will actually be able to improve.
One of the more important revelations to come out of Tuesday's interview on the weekly Baton Rouge radio show was the expected flexibility Orgeron said the defense will need to play with next season. After moving full steam ahead in primarily a 4-3 during the 2020 season Orgeron said he's looking for a coordinator with diversity in the defenses that are called in 2021.
"You gotta be multiple nowadays, I don't think you can only play one or the other," Orgeron said. "You see all the great defenses out there. The better defenses are playing both, you gotta play some 3-4 to stop the run, you gotta play some nickel package and most of the nickel package is in the 4-3. I think if you can remain flexible, which we have the talent to play both, I think you need to remain flexible there."
After having three weeks off, which is something that the staff hasn't really been used to, the coaches were recruiting over the holidays while also talking to the veteran players in the hope they'd return. With nine veterans back, including four of the starting offensive linemen and the entire defensive line, it's certainly something the staff can hang their hats on.
"Those were constantly on the phone with me, helping me recruit players to come back. James Cregg did a great job in getting his whole offensive line to come back," Orgeron said.