When Joe Brady left for the Carolina Panthers, the vacancy he left behind, passing game coordinator, immediately became one of the more attractive college football assistant jobs in the country.
Coach Ed Orgeron eventually settled on long time NFL offensive coordinator and head coach Scott Linehan to aid in year two of the spread offense under Steve Ensminger. Like Brady a year ago, Linehan will work with the receivers and also find creative ways for the Tigers to have success in the red zone. His role becomes even more enhanced with the loss of star receiver Ja'Marr Chase.
It'll be Linehan's job to work alongside Mickey Joseph and help some of the younger receivers make an even quicker adjustment to life in college football. Linehan has had remarkable success with Hall of Fame talents like Randy Moss and Calvin Johnson Jr. in the past.
Since his arrival to Baton Rouge, Orgeron said Linehan has proved to be a terrific hire for the purple and gold.
"He's brought in some different techniques to our receivers. He's brought in some things that he did in the NFL, especially for Arik Gilbert. I think if you ask Ja'Marr Chase, he was very happy with him," Orgeron said Tuesday.
Now, Terrace Marshall Jr., Arik Gilbert and Racey McMath will be required to do much of the heavy lifting with Chase out of the picture. Marshall and Gilbert figure to be go to threats for quarterback Myles Brennan at all times but particularly in the redzone this season.
"We're still in the spread. There's some different concepts that we're running in the redzone and in the tight red that he's brought into us," Orgeron said. "He's going to help me with game management in the two-minute. The guy's been phenomenal.
"The one thing I'll say about Scott, he's been a head coach, he's been a coordinator and he is about as level-headed and professional as anybody I've been around. He's a great staff guy, our guys love him. Him and Mickey work well together, he and Steve work well together. I think he was a tremendous hire."
Gilbert has been the talk of the offseason as one of the Tigers most exciting new weapons. Orgeron has said multiple times one of the benefits of bringing Linehan on board is he knows how to get the most out of star receivers.
The freshman tight end out of Marietta, Georgia figures to be an integral piece of the offense for the next three years and his role will expand beyond tight end in the future. The team wants Gilbert to eventually impact the game as a tight end, in the slot and as an outside receiver.
"Obviously, we can use him at tight end. That's easy, but we can split him out at X, we can put him at the S, we can use him," Orgeron said on 104.5 ESPN's Off The Bench in April."Scott Linehan was with Megatron (Calvin Johnson) at Detroit. There's the same plays that we can use with Arik with Megatron. I'm not going to say he's going to be Megatron, but he's a good player and we can get some mismatches with this kid. "
However, for now it seems that the coaching staff has told the freshman phenom to just focus on getting the tight end concepts down first.
"We want him to learn tight end, get the tight end down because we're doing a lot of stuff with him," Orgeron told reporters last week. "We're flexing him out, he's in motion, he's got to do this on this play, do this on this play so we want him to learn the tight end position and get good at that then eventually we can move him out and yes, he could be."
Younger talents like sophomore Trey Palmer and freshmen Kayshon Boutte and Koy Moore will also be asked to step into a bigger role with McMath likely to move to the outside opposite Marshall. Which players ultimately stick to the rotation will be determined over the next few weeks of practice and into the start of the season.
Linehan will be an important voice in making those decisions and how to best utilize the offense without one of its more prominent receivers in recent memory.