When offensive lineman Liam Shanahan reveled at the "energy" that Jake Peetz and the new offensive staff have brought, it seemed like a solid, albeit cliche description. But then fellow linemen Ed Ingram, Austin Deculus and even quarterback Myles Brennan all used the word "energy" to describe the first few days of spring practice.
That's because the offensive players feel it to. This new staff has all of the energy to not only relate to the players off the field, but keep the players engaged on the field with their coaching styles. For example, during the portion of practice open to the media, there was passing game coordinator DJ Mangas working with the receivers on jump balls.
He wasn't just sticking a hand up or going through the motions with the players. He was jumping with the receivers in the drill, to all of the player's amusement.
That kind of energy was seen all over the practice field as offensive coordinator Jake Peetz was also extremely locked in and right in the middle of the individual drills the quarterbacks and running backs were engaged in as well. It's that kind of spark that seemed to be missing from last season's team and it's trickled all across the positions on the roster, not just offense.
"Coach Peetz has brought a new energy into the building," quarterback Myles Brennan said. "The biggest thing he wanted to do before he started with X's and O's is he wanted to build a relationship with all of the players. He's done a tremendous job of that. He calls me twice, three times a day just to check in and it's beyond football which is very nice.
"The mindset has been awesome and guys are really stepping up, rising to the challenge," center Liam Shanahan said. "I feel like this new staff has certainly brought this new feeling of energy we've had the last couple of months. It's refreshing having a new guy at OC and I'm excited for the next few weeks to keep putting it all together."
Brennan said one of the biggest points of emphasis Peetz brought with him from Carolina was he wanted to learn the LSU offense and not bring in a totally different scheme. LSU was out of the shotgun plenty in 2020 and Peetz is certainly going to use some of the more successful packages. But he also will tweak this offense for the better, using the entirety of the field while mixing up looks to keep the opposing defense guessing.
What also sparks the energy is the level of competition that's expected with this spring. Roles aren't very defined this spring as quarterback, running back and receiver all feel like wide open positions.
Brennan will be lobbying for the starting job next to Max Johnson, TJ Finley and freshman Garrett Nussmeier, who's impressed in his first couple of weeks with the program. Mangas has even brought back the 11,000 catch requirement for receivers this spring, something Joe Brady first implemented to receivers when he was in Baton Rouge for the 2019 season.
The now senior quarterback Brennan is focused on being a leader while also improving on some of the areas that gave him trouble during his three starts behind center in 2020.
"This spring I'm really just focused on getting myself better," Brennan said. "It's been a long time since I've been out with the team and getting to gel with my guys again. It felt really good to be out there with a helmet on and there's a few things I wanna perfect and critque myself.
"We have a very strong quarterback room. We have a lot of talented guys in there and I'm excited to go out there and compete with them every day and make each other better," Brennan said. "You'd have never thought LSU has as strong a quarterback room as we have now."
Sophomore Kayshon Boutte is already on No. 5,400 of the catch program so it appears that he'll go above and beyond the requirements set out by Mangas which is nice to see out of the presumed No. 1 receiver.
"Coming into the season I didn't really know what to expect but now that I've played a whole season, I kind of know what to expect," Boutte said. "This is really my first offseason so this is a focus for me because I want to have a big year."
Just a couple of days ago the Joe Moore award that the offensive line won back in 2019 after the national championship season, was taken away and shipped to the 2020 winner, Alabama. When offensive line coach James Cregg told his players about it, fifth year senior offensive tackle Austin Deculus said it lit a fire under him and all of the guys who were on that team two years ago.
Back in 2018, it was an offensive line group that was much maligned before having the breakout season in 2019. Last year, with four new starters up front, it was much of the same as the Tigers' inconsistency up front was heavily ridiculed. With the entire offensive line coming back, Deculus envisions a similar season to 2019.
"Our main goal is trying to bring that award back to where it belongs," Deculus said. "I truly do feel like we have the chance to do that. Having a veteran group back on both sides of the ball, it's going to be how coach O states, iron sharpens iron. I personally love the new concept of the offense because it gives playmakers the plays to make plays and just having fun, like you would play football in the back yard."
This is an experienced group in a lot of areas for this offense in 2021 and it will likely be one of the more competitive offseasons this program has had in many years. With a new staff, all of these players want to make a strong first impression this spring, starting with the veteran returners.
"A lot of the veterans are obviously bought in and they didn't come back just to go through spring ball and fourth quarter another year," Brennan said. "They came back to make a statement, to prove a point and to get back to where we all know we wanna be."
Photo courtesy of LSUsports.