LSU needs more offense. Tigers coach Ed Orgeron will trust Canada.
In an SEC chock-full of coordinator storylines -- there were 10 coordinator changes among the 28 such jobs in the league -- there might not be one more critical than the hiring of Matt Canada to run the LSU attack. The Tigers lost four games last season. They failed to score more than 14 points in each of those defeats.
"Matt runs a very diverse offense -- a lot of shifts, motions, use of personnel, fly sweeps. He makes it difficult to defend," Orgeron said Monday on the first day of SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala.
"The thing that I like the best about Matt is he talked about being a team player and he talked about being a balanced offense -- 50 percent run, 50 percent pass. I think he's going to do an outstanding job. I have to give credit to Matt to come in during the spring and install his offense with a brand new offensive staff, guys he had never met before. They jelled well."
Orgeron, entering his first full season as LSU's head coach after taking over on an interim basis for fired Les Miles, lured Canada from Pittsburgh. The Panthers averaged 40.9 points last season and totaled 85 points in wins over Big Ten champion Penn State and national champ Clemson.
LSU hasn't ranked in the national top 100 in passing in any of the past three seasons, and it did not crack the top 44 in scoring during that span. The Tigers averaged 28.3 points in 2016, ranking 68th nationally.
Canada signed a three-year contract worth $1.5 million per year, putting him among the nation's highest-paid coordinators. He can certainly lean on running back Darrius Guice, whose breakout 2016 season included an SEC-best 1,387 rushing yards, with two games of 250-plus.
But for LSU to close the gap on Alabama in the SEC West, the Tigers need to be more diverse offensively and have a bigger threat from the passing game.
"When I interviewed Matt, I said, 'Matt, what kind of quarterback do you need?'" Orgeron said. "He said, 'Coach, we can have success with a pro-style quarterback or a dual-threat quarterback.' I said, 'Good, we have both.'"
Returning starter Danny Etling, a senior, brings a pro-style approach but wasn't dynamic enough last season to help the offense produce big plays. He completed 160 of 269 passes for 2,123 yards, with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Other candidates include sophomore Justin McMillan, redshirt freshman Lindsey Scott Jr., and true freshmen Lowell Narcisse and Myles Brennan.
Orgeron said there will be a quarterback competition in camp, although he added that, "Right now if we were to play, Danny Etling would be our starter."
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