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Spring Practice: Orgeron discusses new offense, addition of graduate transfer cornerback

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

LSU coach Ed Orgeron said the team had one of their best practices of the spring on Tuesday as they prepare for Saturday’s scrimmage.

“The guys had some juice,” Orgeron said of Tuesday’s practice, the first in 11 days due to spring break. “I was most proud because spring break as a coach, you don’t want your phone to ring, and my phone didn’t ring.”

Offensive playbook coming together

With the departure of former offensive coordinator Matt Canada, so goes the remnants of his playbook. Orgeron said that everything done under Canada is gone, and that the new offense is brand new and what they want to do.

One of the biggest architects of the new playbook along with offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger is passing game coordinator Jerry Sullivan. The 73-year-old Sullivan spent 25 years as a coach in the NFL, including one season as an offensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals, and is one of the most revered wide receiver coaches in the game.

“When I sent our staff out to Seattle, I wanted our defensive back coaches to go to Seattle,” Orgeron said. “Pete Carroll told me, ‘Yea, I’ll spend some time with them if you bring Jerry Sullivan to teach us wide receiver play.’ So I think we’ve got one of the best in the world.”

The offensive staff will visit with the New Orleans Saints, who Orgeron said gave the team an open-door policy, the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers over the course of the offseason.

Orgeron also said the team is committed to being 50/50 on offense, and that the personnel they are running is very multiple, which includes three-wide, four-wide and five-wide sets. However, Orgeron said everything comes down to protection, and LSU is not completely abandoning 21 personnel and the fullback.

“We will run the football when we have to, but [offensive coordinator] Steve [Ensminger] and I talked about it, we are committed to throwing the football,” Orgeron said.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire showing off at running back

Without Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams, LSU is left with huge hole at running back. However, it might not be the biggest of backs that fills that void.

Sophomore running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire spent most of last season as LSU’s primary kick returner and saw just 12 touches for 77 yards on offense. And on Tuesday, Orgeron once again pointed out the Baton Rouge native.

“I don’t know if it’s called progress, but Clyde Edwards-Helaire everyday does something spectacular, everyday,” Orgeron said. “Everyday he makes a run and you go, ‘Wow, look at that.’ Tremendous change of direction, tremendous vision.”

Edwards-Helaire will still have to compete with fellow Baton Rouge native and current senior Nick Brossette for the starting job throughout spring. If neither of those two grab hold of the starting role, the Tigers can turn to senior David Ducre, junior Lanard Fournette or freshmen Tae Provens and Chris Curry.

“We’ve got to use all of them,” Orgeron said. “Someway, somehow, they are all going to have to play.”

Cornerback concern

After missing out on five-star cornerback Patrick Surtain Jr., LSU was dealt another blow when it was announced that sophomore cornerback Kristian Fulton was suspended for the 2018 season by the NCAA.

The Tigers are trying to fill a spot on the opposite side of the field from sophomore Greedy Williams following the departure of Kevin Toliver and Donte Jackson to the NFL. To add depth to the position, sophomore Mannie Nethlery was moved from receiver, and Orgeron has said it is a priority to add a graduate transfer.

Former John Curtis standout Terrance Alexander is set to visit LSU this weekend. Alexander originally signed with Stanford in 2014 and had one interception in 41 games with the Cardinal.

The glaring need for another cornerback became more obvious to Orgeron when Williams missed practice on Tuesday for what Orgeron called a personal deal.

“We need a graduate corner,” Orgeron said. “We are hot-and-heavy on one right now. Hopefully things work out where we can get one soon. We’ve got to get Greedy back. He’s going to be back, he took care of some personal business [on Tuesday]. [Sophomores] Kary [Vincent] is going to have to step up, Jontre [Kirklin] is going to have to step up. One of them is going to have to step up, we are very thin at that position.”