As brutal as the 2020 season was for LSU and its fanbase, one of the few bright spots was the young, talented Tiger offense.
That side of the ball got an even bigger boost this week when LSU introduced new offensive coordinator Jake Peetz and passing game coordinator D.J. Mangas. The duo continue the trend of young, bright offensive minds started by former passing game coordinator Joe Brady, who was the key cog in the Tigers’ offensive explosion in 2019.
In fact, both Peetz and Mangas worked under Brady this past season with the Carolina Panthers: Peetz as the quarterbacks coach and Mangas as an offensive assistant. Both new hires came with strong recommendations from Brady, and all indications point to LSU channeling that 2019 offense that rewrote the record books.
“I’ve spent more time with [Brady] than any human being including my wife this last year,” Peetz said in his introductory press conference. “Joe Brady really helped me learn [his offense] at a different level. Preparation is what leads to confidence, and I think when you have that, when you have guys that have been in the grassroots of that system, you’re able to teach the players to an elite level, and then you let their talent take over.”
The talent is certainly there.
Quarterback Myles Brennan eclipsed 1,000 yards in just three games before his season was ended by a lower body injury. Backup true freshman Max Johnson—who also wound up with more than 1,000 yards through the air—turned heads with his 8:1 touchdown to interception ratio, highlighted by a dramatic upset win over Florida. Even fellow freshman T.J. Finley received praise for a few of his poised performances throughout the year.
Head coach Ed Orgeron says there will be an “open competition” for the starting spot, but Peetz thinks the Tigers are in good shape regardless of who winds up taking the first snap in Week 1.
“I do feel like all these guys can play in any style of offense that we want them to play in,” says Peetz, who speaks highly of all three quarterbacks as well as incoming four-star freshman Garrett Nussmeier. “All these kids, there’s not a limiting factor to their games saying, well, we can’t play this style of football. But whoever the quarterback is, and whenever it is that they play, we’re going to play to their strengths.”
Mangas’ name may be familiar to some LSU fans. He spent one season in Baton Rouge as an offensive analyst under former offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger and Brady. He then followed Brady to Carolina, adding NFL experience to his already impressive resume.
Mangas not only knows the high-powered offense in and out, but he’s familiar with a lot of the players he helped coach two seasons ago.
“The talent is always here at LSU,” Mangas says. “What Joe and Steve were able to do in 2019 was maximize the talent that we had. I think with Joe—just observing it and being around it and being a part of it—that’s the biggest thing: putting your players in position to succeed. Using the whole field from sideline-to-sideline, making all 11 defenders defend the field, and then putting your players in position to succeed.”
Whoever is under center will be throwing balls to a talented group of wideouts, headlined by rising sophomore Kayshon Boutte, who closed out 2020 by setting the LSU record for receiving yards in a game in a win against Ole Miss. He’ll be joined by fellow young wideouts in Koy Moore and Trey Palmer, as well as some experienced pass catchers like Jontre Kirklin and Jaray Jenkins.
That coupled with a deep and talented group of running backs and all five starters back on the offensive line has LSU fans excited about what could come to fruition on the field this fall.
“We want to aggressively attack the defense at all fronts, and we want to play the game the way we want to play the game,” Peetz says. “What we’re doing in this system—the spread system—is we want to define what things our players do at a very high level, and we want to amplify that. We want to adjust it, keep changing it, so people can’t set their watch to what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. And we want to involve everybody.”