One LSU assistant could be pivotal to success in 2021

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One LSU assistant could be pivotal to success in 2021
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This offseason all the headlines seem to revolve around head coach Ed Orgeron turning it around after posting a 5-5 record. He responded by replacing his offensive coordinator with Jake Peetz. Steven Ensminger would head into an analyst role. Bo Pelini was relieved of his duties and the team went with Daronte Jones. The team would have to find a replacement at offensive line coach after firing James Cregg.

Could the new offensive line coach be a huge factor in the upcoming season? ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg (subscription required) circled Brad Davis on his position coach watching heading into the 2021 campaign.

Davis joins the Tigers after spending the 2020 season with the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Davis is on quite the SEC tour, as LSU marks his fourth stop in the league since 2017. He spent a season coaching Florida’s offensive line before moving to Missouri for the 2018 and 2019 seasons, and then joining Sam Pittman at Arkansas last fall. A Baton Rouge native, Davis played offensive line for Oklahoma’s national championship team in 2000 and has coached the position at multiple levels and in multiple regions.

LSU needed an offensive line coach after firing James Cregg in June, and the school had to pay big money (three-year contract that averages $830,000 annually) to land Davis on short notice. The Tigers were set to return all five starting linemen before tackle Dare Rosenthal transferred to Kentucky. Davis’ work with Cameron Wire, set to replace Rosenthal, and holdovers such as guard Ed Ingram and center Liam Shanahan will be especially important with a young quarterback, Max Johnson, stepping into the clear starting role after Myles Brennan’s arm injury.

With such a young quarterback in Max Johnson starting in the 2021 season, protecting him is at a premium. Yes, a team should always worry about protecting the quarterback but even more so with Johnson. Given that the running backs didn’t perform at a level many expected, the offensive line opening holes for them will be huge as well.

The Tigers ran the ball on an average of 36.5 attempts per game last year. While they ran for 121.7 yards per game and 3.3 yards per attempt, the defense gave up way more. A difference of almost 50 yards per game more. The Tigers need Tyrion Davis-Price and John Emery Jr to have a bigger impact on the offense in 2021.

In 2019 during the national championship run, LSU ran for 167.3 yards per game and 4.9 yards per attempt. Getting back to that level of production will help. Last season under Davis, the Razorbacks averaged 151.3 rushing yards per game. Davis plus new offensive coordinator Jake Peetz could be the equation that gives the Tigers an edge on offense for the 2021 campaign.

Peetz coached the running backs for the Carolina Panthers in 2019 before moving to quarterbacks coach for the 2020 season. He knows how important it will be to get the running backs involved. If Davis can get the protection right for the offense and provide more opportunities for the backs, his hire will have been worth what they paid to get him.

List

Ranking the most important LSU players for 2021 season