As a quarterback, Steve Ensminger led LSU to three-straight bowl games from 1977-79.
LSU Athletics Creative Services

Former LSU QB Ensminger Named Offensive Coordinator

Michael Bonnette (@LSUBonnette)
Michael Bonnette (@LSUBonnette)
Assoc. Athletic Director/Communications

BATON ROUGE – Steve Ensminger, a former LSU quarterback and longtime assistant coach for the Tigers, has been promoted to offensive coordinator at his alma mater, head coach Ed Orgeron announced on Wednesday afternoon.

Orgeron will formally introduce Ensminger at a press conference at noon CT on Thursday in the Team Room at the LSU Football Operations Building. Thursday’s press conference will be streamed live on www.LSUsports.net/live and www.Facebook.com/LSUfootball

Ensminger, widely regarded for his development of quarterbacks, spent the past eight years on the Tigers coaching staff from 2010-17. He served as offensive coordinator for the final eight games of the 2016 season when he called plays and directed an LSU offense that averaged 32 points and 465 total yards per game.

Ensminger elevated the Tigers offense into one of the top units in the Southeastern Conference over the final two months of 2016. LSU went 6-2 over the final eight games in 2016, scoring at least 35 points five times and topping the 500 yard mark on four occasions.

With Ensminger developing a game plan and calling plays, LSU set numerous records in 2016.

The list of LSU records broken in 2016 include:

  • Total offense in an SEC game: 634 vs. Missouri
  • Time of Possession: 42:33 vs. Missouri
  • Longest run from scrimmage: 96 yards by Derrius Guice vs. Arkansas
  • Rushing yards in game (set twice): – 284 by Leonard Fournette vs. Ole Miss; 285 by Guice vs. Texas A&M

Other noteworthy accomplishments for the Tigers in 2016 with Ensminger as the offensive coordinator include:

  • 418 rushing yards vs. Missouri (most by an LSU team since 1976)
  • 300-yard passer (Danny Etling) and 200-yard rusher (Guice) vs. Texas A&M – a first in LSU history
  • 622 yards of total offense vs. Texas A&M – second most by LSU team in a true road game

Ensminger, who quarterbacked the Tigers to three bowl games as a player for Charles McClendon from 1977-79, has served as offensive coordinator at schools in the SEC, Big 12 and the ACC.

LSU Football
January 11, 2018

Head Coach Ed Orgeron
Opening statement …
“What a great day for our LSU football team. I am so proud of Steve Ensminger, our next offensive coordinator. Steve is a Tiger through and through. He’s dedicated his life to football as a player here at LSU and a coach all over the country. He’s a great family man. His family is here today. We are so proud that they are all here. He’s a Baton Rouge native. He’s 100 percent committed to LSU. I know that from working with him on a daily basis. I’ve been knowing him for a long period of time. He’s not just one of our own, he is also the best coach to lead LSU’s offense in the next coming years. I do believe that with all of my heart. I am 100 percent convinced of that from what I’ve seen this man do on a daily basis. When he took over our offense, how he leads our offense, how he coaches, how our players respond to him. Steve Ensminger is no doubt in my mind the best guy to be our offensive coordinator. At LSU, we must and we will develop championship quarterbacks to be a championship caliber team. We have three outstanding quarterbacks coming back. They all have different skill sets. Steve is equipped and his offensive staff is equipped to run the offense, to utilize their skill sets. You may ask what offense we are going to run. We are going to adapt to our players the best way that we can. We are going to put our players in space, put the ball in their hands and let them make plays like Steve did when he took over last year. We will have quarterback runs. We have two guys that are excellent runners at quarterbacks. We will run from a spread offense with those guys, the quarterback runs. We have an excellent, and in my opinion, one of the best pure passers coming out of football in a while that we signed here at LSU in Myles Brennan. We have to have a short, quick, controlled passing game, slants, levels, sticks, throw the ball to the tight end, take shots, throw the ball deep and utilize what he does best. In my research, there’s no one better than Steve Ensminger to be able to do this along with the staff that we are going to provide him. His play calling ability is second to no one in the country as evident in the way he called plays last year. His game planning, his work ethic on a daily basis, his ability to command the staff and do the things we want to at LSU makes Steve Ensminger, in my opinion, the best guy for the job. He’s a top recruiter, and I can tell you our recruits and their families are really, really happy about this hire. In fact, they always wanted Steve to be the coordinator.

Our players love him. When I introduced him yesterday, our players stood up and cheered. I want you to think about 2016 in the middle of the season when he took over with no time to prepare, he put together one of the top offenses LSU ever had. We averaged 426 yards per game and 32 points per game. Check this out: We were 89 percent in the red zone with Steve Ensminger. We had a great rushing attack. We had multiple individual and team records set on offense during that time. I remember asking him after our first game at the time, I said, ‘Steve, do you know we set an SEC record in your first game?’ And he said, ‘Man, all I know is that we won.’ That tells me a lot about Steve Ensminger. He brings confidence. He brings poise and he brings excitement to our offense. I know he’s going to do it again. I want to thank President (F. King) Alexander, our board and most of all (Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics) Joe Alleva who has been with me 100 percent of the way. He has made every resource available to me to build my staff and to build a championship program. I want to present to you a championship coach, Steve Ensminger.”

Offensive Coordinator Steve Ensminger
Opening statement …
“I’m so excited about this opportunity. It’s a tremendous honor to be named the offensive coordinator at LSU. It’s a job that I have worked my entire career. I’m looking forward to it. It’s been offered before, and it didn’t work out for me. My time being back here and everything else coaching the tight ends has been special. I’ve spent my entire career thinking about this opportunity. Playing quarterback right there across the street in Tiger Stadium for Charlie Mac (Charles McClendon), I tell you it’s … I knew that was going to happen.

“That’s why I chose this profession. I want to make a difference in young people’s lives. In 2016 working as offensive coordinator under Coach O right there, I’m going to tell you right now it was the best experience of my life. Walking on that field, watching these players win, the excitement that we had walking off of that field and seeing how happy we were spreading the football around and the tight ends and the fullbacks and the receivers and the quarterbacks, it was the best time in my life. I’m going to tell you that right now. That’s what makes coaching special. We are going to do that again. I can promise you that. Twenty years in the SEC has taught me how to prepare for the SEC. I’ve been doing this for a long time in the SEC. I’m ready for this. OK? Getting to work and developing the quarterbacks, I look forward to it. It’s kind of like riding a bike. You don’t forget how to be a quarterback. You don’t forget the three-step drop. You don’t forget how to throw an out-route or a curl route or anything else. That’s just part of being a quarterback. I look forward to showing these guys how to do it. We have a great group of quarterbacks. We have three outstanding quarterbacks, and they all bring something to the table. It’s my job to develop them. It’s my job to take what’s best for each one of them. It’s my job if they are in the ballgame and we are preparing them to win for us, I’m going to do what’s best for them and put them in that position right there. Coach O has put a great staff together. It’s the first time, yesterday, we as an offensive staff sat down and talked about our personnel and our philosophy and everything else. I haven’t done that, and we haven’t had a chance to do that in a long time. I walked out of that meeting excited about it. I worked all of my life to have this opportunity. I look forward to it. I want to thank Coach O and the rest of the coaching staff for believing in me to lead this group, and I will do that. The players. When Coach O and I talked about this. People said, ‘Was there any hesitation?’ No there wasn’t. I’m the one guy who knows these players. I’m the one guy who knows those players. I’m the one guy who knows our receivers, our quarterbacks, our offensive line. I’ve been around them as long as they’ve been here. I’m the one guy to lead them. They love LSU. They want nothing more than to win championships for LSU. We had a big, big meeting yesterday, and we talked about it. It’s all about trust. It’s all about me believing in them and them believing in me. That’s what’s going to happen. I can tell you that right now. I want to thank our leadership, President Alexander and Joe Alleva for putting the trust in me to lead this team right here. The last thing I’ll say is this, you never expect it. I’m 59 years old. I’ve had a great career. I’ve enjoyed the hell out of it. My family has enjoyed it. Just imagine growing up as kids and all you did was go to college football games. They’ve had a great career. I was laying in bed last night, and we were just kind of talking about this moment right here. I was flipping through the channels and everything else, and the movie Miracle was on. Everybody’s seen that movie, right? Before the big game, the coach said this, ‘Great moments are born on great opportunities’. This is my opportunity. I embrace it. I look forward to it, and I promise you, we will make this state proud.”

On being named the offensive coordinator for the 2018 season …
“Because you know what, last year I was hesitant because it wasn’t my offense. I understood the offense, don’t get me wrong. I understood it. We had been running it for three years and everything else, and I knew I could call it. I just had to tweak some things. I was really hesitant to do it. I have a year now. It’s my offense. This is my offense. It’s my terminology. It’s my direction. I’ve coordinated for 18 years. I was a coordinator at Auburn for a while, and I’ve done it here. It’s not the biggest challenge. The biggest challenge is the terminology and what you want to do with your team. I understand this team. I understand what our talents are coming back for this team. I understand what I feel like what we have to do to be successful on this team.”

On potentially running a multiple-quarterback system …
“I don’t know that, but I can say this, when I played under Coach Mac, I didn’t understand it. I’ll be honest with you. He taught me how to understand it. I accepted it, and it was better for the team. OK? If we have to play two quarterbacks, I guess we will play two quarterbacks. I don’t know that right now. It just depends on the direction that we take this offense. I do know I look forward to the spring with three quarterbacks in the position to be successful and see what they can do and whatever they to help us be successful. It’s kind of like running the Wildcat. Why the hell do people run the Wildcat? Because you can make the defense do this. If we can put another quarterback in there and make the defense do this because it’s an advantage to us, we are going to do it. Those things have not been determined yet.”

On LSU playing a championship caliber offense …
“I think we have the talent to play at that level. I really do. We’ve shown that the last few years playing Alabama. The beauty of it is, yesterday was the first time that we sat down as an offensive staff and all we did the whole day yesterday was evaluate our talent and what direction we want to go with this offense. We can take any direction that we want. The thing that I do realize is that we have very talented receivers. The strength of our offense right now is our receivers. We have depth at receivers, which we haven’t had in the last couple of years. I think you watch the game, you look at our talent. I think we have to put three or four wide receivers on the field. I think we have to be an RPO team. We have to be a more fastball team. We have to go no huddle. That’s the direction we are going. I still think that there’s reasons to huddle, then get out of the huddle and go fast again. That’s the decision we have to make. I do know this. I think we are talented at that position. I think we have to put the best talent that we have on the field, and that will be three or four wide out.”

On listening to outside criticism …
“I don’t. It’s kind of like you just asking that question. I had a guy call me last night and say have you seen this in the paper? I said, ‘Hell no, I haven’t read the paper in 20 years.’ … I don’t read the damn paper. I don’t read Twitter. I don’t go on Facebook. I tell my family to stay off of it. All I can do is what I can do. I can’t let any outside influence say hey, well you’re not good enough. You can’t do this. … I’ll do it.”

On elaborating on his offensive strategy …
“You look at my first game that Coach O asked me to plan. We had more RPOs in there. We got into sets where we had a tight end and a fullback in a game. Then all of sudden, we put our tight end and our fullback over here and Missouri had a corner covering a fullback. We had two receivers over here, and we had a linebacker covering our wide receivers. That’s the kind of stuff that we need to do. We can be in three wides and everything else, and we can still run the football. You have to be able to do it all with everything. In my opinion, you can be three wide, but you better still be able to be physical and run the football and play-action off of it and RPO hit that guy right there and still throw the ball deep. Every formation we get in and every personnel we get in, I plan on being able to throw the quick game. I plan on being able to do the RPOs, to throw the intermediate pass routes, to throw trick plays and everything else. It’s a fine line. Here’s our formations and here’s everything else. You have to be able to do it all out of that personnel. If you are just saying with these personnel all we are going to do is throw the ball and with these personnel, all we are going to do is run the football, with these personnel all we are going to do is that, defenses are too good nowadays. It doesn’t matter what personnel is in. We are going to have to throw the football, throw the quick game, we are going to do RPOs and we are going to throw the football over the head.”

On what Georgia was able to do with Jake Fromm and coaching the quarterback position …
“Georgia had a unique ability with great running backs. They had a chance to develop him (Fromm). Early in the year they didn’t rely on him to make plays and they had a chance to develop him. He went through a whole season and got better and better, and confidence grew with everything else. I think we can do that. The only difference right now with us is, hey, we do have good running backs, just like every other position. None of them are proven yet. They have played a little bit. Our strength is wide receiver. I think going through spring, we’re going to put pressure on the quarterback right now and see what he can handle. After going into the season we will see what he can handle and we will call to his strengths and let him grow from there.”

On if his opinions were considered under the four offensive coordinators he has coached under at LSU and what having input from assistants means …
“They were. People are wondering what your how will you run it and what will your terminology be and everything else, and I have not even studied it, I’ll be honest with you. I know what I want to do, but I haven’t studded our terminology or how we’ll call formations yet because I want our staff to be a part of it. I want them to make suggestions and say, “Hey are you conformable with calling this formation this, are you comfortable with this cadence, are you comfortable with changing our passing system to a umber system instead of all memorization?” I want our staff to be involved with it so we’re all on the same page and we learn together. And you know what, they can make suggestions instead of me just telling them here is, ok, learn it and let’s go. I want them to have a part of it. Yesterday’s all day long meeting with the staff was amazing to me. I had suggestions come from Tommy Robinson and Mickey Joseph and from coach James Cregg and everybody else which was great. I look forward to putting this together with them because, hey, it is my offense I will call the plays and I will lead this thing, but you know what, it is our offense and they need to be a part of it.”

Head Coach Ed Orgeron

On what Ensminger’s recruiting duties will be and how they will change …
“He will recruit quarterbacks in and out of the state and I will keep him in Shreveport because he has done such a good job in that area. He had Dallas before. He will not be going to Dallas anymore. I’ll put someone else there, but he will be recruiting national quarterbacks.”

On why he is promoting Ensminger to OC now instead of last year and if he interviewed anybody else …
“I thought about it. I remember my statement; “I’m going to go out and find the best offensive coordinator in the country.” I did. I went out and I did all I could to do the things I have promised the fans. I knew I had Steve Ensminger there and he is a great coordinator. I said to myself, “I have a chance and I know the best offensive coordinator for LSU is Steve Ensminger.” I knew that deep down in my heart and I always knew that. I researched a lot of guys. After my research, I still decided that Steve Ensminger was the best coordinator for LSU.”

On why trust is so important to Coach O in picking his coaches …
“I feel like we’re a team together. I totally trust Steve and he totally trusts me. We’re going to put a great staff around Steve. We have a couple more hires to make. At the wide receiver position, we’re going to bring another guy that is an expert there. Everyone on my staff, I’ve worked with before. It’s a great feeling to go into work when it’s a great atmosphere and everyone is on the same page, “One team, one heartbeat” just like the team is. Steve is a prime example of that.

On what the team wants in a quarterback …
“Here’s what I want to say. We have a pocket passer right now, and we have two dual-threat quarterbacks so we will fit our offense to fill their needs. You go out and recruit and you look at a certain type of quarterback and here comes this great quarterback that may not be the type of quarterback that you’re looking forward in this offense. I think you need to remain open-minded to a quarterback who will fir this offense that fits the player’s needs. Obviously, we would like to have a quarterback who can extend plays on his feet. That’s what’s happening in college football right now and we’re prepared to do that. We also see that, like Georgia (with Jake Fromm) that a pro passer who can take you to the championship. We’re going to be prepared do that because we have both style of quarterbacks. Now are we going to recruit one style of quarterback? No. We are going to get the best guy available to come to LSU and fit his needs.”

On the players having to learn a new offense after having learned a new one last year as well …
“Players are resilient. They’re tough. Steve is an excellent teacher. His system is going to be simple to learn. It will be about fundamentals. I think this team will do a great job with running his offense. The good thing about a lot of our players were with Steve when we had a lot of success on offense so he comes with immediate credibility.”

On having potentially reached out to Tee Martin to become the offensive coordinator …
“Someone called me. Tee and I are very good friends. I received a call that there was an interested and I told him that although I do respect him and I do believe that he is an excellent offensive coordinator and will be the next head coach somewhere, that I had my guy. All due respect to Tee Martin.”

On being able to have success down the field with deep passes while still claiming ball security …
“I think you need to be smart. With some offenses that Steve and I have been successful with in the past, it always starts with protection. Protect the quarterback. Short, quick, easy throws. Taking shots down the field. Obviously, with short, quick, easy throws, they’re calculated and you’re not taking a big risk. You’re taking a risk any time you throw the ball downfield and that’s what we want to do.”

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