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There Is No Question Who Will Be Calling Plays In 2022 For LSU; Tailback John Emery Jr. Returns

Yes, there will be contributions from other coaches when new LSU offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock calls plays this season – except when he’s calling plays.

“Everybody will have a role in regards to doing that,” Denbrock said Thursday as new head coach Brian Kelly made his staff available to reporters. “But I’m somebody who believes in this – there is no such thing as a bad idea, provided it’s not while I’m trying to call the play.”

In other words, other staff will be involved with the game plan and certain plays during game week, but not as much on game day. Denbrock is neither a co-coordinator or co-play caller, which LSU has had mixed results with in the past.

“I want to hear from everybody,” said Denbrock, who called plays as Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator from 2017-21 and in 2014 at Notre Dame under Kelly. But not necessarily what to call.

“I want to hear perspective,” he said. “If you see something I don’t see, I want to know about it,” he said.

LSU does not have an assistant with the title “pass game coordinator,” as it had in 2020 and ’21 with little success as there may have been too many sous-chefs. It did work very well in 2019 as then-offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger and then-pass game coordinator Joe Brady did share play calls. Of course, there was and is a belief that quarterback Joe Burrow had a tendency to get the most out of any call and any play caller.

Dual play callers will not happen at LSU now.

“It’s really hard, in my opinion, to have more than one play caller,” Denbrock said.

Last season under Denbrock, Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder finished No. 19 in the nation in passing yards with 3,334 as the Bearcats finished 13-1 and reached the College Football Playoff.

“One hundred percent,” Denbrock answered when asked whether he called all the plays at Cincinnati.

But Kelly will have his input.

“Let’s make this clear, I call all the really good plays,” Kelly joked.

Seriously, though, Kelly will have a heavy hand in the offense at times, as he did at Notre Dame.

“He’s not as involved in that end of things as much as he was,” Denbrock said.

But there is this:

“He’ll say, ‘Hey, make sure when you’re putting all these plays in that YOU like that you remember THIS one,'” Denbrock said with emphasis. “The ones that work are his. He’s always said that.”

JOHN EMERY IS BACK: LSU tailback John Emery Jr., who signed with the Tigers as the No. 2 tailback in the nation in 2019 by 247 Sports out of Destrehan High near New Orleans, has returned to the team after missing the 2021 season when found academically ineligible.

“He’s healthy and improving,” new LSU running backs coach Frank Wilson said Thursday.

Emery, who originally committed to Georgia, has never answered his recruitment rankings as he has gained just 566 yards on 114 carries in two seasons. He started three games in 2020 and played in nine, gaining 378 yards on 75 carries and catching 14 passes for 73 yards. He gained 188 yards on 39 carries and caught six passes for 60 yards in 10 games with no starts as a freshman in 2019.

He will likely have a strong opportunity this season to make his mark with the Tigers losing leading rusher Tyrion Davis-Price, who put his name in for the NFL Draft after his junior season in 2021 in which he gained 1,003 yards on 211 carries. Other LSU returning backs are sophomores Corey Kiner (324 yards, 79 carries, 11 games) and Armoni Goodwin (65 yards, 16 carries, six games) and junior Josh Williams (107 yards, 23 carries, 13 games).

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau has been on the LSU beat since 1998 with multiple outlets in Louisiana, prior to that he had covered both Auburn and Alabama. He won first place for his game feature on LSU's upset at Florida last season from the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He was also named Beat Writer of Year, by Louisiana Sports Writers Association in July; placed in three Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) categories – Beat Writer, Explanatory, Game Coverage – last spring. Guilbeau was also the FWAA first-place winner for columns in 2017 and was also the top overall winner in 2016 FWAA placing first for his game story, second in columns, and receiving honorable mention for features.

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