LSU, under the direction of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Steve Ensminger, had the most explosive offense in school history in 2019 as the Tigers set numerous school records on their way to a 15-0 overall mark and the national title.
Ensminger, a starting quarterback for LSU under legendary coach Charles McClendon in the late 1970s, directed a Tiger offense that led the nation in scoring (48.4) and yards per game (568.4) in 2019. It’s the first time in conference history that a team from the SEC led the nation in both categories. It’s also the first time in school history the Tigers led the nation in either category. The Tiger offense, behind Heisman Trophy quarterback Joe Burrow, set 15 school records, seven SEC records and two NCAA marks.
Ensminger, now in his third season as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Tigers, enters his 10th season overall on the LSU staff in 2020. Ensminger, who has also coached tight ends during his LSU career, continues to play a vital role in the recruiting success of the Tigers.
Ensminger was promoted to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2018 after holding that spot for the final eight games of the 2016 season. Ensminger served as LSU’s offensive coordinator and quarterback coach for the final eight games in 2016, before returning to coach tight ends in 2017. He resumed offensive coordinator duties in 2018.
LSU’s 2019 offense was called by many as the best in college football history as the Tigers were the first to feature a 5,000-yard passer (Joe Burrow), two 1,000-yard receivers (Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson) and a 1,000-yard rusher (Clyde Edwards-Helaire).
In 15 games in 2019, LSU scored 40 points or more 12 times, which included four 50-point games and three 60-point games. LSU never scored fewer than 23 points and that came in a win over Auburn. Additionally, LSU racked up 500 yards or more of total offense 12 times, including 628 against Clemson in the national championship game and 692 in a win over Oklahoma in the national semifinals.
LSU’s 2019 offense featured Burrow, who reset the SEC single-season record books, with the best performance by a quarterback in college football history. Burrow set NCAA marks for passing TDs (60) and total TDs (64) to go along with SEC marks for passing yards (5,671), completions (402), completion percentage (76.3) and total offense (6,039). Burrow’s top two receivers in Biletnikoff winner Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson both set records as well. Chase set the SEC mark for TD receptions (20) and receiving yards (1,780), while Jefferson set the LSU record for total receptions (111).
A brilliant play-caller who has learned from some of the best offensive minds in the game, Ensminger had an immediate impact on the LSU offense in 2018. With first-time starters at quarterback (Burrow), running back (Nick Brossette) and three wide receiver positions, LSU averaged 402 yards and 32.4 points a game. Burrow became the first quarterback in school history to throw for 2,500 yards and rush for more than 350 yards, and his 3,293 yards of total offense ranks No. 2 in school history, while Brossette rushed for 1,000 yards and 14 TDs.
In 36 games with Ensminger calling the plays, the Tigers are averaging 38.9 points and 485.3 total yards per game. In addition, LSU has converted 45 percent of third-down opportunities (219-of-490); scored on 92 percent of their drives into the redzone (149-of-162); and have gone over the 30-point mark 27 times, with 19 of those being 40-point games. LSU has also thrown only 16 interceptions on 1,153 passes (1 of every 72 attempts) in his 36 games.
Ensminger showed that he was more than capable of directing the LSU offense as the Tigers thrived under his watch in 2016 after he was elevated to offensive coordinator after the fourth game of the season. Before his promotion in 2016, Ensminger had previous offensive coordinator duties at McNeese State, Louisiana Tech, Texas A&M and Clemson.
When Ensminger took over play-calling duties in 2016 for the Tigers, LSU’s offense had been stagnant, scoring only nine touchdowns and averaging 18 points and 339.5 total yards per game through four games. In eight games under Ensminger that year, LSU improved drastically in every offensive category as the Tigers averaged 32 points and 464.9 total yards per contest during that span. LSU scored 38 or more points five times under Ensminger, including 54 in a win over Texas A&M and 38 against both Arkansas and Ole Miss. The Tigers averaged 7.1 yards per play and converted 46-of-102 third-down opportunities during that eight-game stretch.
Also under Ensminger, LSU’s 2016 offense set then school records for yards in a SEC game (634 vs. Missouri), single-game rushing yards by an individual (284 by Leonard Fournette vs. Ole Miss, 285 by Derrius Guice vs. Texas A&M), longest run from scrimmage (96 yards by Derrius Guice vs. Arkansas) and time of possession (42:33 vs. Missouri).
Individually, Ensminger’s offense produced a pair of all-America selections in center Ethan Pocic and Guice at running back. Pocic was a finalist for the Remington Award as the nation’s top center, while Guice rushed for 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns and eclipsed the 200-yard rushing mark twice.
As LSU’s tight ends coach, Ensminger has groomed some of the best to play the position for the Tigers. Most recently, Foster Moreau completed his LSU career as one of the best pass-catching tight ends in school history with 52 receptions for 629 yards and six TDs. Moreau was selected in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders.
In 2017, former walk-on JD Moore earned first-team academic all-America honors.
Colin Jeter led all LSU tight ends with 12 catches for 132 yards and a TD in 2015 as that unit combined for 18 receptions for 223 yards and a touchdown. In 2014, LSU tight ends played a prominent role in the offensive averaging 225 rushing yards per game. That unit combined for 12 catches, including the game-winning TD, against Ole Miss.
LSU’s group of 2013 tight ends were instrumental in the Tiger offense setting a school-record with 37 rushing touchdowns. LSU averaged 453.3 total yards per game, which included 202.3 yards on the ground. In the passing game, LSU tight ends combined for 12 receptions for 211 yards with first-time starter Dillon Gordon leading the way with six catches for 88 yards.
Ensminger’s tight ends combined for 16 catches for 182 yards in 2012 in the passing game and they helped pave the way for a 173.7 yards per game rushing attack as the Tigers went 10-3 and finished the year ranked No. 12 in the nation.
In 2011, LSU tight ends combined for 28 receptions for 294 yards and three touchdowns. Deangelo Peterson led all tight ends with 18 catches for 179 yards and a score as the Tigers posted a 13-0 regular season record, claimed the SEC title and reached the BCS National Championship game that year.
In 2010, Ensminger coached a versatile group of tight ends who combined for 24 catches for 301 yards, with Peterson leading the way with 16 receptions for 198 yards despite missing three games with an injury.
A 1982 graduate of LSU, Ensminger played quarterback for the Tigers under head coach Charlie McClendon from 1976-79. Ensminger played in three bowl games (Sun, Liberty, Tangerine) at LSU and has followed that by coaching in 17 bowl games as an assistant coach.
Ensminger joined the LSU staff after serving as an assistant coach at Auburn from 2003-08. Ensminger spent the 2009 season as the passing game coordinator at Smiths Station High School in Auburn, Ala.
During his six seasons at Auburn, Ensminger coached the quarterbacks one year (2003), followed by five years as the tight ends coach from 2004-08. As the quarterback coach at Auburn, Ensminger helped develop Jason Campbell, who went on to become an NFL first round draft pick. While at Auburn, the Tigers led the SEC in scoring offense in both 2004 (32.1) and 2005 (32.2), and they were first in the league in total offense in 2005 (409.8).
Ensminger has also had major college coaching stops at Georgia (1991-93), Texas A&M (1994-96) and Clemson (1997-98). At Georgia, he served as the quarterbacks coach as well as the passing game coordinator. In 1992, Georgia posted a 10-2 overall record and led the SEC in both scoring (32.0) and total offense (450.4).
Ensminger followed that with a three-year run at Texas A&M where he was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Aggies. The Aggies were 25-9-1 during Ensminger’s three years in College Station, which included a 10-0-1 mark in 1994 and a 9-3 record in 1995.
After Texas A&M, Ensminger coached for two seasons at Clemson, holding the title of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Ensminger returned to Louisiana in 2000, serving as head coach and athletic director at Central High School for nearly three years before taking the wide receivers job at West Monroe High School for the 2002 season.
After a brief career in the NFL and CFL, Ensminger got his start in coaching in 1982 at Nicholls State as the receivers coach. After two years at Nicholls State, he moved to McNeese State as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 1984-86 followed by three years from 1988-90 at Louisiana Tech in the same capacity.
As a player at LSU, Ensminger threw for 2,770 yards and 16 touchdowns during his career with the Tigers. He was named Freshman All-SEC in 1976. Ensminger finished his career with the Tigers with an 11-6 mark as a starting quarterback, which included a 7-4 record in 1977.
Ensminger, a native of Baton Rouge, is married to the former Amy Gonzales and the couple has three children – Krystalin, Brittany Rose and Steven – and two grandchildren.
THE ENSMINGER FILE
Year at LSU: Ninth (appointed Feb. 25, 2010)
Birthdate: September 15, 1958 in Baton Rouge, La.
Wife: former Amy Gonzales
Children: Krystalin, Brittany Rose, and Steven
College: LSU, 1982
1976-79 LSU (quarterback)
1982-83 Nicholls State (receivers)
1984-86 McNeese State (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks)
1988-90 Louisiana Tech (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks)
1991-93 Georgia (quarterbacks/passing game coordinator)
1994-96 Texas A&M (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks)
1997-98 Clemson (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks)
2000-02 Central High School (head coach/athletics director)
2002 West Monroe High School (wide receivers)
2003-08 Auburn (quarterbacks, 2003; tight ends 2004-08)
2009 Smiths Station High School (passing game coordinator)
2010-20 LSU (tight ends; offensive coordinator/quarterbacks, 2016; tight ends 2017; offensive coordinator/quarterbacks, 2018-20)
As a player
Season Bowl Team Opponent Results
1977 Sun LSU Stanford L, 24-14
1978 Liberty LSU Missouri L, 20-15
1979 Tangerine LSU Wake Forest W, 34-10
As a coach
Season Bowl Team Opponent Results
1990 Independence Louisiana Tech Maryland T, 34-34
1991 Independence Georgia Arkansas W, 24-15
1992 Citrus Georgia Ohio State W, 21-14
1995 Alamo Texas A&M Michigan W, 22-20
1997 Peach Clemson Auburn L, 21-17
2003 Music City Auburn Wisconsin W, 28-14
2005 Sugar Auburn Virginia Tech W, 16-13
2006 Capital One Auburn Wisconsin L, 24-10
2007 Cotton Auburn Nebraska W, 17-14
2007 Chick-fil-A Auburn Clemson W, 23-20
2010 Cotton LSU Texas A&M W, 41-24
2011 BCS LSU Alabama L, 21-0
2012 Chick-fil-A LSU Clemson L, 25-24
2013 Outback LSU Iowa W, 21-14
2014 Music City LSU Notre Dame L, 31-28
2015 Texas LSU Texas Tech W, 56-27
2016 Citrus LSU Louisville W, 29-9
2017 Citrus LSU Notre Dame L, 21-17
2018 Fiesta LSU UCF W, 40-32
2019 CFP Semis LSU Oklahoma W, 63-28
2019 CFP National Title LSU Clemson W, 42-25