Updated: Jan 30, 2021
WELCOME NEW SUBSCRIBERS JIMMY THUNDER, OSHAMS, JAMIE THORNHILL, B. DE LAUNE & TAYLOR JOHNSON!!!
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
At first it appeared former Auburn LBs Coach Travis Williams would be the primary target for LSU's previously vacant role of LBs Coach...and LSU ODYSSEY's sources were telling us as much. Then, another candidate who I'd reported on, Miami's Blake Baker, became the guy...
Geaux247 didn't think Orgeron would be able to talk down Baker's financial demands of $700,000 and yet Coach O did just that....getting Baker to agree to a 2 year deal with a first year payment of $500,000 and a second year payment of $550,000 (as well as post-season incentives ranging up to $75,000).
Others screamed "why would LSU hire a defensive coordinator sitting on the hot seat as their guy?"...."if Miami didn't want him, why should LSU?"
And in those complaints you can find the reasons for why the hiring of "Coach Blaker" is a fantastic move by Coach Orgeron:
1. COORDINATOR EXPERIENCE
Since the Tigers' new DC Daronte Jones lacks firm coordinator experience, bringing in Auburn's ILB Coach Travis Williams didn't make sense...
As great of a former linebacker and LBs Coach as Williams is, LSU had to compliment Jones with some experienced hires...guys who still match the youthful intensity of the hiring search, but had obtained years of sideline knowledge as a coordinator, if possible.
In Blake Baker, Coach Orgeron found the perfect hire:
As quickly as "Coach Blaker" was handed the play-calling duties they were taken from him, and I guarantee Coach Baker will have a massive chip on his shoulder when it comes to proving his capabilities in that department.
Logically speaking, Baker should be enthusiastic about helping out in the coordination of LSU's defense. This is a chance for Baker to severely raise his stock, not only to defy his Miami haters or impress the outside coaching world... but to possibly position himself as a big part of Louisiana State University's future.
2. LOUISIANA TIES
Not only did "Coach Blaker" play football & go to school at Tulane for four seasons, Blaker coached under his pal / Miami boss Manny Diaz at Louisiana Tech from 2014-2018, moving from safeties coach (2014) to defensive coordinator during that time (3 years at DC).
Plus, his wife Roslyn is from Mandeville, Louisiana... and she happens to be a former great Lady Tiger soccer player, making Blake's pre-interview permission from his wife extremely easy....if Marcus Freeman and his wife didn't want LSU, that's fine:
Coach Baker wants the Tigers and so do his family....after all, that's what matters most when deep in the weeds of a hiring search: finding people with the qualifications who fit alongside the other members of the staff and of course, finding people who want to be Tigers.
No question his in-laws will be loving his career choice, of course his wife Roslyn is 100% on board and loving the move, their two children also in tow (daughter Anderson & son Byron).
"Coach Blaker" will have to pinch himself after a few practices and press conferences....why?
He's received more hate within Miami-Dade County than Fidel Castro.....
In stark contrast now at LSU, Baker's hire has been greeted by excited co-workers and scores of Tiger fans desperate for his success....if "Blaker" is successful, than LSU will be too.
At Miami, "Coach Blaker" had Hurricanes fans actively rooting for his downfall....
At LSU, we're rooting for you "Coach Blaker"!
Under Baker's recruiting, the Miami Hurricanes went from recruiting seven 4 star players to thirteen from 2019-2020, with most of the talent coming on the defensive side of the football, no doubt helped by Baker's hard work on the trail. In 2019, Miami's class ranked 27th nationally before jumping to 16th overall in 2020, with Baker as the defensive coordinator.
Leaving before National Signing Day (February 3rd) for this cycle, Blake Baker elevated Miami even higher, settling at 13th in the nation by way of two primetime 5 star signees: Palmetto's Leonard Taylor & Ft. Lauderdale's James Williams, the #1 DT & #1 safety nationally (the Hurricanes' first 5 star since 2018's Lorenzo Lingard).
Due to Baker's recruiting, Manny Diaz's Hurricanes have seen continuous progress in one of the true battleground states (Florida, Texas, California, Virginia & Georgia), rising from the 4th ranked ACC class into the #2 spot behind Clemson.
While surrounded by Florida, Florida State, LSU, Clemson, Ohio State, Alabama, Georgia (as well as every single school in the nation), Baker was able to protect tons of homegrown young men for the Hurricanes' program.
Most of Baker's best recruiting grabs have come from Florida or Georgia, of course, but don't forget where LSU's new LBs Coach is from: "Coach Blaker" hails from Houston, Texas one of the key areas of success for LSU in the last few years, specifically in 2021.
Look for "Coach Blaker" to really take the reigns on the recruiting trail and become a proper recruiting demonoid phenomenon, with his in-depth knowledge (concerning the Texas high school power structure) being a background victory for LSU.
4. BAKER IS A GREAT TEACHER
Although his play-calling duties were stripped by Miami Head Coach Manny Diaz, the longtime head coach journeyman (and Orgeron friend) still retained Baker as his defensive coordinator...that's how well Baker can elevate players around him.
During his 2 year stint at Miami, Baker produced a pair of 4th & 7th Round NFL Draft selections, LB Shaquille Quarterman (Jaguars), a 2x First Team All-SEC selection & human missile crisis who combined for 185 tackles in 2019 & 2020. Quarterman finished on the Chuck Bednarik, Bronco Nagurski & Butkus Award watchlists...quite an incredible haul.
The Packers' DL Jonathan Garvin was drafted in the 7th Round and amidst his first NFL season, Garvin didn't play much.... however, the rookie still had time to record 2 pressures and a QB hit on Tom Brady in the NFC Championship Game.
Regardless of the fact 2016 All-ACC Freshman LB Michael Pinckney went undrafted, he played his best years under Baker and was grabbed by the premiere defensive mind in the world, Bill Belichick (we must underline that he was suspended by New England for 6 games in late November 2020 for using a banned supplement).
In February 2019, a month after Baker was hired at Miami, he played a key role in bringing UCLA transfer Jaelan Phillips to the team, an AP, USA Today & AFCA All-American talent.
After his contributions in Miami, the UCLA transfer was named to the Second Team All ACC list, amassing 45 tackles, 15.5 TFL, 8 sacks, an INT and 3 PDs in his inaugural year at Miami.
Under his tutelage, DL Gregory Rousseau looks to be an incredible NFL talent, projected to be a 2nd or 3rd round pick, the raging DE only sat behind Ohio State's Chase Young for the 2019 sack leader board.
Safety Bubba Bolden transferred from USC following the 2017 season (sitting out 2018 per transfer rules) and his trajectory has only exploded under former coordinator Baker: featuring across 16 appearances for Baker's Hurricanes, Bolden produced 85 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 5 forced fumbles (including 4 in 2020 alone), captured 2 INTs and added a sack to his jack-of-all-trades mercenaryisms.
This is Blake Baker working with solid talents....yet he hasn't worked with players as naturally gifted as Damone Clark, Josh White, Devonta Lee, Phillip Webb or the massively underrated & influential Micha Baskerville.
Not yet....but just wait...
5. TRACK RECORD
Despite all the negative talk from Miami, the Hurricanes' defense had electric moments under Blake Baker, specifically from the front seven and linebacking positions:
Registering 30 sacks overall in 2019 as a defense, Miami's LBs contributed 9 of those QB destructions, 9 pass defenses, 3 fumble recoveries, 2 interceptions, 1 forced fumble, LB Shaquille Quarterman stood at 2nd place for TFLs with 15.5, LB Michael Pinckney at 3rd after recording 12.5, while DE Gregory Rousseau topped the charts with a stunning 19.5 TFLs alongside his maniacal 15.5 sacks (only behind Chase Young nationally, highlighted by his 4 sacks during a 27-10 win vs Florida State in 2019, while Baker's entire unit destroyed Florida State's quarterback shuffle for 9 sacks, with 6 different sackers and 16 tackles for loss).
Overall through 2020's struggles, his LBs helped free up Miami's best DL, Quincy Roche and Jaelen Phillips to 30 TFLs together (15.5 & 14.5 respectively); these two DL also were responsible for 12.5 of Miami's 29.5 sacks across 11 games; somehow, with fewer games on the schedule, Miami improved on 2019's sacks per game average.
#6: GREAT HAT COLLECTION
In conclusion, Baker is the best hire Coach Orgeron could've found for the Linebackers Coach role at LSU...simply put, Orgeron just added another top tier coach on the rise...a former coordinator seeking redemption after only two seasons in charge....a precise compliment to the attributes / expertise of Daronte Jones, Andre Carter and Corey Raymond.
This is an ideal scenario for assisting new LSU Defensive Coordinator Daronte Jones in the defensive meeting rooms each game-week:
Baker will have learned plenty from his time as a DC for Miami, not just from his successes but mostly because of his failures...he'll know from experience what Daronte is facing as a first-time coordinator and will be looking to boost his defensive boss at every turn.
As for the Tigers themselves, our sources inside LSUHQ have this to say:
"Blake is a funny guy...he's really got a good sense of dry humor that makes the room loosen up. He's already met with Damone Clark and a few of LSU's linebackers to kind of let them know where he wants to go with this group....his goals, stuff like that...."
After their meetings, Coach O met each linebacker in his office, asking their opinions on the new guy and....
Every one of them were 100% on board.
And so are we....
BLACK LIVES MATTER
by Lonn Phillips Sullivan
Copyright 2021 Uninterrupted Writings Inc LLC
SHOUTOUTS: RIP Kobe Bryant Legend 1/26/20.
Special thank you to Jacques Doucet, Gordy Rush, Jordy Culotta, Glen Guilbeau and T-Bob for their support & encouragement.
WELCOME COACH "BLAKER"!!!!
LSU'S 12 CURRENT LBs:
CARLTON SMITH, HUNTER FAUST, ANTOINE SAMPAH, DEVONTA LEE, MICHA BASKERVILLE, PHILLIP WEBB, DAMONE CLARK, JOSH WHITE, NAVONTEQUE STRONG, GREG PENN III, AARON BENFIELD, JARRED SMALL...and maybe....RAESJON DAVIS?