As LSU gets ready to face Texas A&M for the regular season finale, it’s hard not to think about where this team would be without the development of this team.
The growth has been highly noticeable on both ends of the football, and the Tigers’ coaching staff deserves a lot of credit for how far this group has come during the second half of the season. One of the men garnering the most attention for this turnaround has been defensive coordinator Matt House, and the job he’s done scheming this defense into one of the best in the SEC.
House has had plenty of success in this conference, dating back to his time at Kentucky several years ago before a stint in the NFL ultimately led him back to college when Brian Kelly and LSU came calling. His impact on this defense has been profound as this is a group that enters the final game of the season ranking towards the top of the conference in points allowed (20.0), total defense (338.5 yards per game), turnovers gained (16), and red zone defense (75.6%).
The first-year defensive coordinator has dialed up some truly creative ways to get the best players on the field, including freshman superstar Harold Perkins, who has been playing at an All-American level over the last month. But the adjustments don’t stop there. The development of players like linebackers Micah Baskerville and Greg Penn, who he leads every day as coach of the linebacker room, has been integral in the success of this defense.
Up front, Mekhi Wingo, Jaquelin Roy, BJ Ojulari, and Ali Gaye are creating consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks and shutting down running attacks. Just ask UAB running back DeWayne McBride, who came in averaging 156 yards on the ground but was held to 33 yards last Saturday night.
House has a knack for getting inside and disrupting the opposing offensive coordinators’ game plans, a trait very few play-callers have consistently.
“He has a great feel for the game. Little nuances and being able to make those adjustments and see them in the box and just being one step ahead,” Kelly said after the UAB game of House. “He does a really good job in game, analyzing what he needs to do to stay ahead of what the offensive coordinator’s thinking.”
On Monday, House was recognized as one of 15 semifinalists for the Broyles Award, going to the nation’s top assistant coach every year. Joe Brady won the award while at LSU back in 2019 and House’s impact has been felt on the defensive side similarly, unlocking the full potential of many key contributors.
It hasn’t always been perfect defense for LSU this season but the purple and gold are playing pretty consistently and creating enough turmoil on opposing offenses that it is truly impressive considering all of the new pieces that had to be fit in. As is the end of most seasons, those truly elite coordinators garner plenty of interest from other programs and Kelly was asked about House specifically during Monday’s press conference.
“If Matt House gets an opportunity where he thinks he is going to be better for it, I will help him in any way possible. I think that’s part of this profession,” Kelly said. “He has done an outstanding job. I don’t know that Matt House came here to be the defensive coordinator for a year. He is going to have to run through his family and his wife. I think they like it here, but that’s up to Matt. But I would never be in the way of any of our coaches if they have an opportunity to move on to be a head coach, I would fully support them.”
House has become an invaluable member of the Tigers’ coaching staff and you best believe Kelly has let that be known to House. As LSU builds this program back up, keeping coaches for multiple years is a goal to build relationships in recruiting and of course when the players arrive.
After the Tigers endured so much success this year in such little time, those other programs will surely be in pursuit of a number of coaches on this staff. Keeping them around a bit longer will serve LSU and Kelly best moving forward.