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LSU Football's DC Blake Baker wears cleats in practice. Here's why.

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BATON ROUGE — For much of this spring session of LSU football, defensive players have raved about how new defensive coordinator Blake Baker has come in and added some energy to that side of the ball.

It was the team that needed new spirit in 2023 after one of the worst statistical seasons in LSU history. Ultimately, Brian Kelly decided to bring in Baker, who had spent one season with the Tigers the year before Kelly took over, after overhauling his team's defensive staff after the season. Baker transferred to Missouri when Eliah Drinkwitz offered him the defensive coordinator position in 2021.

Baker has been a hands-on coach throughout his coaching career, dating back to his time at Louisiana Tech in 2015-18. His latest concern was wearing cleats to practice with LSU.

“I gotta hunt them, man. I tell them if I catch you, we’re in trouble,” Baker said with a laugh. “But I wear cleats in training.”

“As a (research assistant). For me it's kind of a little message to the guys that we're going to fly around. There are many different levels. Secondly, I don’t want to break.” My ass is out there demonstrating exercises. And three, if I wear cleats and catch you, you’re not running fast enough.”

Kelly hopes Baker can turn the Tigers around on defense, as the unit ranked 105th in college football in total defense in 2023, giving up 416.6 yards per game. LSU's pass defense was abysmal as teams passed for 255.6 yards, which ranked 115th nationally.

REQUIRED READING LSU football spring practice: Players describe new DC Blake Baker's defense

Last season at Missouri, Baker's defense was the 33rd best in the country in total defense, allowing 336 yards per game. Mizzou ranked 30th in rushing defense with 122.8 yards per game and allowed eight touchdowns on the ground in 13 games. Through the air, opponents managed 213 yards past Missouri's defense.

“The style of defense we play helps. But we allow our children to play freely. You have to play within the structure of the scheme, but there are many ways to make plays within the scheme. We want to be a vertical, a gap defense where we wreak havoc in the backfield.

“We keep it simple for our guys, but we make it complicated on offense. But most importantly it is an attitude and a mindset. I think our guys enjoyed it, but they seemed to get into it.”

For Baker, he is enjoying being back in Baton Rouge, a place and position he has aspired to throughout his coaching career.

“We enjoyed our time in Colombia, but also the opportunity to be close to home and family,” Baker said. “My kids are at their grandma’s right now, they’re on spring break, so they’re in Mandeville right now. You can't take things like that for granted when you have that opportunity in this job, especially at a place like LSU. This was always one of those dream jobs for me when I first started coaching. I always dreamed of being the defensive coordinator here.”

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Cory Diaz covers the LSU Tigers for The Daily Advertiser as part of the USA TODAY Network. Follow his Tigers coverage on Twitter: @ByCoryDiaz. Have questions about LSU athletics? Send it to Cory Diaz [email protected].