New horizons for Studrawa

With a sudden change in the LSU offensive coaching staff because of Steve Kragthorpe's diagnosis with Parkinson's disease, longtime offensive line coach Greg Studrawa climbs into a new role as offensive coordinator. He talked about the new job Friday.

His practice jacket soaked with sweat and his voice familiarly raspy, Greg Studrawa stepped up to a bank of microphones and with a gaggle of media in front of him Friday as the same man he's been for four seasons as part of Les Miles' LSU staff.

This time the message was a little different, though.

This time, Coach Stud as his players have dubbed him, spoke as the voice of the Tigers' offense.

The 46-year-old Studrawa was elevated to the offensive coordinator position Thursday when Miles announced that Steve Kragthorpe has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Kragthorpe will remain on staff as the quarterbacks coach, but the man running the offensive show now is a former Bowling Green offensive lineman whose penetrating voice is easy to hear even within the confines of a sold-out raucous Tiger Stadium on an SEC Saturday night.

His immediate message: Not much is going to change.

"Our MO is going to stay exactly the same," Studrawa said.

"We want to attack people. We're not going to be passive on offense. We want to attack people and take shots. At the same time we're going to be physical and run the football. I believe that's successful football and Coach Miles believes that. That's the foundation of our team."

With Studrawa still in charge of the offensive line, Kragthorpe overseeing the quarterbacks, Billy Gonzales in place as the passing game coordinator and receivers coach, Fran Wilson coaching the running backs and Steve Ensminger in charge of the tight ends, the new coordinator made a point of saying the offense would be a conglomerate and not a one-man show.

"If it's prepared well during the week and it's on the plan and the situation comes up, I hope all five of us are thinking the same thing," Studrawa said.

"Coach Miles has his input, and all of those guys are going to come into the room, discuss the things we all think are good and go for it."

The o-lineman in him quipped that there might be a few more running plays. But in his five-year stint as the offensive coordinator at Bowling Green, his teams hung up gaudy passing numbers and ranked second and third nationally in pass offense with quarterback Omar Jacobs running the show.

In 25 games as Bowling Green's starter, Jacobs passed for 6,938 yards and 71 touchdowns. His biggest season was 2004 when he racked up 4,002 yards and 41 TDs with only four interceptions in 462 attempts in a 12-game season.

Former Bowling Green QB Omar Jacobs credits Greg Studrawa for a strong junior season when he passed for 41 touchdowns.
"Him knowing so much from the offensive line standpoint, especially about quarterback protection and knowing where everybody is coming from, that was a huge part of our success," said Jacobs, now with the Jacksonville Sharks of the Arena Football League. "Coach Stud always had a great rapport with the guys. He knew our personnel very well and knew we had a bunch of great guys around me – explosive wide receivers and running backs – and he knew we'd be able to do a lot of different things."

Jacobs said Studrawa's offensive game plans were simple and similar to what he'll try to do with LSU.

1. Make the quarterback as comfortable as possible and give him time to find the best place to get the ball.

2. Get the ball into playmakers' hands and let them do what they can do.

"He knew what could hurt the offense, how it could be disrupted, and how we could be prepared to block it the best and keep the quarterback comfortable," Jacobs said. "He was very good at showing me what to look for from the defense and where to get the ball when my first option was gone."

Now it's LSU's under-pressure senior Jordan Jefferson who steps into the role Jacobs once held.

Studrawa said he and Jefferson have had a solid relationship the last three years, and Jefferson echoed that sentiment.

"Coach Stud is all about his business," Jefferson said. "He wants perfection and 100 percent all the time. Me and Coach Stud have a strong relationship and I think it's going to be a great deal for us."

But Studrawa didn't flinch when he said the bond between Jefferson and Kragthorpe is more important than anything he can impart on the third-year starter.

"He knows Jordan the best," Studrawa said. "He's done a wonderful job since he's been here developing that kid."

Not that Jefferson is the only key to an offense suddenly under new management.

For this sudden transition to work, Studrawa needed to be comfortable that his offensive line was in good hands. While he is still the position coach there, the fact that there are eight veterans there gives him the peace of mind to refocus his energy to the entire offense.

"We want to be able to help him out as much as we can," senior left guard Josh Dworaczyk said. "One of the important things for him is us being the veteran guys, he knows he can rely on us for game-time changes. If the defense is stacking the box, we'll tell him we need to throw. If they're focused on the pass, we'll tell him we need to run. There's a trust there."

That trust is something that had to be strong between Miles and his new OC as well.

Miles said Studrawa was considered for the coordinator job when Gary Crowton left. When Kragthorpe's health issue arose, Miles went to his line coach the last four seasons to make sure he felt comfortable.

"It was hard to get excited because I was worried about Steve and I didn't understand," Studrawa said. "Steve and I have become pretty close through spring ball and doing things this summer. He's a great guy and I was really worried about him."

Once the new sank in, though, Studrawa was excited.

He accepted the challenge of being the play-caller – "When it comes to calling the game, I'll have the final say on that" – and went to each of the offensive assistants and made sure there was a comfort level among all of them.

Now when the game plan is concocted, there will still be input from all five coaches and a consensus plan.

"We do it together," Studrawa said. "We don't have too many arguments. … There are no egos in that room."

Flexibility will also be a key.

In the past, LSU has tended to become predictable in games and there seemed to be little intention to adjust on the fly.

Studrawa said he'll enter every game with an open mind.

"Once the game begins it's a chess match," he said. "You can plan and say ‘Hey this is what they're doing, but in the game we're all watching different aspects of what's going on with the defense. They can totally change and do something else and as the game goes on we may need to change some things. That's part of the game, too. You come up with a good plan and then you've got to make those adjustments as the game goes."

One thing is certain: However and whatever Studrawa does, there won't be any mystery about how he feels about it.

"Everybody knows Coach Stud's personality," Dworaczyk said. "He's one of those guys who's always very vocal. Whatever he's feeling, he's going to let you know. You don't have to read any intentions with this guy."

Added Jacobs, "He's a loud guy and lets you know how he feels, but it's not offensive. He just has a great personality and it draws people in."

Studrawa began that task Friday, the first day of his next step up the career ladder.

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