All this week, with LSU spring football approaching quickly on the horizon, TSD will tackle a question a day surrounding the 2013 gridiron Tigers.
Today's Question: How will Cam Cameron's presence affect the offense?
The final installment in this week's pre-spring practice questions is among the most important. LSU's offense won't win or lose any games this spring, but it is a pivotal time in the group's development under a brand-new coordinator.
Cam Cameron, brought in by Les Miles in February, hasn't been a part of college football since he was the head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers from 1997-2001. The acclimation process, therefore, goes both ways, with Cameron and the Tigers' offensive personnel (players and staff).
The first thing we do know, at least based off Cameron's comments at his introductory press conference, is that there won't be an overhaul of what the Tigers are doing or their terminology.
"Anytime you come into a new program, and in this case we've got a great foundation that we can build from, we want to build on what we're doing and improve on what we're doing," explained Cameron on Feb. 15. "The first thing is I need to know everything that Zach [Mettenberger] knows, everything that Stephen [Rivers] knows, everything that our guys know. Again I've seen a lot of games, and it's a great system. Now I just want to build on it and challenge our guys to get better at some things. It's my job to adapt and adjust and then bring my experience, my expertise and blend it with what we're doing.
"We'll build on what we're doing and we'll let it evolve. I think that's the best thing in the short run so we can play well quickly and continue to play well."
Running through those words again, the first image that pops into my mind to describe what Cameron will be this spring is "consultant."
Yes, once the season arrives he'll be in charge of play-calling and help design the game plan every week. But, during a foundation-setting time like spring, look for the new guy to come in and fine-tune what LSU's already been doing, particularly in the passing game and in pass protection.
The Tigers had so many problems protecting Mettenberger in the early portions of 2012 that it led to drastic measures – keeping a tight end or often times two backs in to block. That led to way too many two- and three-receiver patterns, making LSU extraordinarily easy to cover (think the Auburn game for the worst example). Cameron is likely to have a few answers and tweaks in this area.
But, going back through his words again, there's an obvious element of listening that Cameron admits he plans to do (and already has been doing) with his quarterbacks. Cameron's mere presence this spring should elevate many of the quarterbacks' best practices, and make them more routine, when going through everyday drills, both individual and when working in conjunction with the rest of the offense. This will be atop the list of impacts he'll have in spring ball.
Continuing with the "consulting" theme, it's pretty clear that Cameron's offenses in the past have enjoyed success throwing to the tight end and to backs out of the backfield. Look for him to work with position coaches Steve Ensminger and Frank Wilson in adding wrinkles to some of those simple routes and tightening up other things those position players are already doing with route-running.
Finally, I expect Cameron to become quite familiar with J.C. Copeland this spring.
If you've ever watched San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh go into his Bo Schembechler voice and talk about using "a fullback who lines up directly behind the quarterback," you know how much a part of the game it is to Harbaugh and what a good player at the position means to him.
Well, these guys – Miles and Cameron – coached Harbaugh, so you can imagine how paramount a good fullback is to them. In fact, here's Cameron's description of what he expects of LSU's offense: "Play smart, aggressive football, and it's got to have a physical nature to it. That's the way we were raised, and we're not apologizing for it."
Cue Copeland, who's entering his final season in TigerTown. Cameron is going to fall in love with this guy and the different ways he can use the 6-1, 272-pound wrecking ball. Copeland's only real problem throughout his career, other than a penchant for picking up personal fouls, has been making sure he's locating the right hole. Cameron will shore up any issues there, and I expect he'll make Copeland an even bigger weapon in 2013.
Summing things up: Don't look for Cameron to try and reinvent the wheel this spring. Instead his effect, as an expert in the industry, will be ensuring the wheel runs more smoothly and that all the parts are right where they need to be at all times to guarantee maximum efficiency.
Schedule for pre-spring preview stories
Tuesday, February 26: Spring Preview - New names to monitor
Thursday, February 28: Spring Preview - Two-deep depth chart
Monday, March 4: Spring Question 1 - Who's going to start at left tackle?
Tuesday, March 5: Spring Question 2 - How will the new-look defensive line fare?
Wednesday, March 6: Spring Question 3 - What alignment will Chavis go with at linebacker?
Thursday, March 7: Spring Question 4 - Who will step up as leaders on this 2013 team?
Friday, March 8: Spring Question 5 – How will Cam Cameron's presence affect the offense?
Monday, March 11: Video – Offense Preview
Tuesday, March 12: Video – Defense Preview
Wednesday, March 13: Video – Early Enrollees; What to Watch: Staff Picks
Spring Question: What will Cam effect be?
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