With tomorrow's spring game quickly approaching and a full spring of practices under his belt, first-year LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron opens up to TSD on the progression of the Tiger offense.
Included are Cameron's thoughts on playing with pace, where Zach Mettenberger, Stephen Rivers and Anthony Jennings stand, and what he'll be looking for most of all in the spring game.
Cam Cameron Q & A
Ben Love: You've been through an entire spring camp. How is the offense taking to what you're introducing?
Cam Cameron: The guys have been tremendous, I mean every position. I think that's a reflection on the coaching staff. I can't say enough great things about our staff. Obviously Les' involvement has been crucial. I think you heard me say in that opening press conference that it's going to be a collective effort. So, starting with the staff, everything has been good, and the players have just followed their lead. I thought the defense got after us pretty good early, and then our guys responded well.
BL: What is the thought process behind the faster tempo and what it can do for this offense specifically?
CC: Number one, I think it fits into a two-minute mindset, whether it be the end of a half or the end of a game. I think coming from the NFL, where almost 50 percent of the games are determined by two-minute end of the half or game drills, that carries right into what we will deal with. We may be in the same situation. You'd like to think you can get a two-minute drive where you need to be clock-efficient and you need to be up-tempo at the end of the half. Or, if you're behind late in a game, you've got to be prepared to operate at that level. That's the first reason, the way I see it and I think the way we see it.
Secondly, it's something that is a part of the college game, and it's becoming more a part of every level – seeing how many plays you can run in a short period of time. We're just dabbling in it a little bit, and our guys are doing a nice job with it.
BL: Moving onto your starting quarterback, is it easy to see the development in Zach Mettenberger and that he's been learning since you arrived?
CC: I don't know that I'd phrase it that way, but to address what you're asking, I think he's taking the natural step that a guy would take in the spring after his first full year as a starter. I think that's where you usually see the most growth in a quarterback, assuming he's got another year or maybe more of eligibility. Until you've been a starter from start to finish at this level, you really don't know what you don't know. I think he's taking his experiences of things he did well from last year and we try to build on those and improve also the things he needs to improve. I think we all have a clear picture of the things he brings to the table, and those are the things that we're going to ask him to do. You ask a guy to do the things he does best in conjunction with the guys around him, and then we collectively, but even the quarterback specifically, have a real chance to be successful.
BL: With Anthony Jennings, can you talk about the dimensions he brings to the table? And can he be ready as a freshman to give you some kind of meaningful time?
CC: Well, I think it's early. I think the guy that I would mention first would be Stephen Rivers in the sense that he and Zach have a really similar skill set. We'd feel very comfortable that if something happened to Zach that we'd be able to run a similar offense with Stephen. Then, with a guy like Anthony or like you would with any athletic quarterback, and LSU's had a number of these guys who've done extraordinary things in my mind in the past, you have packages that become more available to you.
But, the way I view Anthony: Some people use the term ‘dual-threat quarterback' and then ‘pocket quarterback.' I look at him as a pocket-mobile quarterback. He's very bright. He can stand in the pocket and throw but yet he brings mobility to the table. And mobility is a good thing, as long as he doesn't overuse it. I think it's something that when and if he were in the game, it would be common sense for us to utilize.
BL: Is it fair to say that you'll try to find more ways and more creative ways to use the running backs, considering there are several who are talented and can not only run but catch and block?
CC: That's a good question. It's a long season, a 14-game season, and you need them all even if there's just one of those guys out there at a time. So you hate to put two of them out there and lose two of them on the same play. But the answer to your question is yes. The thing that we like about our guys is they're not only talented but bright. The fact that they're smart gives us some flexibility gameplan-wise, and Frank Wilson does an outstanding job with our guys, getting them prepared to do multiple things.
I'm pleased with our receivers as well, and our tight ends have done a great job too. We're going to need to be creative with all of our skill guys – our quarterbacks, our running backs, our tight ends and obviously our wide receivers.
BL: Do you feel as if you and Les gel pretty well on offense?
CC: Without question, because we come from the same foundation of football. In terms of fundamentals and techniques, I think our goal would be to be the most fundamentally sound team in the country from Les' perspective, and offensively we want to be the most fundamentally sound and technique-sound offense in college football. That's our goal first and foremost. So that's our starting point. Then, one thing that Les has always done and things that we've always done together, is find ways to get the ball to our best players and then keep multiple guys involved. How you do that can vary from week to week. Some weeks you run it more. Some weeks you throw it more. Some weeks it's 50-50. I think without question we know the foundation of what we're trying to get done.
BL: Other than keeping everybody healthy, what would make the Spring Game a success for you offensively?
CC: That's the key. You've hit the nail on the head when you say no injuries. That is going to be the determining factor. But then it's our ability to execute and use our technique. That's what I'm looking for. We can score three points or we can score 30 points, and it won't matter to me unless we show the ability to execute the fundamentals and techniques that we're teaching. We can't go out and now that we're in a game everybody starts dreaming up magic techniques and making stuff up. I want to see the guys who can transfer the teaching and what they've done so far into a game setting. That's the most important thing.
Q & A: Cam Cameron
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