The following interview was conducted on live radio (103.7 FM in Lafayette) late last week as Ben Love spoke with Doug Moreau, former LSU football great and district attorney as well as current member of the LSU Sports Radio Network team that calls Tiger football games.
Ben Love: This offseason the big story line, for the offense, was Cam Cameron coming in. Did you get a chance to go out to any of the practices this spring or meet him, and what do you think of Cam Cameron?
Doug Moreau: Well you know it's hard to tell. You start out with a story that nobody has gotten too in-depth about, and that is the matter of how he left the Ravens last year. The hows, the whys, and then he ended up being given the Super Bowl ring and has a great relationship with the organization and with the coaches, but that kind of begs the question of what happened? And I don't know what happened, but I do know that you have a Super Bowl championship team that you were the offensive coordinator of, you were let go during the season, and the team went on to win the Super Bowl.
By all accounts Cam Cameron is a terrific guy, a great coach, players seem to like him, he seems to have a great understanding of quarterbacks, and if he makes a big impact at LSU that's where I think it will be. He's someone that can make LSU's quarterback into the quarterback everyone thought he could be and he hasn't quite made it all the way yet. You know, he [Zach Mettenberger] showed it in spots, but he hasn't shown it consistently, and that's what LSU will have to have. I think coach Cameron is going to be successful, and if he's going to be successful, that's the place it's going to be.
BL: You talked about Cam Cameron. It's no secret that he and Les Miles are thick as thieves and are great buddies going back to their days on the Michigan staff and even their families are very tight. Do you think that helps LSU and the continuity of their offense, and the way they translate what was on the practice field into what happens on the field on game days?
DM: I think it does, you know. One of the things that coach Miles likes to do is kind of be aware of the offense that they're running, and sometimes he even likes to participate. There were times (last season) when you had three different people who had input – Steve Kragthorpe, Greg Studrawa and Les Miles, and all three people being involved in plays in a game makes it kind of difficult to find out what do we want to do, what are we going to communicate and how are we going to communicate it in a timely fashion. That doesn't always work out exactly right. But coach Miles is the head coach and he does like to be involved, so the relationship that he already has with coach Cameron I think can live itself to that type of situation that he feels comfortable with. And if a head coach feels comfortable, it makes it a lot easier to try to get done the job you're supposed to get done.
BL: From what you have seen from Zach Mettenberger so far, do you believe he has what it takes to take the next step forward in his evolution, as a second-year starter, and take the LSU offense to different heights?
DM: The biggest disappointment I had, and this was probably throughout the season last year, was that in the (2012) spring game Mettenberger did (air it out a lot), and he had great touch on the downfield pass. He did not demonstrate that, or he rarely demonstrated that, during the season that followed the spring game. He missed routinely on pretty easy-to-throw downfield passes. He had receivers who clearly were open enough. He didn't have to make the perfect pass. All you needed to do was get it in a place where they could run to it, and he overthrew a lot of balls.
I didn't think he performed near to his potential, and that's what he is going to have to be able to do because if you don't stretch the field vertically that way then you're not going to have much of a passing game these days with all the speed defenses have in the secondary and linebackers. So if he is able to do that, to show the touch that I think he has, he just didn't demonstrate it, if he is able to do that, he can be successful.
One of the things that I thought at the end of this year's spring game, and I don't know if you remember, but the last part of the game, the game was dominated by one particular guy, and that guy was Jeremy Hill. And I thought, out of all the great players LSU has got out there, a lot of them are young, some are experienced, but out of all those great players here is the guy that stands out above all the rest. No question about it, it's a great thing that he's gotten his life straightened out because he is going to be the one that leads LSU wherever they are going to go next year. And, of course, he led them in a different direction unfortunately because it's not what you need.
You don't need to have another Tyrann Mathieu situation because that did a lot of damage to the season for LSU last year. I don't know what's going to come of the Jeremy Hill situation. I don't know if he'll end up playing. I don't know what's going to happen, but it's not a good thing, ever, for someone in that position to allow himself to make bad decisions and put the entire team in jeopardy. That changes the way they look at the whole season. LSU has a lot of great running backs, and they're going to have, I think, a very good offensive line. They're going to have a good enough quarterback, good enough receivers, but if you look back to last season, LSU was so deficient offensively, and after about the first half of the season they began to become deficient defensively. They gave up a lot of big plays at the end of the first halves, at the end of the games, and they made a lot of their wins much closer than it was anticipated.
I was looking over the schedule, Ben, and if you think of the game that LSU was most dominant, I think, there were a couple of them, and that was South Carolina and Alabama. Those were the games where LSU really looked like they took charge of the game. South Carolina is a two-point win. Alabama is an Alabama victory at the end of the game, although LSU played an outstanding game, except for the last part of the game and last part of the first half when Alabama just ripped them up. And that's the way it became. About halfway through the season LSU gave up big plays at the end of the first half, and big plays at the end of the ball game, and if you're not going to have a great offense, where you outscore people by a lot, you can't give up those types of plays. Particularly with the people LSU has offensively competing for them, there is really no good excuse for that. There is a reason for it, but it's not a good excuse.
So that is going to have to be overcome, and I have no doubt that they can do it, but they are going to have to do it. It was not a complete team last year. They played like a complete team in bits and pieces, but never really put it together for the long stretch that they needed, and the way they topped it off was the worst way you possibly could. At the end of the game you give up what is certain to be a bowl victory for you, against a team that is inferior to you. That is what people have, and that is what they remember right now, from the end of last season, is the Clemson loss in the Chick-fil-A bowl. And that is going to stick with people until they get to the first game and see what this LSU team does. It's a bad way to have to live during the offseason, and anything else negative that happens, like the Jeremy Hill incident, which makes it even worse. That is where LSU's biggest challenge is going to come, and that is to get people interested in football again. The baseball team didn't help very much with their performance in Omaha, so it's going to be a dry spell for LSU sports until that first football game, and then the Tigers are going to have to do something to make it memorable for the LSU fans if they want to have that fan support they most desperately need.
BL: I'm not asking you to go into the specifics of the Jeremy Hill case, but he has been handed down a new probationary status. He isn't allowed out of his house now from 9 p.m. through 6a.m., and he cannot be at bars. As somebody who is a former district attorney, is that a tough thing to get overturned? I know he has a lot of things going on legally, but strictly looking at the probation part, how does that work?
DM: Well, see he was on probation already for the earlier criminal charge, so these are conditions of probation added to that probation. He has not yet had a resolution of the second case. So the case in the first place now has to be resolved at some point. How that's going to happen, I don't know, but the judge that sentenced him and put him on probation for the first incident added these conditions, so he really has got no way of getting out of it. Because if you don't like being on probation there is another place that you can go, and that is to jail. If you would rather stay in jail, you can do that, and you don't have to be on probation. But if you are going to be on probation, you have to comply with the lawful orders of the judge that imposes them, and there's no one that would have a chance of getting this overturned from a judge that put him on probation and added extra conditions, which are very appropriate conditions, all for his own benefit – to keep him out of a situation where he continually seems to put himself in trouble.
BL: So if the charges are dropped for this incident – and I have no idea if they will be, I'm just talking hypothetically – would that have an effect or could that have an effect on his probationary status? Or is this something like you said to protect the kid, it may not matter what they find in that particular case at the bar, they'll keep those probationary sanctions on?
DM: The judge has a lot of discretion. I don't know the remaining length of his probation, and the judge can always add reasonable conditions, suppress conditions of probation, modify the probation, or the judge can terminate the probation if somebody has been a good probationer. But in this situation I don't think he could argue successfully that he has been a great probationer. Because he got arrested again at a bar-room incident early in the morning, which he shouldn't have been at in the first place. That presumes that there's nothing negative that's going to come out of the second incident, so there is a lot the judge can do as far as having discretion, and that's done for a reason, because the judge really has control over the situation, to send a message that if you're not going to be in jail then I'm going to make sure I make you earn your right to be on probation. And that is what the judge has done, which I think is very appropriate. It's up to Jeremy Hill to act like a grown-up and to behave like a grown-up if he wants other people to treat him like a grown-up.
Q & A: Doug Moreau
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