Note: This is the first installment of a 10-day series where we take a look at each position as the LSU Tigers prepare for spring practice which kicks off on Feb. 23.
A Look Back
JaMarcus Russell turned in one of the most prolific performances in LSU history last
season and Tiger fans hated to see him forgo his senior year to declare for the
NFL draft. The
The LSU staff will miss Russell's arm strength and what he brings to the table but what will be missed more than anything else is his ability to come through in the clutch when the team needed him the most. Over the three years he saw playing time at LSU, Russell engineered six fourth quarter or overtime come-from-behind wins and that does not include the role he played in leading LSU over Oregon State or his magnificent performance against Iowa in the Capital One Bowl as a redshirt freshman.
A Look Ahead
Matt Flynn has waited patiently for his time to come at LSU and now it is finally here.
After spending four years learning Jimbo Fisher's offense, Flynn (6-3, 228) will now have to start over as Gary Crowton takes over as the new offensive coordinator. Everyone is eager to see what style of offense Crowton will install at LSU but none more than Flynn himself.
What Crowton will find in Flynn is a talented signal caller that can make plays with arm and his feet. Perhaps, though, the biggest component that Flynn will bring to the offense is his ability to manage the game. Matt Mauck was very successful at leading the Tigers in 2003 and Flynn will offer many of those same qualities.
In 2006, Flynn saw action in 10 games but attempted only 20 passes. He completed 12 of them for 133 yards with a pair of touchdowns and an interception.
the ball is a variable that the
Some were disappointed that Flynn did not get more action in 2006 and much of that was due to his impressive performance in the 2005 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
an injured JaMarcus Russell, Flynn led the Tigers to a 40-3 win over
evening, Flynn was good on 13-of-22 passes for 196 yards and two scores but what
really caught the Hurricane defense by surprise was his running ability.
Heading into his senior year, Flynn now has completed 43-of-78 passes for 689 yards with 10 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. The touchdown to interception ratio is very impressive and that is indicative of his decision-making ability and game-management skills. Those are two of his best attributes along with his dual-threat presence and this year Tiger fans should have plenty of opportunities to see him display those skills.
While most feel that Flynn will be the starter under center for the season opener, Ryan Perrilloux hopes to have something to say about it.
As a redshirt freshman, Perrilloux played in six games but was mostly relegated to handing the ball off. He did attempt four passes and completed one for 10 yards but now the former No.1 rated quarterback in the country coming out of high school is ready to strut his stuff.
Perrilloux spent the majority of his time in high school operating out of a spread offense and the numbers he rolled up as a senior are absolutely mind-boggling.
The 6-3, 222-pounder amassed 5,006 total yards of offense (3,546 passing and 1,460 rushing) and accounted for 67 total scores (30 passing and 37 rushing). Over the course of his career that included three years as a starter for Larry Dautrieve, Perrilloux totaled 12,705 yards of offense (9,025 passing and 3,680 rushing) and 155 touchdowns (84 passing and 71 rushing).
What to Look for This Spring
All eyes will be on the offense this spring as Flynn and Perrilloux battle to see who is going to drive the car. My pick is that Flynn will earn the keys to the car but Perrilloux will see some time unlike last year when Russell was clearly the man.
If the past is any indication of what type of offense Crowton is going to run at LSU then you can look for a lot of quick passes and an occasional shot down the field. The big question is how will Crowton's running style mesh with Les Miles' philosophy?
Unfortunately, we will have to wait until the end of fall camp before we have an idea of what to expect because there is just no way a new offense can be fully installed with 15 days of spring camp. In all actuality, it will be year two of his tenure before Crowton can get his playbook and philosophy deeply entrenched into the minds of the players but much of that will depend on how quickly the players learn the new system.
I look for Flynn to pick things up fairly quickly and to excel in the new offense because it should be tailored to his strengths. From everything I've heard, he will work the flats and the middle of the field with a few quarterback draws sprinkled in. Just when corners and safeties come up to stop the short passes I look for the Tigers to work the deep ball in with a post or a fly route. Something that could really be effective if Crowton's offense resembles the ones in the past is hitting some backs out of the backfield on a wheel route and Trindon Holiday is one who comes to mind. There isn't a linebacker or safety in the country that could keep up with him in that scenario.
Perrilloux has a stronger arm than Flynn and brings a little more to the table in terms of athleticism and big-play ability but one has to wonder how difficult it will be for him to get a firm grasp on the system? It's not a knock on Perrilloux but Flynn has just spent so much more time in the film room and is further along at reading defenses.
Hopefully, the arm troubles Flynn has experienced are a problem of the past because one thing is for certain and that is LSU needs both of these guys healthy for camp and for the upcoming season because of the current depth situation. That will be something to watch closely because both arms will be put to the test this spring.
Help Is On the Way
Scout.com 4-star quarterback Jarrett Lee can't get to Baton Rouge soon enough.
LSU does not want to be forced to have to turn to Lee before he is ready but it may have to come to that.