Crowton looks to work his magic

When it comes to learning how to conjure up a magic spell, Harry Potter, The Wizard, would do well to consider studying a page from the playbook of Gary Crowton. The ability to successfully cast his offensive magic against opposing defensive teams on the football field has earned Crowton the nickname of "The Wizard".

He’ll be working his mojo overtime in 2008 in an effort to keep the opposition’s defense in a state of constant disarray.


“It’s an honor and exciting for me to be here getting ready for the upcoming season,” Crowton said. “Summer was nice, but its time for football. It’s been great to get back to work and seeing all the new faces among our freshmen. The job they’re doing in getting ready speaks a lot about the great future of this program.”


Potter would be impressed and in awe of Crowton’s offensive work in successfully guiding LSU (12-2) along a perilous trek through a magical season that included winning the SEC crown, and ending with a BCS National Championship victory.


The high-powered, Tiger offense established 10 school records last season.


They included points scored in a season (541), points per game (38.6), and touchdowns (64) in posting a 6-2 mark overall in SEC play and 4-1 in West Division action.


Also set were marks for rushing touchdowns (35), passes attempted (442) and completed (256), along with total yards (6,152), total plays (1,054), and first downs (316) while scoring at least 40 points seven times.


The LSU offense showed balanced precision in averaging 214.1 yards rushing and 225.3 passing each game.


Both, quarterback Matt Flynn and all-purpose running back Jacob Hester, have moved on after having worked their offensive magic at every wave of Crowton’s wand in combining for 3,410 yards and 33 touchdowns.


Flynn passed for 2,407 yards and 21 touchdowns while Hester ran for 1,103 yards and 12 scores. It marked the sixth time in LSU history that a quarterback threw for 2,000 yards and a running back ran for 1,000 yards during the same season.


The duo’s departure has caused anxiousness and created a heightened stress level among LSU fans concerning the Tigers’ offense having another productive effort. Especially at quarterback where the loss of Flynn was aggravated since Ryan Perriloux, the heir-apparent has moved to Jacksonville State following his dismissal from the team.


Crowton faces a situation where his offense will begin the season without a quarterback being battle-tested at the college level. The Tiger coaching staff will be looking for a take-charge signal caller to emerge from a group that includes sophomore Andrew Hatch, redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee, and true freshman Jordan Jefferson.


Some consider it a daunting task but Crowton plans to come up with a magic potion to overcome the pressure and accomplish the task at hand.


“The best way to do that is to play your best players,” Crowton said. “When you play the best player, you have to prepare them and let them compete. There’s always a time of growth at the quarterback position. First you learn your offense, get the mechanics sound, then you get stronger and learn how to attack defenses. Those things make the game special for the quarterback position.”


Losing a multi-purpose back of Hester’s quality means that Crowton and his staff have to find another feature back or they’ll be looking at another case of running back-by-committee.


“Hester did an outstanding job for us last season, and replacing him will be tough,” Crowton said. “But, we’ve got four experienced running backs, that averaged over six yards a carry, coming back. They combine good speed and power running while also being excellent pass receivers. We look forward to them stepping up and giving us another productive effort.”


Leading the prolific running back corps will be the junior trio of Charles Scott, Keiland Williams and Trindon Holliday, along with sophomore sensations Richard Murphy.


The Tigers have a clutch group of talented receivers returning to perform a little offensive magic of their own that should help the new quarterback in Brandon LeFell, Demetrius Byrd, and tight end Richard Dickson.


LeFell led the Tigers with 656 yards on 50 catches and four scores, and Byrd came on strong towards the middle of last season and was the team’s leading touchdown producer with seven to go with his 35 catches for 621 yards.


Crowton likes to utilize his tight ends and he has a good one in Dickson, who hauled in 32 passes for 375 yards and five scores.


“Our receivers are experienced, have excellent hands and run well after making catches,” Crowton said.


The 2008 season will certainly be a test for Crowton but look for him to live up to his nickname of “The Wizard” as he once again hopes to successfully conjures up another spell from a page in his book of offensive magic.

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