Craig Stephens

Cam Cameron's Magic QB Touch Swing SEC?

Created on May. 02, 2013 2:54 AM EST

I’m so glad LSU can’t throw the ball.

That’s what fans across the SEC said for a decade. LSU has had some talented players at quarterback (JaMarcus Russell, Matt Flynn) but has never been able to put a potent offense out on the field. The Tigers are known for their intimidating defenses and physical running backs that carry the load on offense. They are seemingly always hovering around the top 10, and a perennial part of the championship conversation. They continually achieve a high level of success with bad quarterback play. In this college football generation of up-tempo spread offenses, it is astounding that LSU has been able to compete without significant production from the quarterback position. If they had a star quarterback, fans of other teams presume that LSU would cruise to a title. Fans in Baton Rouge expect their luck to change this season with the arrival of offensive coordinator and quarterback guru Cam Cameron.

Les Miles and Cam Cameron go way back. Back to the days where they shared an office as Michigan assistants. They sat together in a tiny room for most of their waking hours and developed a close bond. Cameron stood as a groomsmen for Miles’ wedding. Miles is the godfather to Cameron’s kid. This is more than a professional connection or shared appreciation of corn dogs; when Cameron agreed to coach at LSU, he agreed to work for his best friend.

Normally, the personal connection between coaches doesn’t mean much. However, the familiarity that Miles has with Cameron will undoubtedly allow Cameron to experiment with LSU’s stale offense. Cameron has stated that he doesn’t expect to install major changes to the LSU offense, but that won’t be the case for long. Due to the faith Miles has in Cameron, Cameron could probably run the wishbone this season and Miles would give Cameron his blessing.

Cameron has a long tradition of tailoring his scheme to fit the strengths of his players, and has long had a reputation for creativity. When Cameron took over the Indiana Hoosiers, he moved wide receiver Antwaan Randle El to quarterback and ditched his traditional offense. Cameron looked like a genius by the time Randle El finished his career with the fifth-highest yardage total in NCAA history.

Along with Randle El, Cameron has groomed Gus Frerotte from the bench to the Pro Bowl, as well as Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers, and Joe Flacco. Apart from his dramatic failure as head coach of the Miami Dolphins, Cameron has a long track record of developing great quarterbacks and winning.

Cameron probably won’t run the LSU offense through a wide receiver. It looks as if he will stick with junior quarterback Zach Mettenberger and the plodding Mettenberger is more Flacco than Randle El. Cameron will build an offense to reflect that. The LSU faithful can expect to see Mettenberger float some deep bombs to streaking sideline receivers, much like Flacco did in the Super Bowl.

With starting running back Jeremy Hill recently suspended, Cameron will have to place an even heavier burden on Mettenberger. The quarterback’s reputation has always been one of untapped potential. Miles is hoping that Cameron will be able to mold that talent into production.

LSU doesn’t need a Flacco clone behind center to win. They won a championship years ago with Matt Flynn posting modest numbers. That formula will work this season, as well. Fans know that the Tigers’ defense will keep the scores low. If the offense can simply move the chains on a regular basis, they have a shot at the title.

The Tigers might get more than they asked for with Cameron. Cameron will probably tweak the offense to include more vertical passing. However, Mettenberger is streaky with his accuracy and this could result in a jump in interceptions and incompletions. Unless some skill players emerge over the summer, this offense doesn’t look capable of handling more third and long situations. Most likely, LSU will have to stick with their tried and true formula and rely on the defense to grind out wins.

Cameron’s history of success as a coordinator and quarterback specialist cannot be denied, but Mettenberger and the Tigers’ 94th ranked passing offense will be one of Cameron’s toughest challenges to date. 

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