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Insider

For Bolden, three offenses in eight months

8/9/2012

Rob Bolden, LSU's transfer quarterback from Penn State, has to learn his third offense since last fall.

There was the Joe Paterno offense in the fall of 2011 at Penn State. Then there was the Bill O'Brien offense at PSU in the spring. Now, he has to learn the Les Miles/Greg Studrawa offense.

As tough as that can be -- "He's swimming upstream right now," quarterbacks coach Steve Kragthorpe said -- at least he's surrounded by people who can empathize.

He's backing up Zach Mettenberger who had to absorb four offenses in four years, going from Oconee County High in Watkinsville, Ga., to Georgia, to Butler Community College, then to LSU in a four-year stretch. And Kragthorpe also knows the process of constantly having to learn new play calls.

"I've been in that situation before changing jobs," Kragthorpe said. "You kind of have to deprogram yourself from what you were doing before and unlearn that part. You have to kind of delete it out of your brain so you can put some new stuff in."

In Mettenberger's case, that's exactly what he says has happened since arriving at LSU. While the Tigers' offense has become second nature to him, the offenses he ran at Georgia and Butler are out of sight, out of mind.

"When I got here, having run three offenses in three years, I was definitely getting stuff confused," Mettenberger said. "Now, I'm good. I really don't remember a lot of plays from Butler or Georgia now."

A little more than a week into camp, that's not the case with Bolden. Not yet.

"He's still thinking a lot out there," Kragthorpe said. "We have to get him to where he's reacting."

Mettenberger said it will come for Bolden, too.

"This is his third offense in seven or eight months," he said. "I definitely relate. I've been trying to help him out as much as I can."

All in the family: Kragthorpe is happy to have all of three of his sons in Baton Rouge after having just one a year ago.

His oldest son, Chris, completed a collegiate career as an offensive lineman at Wheaton College in Oklahoma and joined LSU's staff as a graduate assistant coach on defense. He's joining the family business. Not only is Steve a coach, his father, Dave, was a head coach at South Dakota State, Idaho State and Oregon State.

Steve's middle son, Brad, transferred to LSU after redshirting as a true freshman at Idaho State and is LSU's fifth quarterback as a walk-on. And his youngest son, Nik, is the starting quarterback at University Lab, a private high school located on LSU's campus that also features top prospects Tim Williams (a 2013 defensive end), Garrett Brumfield (a 2014 offensive lineman) and Nick Brossette (a 2015 running back).

"It's fun having Brad here and it's fun having Chris here and Nik's across the street at U-High," Steve Kragthorpe said. "Makes mom real happy that all three boys are back in the fold. It's fun. I enjoyed working for my dad. When I worked for my dad at Oregon State, I told people it was the first time I had ever been around my dad for 16 hours a day."

He's still a football coach though, which means that although his sons are in the same building, they aren't always in an intimate huddle.

"Chris and I are on opposite sides of the ball, so we'll be two ships passing in the night between the offensive room and the defensive room," he said.

Cajun connection: For a team from Louisiana, it's not always easy to find a true Cajun on the field for LSU.

For the record, tight end Chase Clement is the real deal.

Start with his name -- Clement is pronounced CLAY-mont. He's from Thibodaux, La., which is about as Cajun as a south Louisiana town can get.

And he hunts alligator.

"We take (Mettenberger) hunting all the time, catching alligators," said Clement, who will start at tight end this season as a fifth-year senior.

He said Mettenberger doesn't catch them, but he does. "I catch little baby ones all the time," he said.

That is, of course, what pop culture thinks Cajuns do on their spare time. Cable TV has its share of shows featuring Cajuns who hunt and fish.

"Actually, I've got Swamp People (the cable show about alligator hunting) right down the road from my camp," Clement said. "I grew up with their youngest son."

So what's tougher, catching ornery reptiles or having to block defensive ends Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery at practice?

"Mingo's faster," Clement said, "and Sam's pretty strong. Catching gators is actually pretty easy."