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Friday, January 4, 2013
GeauxTigerNation mailbag

By Gary Laney

BATON ROUGE, La. -- GTN writer Gary Laney took your questions on Twitter. You can also join him on LSU SportsNation chats on Tuesday afternoons.

From Josh (@j_bruns22): Who actually does the play calling for LSU on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball?

Gary Laney: This might seem like a no-brainer answer from the perspective of non-LSU fans since a quick search can tell you that Greg Studrawa is the offensive coordinator and John Chavis the defensive coordinator. Around LSU, that always comes to question on the offensive side of the ball considering Les Miles' past as an offensive guy.

It's safe to say that Studrawa is the play caller, but Miles and quarterbacks coach Steve Kragthorpe, the one-time offensive coordinator, have a huge say in the game plan. On a Saturday night, Miles will have final say on what gets called, though I would imagine that 95 percent of the time he stays out of the way, satisfied that the game plan, which he signs off on before hand, will be followed.

From Matt (@mattchiasson334): What are the chances of LSU making major changes on offensive staff in light of subpar year(s) in passing game?

GL: I wouldn't be shocked if a move is made, but I'm not exactly predicting it.

As much confidence as Miles portrayed about the passing game during August, it was notable that the Tigers took a junior transfer quarterback in Rob Bolden and recruited a junior college wide receiver in Quantavius Leslie. Perhaps, in retrospect, those were signs that they weren't 100 percent sold on what they had and needed to make sure they were OK there.

Having said that, I wouldn't be surprised to see somebody leave to make room for an offensive coordinator with a name and reputation. At the same time, there's nothing that tells me that such a move is imminent.

From Jeff (@JeffButler11): Why not cut Coach Stud loose? Nowhere to go but up right?

GL: The tricky thing about cutting ties with Studrawa is you probably need to replace him with two coaches, because there aren't many O-line/offensive coordinators out there. If you get another offensive coordinator, you may end up with wholesale changes on the offensive staff, which might or might not be desirable.

LSU has had three offensive coordinators in three years with Gray Crowton, Kragthorpe and Studrawa. Maybe the right call is to stabalize it, try not to re-invent it during this offseason and see what a year with a veteran quarterback and stable coordinator situation does for the offense. I'm not saying that is necessarily the right call in this instance, I'm just saying that kicking the bums to the curb isn't always the best way to get results.

From Ryan (@RC242424): Do you think Les Miles' extension was more important to recruits than the bowl game?

GL: Yes, the stability of the program probably means more than the result of a relatively minor bowl game.

I'll add this. It hurt LSU's season more to be in the Chick-fil-A Bowl than it did to lose the game. I think LSU really wanted the Cotton Bowl, which is more of a prestige game.

From Kevin (@kfitzmoe): What are LSU chances in getting (Robert) Nkemdiche even though he says Ole Miss is the front runner, and do you see LSU having any surprises come National Signing Day?

GL: I think LSU has a good shot with Nkemdiche. LSU was on him early and a lot of people who know the situation well are of the opinion that if his brother (who's a pretty stout player in his own right) didn't play for Ole Miss, this would be LSU all the way.

I think it's important for LSU to get Nkemdiche down for an official visit to try to win the family over on having the brothers at separate schools. If that happens, they have a chance to level the playing field.

I won't make bold predictions on surprises, but I'll say this: LSU is a prime-time program that has need areas -- wide receiver and safety, to name a couple -- where word might be out that the Tigers can use help. If they are to have a happy surprise, I think it'll be born out of that. A big name could make a switch to LSU at the 11th hour based on the opportunity to fill a need at such a high-profile program.

From Hunter (@hstcyr): I've asked you before but now it's decision time, how likely is it for (Eric) Reid, (Kevin) Minter, (Barkevious) Mingo, and (Sam) Montgomery to leave early?

GL: Minter gave us his answer Thursday afternoon, opting to go pro. I really think they'll all go pro.

I don't know if any of the four can significantly improve their draft stock by coming back for a senior season. All four have started on an SEC championship team and played for a national title. They've done plenty. Makes sense to leave now. Tharold Simon is the "draft" junior I'm keeping the closest eye on. I don't think he had a great season and he might help himself by coming back to school.