Tuesday, March 19, 2013
For LSU offense, answers coming quickly
By Gary Laney
BATON ROUGE, La. -- At LSU practices this spring, you might think you're seeing double. Maybe triple.
Instead of one group getting a repetition -- say, one quarterback handing off to a running back -- you've got three quarterbacks and running backs, side-by-side, running the same play. As quickly as one group is done with a play, another group steps up. It's a never-ending whirlwind of activity. "Organized chaos" is what new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron calls it.
LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger is working with his fifth offensive coordinator in five seasons.
"We're getting a lot more reps," running back Jeremy Hill said. "I got more reps than I thought I would get."
As a result, learning Cameron's offense is happening quickly. Players are getting more repetitions not only because more players might go at one time, but also because Cameron insists on a fast pace. For quarterback Zach Mettenberger, it means a sight that isn't always pretty.
"A lot of those drills were totally new to us," Mettenberger said last Thursday, after LSU's first practice, the only one where players have been available for interviews so far. " I'm sure by Day 4, Day 5, we'll be cleaning it up a lot better and we won't look as sloppy as we did today.
"It's a lot of good stuff, it's just trying to get a bunch of guys reps. That's the best way to do it."
Learning new stuff from a new offensive coordinator is nothing new for Mettenberger, who is learning from his fifth offensive coordinator in five college seasons. He started at Georgia, transferred to junior college and has is on his third offensive coordinator in three years at LSU.
The good thing, this time, is the simplicity, even in the face of a completely different offense.
"It's completely new terminology from last year," Mettenberger said. "Really, it's flip-flopped from last year. Numbers mean a totally different thing and words mean a totally different thing. But it's easier, it's more understandable."
He said the numbering system for assignments is simple to pick up, which helps in a fast-paced practice.
"If they are thinking of a word, they are thinking, 'This guy is this, this guy is that, and I've got this.' So they're thinking (instead of reacting). If they just have a number, then it's just, boom, go."
Where is it all leading for the LSU offense? That much, Mettenberger doesn't know yet.
Have there been signs that the Tigers' will go toward Cameron's signature use of running backs and tight ends in the passing game?
"Not really," Mettenberger said. "I can give you a better synopsis after Day 15."
Have they had a chance to discuss what parts of Cameron's offense will be customized for the strengths and weaknesses of the current players, including Mettenberger?
"We really haven't gotten into the whole offense to see what plays guys are good at," Mettenberger said.
Indeed, it's early. LSU will have its fourth practice Tuesday installing Cameron's new offense. It really might be the end of spring -- the spring game is April 20 -- before Mettenberger and the Tigers offense are in position to answer questions about what the new offense is like.
But watching the Tigers go through their "organized chaos," it's clear that Cameron is wasting no time teaching those answers to his new players.