Rabalais: New blood could give LSU a boost

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU's new offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron, center, answers questions from the media Friday, Feb. 15, 2013.
Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU's new offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron, center, answers questions from the media Friday, Feb. 15, 2013.

By Scott Rabalais

Advocate sportswriter

As a whodunit, the saga of whether Cam Cameron was about to become LSU’s new offensive coordinator lacked quite a bit for suspense.

From the worst-kept secret in Baton Rouge — a question along the lines of “Are I-10 and I-12 always under construction?” — we segue to something quite a bit more compelling:

How much say will Cameron have over how LSU’s offense is run?

Les Miles brought in one of his closest friends in coaching to help spur an offense that in the 2011 Southeastern Conference Championship Game, the 2012 BCS national championship game and the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl was mostly stuck in neutral.

If fans listened to Cameron speak Friday and expected to hear some revolutionary offensive ideas, they were disappointed. Cameron sang the praises of LSU’s football religion under Miles: power football and keep the turnovers to a minimum.

It has, and always will be, a power-based offense under Miles. And despite power outages here and there, the results have been as better than LSU has ever had in any eight-year stretch: 85 wins, a national title, two SEC championships and five top-10 finishes.

A former offensive guard, Miles’ entire coaching career has been spent on that side of the ball. He will continue to have a presence in the LSU offensive meeting rooms, just like Nick Saban lorded over the defense at LSU and continues to do at Alabama.

But in Cameron, does Miles finally have someone like John Chavis — a man whom he can look at across the table in the offensive meeting room and say, “In Cam I trust?”

Perhaps. To be certain, Miles could have stuck with the status quo, keeping Greg Studrawa as offensive coordinator and Steve Kragthorpe as his quarterbacks coach. Kragthorpe’s diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease is what precipitated Studrawa’s battlefield promotion from offensive line coach to coordinator on the eve of the 2011 season, and LSU’s relative offensive success through 13 unbeaten games in 2011 led Miles to keep things the same for 2012.

But LSU ranked 85th in total yards last season, 92nd in passing, and managed just six tepid offensive snaps as the Chick-fil-A Bowl as the Tigers’ lead over Clemson melted away. Miles vowed improvement.

Would he have brought someone in if Cameron wasn’t available? If you look closely at Miles’ track record, you see that he has eventually made changes when change was needed. The failed co-defensive coordinator experiment in 2008 with Bradley Dale Peveto and Doug Mallory lasted just one season before he brought in Chavis.

As much as anyone, Cameron should have the clout to get Miles to accept the things he is known for: more motion, more throws to the tight end, more misdirection.

It’s a move Miles could have gotten away with not making. Now that it’s made, expect Cameron to show why it was worthwhile.