East: Changes may be on horizon for LSU offense

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLINGLSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger threw for more than 200 yards in LSU’s final four games, including a season-high 298 yards against No. 2 Alabama. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLINGLSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger threw for more than 200 yards in LSU’s final four games, including a season-high 298 yards against No. 2 Alabama.

LSU’s holiday-induced delay in finalizing the hiring of Cam Cameron as offensive coordinator allows time to digest the possibility.

Though the Tigers have won 23 games and lost four in the past two seasons, the few losses have highlighted offensive shortcomings.

The historic 13-0 regular season in 2011 ended with a thud as the offense was about as impotent as an offense can be in a 21-0 loss to Alabama for the BCS title.

Each of the three losses last season featured high-profile lapses, though they can’t be blamed entirely on the offense.

The one that was most tied to the offense was the 14-6 loss at Florida in which LSU didn’t get in the end zone, didn’t score in the second half, and basically didn’t do anything with the ball.

Had the offense gotten a late first down against Alabama, it might have been able to run out the clock. But that doesn’t excuse the defense giving up a lickety-split touchdown drive immediately after that. Nor does it excuse an ill-conceived fake field goal in a last-minute 21-17 loss.

Had the offense gotten a late first down against Clemson, it might have been able to run out the clock in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. But that doesn’t excuse the defense giving up the winning field goal drive on which Clemson converted a fourth-and-16 and won 25-24.

It’s easy to zero in on these offensive shortcomings, and it is pretty clear that the defense has outperformed the offense overall.

So the possibility of bringing in someone new, presumably Cameron, to run the offense has generated quite a buzz, even though the hire hasn’t been announced and it’s unclear how it would affect the duties of offensive coordinator Greg Studrawa, who doubles as offensive line coach, and quarterbacks coach Steve Kragthorpe.

Remember that two years ago, Kragthrope’s hiring as coordinator generated a similar buzz before fate intervened. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s as preseason camp began, necessitating that he scale back his duties, and Studrawa took over as coordinator.

Now it appears that in 2013, the Tigers will have their fourth coordinator in four seasons. The question is whether the offense will look much different. Cameron’s possible hire is intriguing because of his closeness to coach Les Miles. They worked several seasons as assistants at Michigan.

One school of thought is that the offense won’t ever change dramatically under Miles because it’s his offense and any coordinator will do what Miles wants. So the coordinator is almost irrelevant, and hiring a trusted friend as coordinator could reinforce that notion.

On the other hand, if Miles feels compelled to make a change — as he apparently does — he likely thinks a change in approach finally is warranted as well. Otherwise, why make the change?

And who better than a friend to entrust with finally modernizing your offense in a way that’s acceptable to an old-school coach?

The reality won’t be known until the fall, but it’s safe to assume most LSU fans hope the latter proves to be true.