The need for speed was the watchword on a fast and furious first day of LSU spring football practice.
New offensive coordinator Cam Cameron kept the gas pedal mashed to the floor, the expectations high for a first session on the field, the pace unrelenting.
“The ball should already be snapped,” Cameron told his quarterbacks amid a steady drumbeat of instructions. “Quickly, quickly, quickly.”
Naturally, Tigers players weren’t of a mind to throw stones at former offensive coordinator Greg Studrawa, especially since he was also on the LSU practice field again working solely with his offensive linemen.
But to a man they acknowledged the tempo was a departure from last season.
“With coach Stud it was more slow with some tempo stuff toward the end of practice,” running back Alfred Blue said. “But with coach Cam it’s tempo all the way through.”
“We got in a lot more plays than we do normally,” running back Jeremy Hill said. “Like coach says, it’s organized chaos. We want the defense back on their heels. It’ll probably take a week to get used to this fast pace, but we’ll get used to it.”
The biggest convert to the Cameron camp will have to be senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger.
Mettenberger said he and Cameron have been meeting virtually every day since the former Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator was hired Feb. 15.
Mettenberger’s objective: be an extension of Cameron on the practice field.
“He’s in a new environment, coaching college for the first time in 12 years,” Mettenberger said. “My job as quarterback is to go out there and be second in command, to help coach out.
“He can be telling one guy one thing and I have to be telling someone something else.”
Mettenberger said he had three different coaches in high school, and in five years of college ball at LSU, Butler (Kan.) Community College and Georgia, he’s had four coordinators.
“You just roll with the punches,” he said.
Though he said Cameron’s terminology is different from last year, overall Mettenberger said it will be easier for players to assimilate because it is only number based.
“For guys coming in at skill positions, they’ll realize what their one number is and it will go fast,” Mettenberger said. “If they’re thinking of a word, they’re thinking. They get a number and, boom, they go.”
There has been intense speculation on the part of LSU fans as to what shape the Tigers offense will take under Cameron.
Mettenberger offered this capsule description:
“We’ll be a no-huddle team with a pound the ball (attitude) and a vertical passing game,” he said, “a lot like the Ravens were.”
Blue was back on the field for the first time since he suffered a season-ending knee injury Sept. 15 against Idaho.
For him, it was like feeding a hunger that had gone unsatisfied for six months.
“Like a baby getting his bottle after crying,” Blue said with a smile.
“It just felt real good.”
Blue practiced in a green No. 4 jersey, the color signifying no contact. Blue said he expects to stay in green all spring.
“If it was fall I’d be full go,” he said. “They (coaches) don’t feel the need. They just want me to get my confidence back and learn the plays.”
The starting tailback going into last season, Blue had 40 carries for 270 yards and two touchdowns.
The Tigers will practice again Friday.