When he picked Greg Studrawa to replace Steve Kragthorpe as LSUￕs offensive play-caller, coach Les Miles said he knew the longest-tenured assistant on his staff would be just the man for the job.
He has but one concern.
Known for a booming voice that lights up the practice fields, Studrawa will soon have a home communicating with coaches and players from the press box.
“We may not need a headset on him,” Miles said. “Or weￕll just have to modulate his mike way down.”
Studrawa, who has coached from the sideline in previous seasons, has never been the quiet kind. But the former Bowling Green tackle lived under the radar coaching LSUￕs offensive line since joining the staff in 2007.
That changed Thursday when Miles announced Kragthorpe, who was recently diagnosed with Parkinsonￕs disease, had surrendered his duties as offensive coordinator and would focus his efforts strictly on coaching the quarterbacks.
Suddenly, LSU fans had a new name to know. A name they may have struggled to say.
Studrawa (pronounced Stu-drah-wah) is simply ￒ”Coach Stud” around the LSU football complex, and he received what Miles labeled a ￒ”battlefield promotion” when he became LSUￕs new offensive coordinator.
ￒ”He’s been doing this for quite some time anyway,” Miles said. ￒ”I just think it would be a much better transition than if we did not have a guy thatￕs as capable as he is.”
Capable enough that when Gary Crowton left for Maryland after last season, Miles said he considered promoting Studrawa to fill the void. Kragthorpe got the job instead.
“I hired Steve Kragthorpe as the coordinator,” Miles said, ￒ”but we’re fortunate that we have a veteran play-caller and a veteran offensive coordinator that can step in the fold and make these calls.”
Before joining Miles as LSU’s offensive line coach, Studrawa helped lead his alma mater to record-breaking offensive numbers.
Studrawa joined Urban Meyerￕs first staff at Bowling Green in 2001 and spent two seasons coaching centers and guards. He got the job as offensive coordinator in 2003 after Meyer left for Utah and Gregg Brandon became the schoolￕs new head coach.
During his four seasons calling plays, Bowling Green posted a 30-19 record and won two bowl games.
The Falcons were an offensive juggernaut in 2004, averaging a Mid-American Conference-record 44.3 points per game to rank second nationally in scoring. Quarterback Omar Jacobs threw 41 touchdown passes with only four interceptions. In the final nine games that season, Bowling Green averaged 49.4 points with four games of scoring at least 50 points.
In 2005, the Falcons ranked second in the MAC in both passing and scoring.
“I’m very comfortable with the direction,” Miles said. ￒ”I donￕt think the offense will really be hindered in any way. I think there might well be advantages.”
LSU went through its first day of fall camp Thursday with veterans practicing in the morning and newcomers, with select veterans sprinkled in, working out in the afternoon.
In the early session, defensive tackle Anthony ￒ”Freak” Johnson and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. were the only true freshmen who practiced with the veterans.
Johnson enrolled at LSU in January, went through spring practice with the team and has stayed on course to make an early impact. Beckham was not in school for spring practice, but he will have a chance to make his mark at a position where the Tigers lack depth.
“Thereￕs some special to him,” Miles said of Beckham, a former Newman standout.
As expected, junior Russell Shepard was among the receivers catching passes from quarterbacks Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee in the morning. Shepard was held out of Southeastern Conference Media Days last month reportedly because of an NCAA compliance issue related to off-campus housing.
In the afternoon, junior-college transfer Zach Mettenberger joined true freshmen Stephen Rivers, Jerrard Randall and Jared Foster in the quarterback rotation. Foster is a preferred walk-on from Barbe in Lake Charles.
Another quarterback, JaMarcus Russell, stopped by to visit with his old coach and observe the youngsters at work. Russell was the No. 1 pick of the 2007 NFL draft after leading LSU to 25 victories in two-plus seasons as the starter behind center.
“The first day is the worst day for the head coach that there can possibly be because youￕre in helmets and you cannot have contact,” Miles said. “You canￕt constantly get a fast style of practice run with the idea that contact is not going to happen.”
The Tigers will be back in helmets and shorts Friday as split-squad workouts resume.