Kragthorpe’s contribution could grow

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Offensive line coach Greg Studrawa will have an enhanced role as LSU’s new offensive coordinator, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Steve Kragthorpe’s impact will be diminished now that he’s “just” the quarterbacks coach.

Sure Kragthorpe was hired in January to run the offense, but more precisely he was brought in to improve the quarterback play within coach Les Miles’ offense. That’s still his job even after relinquishing the coordinator’s duties because he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Miles likes a multi-dimensional offense, but insists that it be based on a power running game. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. The ability to use the strength of your offensive line and the skill of your running backs to rush the ball consistently well is as fundamental to success as anything in football. Miles’ 62-17 record at LSU is a testament to that.

The power running/multi-dimensional offense wasn’t going to change a whole lot whether it was coordinated by Gary Crowton, Steve Kragthorpe, Greg Studrawa or you. Kragthorpe’s job was — and is — to upgrade the passing game so that the Tigers will truly be multi-dimensional year. LSU had a 1,000-yard rusher in Stevan Ridley last season, but averaged the fewest passing yards in the SEC. The quarterbacks threw 11 interceptions and 10 touchdowns.

Still, the Tigers wound up No. 8 in the country, losing just two games, each by just a touchdown. Better quarterback play would yield a more productive passing game, which could yield a championship.

We’ll never know what plays Kragthorpe would have called if he had remained as coordinator, and we’ll never know if they would have been better or worse than those Studrawa will call.

But Miles and Studrawa have told us the offense is already set, and the game plans will be formulated by the same people in the same way; and we know it really doesn’t matter what the plays are or who’s calling them if the players don’t execute them effectively. Kragthorpe’s job was and is to prepare the LSU quarterbacks to execute plays more effectively than they did last season, whether it’s Jordan Jefferson, Jarrett Lee, Zach Mettenberger or some combination of them.

That was the case on Jan. 20 when Kragthorpe was hired, it’s still the case today, it’ll still be the case when they Tigers open against Oregon on Sept. 3, and it’ll still be the case whenever and wherever LSU plays its final game of the season.

Essentially Steve Kragthorpe’s primary task remains what it has been for six-plus months — to be there for the Tigers quarterbacks, especially Jefferson, what Crash Davis was for Nick LaLoosh in the film, “Bull Durham” — that is, a day-in and day-out mentor who coaxes their maximum potential out of them. Only now he’s free to focus more on that.

So being “just” the quarterbacks coach may actually enable Kragthorpe to have a greater impact at LSU.