And just like that, we're already at spring practice. That just means the rest of the offseason is going to pass quickly right?
Anyway, before we delve into what will probably be the most interesting spring practice for an LSU offense in recent history, let's look back at just how good of a job offensive coordinator Cam Cameron did in year one.
- The 2013 Tigers averaged 35.8 points per game and 32.3 in SEC play. Both were LSU's highest scoring figures since 2007.
- The 453 yards per game was the highest average LSU has had since 2001. 6.94 yards per play was the highest average I've been able to find on record. That yardage figure dipped to 415 yards versus conference opponents and 426.8 versus ranked teams. Those averages were also the highest since the '07 BCS championship squad.
- The Tigers led the entire country by converting 57.16 percent of their third downs. That total was the highest any FBS school has had since Stanford in 2010 (57.56) and the third-highest total I've been able to find on record.
In the Air:
- LSU's 3,262 passing yards were the highest total since 2006 and the third-highest total in school history (2001's 4,022 is the record). On a per game basis, LSU just missed the record by .7 yards.
- The 23 touchdown passes were the most since 2007.
- The team completion percentage of 62.93 was the highest since '06.
- The team passer rating of 164.72 set a new school record, largely due to 10.0 yards per attempt that was the highest number in LSU's modern era. The mark beat the No. 2 figure by more than a yard (next highest was 8.8 in '06).
On the Ground:
- LSU rushed for 2,630 yards. That total didn't beat 2011's dominant rushing attack, but the per-game average was all of .2 off the 2011 pace (202.3/202.5).
- That ground game's 5.02 yards-per-carry average was the highest total since the loaded LSU running game of 1997 that featured Kevin Faulk, Rondell Mealey, Herb Tyler, and the enigmatic Cecil Collins. And for a point of reference, the 97 team averaged 256 rushing yards a game.
- The 2013 team's 37 rushing touchdowns were a modern-era record.
Suffice to say, the Tigers were pretty damn good on offense. But if you think Cameron earned his paycheck for turning Zach Mettenberger & Co. into such a fantastic unit, consider what he'll have to replace for 2014:
- 81 percent of total yardage (4,794/5,893)
- 67 percent of total touchdowns (41/67)
- 94 percent of passing yardage (3,082/3,263)
- 95 percent of passing touchdowns (22/23)
- 70 percent of rushing yardage (1,845/2,630)
- 54 percent of rushing touchdowns (20/37)
- 83 percent of receptions (170/205)
- 84 percent of receiving yardage (2,748/3,263)
- 86 percent of receiving touchdowns (20/23)
Numbers courtesy of the Advocate.
Yeah, this coaching staff might have their work cut out for ‘em. And yet, with the job that Cameron did last season, there's a sense of optimism. That job, combined with an infusion of talent from a loaded recruiting class and a fantastic group of young quarterbacks, gives me the feeling that this will be one of the most competitive spring practices in a long time. We, as fans, get to watch Cameron build this offense, almost from scratch.
We get to watch Cam Cameron paint his own offensive picture.
Seven starters is a lot to replace, but the four that are returning give a pretty strong base coat: a veteran offensive line. LSU not only has four out of last year's starting five back, but the top three backups as well.
There may only be two scholarship tailbacks, but both are seniors and both are proven enough that neither should be taxed too much with a heavy workload (oh, and they're about to be joined by the best running back recruit in the country).
The passing game is the biggest mystery. There's only one receiver returning with any appreciable experience, but it's a young and athletic group that can grow with their quarterbacks. And there's an interesting X-factor in two tight ends that have the ability to be the most effective pass-catchers LSU has had in that spot in several years.
All eyes, as usual, will be on the quarterbacks. With three former four-star recruits on hand, it's the most talented group since Jamarcus Russell, Matt Flynn and Ryan Perrilloux circa 2006. Sophomore Anthony Jennings is the most experienced after starting the bowl game and backing up Mettenberger as a true freshman. Behind him there's classmate Hayden Rettig, coming off a redshirt year, and true freshman and early enrollee Brandon Harris, who may have the strongest arm out of the bunch. Jennings probably has the slight edge with his limited experience, but the competition appears to be wide open. And with this offense having such a blank slate, I have to say that I would LOVE to be a fly on the wall through this unit's meetings and practices.
I don't expect the overall approach of LSU's offense to change much this year. The Tigers will still run to set up the pass and likely try to push the ball down the field off of run action. But the twists and turns that Cameron will add to take advantage of this new cast of characters should be a lot of fun to watch over the next four weeks of practices.
I'm looking forward to it.