LSU held its first scrimmage of fall camp on Wednesday at its indoor facility, and judging from reports, Tiger fans should be encouraged with the new-look offense under first-year offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
Statistics weren't released by the university and information was at a premium, but while head coach Les Miles was guarded with his post-scrimmage quotes, there are some positives to take away.
"We were sloppy, we had penalties and we’re not playing exactly how we’d like," Miles said in a release from the university. "But what we can do is run the football and throw it with some understanding, and our defense is very difficult to handle."
Just ignore the part about LSU being sloppy, because that's classic coach speak.
If LSU can run it, throw it with understanding and play defense, that's all the Tigers need to put themselves back into the BCS National Championship picture.
Quarterback Zach Mettenberger looked lost for the first two months of the season, to a point where he didn't complete more than 55.6 percent of his passes in a conference game until November. Then he lit up Alabama, completing 24 of 35 passes (68.6 percent) for 298 yards on Nov. 3, the light went on and he threw for more than 215 yards LSU's remaining regular-season games.
The best is yet to come.
Now that the Tigers upgraded with Cameron as offensive coordinator, Mettenberger is ready to take that next step.
The scrimmages featured "ones" versus "ones" and "ones" versus "twos," and Miles was quick to point out the success of the top wide receivers and running backs now that recently reinstated Jeremy Hill has taken a backseat.
“Odell Beckham had a big day and (Jarvis) Landry had a big day,” he said. “We ran the football well with Kenny Hilliard and Alfred Blue each having some really nice carries. The offensive line is a little nicked but playing very well.”
LSU will benefit from having such a veteran wide receiving corps returning. Beckham is only a junior but has been around for seemingly a decade, at 6'1", 195 pounds, Landry has all the makings to be a superstar and Kadron Boone is a reliable senior who caught 26 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns last year.
The most important news for the offense was that the Tigers didn't have a turnover. That's big because not only were they throwing it with understanding, they were doing so responsibly.
Adding that second dimension is huge, because if Hill sits out for an extended period of time, which is still a possibility, the running game is in good hands with Blue and Hilliard. Blue won the job exiting fall camp last season before injuring his knee, and Hilliard has proven throughout his career that he can be the same type of second-half battering ram that Hill was last season for the Tigers. In two seasons in Baton Rouge, 507 of Hilliard's 800 career rushing yards have come in the second half.
Opinions on LSU's defense vary.
With so much roster turnover from last year's squad, the idea that the Tigers will be stuck in rebuilding mode exists for a reason. But they've been in "next man up mode" for a while now, and with John Chavis letting his athletes loose on that side of the ball, it's hard to imagine a scenario where LSU's defense doesn't—at the very least—show flashes of brilliance.
In that worst-case scenario, the Tigers will need the offense to pick up the slack.
From the looks of the Tigers' first scrimmage, it will be capable of doing that in 2013.
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