LSU Football: 5 Biggest Challenges for Cam Cameron
Successfully utilizing every offensive players athletic abilities will be LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron's biggest challenge in 2013.
As LSU's offense has shown in recent years (10th in the SEC in total offense in 2012), it's not as easy as it sounds.
The tools are in place for LSU's offense to dominate the line of scrimmage and rack up points through the air, but a few hurdles stand in Cameron's way before he gives LSU its most explosive offense since 2007.
Here are the challenges threatening a successful first season for Cameron.
Improving Zach Mettenberger's Deep Ball/Pocket Presence
The key to LSU's success in 2013 lies on Zach Mettenberger's deep ball.
Sure, the defense has many question marks entering next season and the Tigers aren't sure if Jeremy Hill will be in the backfield or not, but those problems can be miniaturized if Mettenberger's deep pass becomes deadly.
Think of it this way: How many times did Mettenberger overthrow open receivers down the field last season? The answer is way too many.
With a better accuracy on deep balls from Mettenberger, LSU's offense will be able to pound teams and throw over the top when the secondaries start to sneak up.
An offensive explosion will occur as a result. Of course, most of this falls on Mettenberger, but Cameron should help Mettenberger's mechanics. And in doing so, he should help Mettenberger feel more comfortable in the pocket.
(Potentially) Replacing Jeremy Hill
Giving Cameron the keys to the offense this season is like getting a Hot Fudge Sundae without the hot fudge.
Sure, it's still a delicious dessert, but it could have been so much better with that hot fudge. Jeremy Hill is LSU's hot fudge.
He broke onto the scene last season with 755 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns, and he wowed fans with his speed, power and vision. He was going to be a dark horse for player of the year in the SEC, and now for the time being, Cameron must develop this offense without him.
Kenny Hilliard, Alfred Blue and Terrence Magee are capable, as they've combined for 1,843 rushing yards and 25 rushing touchdowns in their LSU careers.
However, if the Tigers don't have Hill available, the margin for injuries at the running back position will be incredibly thin. He has to keep these backs healthy and effective all season long.
Utilizing Tight Ends
The tight end position needs to become an area of priority for the Tigers.
The past couple of seasons have seen LSU misuse its tight ends. Well, with a capable player like Travis Dickson and a young, highly acclaimed DeSean Smith coming to Baton Rouge, the passing game is begging for more tight end usage.
Here's a stat for you. Dickson led the Tigers' tight ends in receptions last season with eight. Yes, eight. That's two receptions less than Hill and 12 less than Spencer Ware.
This simply cannot be. It's unacceptable to have great weapons at the tight end position and neglect them in the offensive game plan.
It's up to Cameron to maximize the potential of these tight ends and insert them into the offensive game plan.
Keeping a Balanced Offensive Attack
Just because Cameron is refining this offense doesn't mean the Tigers should abandon the run.
It's quite opposite actually. The Tigers should use Cameron's expertise on the passing game to further open up LSU's rushing attack.
Here comes the dilemma though—knowing when to rush and when to pass. Don't throw it on short yardage situations late in the fourth quarter. Just thinking about the fourth quarter against Clemson makes me want to pull my hair out.
Play-calling is very important. Tiger fans know this best. In 2007, Gary Crowton was one of the best. He dialed up passes when needed and he allowed the running game to dominate opponents. After his first season with the Tigers, though, the offense became stale and his exit was welcomed.
The Tigers offense has been stale ever since, and it's up to Cameron to come in and rejuvenate this unit. Keep the ground and pound mentality, but give this offense some color and flare in the passing game. Most importantly though, the timeliness of his play-calling must be on point.
Gaining Consistency from Mettenberger
Cameron might have his hands full with ol' Mett.
Mettenberger has similar characteristics to Tyler Bray. On the field last season, Bray could make throws that nobody else in the country could make. His arm strength was that significant.
However, Bray couldn't lead the Vols out of obscurity because he failed to put together consistent performances on a weekly basis. Mettenberger did the same.
Last season the Tigers could ride their running game and defense to win 10 games. LSU might not be able to do that this season. Instead, Mettenberger might have to become the lifeline of this club.
If Mettenberger is on, Cameron's offense will run smoothly. The backs will pound away at the heart of the defense, while Mettenberger sits in the pocket and picks the defense apart, just like he did against Alabama and Mississippi State last season. However, if he repeats his performances against Florida and Texas A&M, the same ol' watered down offense will give LSU fans fits once more.