LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has a tough task ahead of him.
LSU lost the core of its offense from 2013. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger was a 3,000-yard passer, running back Jeremy Hill was a 1,000-yard rusher and receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. both eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards.
Unfortunately, Cameron will basically start from scratch next season.
The Tigers will have a new quarterback. The winner of the signal-caller battle between sophomore Anthony Jennings and freshman Brandon Harris will not be determined anytime soon.
LSU's top returnee at wide receiver is Travin Dural, who only caught seven passes in 2013. The Tigers will have growing pains there as well.
The Tigers put on an uncharacteristic air raid in 2013 thanks to the talents of Mettenberger, Landry and Beckham Jr. Their timing was precise thanks to Cameron's tutelage, which created a diverse playbook.
Harris and Jennings are nowhere near Mettenberger as passers. However, they do bring a wrinkle to the offense that Mettenberger didn't, which is the ability to run. As seen in this video, Cameron practiced the read-option with the quarterbacks this spring.
No matter who lines up at quarterback, though, LSU will pound the ball early and often next season with traditional running plays.
Cameron will have to rely on LSU's experienced offensive line, which returns four of five starters, to dominate games. And that is not a problem with head coach Les Miles.
Left tackle La'el Collins, left guard Vadal Alexander, center Elliott Porter and right tackle Jerald Hawkins did not receive much attention this spring, which is good. This indicates there were no injuries and their play was fine.
New offensive line coach Jeff Grimes will have a difficult decision to make at right guard. Seniors Evan Washington and Hoko Fanaika have gone back and forth for the starters role.
"Those guys have alternated every day," Grimes said after the spring game. "They both have looked good this spring."
Miles, a former offensive lineman at Michigan, loves smashmouth football. No matter who lines up at guard, the Tigers will have three seniors, one junior and one sophomore on the line.
Miles also trusts the guys who will run behind the big uglies up front.
Terrence Magee, the likely starter for the season opener against Wisconsin, finished second on the team in rushing last season. Kenny Hilliard is an experienced back who has 21 rushing touchdowns in his college career.
Also expect to see 5-star signee Leonard Fournette, arguably the highest-profile recruit in Miles' career, to get plenty of carries early. Fournette will be the most talented back in LSU's backfield.
Miles has made no mystery of his love for Fournette. WWLTV.com reports he readjusted LSU's 2013 recruiting class for Fournette, subtweeted him during the recruiting process and 247Sports indicates that he referenced him during spring practice.
"Buga Nation" could take reign in Baton Rouge quickly.
Cameron has moved on from Mettenberger and the spectacular offense of 2013. His task to reshape the LSU passing attack will be an arduous one, so fans must be patient.
Miles will want to keep things simple next season with a run-heavy attack. With a new starting quarterback, inexperienced receivers and seasoned offensive line, the aerial attack that captivated LSU fans last season will not be the same in 2014.
Wisconsin plays smashmouth football as well. Expect an old-school slugfest even Ali-Frazier fans would envy.
Miles has won with ground-and-pound football for the majority of his career. Winning trumps everything else for college football programs—even if it is boring.
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