LSU head coach Les Miles hired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron prior to the 2013 season with one goal in mind—fix the offense.
All LSU's offense did in Year 1 with Cameron was produce the third 3,000-yard passer in program history (Zach Mettenberger, 3,082 yards), two 1,000-yard receivers (Jarvis Landy and Odell Beckham, Jr.) and a 1,000-yard running back (Jeremy Hill).
Not bad, for a debut.
What will he do for an encore? Change up his philosophy, a little bit.
Sophomore Anthony Jennings and freshman Brandon Harris—two dual-threat quarterbacks—emerged as the two top contenders to take over for Mettenberger during spring practice, while Stephen Rivers and Hayden Rettig—two pro-style signal-callers—left the program.
Is LSU switching up its offense?
"Cameron is a smart coach—knows the game and isn't blind to how beneficial it is for teams to have that extra element in the college game, especially in the SEC, where you better either have great protection or a quarterback that can escape or you are toast," said JC Shurburtt, national recruiting director for 247Sports.com.
Jennings and Harris can both run, but are pass-first quarterbacks who keep their eyes downfield when scrambling behind the line. Jennings perhaps does that a little too much and takes too many sacks as a result, and Harris has more home run ability with his legs.
"I believe that Miles prefers a quarterback with the ability to run," said former LSU center T-Bob Hebert. "In my time at LSU he was a big fan of zone read plays (shotgun single back QB has choice whether to hand it or pull it) and option plays (we had multiple styles of option plays out of multiple formations)."
The ability of Jennings and Harris as passers allows Cameron and Miles to essentially run the same system as they did with Mettenberger, but allows them the freedom and ability to make plays with their legs when appropriate.
"Miles really likes when a quarterback has the ability to move because the QB can better avoid pass rushes and blitzes and make positive plays out of what would have otherwise been sacks," said Hebert, who co-hosts Double Coverage on 3WL 1350 AM in New Orleans. "It almost as if a running QB is an added level of insurance when it comes to the passing game and gives the defense another threat to deal with."
Having the luxury of options is a huge benefit for any offensive coordinator, and that's where LSU is headed at the quarterback position.
"I don't think Anthony Jennings is a dual-threat per se," Shurburtt said. "He's got a very good arm, but is more of a passer. Brandon Harris can do plenty with his legs and I know that they love Torrance Gibson and feel they could adjust the offense to suit him."
Gibson is a slightly different story. He's more of a runner with raw passing skills. If he lands in Baton Rouge, Cameron will have to work on his accuracy a bit, but what he lacks in polish in the passing game he more than makes up for in athleticism.
It isn't a full-scale change for Cameron and Miles, it's a tweak. An adjustment. An evolution.
"With Cam Cameron at the helm, I believe the future of LSU quarterbacks are in the best hands possible," Hebert said. "He can combine with Miles to form the best of both worlds. Cameron will teach Jennings and Harris to be quarterbacks first relying on their arms, while Miles can still take advantage of their athleticism."
With the caliber of athletes that exist on the roster, the creativity and experience of Miles and Cameron and new-found flexibility thanks to mobile quarterbacks, this Tiger offense is going to be tough to stop.
* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted, all stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.com.
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