LSU Football: One of Tigers' Biggest Problems Is Getting Russell Shepard Touches

Michael Felder@InTheBleachersNational CFB Lead WriterOctober 23, 2012

BATON ROUGE, LA - SEPTEMBER 29:  Jordan Love #7 of the Towson Tigers is unable to stop Russell Shepard #10 of the LSU Tigers as he dives for the endzone during a game at Tiger Stadium on September 29, 2012 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Watching the LSU Tigers 2012 football team has been a maddening experience for me. They make themselves look worse than they should by throwing the ball far too often and taking four of their top playmakers, Spencer Ware, Kenny Hilliard, Jeremy Hill and Alfred Blue, out of the game.

The failure to commit to the run is only one source of the madness. Another is the complete disappearance of Russell Shepard.

A guy who was a 5-star recruit out of high school, a clear contributor on the 2009 and 2010 teams has become an afterthought in Red Stick.

That chart highlights the dynamic playmaker's production arc. He peaked under former offensive coordinator Gary Crowton, and since the new staff of Steve Kragthorpe and Greg Studrawa have been in place, Shep has been pushed to the back burner.

Certainly, we all remember Russell Shepard and the "going pro" because he was disgruntled with how LSU was using him issued from this offseason. 

OMG I played 3 plays....

— Russell Shepard (@LSUShep10) January 10, 2012

After paying more attention and looking at the numbers, the kid has a right to be upset. A guy who, at one time, struck fear into the hearts of SEC defensive coordinators because of his dynamic playmaking ability is now merely an also-ran on this struggling offense.

When the issue of the disappearance of Russell Shepard is raised, some folks look for reasons. Reasons like, "well, he doesn't catch the ball very well."

Then hand that sucker off to him. Jet sweeps. Direct snaps. The Wildcat looks with Spencer Ware and Russell Shepard together in the backfield. Swing passes into space where he's able to catch a soft ball from Zach Mettenberger because, let's be honest, over his career, Russell Shepard is no stranger to a rushing attempt.

And we certainly all remember plays like this one:

Shepard has even shown flashes this season when given the opportunity.

Never in my life did I ever expect to say that something was better off under Gary Crowton, but after seeing the wasted talents of Russell Shepard, it is pretty clear that the LSU offense is not helped by the Kragthorpe/Studrawa braintrust. Not only is it minimizing an explosive playmaker, but it is also hurting the entire offense's effectiveness. 

Shepard didn't just go from being a nightmare on the field to a decoy who got other people open because defenses were worried about him. No, Shepard went from a nightmare to a nobody. It is no longer "watch out for Shepard" when he's in the game; rather, it is "oh wow, Shepard got the ball; that almost never happens" nowadays. 

Perhaps the off-the-field friction on the staff and between some of the players is true. Guess what? I don't particularly care. Plenty of coaches and stud players have hated each other over the years; the good ones find a way to win. And, in the case of Russell Shepard, these coaches need to figure out a way to get the kid more touches and a bigger role in this offense.

Related

    Malzahn Joins Saban in Wanting 9-Game SEC Schedule

    College Football logo
    College Football

    Malzahn Joins Saban in Wanting 9-Game SEC Schedule

    Dennis Dodd
    via CBSSports.com

    USC WR Arrested for 2nd DV Charge This Year

    College Football logo
    College Football

    USC WR Arrested for 2nd DV Charge This Year

    Tim Daniels
    via Bleacher Report

    Top Candidates to Go No. 1 in Next NFL Draft

    College Football logo
    College Football

    Top Candidates to Go No. 1 in Next NFL Draft

    David Kenyon
    via Bleacher Report

    Clemson's Venables to Sign Largest Contract for Assistant

    College Football logo
    College Football

    Clemson's Venables to Sign Largest Contract for Assistant

    Kyle Newport
    via Bleacher Report