Why LSU OC Cam Cameron Is on the Hot Seat in 2015

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterFebruary 26, 2015

LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron
LSU offensive coordinator Cam CameronUSA TODAY Sports

When compared to previous years, 2015 is relatively cool in terms of head coaches being on the hot seat.

Sure, there's some frustration with LSU head coach Les Miles in Baton Rouge, and Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason probably can't regress from last season's 2-10 record and expect to keep his job. 

Coordinators, though, could be a different story.

When there's a little bit of frustration, that means coordinators are at risk since, typically, they're the first ones to go when a head coach's seat begins to heat up. For LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, that's bad news.

Entering his third season as LSU's offensive mastermind, Cameron should be coaching for his job in 2015.

LSU QB Anthony Jennings (left) and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron
LSU QB Anthony Jennings (left) and offensive coordinator Cam CameronJonathan Bachman/Associated Press

Sure, his first season was solid. When you have a gunslinger at quarterback in Zach Mettenberger, stud running back Jeremy Hill and two superstar wide receivers in Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, a coordinator's most important job is to not mess things up. 

Even with that all-star roster, LSU finished seventh in the SEC in total offense (453.3 YPG). 

In 2014, when all of those stars moved on, Cameron was left trying to figure out how to make things click with inexperienced, dual-threat quarterbacks who don't exactly fit the offenses Cameron is accustomed to running. 

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LSU QBs Brandon Harris (left) and Anthony Jennings (right)
LSU QBs Brandon Harris (left) and Anthony Jennings (right)Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

True sophomore Anthony Jennings won the job, struggled early and was benched for the Tigers' road game vs. Auburn. True freshman Brandon Harris came in, promptly went 3-of-14 on the Plains, and forced Jennings back into action. Jennings completed less than half of his passes on the season (48.9 percent), which was the worst mark in the SEC among qualifying quarterbacks. 

Cameron told NOLA.com's Ron Higgins that his goal is to focus on the positives.

"In quarterback play, you're continually trying to set aside the things you don't do well and focus on the things you do well without being unbelievably predictable. That's the catch," he said. "You can simplify, which is what you should do, but then comes the ability to be unpredictable. The magic is to be unpredictable but also simple enough so your guys can execute things."

Except that LSU's offense with Jennings and Harris taking the snaps looked like a mirror image of the one run with Mettenberger, despite the fact that Jennings was the changeup running quarterback in 2013 and Harris has the speed and moves to be a difference-maker.

LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron
LSU offensive coordinator Cam CameronJonathan Bachman/Associated Press

Cameron has to change more than the quarterbacks.

When LSU traveled to College Station on Thanksgiving night to take on Texas A&M, jet sweeps were a bigger part of that offense than at any other time of the year. Those jet sweeps jump-started a Tiger offense, including running back Leonard Fournette, that was in desperate need of a spark.

"It opened up the run for Leonard even more and for me," Jennings said during bowl prep, according to Glenn Guilbeau of Gannett Louisiana. "They can't cover everything perfectly, so the new sweep helped a lot."

LSU needs to build on incorporating the running quarterback—whoever wins the job—as more of a threat in the running game and become multidimensional in the rushing attack. Cameron already knows Fournette is a stud and the jet sweep works, so a more diverse rushing attack is the path of least resistance toward winning football games.

Would that anger established receivers Travin Dural and young players with potential like Malachi Dupre and recent signee Tyron Johnson? Maybe, although several run-based coaches, including Auburn's Gus Malzahn, have proven that there are plenty of passes to go around to top wide receivers even when the play-calling is heavily slanted toward the run.

Cameron was one of five million-dollar coordinators in 2014, when he raked in a cool $1.3 million, according to the USA Today coaching salary database. For that, all LSU got was a bunch of frustration and heartache.

His salary jumps to $1.5 million in this, the final year of his three-year deal.

He better live up to his word and focus on the things his team does well in 2015, because another 8-5 season won't sit well in Baton Rouge, as ESPN's Brett McMurphy pointed out to Arkansas syndicated radio host Bo Mattingly after the 31-28 Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl loss to Notre Dame:

If Miles' job status suddenly becomes shaky, changes must be made.

That would start with coordinators, and Cameron's inability to adjust to his players will be viewed as one of LSU's biggest problems.

With the offense regressing and Cameron's contract expiring, it's time to put up or shut up.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com unless otherwise noted, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.