When Zach Mettenberger transferred to the Bayou prior to the 2012 football season, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Georgia native was hailed as the savior of the LSU passing game. However, he floundered under coach Les Miles’ run-first, run-second, maybe pass-third offensive scheme, tallying a mere 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions on the year.
However, Miles and the athletic department are set to bring in former San Diego Chargers and Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron to carry out the same duties for the Tigers.
Cameron was ousted mid-season from the eventual Super Bowl champion Ravens, but in his ten years as a coordinator, he has been a part of 100 wins, or 10 annually. LSU fans have gotten used to the same number, and Cameron is expected to help groom Mettenberger into the type of player that leads the Tigers back to the BCS.
The only question on Tigers Nation’s mind is, of course, how? While with San Diego, he worked closely with Phillip Rivers — who was just getting his feet wet at the time — and showed a versatility in his play-calling that allowed the young gunslinger to succeed while leaning on the running game. The same can be said for Cameron’s work with Joe Flacco in Baltimore. During his first few seasons, Flacco was able to succeed while leaning on Ray Rice and the Ravens’ strong rushing attack.
“Cam believes in balance,” the Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson told Ben Love of TigerSportsDigest.com. “He’s one of these guys who is really going to establish the run. He believes in the fullback. He believes in establishing a kind of smash-mouth approach, and then he’ll go vertical if he feels like he can trust the quarterback and the wide receivers to not throw interceptions.
“He can be a little wary sometimes with a young quarterback and throwing over the middle because he believes that leads to interceptions. He likes to work the sidelines, work the intermediate stuff. He is a definite disciple of the Don Coryell principles of the old San Diego Chargers. You look back at Cam in his career, and there’s been some West Coast system, some option football. He’s been a versatile coordinator.”
If there is anything Miles has been able to do during his long and successful tenure in Baton Rouge, it has been recruiting great running backs.
Jeremy Hill exploded mid-year as just a true freshman. The 6-foot-2, 235-pound beast led the team with 755 yards on the ground despite only receiving 13 carries through the team’s first six games, and not even playing in the first two to open the season.
Alfred Blue opened the year as the team’s starter, and eclipsed the 100-yard mark in each of the Tigers’ first two games before tearing his ACL in Week 3. He will be back and fully healthy in 2013.
Then there are Kenny Hilliard, Michael Ford and Spencer Ware. All three are capable of carrying the load as the starting tailback for most programs in the country. However, such is the embarrassment of riches Miles, Mettenberger and now Cameron will have on their hands.
Now, however, it will be up to Cameron to utilize all of these weapons to the best of their abilities — and to make Mettenberger a star in the process.