New LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has the quirky alliterative name to match Les Miles’ coaching quirks.
Come fall, Tiger fans will find out if their offensive philosophies can align to lift LSU out of a three-season run in the offensive doldrums.
It’s an atypical hire, considering Miles technically had a coordinator in place (reassigned offensive line coach Greg Studrawa), Cameron is a close friend and LSU has never named someone whose previous job was on an NFL staff to a coordinator spot or above.
This was a necessary marriage for both parties, with LSU desperately needing a respected, offensive mind to mend a passing game that has ranked 102nd on average since 2010 and Cameron running his course in the NFL after 11-straight pro seasons.
Though Cameron faced play-calling gripes in Baltimore and San Diego, there’s no denying his pedigree.
In 11 seasons, offenses under his direction finished outside of the NFL’s top half only twice to go along with seven playoff appearances.
Cameron took over Baltimore’s perennially putrid offense in 2008 and transformed it into a consistent threat. However, Baltimore fired him after Week 14, just seven weeks before its Super Bowl title.
Even though he was fired from his last two NFL jobs, his offenses averaged 24 points per game and he was a key mentor for four different Pro Bowl quarterbacks, including Super Bowl winners Drew Brees and Joe Flacco.
“There was a time or two where we would butt heads,” Brees said in his 2010 autobiography. “But I think that was all part of the process of him trying to mold me into the type of quarterback, person and leader he knew I could be, and I appreciate him for that.”
Butting heads was a focal point of Cameron’s introductory news conference Friday, as both Cameron and Miles acknowledged that the two friends will have to limit any play-calling discrepancies.
“Brothers fight like brothers sometimes,” Cameron said. “But we all know what is the most important thing – the team and the University.”
So how does Cameron’s offense mesh with LSU’s personnel and Miles’ style? On paper, it’s a good fit.
Cameron’s base tactics owe heavily to the Air Coryell style, which combines a vertical passing attack — aided by tight ends and running backs on short routes and helmed by a strong-armed pocket quarterback — with a tight, power running game.
That’s a small but significant deviation from the 2012 offense run by senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who Cameron said is a “strong thrower” for any offense.
In almost every pass route Cameron employs, two receivers run mid-range to deep routes in an attempt to strike a big play or open up underneath runs or checkdowns.
Two speedy receivers are necessary for those routes, and LSU has two juniors, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, who are prime candidates for those roles.
But like most offenses, Cameron’s requires versatile line play first. There, LSU returns six players with starting experience that average a bruising weight of 323 pounds.
Tight end is the only real question mark for Cameron’s philosphy, with the Tigers returning no starters from last year at the position.