Published July 15, 2011 - 5:42am
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Russell Shepard entered LSU with very high expectations by all the major recruiting agencies. He was a big-time prospect who played quarterback in high school, but he was figured to transition over to receiver quite nicely once he got on campus in Baton Rouge.
Shepard enrolled early, and as expected, Les Miles moved Shepard over to receiver, but he did allow him to play some quarterback in the spring and worked him as the Wildcat quarterback.
LSU learned real fast that Shepard can be that everything, impact player they need in this league. During his freshman campaign, Shepard took direct snaps at quarterback, screens at wide receiver and reverses from the slot, but even still, LSU’s offense never has quite figured out to how to fully use him as a staple and playmaker.
Former LSU Offensive Coordinator Gary Crowton never could quite figure out how to maximize Shepard’s ability, and that might be part of the reason the offense has been rather suppressed during the latter portion of his tenure.
So, here we are – Russell Shepard is yet again entering another SEC season figured to bring big things for this LSU offense.
However, the new guy in town – OC Steve Kragthorpe – could be the best thing that ever happened to Shepard at LSU. Shepard has settled nicely into his receiver role this spring, and he certainly hopes this passing game can pick it up.
Last season, Shepard started things off with a 50-yard touchdown run against North Carolina, and he caught his first touchdown pass against the Tar Heels later in the game. That was the only receiving touchdown on the year for Shepard – believe it or not.
For the life of me, I cannot believe we are still talking about Shepard hopefully being a breakout player in 2011.
However, in order for Shepard to be effective, he has to touch the football a minimum of 10-12 times per game.
He is often compared to Percy Harvin. Let’s take a look at Harvin’s stats during his tenure at Florida compared to Shepard’s:
|NAME||Year||Rec. Yards||Rush Yards||Total Yards||TD|
|Percy Harvin||Fr. ’06||34 for 427||41 for 428||855||5|
|Russell Shepard||Fr. ’09||5 for 34||45 for 277||311||2|
|Percy Harvin||So. ’07||59 for 858||83 for 764||1,622||10|
|Russell Shepard||So. ’10||22 for 254||32 for 226||480||3|
|Percy Harvin||Jr. ’08||40 for 644||70-660||1,304||17|
|Russell Shepard||Jr. ’11||?||?||?||?|
Another interesting method of comparison is to look at the average length of play (both receiving and rushing) of Percy Harvin and Russell Shepard during these years:
|NAME||Year||Avg Rec Play||Long||Avg Rushing Play||Long|
|Percy Harvin||Fr. ’06||12.6 yds||58 yds||10.4 yds||67 yds|
|Russell Shepard||Fr. ’09||6.8 yds||13 yds||6.2 yds||69 yds|
|Percy Harvin||So. ’07||14.5 yds||52 yds||9.2 yds||66 yds|
|Russell Shepard||So. ’10||7.7 yds||22 yds||7.1 yds||50 yds|
|Percy Harvin||Jr. ’08||16.1 yds||70 yds||9.4 yds||80 yds|
|Russell Shepard||Jr. ’11||?||?||?||?|
Obviously as you can see, the production of Harvin was much greater than Shepard in his freshman and sophomore seasons, but I do consider them very similar. While the talent of Percy Harvin is tough to compare anyone to, it’s also worth noting that the Florida offense during Harvin’s tenure was much different than the LSU offense which Shepard has been playing in.
1,000 total yards and 10 touchdowns should not be out of the question, but it would be doubling his 2010 performance.
The one main point is this – Shepard cannot be a factor unless you give him the football. A guy can have all the talent in the world, but if he has no one to get him the ball he’s useless.
If the Tigers want to have a high-octane explosive offense, Russell Shepard simply has to touch the football more times per game. Steve Kragthorpe will be looking to do just that this year in Baton Rouge.