Can Cam Cameron develop Mettenberger and the LSU offense?

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On Friday it was reported that Cam Cameron would become the next offensive coordinator at LSU, although the Tigers aren’t expected to announce the hire until the middle of this week. Cameron brings with him a flashy, deep and successful resume, but we haven’t always seen NFL success translate to college, even just as a coordinator (cough, Charlie Weis, cough).

Cameron and Miles’ relationship dates back to Michigan, where they worked together from 1987 to 1993. Cameron coached the quarterbacks, and Miles coached the offensive line. Both coached under the great Bo Schembechler in ‘87 through ‘89 and under Gary Moeller from ‘90 to ‘93.

Given Cameron’s resume and NFL success, it should jumpstart an underachieving offense and help develop a young and almost timid Zach Mettenberger.

LSU’s offense finished just 10th in the SEC in 2012 under Greg Studrawa. While the running game was very potent with Jeremy Hill and the cast of talented backs, the passing offense was almost nonexistent at times and couldn’t stretch the defense much throughout the season.

If anything, Cameron would be an interesting hire for Miles and LSU. It’s very evident that Miles wants to run the football nearly 60 percent of the time. In fact, the offensive balance was much better in 2012 due to a passing quarterback than in 2011 when the Tigers ran 68 percent of the time with Jordan Jefferson. Miles has lived on and will continue to possess his run-first offensive mentality. But one of the reasons Cameron was canned in Baltimore in the middle of 2012 was for not relying enough on the running game.

Cameron’s resume speaks for itself. His vast experience and proven success in the NFL should excite LSU fans. In fact, of the 11 seasons Cameron was a coordinator in the NFL, his offense finished ranked in the top ten five times, including the #1, #3 and #5 offense in San Diego from ‘04 to ‘06.

Besides Miles and the LSU fan base, Mettenberger should be the giddiest.

Cameron had a hand in developing quarterbacks Drew Brees, Philip Rivers and Joe Flacco. Brees flourished as a passer later in his career, but Cameron was instrumental early in San Diego. Under Cameron, Brees guided the Chargers to the third- and fifth-best offense in the NFL, and Brees didn’t even put up monster numbers like he now does in New Orleans. Philip Rivers, likewise, guided the Chargers to the top offense in the NFL in 2006 under Cameron’s tutelage, garnering his first Pro Bowl selection. But Cameron’s best work came in Joe Flacco. Yeah, I know Cameron wasn’t the play caller in the Super Bowl, but Flacco improved throughout his career under his guidance. Flacco posted four straight 3,600-yard passing seasons with the help of Cameron. He also holds the record for the most wins by a quarterback in NFL history in his first 80 consecutive starts with 54, and he currently holds Ravens’ records for the most passing touchdowns and passing yards in his short career. Is that more of a reflection of Flacco or Cameron? Someone had to develop him in Baltimore.

Cameron’s experience in developing quarterbacks would bode well for an almost lethargic Mettenberger. While Mettenberger hasn’t lived up to the hype yet, he has tremendous upside and a big arm, and with the right play calls and teacher, his production shouldn’t go anywhere but up.

But Cameron has been labeled a control freak in the past, and it will be interesting to see the impact it will have on Miles’ decision-making throughout the course of a game. Cameron butted heads with Flacco and offensive players in Baltimore, just another reason he was let go in week 14.

Ironically, the Tigers’ 2013 season should come down to replacing the vacated defense, something Cameron would have zero control over.

It’s somewhat shocking to see the success of LSU under Miles since 2007 without a good offense. The Tigers’ best offensive year came in 2008 when they finished 5th in the league in total offense. However, Miles has piled up 51 wins in five years, and in three of those years, the Tigers’ offense finished 10th or worse in the SEC.

Photo Credit: Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

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