HOUSTON — LSU’s retooling of its beleaguered offense started before Brandon Harris took a snap of LSU’s record-setting 56-27 win over the Red Raiders on Tuesday night.
Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron coached from the field for the first time in his LSU career, wearing a headset and carrying a play sheet while his offense accumulated 638 total yards in LSU’s highest-scoring bowl game in school history.
It’s believed to be the first time a Les Miles offensive coordinator has coached from the field in his 11-year LSU tenure. Cameron said a plan was in place to put him on the sideline earlier this season, but his prostate cancer diagnosis gave him pause.
“With the health issue earlier in the year I had, I kind of nixed that. Out of the blue, Les just came up the other day,” Cameron said. “Les came to me a couple days ago and just said ‘I’d really like to have you down on the sidelines this game.’ Whatever you want to do, I’m all in. Kind of his idea, and it’s nice to be down there.”
Cameron insisted he is healthy, even adding he’s in the best shape of his life.
Miles said Harris asked him during bowl prep to put Cameron on the sideline. The request paid dividends.
Harris’ numbers were certainly an improvement after a dismal four-game finish to the season where he threw five interceptions and just three touchdowns. He finished 13 of 22 for 254 yards and one touchdown, good for a 162 passer rating.
“Young quarterbacks I think might benefit from it,” Cameron said. “We can communicate, and Brandon does a really good job of telling me what he’s seeing. He didn’t have to come over and get on the phone. I’ve been on the sideline long enough that I can see what I need to see.”
Questions about the job status of the third-year offensive coordinator — whose contract expires in March — filled Miles’ news conferences before the bowl.
Cameron declined comment when asked if he’s spoken to Miles or athletic director Joe Alleva regarding his contract.
“Our experience here is second to none,” Cameron said when asked if he’d like to stay at LSU. “I’m thrilled that LSU would have me and my family here. We’re going to enjoy this one tonight. I’m sure we’ll get a day off and then we’re going to hit the trail recruiting. There’s a lot of kids on this team I’m vested to and recruits and we got great things ahead for all of us.”
Extremely close friends with Miles, Cameron said the November uncertainty concerning the head coach’s job status took him back to both men’s upbringing.
“We were raised by tough dads, and we came up in a tough football program as players and coaches,” Cameron said. “We know the business we’re in, we love the place we are in terms of coaches and you just battle. The good news for us, we get to go in the arena and compete. We don’t play things out in the media, we’ve got to go compete, got to get our team to play hard. Les does the best job of any guy I’ve been around.”