First things first – it’s pronounced “Stu-drah-wah.”
That’s the tricky pronunciation of the last name of the man in the tricky position of ascending to LSU’s offensive coordinator position right at the beginning of the Tigers’ fall camp.
Greg Studrawa went from being LSU’s relatively anonymous offensive line coach when practice began Thursday morning to being the Tigers’ No. 1 offensive assistant and featured attraction during the media availability Friday. The move happened because former coordinator Steve Kragthorpe is being limited to his other role as quarterbacks coach after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
LSU’s offensive line coach for the past four seasons and a former offensive coordinator at Bowling Green, Studrawa called his new job “the ultimate,” but understandably said it was hard to get too excited about it.
“It’s very hard to get excited when you understand the circumstances of how it occurred,” Studrawa said. “Steve and I have become pretty close through spring ball and the summer, and he’s a great guy. I really was worried about him, and I wanted to find out what was going on with him.”
The Tigers players interviewed Friday echoed Studrawa’s sentiments to a man. First and foremost they were concerned for Kragthorpe and his family, and secondarily they were convinced the change won’t hinder the team in any way.
Kragthorpe, who was hired in January, will continue to be involved in game-planning and he’ll be at Studrawa’s side in the press box during games. But it will be Studrawa who will select which plays the Tigers will run.
“Our MO is going to stay exactly the same,” Studrawa said. “We’re not going to be passive on offense. We want to attack people. We want to take shots. At the same time we are going to be physical and run the football. I believe that’s the way to have success in football and (head) coach (Les) Miles believes in that. That’s the foundation of our team.
“We’re going to run the football and be physical on offense and defense. That’s where it’s going to start. At the same time we’re going to take our shots. We’ve got great playmakers here. Steve and I talked about it in the spring. We’re going to get the football in the hands of people who can make plays with it.”
Studrawa conceded that as an offensive line coach he might lean on the run slightly more than Kragthorpe would have as a molder of passers, but any difference would be minimal. There will be logistical changes, though. Since Studrawa will be in the press box to have a better view of the whole field, he won’t be able to talk to the offensive line when it comes to the sideline. That task will be assumed by tight ends coach Steve Ensminger, who will be on the phone with Studrawa.
The last time Studrawa coached from the press box was midway through the 2007 season, but he moved to the sideline because he said an inexperienced group of linemen felt more comfortable being able to talk with him during games.
The game plans will continue to be a group effort, divided among Studrawa, Kragthorpe, Ensminger, wide receivers coach/passing game coordinator Billy Gonzales, running backs coach Frank Wilson, and, of course, Miles. Studrawa, who coordinated one of the highest-scoring offenses in the country in four seasons at Bowling Green, is eager to call plays again.
“It’s exciting to call plays,” he said. “It was an excellent opportunity that I got (at Bowling Green), and going from being an O-line coach to having to learn an entire game plan was a tremendous learning experience.”
Kragthorpe’s primary task since being hired has been — and remains — developing the quarterbacks, especially senior starter Jordan Jefferson.
“It was shocking that he was diagnosed with (Parkinson’s),” Jefferson said, “but right after that he told us that he was still going to be involved with it so that was kind of a relief. Everything happens for a reason. He’s still here, he’s still working with us.”
Both Studrawa and Jefferson said they have developed a close relationship over the past three seasons discussing protection schemes, but it’s the offensive linemen who know the new offensive coordinator best.
“Just look at his pedigree,” guard/center T-Bob Hebert said. “He was a very successful offensive coordinator at Bowling Green. He knows this offense inside and out. We’re not running different plays, we’re still running the same plays. The same guys are still working together, so I think the transition has been handled really well by all parties. It hasn’t really affected us.”
Running back Spencer Ware also noted Studrawa’s tenure at Bowling Green, but in a different way.
“He was a good offensive coordinator at Bowling Green,” Ware said. “What’s different is LSU has more talent, more speed, more dynamic playmakers. I think he’ll do a good job.”
This season could be an audition for Studrawa, who Miles called “acting coordinator.” Though he made it clear he would like to be the coordinator for the long term, Studrawa said he’s too focused on this season to look beyond it.
Senior guard Josh Dworaczyk said he expects this to be a very successful season, calling Studrawa “an offensive mastermind.”
“Throughout the last few years there have been a lot of times where he’s worked with (former coordinator Gary) Crowton and they’ve put in a play and it worked and it was coach Stud’s idea,” Dworaczyk said. “There’s a lot of things he’s done that have helped our offense grow over the years. It’s behind the scenes because he hasn’t been the offensive coordinator. Now that he is, maybe he’ll start to get more credit for the things we’re doing on offense.”