This is a countdown to LSU's preseason camp, which begins Thursday. We're asking and answering a question each weekday until drills begin:
Question: How will the offense change?
Parties involved: Brandon Harris, Cam Cameron, Les Miles, Dameyune Craig, Malachi Dupre, Travin Dural
The scoop: After a drama-filled November, another struggling season for the passing offense and AD Joe Alleva's insistence on change, will coach Les Miles finally wiggle free of the run-heavy, I-formation offense he's employed at LSU for years?
Well, let's set one thing straight first: LSU used the shotgun formation a ton last season, and we saw the Tigers' first string unit employ the Pistol formation several times in the spring game. Could this be signs of change? Potentially.
There are others. For instance, Miles said the program studied other successful spread offenses during the off-season, adding some wrinkles from those systems to offensive coordinator Cam Cameron's scheme. Also, Miles and players say they spent more time on the passing game during spring than in the past.
But you know what's probably the biggest sign of change? Quarterback Brandon Harris' experience and the experience of his two top receivers, senior Travin Dural and junior Malachi Dupre.
Harris is heading into Year 3, has a full year as a starter under his belt and went through his third spring practice a few months ago. According to players and coaches, he's surged into a leadership role, and he's understanding the offense (and the opposing defenses) more than he has in the past.
Meanwhile, new receivers coach Dameyune Craig has bonded with the quarterback on and off the field. He's brought in new touch-driven passing drills, and he's potentially added a few wrinkles to the offense himself. Craig worked for offensive gurus Gus Malzahn and Jimbo Fisher before arriving in Baton Rouge, after all.
Our prediction: LSU's offense, from a statistics point of view, won't change. The Tigers have a Heisman Trophy favorite in the backfield. Miles and Cameron will feed Leonard Fournette, the 225-pound wrecking ball who led the nation in rushing last season, and rely on a defense that returns nine starters.
Expect Fournette to get the ball a lot. And expect Harris to manage the game and average about 20-25 attempts per outing. (He averaged 25 in SEC games last season, tossing less than 20 passes in four of the eight league games.) Now, will the Tigers use less of the I formation? Maybe, but don't expect the goal of plays to change much. It's Leonard, Leonard, Leonard.
- Thursday: Who starts at left tackle?
- Friday: Who starts at nose tackle?
- Monday: Who plays cornerback when Tre White is at nickel?
- Tuesday: What freshmen will make the biggest and quickest impact?
- Wednesday: How will the offense change?