While everybody on the Bayou might be buzzing over the impending quarterback battle this spring at LSU, first-year offensive coordinator Steve Kragthorpe looks at it a little differently.
He’s not consumed with finding a quarterback.
“I’m not as concerned about finding a quarterback, because I think we have three very talented guys,” Kragthorpe said. “I’m concerned about installing the offense, letting them play and getting them in a position where all they do is react to the defense, and then we’ll go from there.
“The best part for me is that I’m not walking in the door and saying, ‘Oh man, we don’t have a quarterback. We’ve got to find one.’ We’ve got three talented, very capable guys.”
And, yet, nobody needs to tell Kragthorpe that LSU’s passing game was abysmal for much of last season.
Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee, both of whom will be seniors, combined to throw nine touchdown passes and 11 interceptions. The Tigers finished 107th nationally in passing offense, averaging 155.6 yards per game.
In short, they were about as one-dimensional as it gets.
Les Miles’ challenge to Kragthorpe when he hired the former Louisville and Tulsa head coach was to bring some balance back to an LSU offense that relied almost exclusively on the run last season.
That process starts later Friday when the Tigers open spring practice, and one of the things the LSU offensive players had better get used to hearing from Kragthorpe is how important consistency is to an efficient passing game.
Heralded junior college signee Zach Mettenberger joins Jefferson and Lee this spring in the Tigers' quarterback battle.
“Wherever I’ve been when we’ve been successful throwing the football, and I don’t care if it’s junior high or the NFL, we’ve had a system the quarterback understood and one the offensive line understood,” said Kragthorpe, who tutored Drew Bledsoe as the Buffalo Bills’ quarterbacks coach in 2001 and 2002.
“Going back to my days with Dan Henning, he’ll tell you the six toughest jobs on offense are quarterback and the offensive line positions, because that’s where it gets the most multiple. We’ve got to try and keep it as concise, consistent and tight a package as we possibly can for those guys and get multiple with our personnel groupings and formations.”
Kragthorpe has watched a lot of LSU’s offensive tape from last season, although he’s trained himself not to make any judgments on players based on what’s happened in the past.
To make things easier on the players, Kragthorpe plans on using the same terminology as the Tigers used last season on offense, which is the only reason he watched so much tape.
“The simplest thing for the players is that I learn the language they were speaking instead of teaching them a whole new language,” said Kragthorpe, who plans on being in the booth during games this season.
What anybody did or didn’t do last season on the field means nothing to Kragthorpe.
“The past is the past,” he said. “I walked into the door on Jan. 21 and said everybody’s got a clean slate no matter what’s happened football-wise, no matter what’s happened academically, no matter what’s happened socially.
“We’re moving forward.”