This just in: LSU has been really, really terrible the last couple of years at throwing the ball.
OK, so that's not exactly a breaking story. But it does help explain the obvious, vivid frustration of the Bayou Bengal receivers when they discuss the departure of former play-caller Gary Crowton ... and, more importantly, their excitement at the arrival of new play-caller Steve Kragthorpe:
"I think we'll be more aggressive than we were last year," wide receiver Rueben Randle said. "I think we'll take more shots. Like in the scrimmage the other day, the first play, we took a shot down field. It kind of got us all excited as a receiving corps to see that" ...It's not unusual to see players extolling the virtues of a new coach, but the not-so-subtle digs at the previous coach aren't necessarily your run-of-the-mill responses. There's also Peterson's "ball wasn't there" complaint, which might interpreted as a dig at incumbent quarterback Jordan Jefferson. Peterson also wasn't shy about hailing the potential of new JUCO transfer (and former Georgia signal-caller) Zach Mettenberger:
"I think our passing game was like all messed up last year," tight end/wide receiver DeAngelo Peterson said. "I felt a lot of times last year I was beating linebackers, but the ball wasn't there" ...
"I think he (Kragthorpe) is the guy that we need here to get this offense rolling and make big plays down the field," said Randle, the No. 1 receiver in the nation out of Bastrop two years ago who has caught only five touchdowns in his career. "Throughout this spring, I can tell that coach Kragthorpe, he's pretty much a passing guy. I've got a feeling we're going to throw the ball more than we did. He's just a little more aggressive with the deep ball. He doesn't just call the deep shots whenever the defense gives us that. He takes it to them. That was a little different than what we did last year."
Mettenberger has excelled at the deep ball and has a quicker delivery than Jefferson, who tends to wind up.The overall tone from the LSU receivers makes it clear that Jefferson is still considered the likely starter ... but it's also clear that Mettenberger has their (and no doubt Les Miles's) attention.
"He can throw," Peterson said of Mettenberger. "He's got an accurate arm — a strong arm. I think right now, he's just learning the offense. That's what's holding him back, but he's a good quarterback from what I've seen so far."
You can't blame the LSU receivers at all for their excitement; players like Randle, Peterson, and Russell Shepard were some of the most highly-prized recruits in the country, and couldn't have imagined they'd spend two years playing for one of the most buttoned-down, ineffective, unexciting passing games this side of the triple option. The hire of Kragthorpe was widely panned after his crash-and-burn tenure as Louisville head coach, but compared to Crowton's final two years, things literally could not get any worse from the LSU passing perspective. His arrival and the potential represented by Mettenberger are, without question, good things for the Tiger receiving corps.
But are they good things for LSU? It's not enough for Kragthorpe to simply open up the offense; it's going to have to be opened up efficiently and effectively, and with a reliable quarterback under center, as anyone who remembers Dave Clawson's 40-pass debacles with Jonathan Crompton at Tennessee could tell you. And with Mettenberger lurking, a team-dividing quarterback controversy could rear its ugly head if Kragthorpe can't get Jefferson to finally fulfill his ample potential.
Yes, LSU's receivers should be excited. But LSU fans, on the other hand, might be better served to take the wait-and-see approach.