- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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LSU is a very intriguing team to keep an eye on this spring.
Thanks to graduation and early jumps to the NFL, the defense has to replace a host of players, while the offense is looking to finally generate some consistent excitement/production in 2013.
The absences on defense are concerning, but people around the program are expecting more reloading than rebuilding on that side of the ball. The offense's transformation still seems to be the real focus at the moment, and the addition of new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron coupled with a lot of experience returning in 2013 has generated some real excitement.
The returning talent, including quarterback Zach Mettenberger, running back Jeremy Hill and a host of receivers, is one thing, but having Cameron around has many wondering if LSU's offense will really take off this fall -- especially with his more up-tempo style.
The Tigers have only gone through a few practices, but players are already starting to see (positive) differences in this offense compared to last year's.
Wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who caught a team-high 56 passes and finished the 2012 season with 573 yards and five touchdowns, said he expects LSU's offense to "attack it more vertically" with its passing game and be more consistent throwing the ball.
So far, Landry said practices have been devoted to slowly breaking the new offense down fundamentally in order to make things easy on players. Even the timing with routes -- new and old -- has been harped on, which has really helped this spring.
"If we continue to do that, the running and passing game will be crazy this year," Landry said.
For Hill, the offense seems more open than last year's and less predictable. Players are moving all around and things can get a little fast at times, but Hill said players are comfortable with the tempo of practice.
"Everything is under control -- it's not chaos out there," Hill said. "We're going fast, but it's organized chaos."
That organized chaos has Hill expecting to see some positive differences in LSU's offense this fall. The Tigers won't get away from their bread and butter that is running the ball with their stable of backs, but, like Landry, Hill senses the passing game will play a bigger role in LSU's success.
"We're still going to be a hard-nosed, smashmouth football team, but our passing game is going to be a lot better next season," he said.
Things are still a work in progress, and the Tigers are in the very early stages of this transition, but there's no question that the confidence is up on offense.
"The sky's the limit," Landry said. "It's kind of unpredictable right now, but it has potential. From where we started last year, it's kind of like the only thing we can do is go up."
6dGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough