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|Kragthorpe a smooth talker|
I like the way LSU newly-hired Steve Kragthorpe talks.
Then again, I'm going to take his own advice to decide just how good an offensive coordinator he is going to be.
Kragthorpe has said in recent interviews and during his initial press conference after being hired to replace the not-so-popular Gary Crowton that he doesn't want to hear who is going to make plays, he is waiting to see who will make plays.
"I told the players the other day, 'If someone hands you a check for $10,000 and says you get to invest this,' you're not going to throw it in whatever investment you hear about first," Kragthorpe said during a live interview session at TJ Ribs in Baton Rouge (at least he has good taste on where to go). "You're going to do some research. That's how I call my game. I'm going to put my money where the money players are. I'm kind of deaf to guys who want the ball. I'm a visual person. I want to see you make plays in practice."
Sounds great. Kragthorpe has generally said all the things LSU fans were waiting to hear. Things such as there is no incumbent at quarterback
Kragthorpe made it clear his research during spring practice and preseason workouts will be critical to who gets the ball in a game.
There's no doubt the most interest will be who gets the ball from the center.Jordan Jefferson has been inconsistent and I believe some of that inconsistency came as a result of Crowton's play-calling.
Kragthorpe talked about Jefferson quite a bit at his initial press conference.
"He's a very engaging personality," Kragthorpe. "I think he's a guy who is excited about his senior year coming up. It's a big year for him, not only from a standpoint of continuing his career here at LSU but obviously putting himself in a position to showcase himself to play on Sundays. That's one of things I know he's excited about getting to work and getting going and coming off a huge game. I thought he played extremely well against Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl, so that's a good platform for him to springboard off of going into spring practice."
One quote I did like from Kragthorpe was talking about keeping drives alive.
Commentators seem to get caught up now in saying, "Well, it's not always bad to punt. That was a good possession even though they didn't get any points."
Hello, if I'm an offensive coach I'm not happy unless a drive ends up with a field goal or touchdown, I don't care where you are starting from.
Which makes me feel better when hearing Kragthorpe talk more about Jefferson.
"The first thing I looked at when I was watching that game (Cotton Bowl) is (Jefferson's) ability to keep plays alive and to make plays with his feet," said the Tiger coach. "There were huge plays in the game — I think a 3rd and 9 situation and a 3rd and 19 situation — that were critical points in the game when the game was really in the balance there in the first and early part of the second half that he made a lot of plays with his feet and got first downs that kept drives alive. That's one of the things we always talk about with our quarterbacks, keep the drive alive, get another set of downs, a fresh set of sticks and put yourself in position to keep that drive going, and he did a super job of that."
That was refreshing
"The other thing that impressed me in that game is I thought he did an excellent job of throwing the ball deep down the field, which is something we want to do," Kragthorpe said.
All right, that could have sold me right there on the guy. Crowton rarely let Jefferson use his cannon and defenses crowded the box knowing LSU was going with a play designed to gain about five or so yards.
"We want to be a strong, powerful running football team that has the ability to be a quick-strike passing team also," Kragthorpe said.
That was never in Crowton's vocabulary.
Kragthorpe, whose father coached Jim McMahon, Mark Wilson and Steve Young at Brigham Young, said coaching quarterbacks is about getting them to "play with your feet and you play with your head. You have to be able to make quick decisions with your head, put the ball where it's supposed to be put, get the ball in the playmakers hands, and the other thing is you have to be able to make and manufacture some offense."
Kragthorpe said in the SEC, defensive linemen are such good playersthat coaches are seeing the multiplicity of defensive schemes with all the zone blitzes.
"It's not going to be a perfect scenario back there every Saturday night," he said. "You're going to have to make and manufacture plays with your feet. We talk a lot about footwork, putting yourself in position to deliver the ball fundamentally and then obviously putting yourself in a position to put it in the guy's hands where it's supposed to go."
What a concept.
Kragthorpe also talked about variety on offense. Hopefully that means no more options with Jefferson.
"You want to have enough variety of schemes and plays that you can feel like going into a game and playing throughout the game, you're in a position where you can attack the weaknesses of the defense and any defensive weaknesses you might see as that game progresses," he said.
"Yet, by the same token, you can't have so much volume that you can't be good at practicing all those plays. We don't want to be a jack of all trades and a master of none. Certainly we want to have enough variety where we can put the ball in the guy's hands that can make plays for us, give the quarterback a lot of answers in the running game in terms of run audibles and those things, and yet, by the same token, we only have so many hours and so many practice repetitions that we have, we want to be good and not what I call 'hang your hat on them' plays where we can have a base offense, a staple offense and then wrinkle off of those things. The thing we do offensively is we teach concepts — passing game concepts, running game concepts — and then we'll wrinkle off those from week to week or as we're going through spring practice, from day to day and teach those."
And his best quote since he has been at LSU?
"I tell people all the time, 'if you want seniority you join the army. If you want to play with the best players, come to LSU.'"
Kragthorpe certainly will not be compared to Miles when it comes to being interviewed. He says the right things that come out the right way.
"It's one of the reasons why I wanted to come to LSU," Kragthorpe said. "You play against the very best players and you recruit the very best players. You walk in with an LSU shirt and you have that logo that jumps off the shirt at people and says excellence, not only with what we're doing with the football program but academically."
He's definitely got the quote game down.
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