View From the Other Side(line): Q&A with LSU beat writer Glenn Guilbeau

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comSeptember 19, 2013 

AUBURN, Ala. — As we do every Thursday, War Eagle Extra was able to track down a beat writer for Auburn's opponent this weekend. Glenn Guilbeau (@LSUBeatTweet) of the Gannett Company (which includes The Times in Shreveport, La., among others) took some time to answer five questions about the (other) Tigers before Auburn makes the trek to Baton Rouge, La., for its first road game of the season.

Ryan Black: Everyone can look at the stats and tell how much Zach Mettenberger has improved since last year. He has nine touchdown passes already after having only 12 last season. His completion percentage is sitting at 65.2 percent (compared to 58.8 percent in 2012) and perhaps most importantly, he's not beating himself, as has yet to throw an interception. So the question is, how much of this improvement is due to new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron? All of it? Most of it? And building off that, what exactly has Cameron done to elicit such progress from the Georgia native given his short period of time on the job?

Glenn Guilbeau: I would say most of the reason is Cam Cameron, an NFL guru who coached Joe Flacco, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers. He has organized the offense. It has a cohesion and pace to it that it usually has not had under Coach Les Miles. Even when LSU's offense was great in 2007, when it set school records, it was still sloppy and drew a lot of penalties. This offense is sharp. Mettenberger was going to get better anyway. He did play very well late last season against Alabama, Miss. State and Ole Miss before tailing off. Cameron has improved Mettenberger's footwork and delivery for quicker releases.

Black: Jeremy Hill's ability was never in question. He's leading the team in yards per carry, averaging nearly 10 yards per touch. But this is more about Hill the person than Hill the player. After being reinstated thanks to a team-wide vote, have you noticed much of a change from him? Does the time away from the team seemed to have changed him for the better, from what you can tell? Also, what was your initial reaction when, No. 1: You heard Hill had been reinstated?; and No. 2: Miles had left it up to team vote?

Guilbeau: I haven't noticed Hill to be any different, but he could be. He still has to prove himself by staying out of trouble for the rest of his LSU career, which could be only a few more months as he can enter the draft as a third-year junior. It is likely he has learned a lesson. He did say he didn't know for a time there if he would ever play at LSU again. So maybe he was scared straight. I thought it was an embarrassment that Miles would let his team vote on Hill's reinstatement. That is a clear case of allowing the inmates to run the asylum. Miles is paid a lot of money to make his own decision regarding player discipline, which has been sliding under him in recent years.

Black:The wide receiver duo of Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry has been unstoppable through three games thus far, combining for 32 receptions, 576 yards and nine touchdowns. In your time of covering the Tigers, can you recall a time when they had such a dynamic pair of pass-catchers? And not that it matters given their production, but is either viewed as the "No. 1 guy?"

Guilbeau: LSU has had such dynamic duos. I would say Dwayne Bowe and Early Doucet in 2006 with JaMarcus Russell made for a more dangerous scoring threat. And before that, Michael Clayton and Devery Henderson in 2003.

Black: Despite the loss of a staggering number of key contributors last season, the Tigers' defense has shown no signs of drop-off. Is there any weak spot, in your opinion, Auburn might be able to exploit to move the ball with some sort of regularity Saturday?

Guilbeau: The Tigers have been a little suspect in the secondary as they have been looking at a lot of new faces. But with Craig Loston back at strong safety, that should help. Two true freshman cornerbacks — Rashard Robinson and Tre'Davious White — are very talented and have been playing more and more, but they could be susceptible to rookie mistakes.

Black: Les Miles has had an incredible run of success since taking over at LSU in 2005. He's won a national title, played for another one, captured a pair of SEC crowns and collected 88 victories, already the second-most in school history. That being said ... how much does the Tigers' fan base appreciate what he's been able to accomplish? Are they satisfied? Or have they found it hard to overlook that as good as LSU has been during Miles' tenure, Alabama and hated ex-coach Nick Saban have been even better?

Guilbeau: I think for the most part LSU fans appreciate Miles. They get aggravated at times with some of his poor game and clock management, but that only comes up every now and then. If Saban was not at Alabama, Miles may have three national championships. But as long as Saban is there and wins like he has, LSU fans will struggle to get over the fact that their former coach has won the national titles that could've been theirs. Still, Miles has had as much or more success head-to-head with Saban than anyone else.

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View From the Other Side(line): Q&A with Arkansas State beat writer Matthew Roberson

View From the Other Side(line): Q&A with Washington State beat writer Christian Caple

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