Mike Detillier on the 2013 LSU football team
Scott: The Tigers sure have looked sharp during the first two games of the season, especially on offense. Were you expecting the “Cam Cameron” affect to be this noticeable early on?
Mike: Significant affect on Zach Mettenberger’s confidence and his pocket presence. He just looks so much more comfortable. Also, we spoke about this in an early interview, but in talking to Drew Bress and Joe Flacco about Cameron they both mentioned he liked input on what you like best as a passer and what makes you more comfortable.
You can see he has a comfort level with Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham and he has great confidence in his left side (blind side) in particular with La'El Collins – who has played great – and also Vadal Alexander. This team has a solid passing attack and that is huge news. It has been the missing piece of the puzzle the past few seasons at LSU.
Biggest change, the mental one with Mettenberger and also with his mechanics.
Scott: Yeah, Mettenberger looks like he’s improved by leaps and bounds. Then again, there were times last year when he looked outstanding - the Alabama game comes to mind. Do you think he’s finally “got it” and that we’ll see this new and improved Mettenberger week in and week out?
Mike: It’s just a snapshot, but he looks like a totally different player from a confidence standpoint and he moves around a little better. He is no RGIII, but he senses pressure better and his timing is much improved from a year ago.
In theory you can double team two receivers, so it will be interesting to see the matchups once LSU plays Auburn and Georgia and they try to force the issue. What I would like to see more is passing plays involving the backs and tight ends more, but everyone would. Cameron did a lot of that in San Diego and also Baltimore, so I am anxious to see that part of the passing game emerge.
Scott: Comments on Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham?
Mike: What can I say? Landry is college football's version of Anquan Boldin or a new version of Eric Martin-and what he was at LSU and with the Saints. Strong, real physical end, real strong hands and he has great eye-hand coordination and toughness. Tremendous route runner too. Not everyone was all excited when I talked about him coming out of Lutcher because they thought I was hyping him for my cousin, Tim Detillier, the head coach there. That guy is a tremendous football player.
Beckham is a DeSean Jackson type end /return man. He will drop an easy throw from time to time, but his speed and his ability to hit top gear almost instantly has really showed up. He has also become a more disciplined route runner. That work with Wyatt Harris at Sonic Boom helped out tremendously. Wyatt's a former WR too and he works with Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Jacoby Jones, Robert Meachem and LaRon Byrd in the off-season.
Odell is a big play element anytime he touches the ball and what I see a little different is that he catching the ball more out front with his hands and not up against his body. He has a tendency to be a bit of a body-snatcher and DB’s can unload and knock the ball out of there. I think he tries too many times for the homerun play and not just look the ball in better too. But he has made great strides and he is playing now with tremendous confidence. Everyone talks about getting those athletic genes from his dad, but his mother, Heather Van Norman, she is one of the five greatest female athletes to ever go to LSU and a great track athlete.
I can’t think of a better one-two punch in college football. And there is a certain comfort level Zach has with both of them and that is why you have seen the success you have. It's all about rapport and also getting down the timing issues. Cameron has preached that part to the three.
Scott: Best offensive player you have seen this season?
Mike: The most dominant has been La’El Collins over Jarvis Landry. Collins has been superb at left tackle, dominant as a run blocker and he can handle the edge extremely well as a pass protector. Because he is so good they have become more of a left-handed running team instead of a right handed running squad. It’s Collins over Landry, but it's close. He is LSU's best OL prospect for the pros since Andrew Whitworth.
Scott: There were a lot of questions about the defensive line heading into the season, but they seem to be more than holding their own. You agree?
Mike: They are doing a good job with pressure and also playing strong inside against the run. My concerns are teams with huge offensive tackles hitting the edges on them and attacking their defensive ends.
Mingo and Montgomery and also Lavar Edwards were good run-defense players. That does concern me some on how well the ends will play the run against the better rushing teams.
They can get after the QB, it’s in run defense that is still questionable.
The good news is that Rasco and Allen can really get up the field and rush the QB. and Ego Ferguson has played strong inside and with more consistency. Anthony Johnson is getting double-teamed a lot, but I thought he played much better in the UAB game than against TCU.
He still needs to work on getting his hands out quicker and not let those lineman lock him up.
Scott: You really liked Jordan Allen, especially as a pass rusher. What do you think of him and his play? The commentators were saying he plays like Sam Montgomery? What did you think of that?
Mike: Jordan is a naturally gifted pass rusher. He is explosive off the snap, he is a good technician with his hands and he has really good closing speed to the QB. But his greatest asset is that he has a huge athletic heart and his motor runs hot all the time.
I want to see how well he holds up against the run. He is a thinly built guy and the more physical running teams will test him.
I don’t get the Montgomery comparison unless it is build-wise. Sam was a beast when he played hard, but he was a stock-market player. Allen plays hard on each snap. Sam was more naturally gifted, but he just didn’t give his all from snap to snap. That is not the case with Jordan.
Scott: In one of our previous conversations we discussed the linebacker group and expressed some concern about the middle linebacker position. Last week Lamar Louis got a look there and I like what I saw of him. What are your thoughts on the position?
Mike: I agree 100%. Louis is a terrific athlete, he has flow to the ball so smoothly and he has excellent closing speed. He still needs some work on his coverage techniques, but he is the guy in the middle now. Lamar is not tall, but he plays with great balance and he is hard to knock off his feet and he just has a knack for slipping would-be blockers.
And I love what Lamin Barrow brings to the table as a player. He is so underrated for his play and 1st rate range.
Scott: I've got to be honest, I found the play of the defensive backs to be a little concerning against UAB, especially in the second quarter. Do you think there’s reason for concern there, or do you think it was just a case of the team sitting on a big lead and getting a little complacent for a while?
Mike: Jalen Collins did not have a good game at all. If they don’t step it up the rookies are going to push them. There seemed to be communication issues also and that is where the leader has to take control. It's not a major one, but with these two freshmen in White and Robinson, I would not be hesitant to pull Collins.
Jalen Mills is a really good player, it is Collins that is being pushed now.
Scott: Last week TraDavious White and Rashard Robinson each saw playing time at the corners, and Miles has said that we can expect to see more of them. Obviously that says a lot about Robinson’s talent considering that he’s only been with the team a little more than two weeks. Think those two have a legitimate chance of breaking into the starting lineup?
Mike: I really believe that Rashard Robinson looks like the second coming of Patrick Peterson and you wonder where he would be today if the Clearinghouse wasn't so slow. Great talent and his instincts to play the ball are at the highest level. Tremendous natural cover skills and he plays the ball like a receiver in flight. He is everything I thought he would be coming out of high school and it is just a glimpse.
I can say the same for White who looks more like Morris Claiborne. White has excellent plant and drive skills to the ball. Just a marvelous athlete and these two guys are the best freshman tandem in the nation. White is a little farther along now because he had more reps and field time, but what a blessing it is to have two players like this and it gives you so many more options as a defensive coordinator to deal with from a pressure standpoint with these type talents.
Both are good technicians also and they are smooth with backpedaling and then releasing out quickly toward the ball. It’s the “Wow” factor for both.
And Rickey Jefferson is a really good prospect too.
Scott: What about Jeremy Hill?
Mike: He is a cut above any runner on this team today. Just a great combination of size, power, speed and leg drive. He just fights constantly for extra yardage and like Tyrann Mathieu, if he stays out of trouble until next May-he will be a top 100 pick in the NFL draft.
He is a star player, but he needs to be humble and understand what is at stake for him.
He is going to be a difference-maker and if the passing game continues to evolve, that will help him even more because now teams can't always have that safety in the box. I like what I have seen from him and for this team to get back to double-digit wins, he is a real key.
Scott: Now, I hate to even bring up this subject, but what do make of all this mess about the OSU allegations and investigation?
Mike: It's old news to a certain extent, but let’s see what the NCAA does with it. We are still waiting for them to inform Miami (Fla.) what will happen to them. But let’s not be naïve, these things happen everywhere, and I mean everywhere in big-time college sports and it is a joke to call this amateur athletics. It’s big business for these schools.
Scott: Do you see this spawning an investigation of LSU?
Mike: No, not at all.
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