The 2013 LSU Tigers spring game has finally arrived and will take place in Tiger Stadium at 2:00 p.m. CT on Saturday. Usually a spring game for this program doesn't mean much because there is NFL talent all over the field. But with many players bolting for the next level, there are a few holes that the coaching staff must address.
This game gives the guys a chance to do just that.
LSU should be just fine on offense, but the defense has raised a few concerns during the offseason, with only a few starters returning. Oh, there is still plenty of potential defensively, but there is a lot of youth, which means there are plenty of young players wanting to make a name for themselves.
Like all spring games, this should be a fun event for players, coaches and the fans. Here is all you need to know about the 2013 L-Club Purple & Gold Spring Game.
LSU has eight starters returning on offense, which makes it difficult to pick an actual position battle. There isn't a true starter at running back, but head coach Les Miles will continue to go with whoever is hot at the moment. The quarterback position is safe in the hands of Zach Mettenberger, and there are four starters from the offensive line returning.
The one position that LSU fans must watch during the spring game is left tackle. La'El Collins will slide over from left guard and hold down the fort at that position, but this will be the first time he is going up against a young and talented defensive front in a game-like atmosphere. It will be interesting to see how he handles his new position. If Collins doesn't live up to expectations, Jerald Hawkins will be forced to take over on the left slide.
The good news is that Collins seems to be have made a natural transition to left tackle and has even trimmed down a bit to take on the new role. With everybody expected to hold their own, there aren't any real significant position battles on offense for the Tigers this spring.
The real question should be which defensive position should you not be paying attention to?
Of course, watching the defensive line will be important because there are going to be plenty of new faces receiving an increased workload. However, the main position up for grabs is middle linebacker.
Often considered the quarterback of the defense, there is still an ongoing battle for this position. D.J. Welter is actually the favorite to win the job, but I'm not sure if he is big enough at 226 pounds to consistently play the position. Although he has done a good job this spring, Lamin Barrow will move from the outside and handle some of the duties in the middle for now.
Les Miles recently told Glenn Guilbeau of the Shreveport Times what the plan will be for the spring game. "Initially, we’ll start with Lamin Barrow there,” he said before spring practice began. “If D.J. Welter or somebody else can play the middle, then we’ll move Barrow outside.”
As for the rest of the defense, there will be a few first-team guys who won't participate due to being dinged up, according to Matthew Harris of The Advocate.
Anthony Jennings is a pro-style quarterback who has had a terrific spring practice. He will be splitting playing time with another true freshman, Hayden Rettig. Both be playing live snaps, which means both can be hit, unlike Zach Mettenberger, who will be wearing a "no-contact" jersey.
Jennings is worth watching due to how polished he is at position. He has the great size at 6'2" and has shown he can throw a pretty spiral. But he is also athletic and capable of hurting a defense with his legs. It would not be surprising at all if he has a solid spring game and quickly makes a move up the depth chart for the fall.
Another freshman to watch is Ethan Pocic, who will start at center. Very flexible and one of the more talented recruits of this LSU class, Les Miles singled him out recently, according to Matthew Harris of The Advocate.
“Ethan Pocic is really doing well at center, and eventually this offensive line is going to come together nicely,” Miles said.
Both of these guys are promising players and will be given plenty of chances to shine during the game.
Like most spring games, you can expect the offense to be very vanilla. With a new offensive coordinator in Cam Cameron, I'm sure we will see a little bit of excitement and a few deep balls, but don't expect to see an entire new playbook open up in a meaningless scrimmage.
Zach Mettenberger will look better at the quarterback position and the media is going to gobble it up, throwing him in Heisman conversations beginning next week.
As for the defense, it is going to be that same LSU aggressive unit. Only this time it will be loaded with youth and guys eager to prove themselves. I expect to see a bunch of guys flying around and making big plays, which should create a lot of optimism when it is all said and done.
There won't be a ton of questions answered, but it should result in a competitive event that shows this team will be back among the SEC elite in 2013.