LSU Football: How Spring Position Changes Will Impact Tigers in 2014

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterMarch 10, 2014

Spring is the time to tinker with position changes, and with LSU starting practice on Saturday, it was Les Miles' turn to make some news with some of his own.

Four position changes highlighted the first day of spring practice, as noted that quarterback Rob Bolden moved to wide receiver, cornerback Jalen Mills moved back to safety, Kwon Alexander moved from "Sam" to "Will" linebacker and Lamar Louis jumped outside from his inside linebacker spot.

So how will the position changes impact the 2014 Tigers?

Bolden's move will undoubtedly draw the most headlines. The former Penn State quarterback transferred to LSU prior to the 2012 season and sat out that year as a result of his transfer.

Now with one year remaining and LSU looking to go younger at quarterback with Anthony Jennings, Brandon Harris or Hayden Rettig, Bolden just wants to see the field.

He has a pretty good chance to do it at wide receiver. 

At 6'4", 209 pounds, he certainly has the frame to be a weapon outside. With Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. gone to the pros, he has the opportunity to find a role at wide receiver if he can adjust quickly this spring.

It's asking a lot for Bolden, a career quarterback, to adjust to a new position this late in his career. It's also unlikely that he will become the second coming of Landry or Beckham in one year.

However, that doesn't mean he can't find a role. 

With two years in the system, he already knows the routes and playbook. That gives him at least a theoretical advantage over some of the competition, which includes 10 freshmen, redshirt freshmen or true sophomores.

While Bolden's move to wide receiver will garner attention due to his high-profile position and much-publicized transfer, it's the moves on the defensive side of the ball that could pay bigger dividends in 2014.

Mills started at safety in the 21-14 Outback Bowl win over Iowa and had six tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss and a pass breakup. The 6'1", 189-pound rising junior from DeSoto, Texas, has seen considerable playing time over the last two seasons at cornerback.

He is good in coverage and willing to stick his nose in and help out in run support, which makes him a good pick to make the switch. 

His move also allows defensive coordinator John Chavis options with personnel packages. You know what you're getting with him in coverage, and if he shines as a safety, it would allow Chavis to mix and match his personnel in nickel and dime situations to get the best five and six defensive backs into the game, respectively, based on situations.

The moves of Alexander and Louis in the linebacking corps are just another indication that Chavis wants to get his best 11 on the field. LSU's defense is predicated on defensive tackles controlling the line of scrimmage and thrives when it has ultra-athletic linebackers to clean up the mess.

Alexander is one of those linebackers.

He had 65 tackles last season and looked great in 2012 as a freshman before an ankle injury ended his regular season in mid-October. At 6'2", 218 pounds, he's incredibly fast and perfect for the weak side, where he'll typically be one-on-one with a blocker.

Louis is two inches shorter, weighs in at 216 pounds and certainly has the body type and athleticism to be a better fit at either the "Sam" or "Will" spot. 

The moves on defense are all about creating versatility and giving the coaching staff options. Unlike with other defensive coordinators, Chavis' defense is less reliant on roles and more reliant on athletes being athletes. 

Now's the time for coaches to tinker with the depth chart and put players in positions where they'll thrive. Miles did that when LSU opened camp, particularly with the three position changes on defense.

He knows how to reload and moving pieces around early is a big reason why he's been able to sustain success despite massive roster turnover on a seemingly annual basis.


Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All stats are courtesy of and all roster information is courtesy of


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