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LSU Football: What to Watch for in Tigers' 2014 Spring Game

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LSU Football: What to Watch for in Tigers' 2014 Spring Game
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
LSU head coach Les Miles

LSU wraps up spring practice on Saturday, when it will hold its annual spring game at 2 p.m. ET at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. 

The question on everybody's mind is, what will the new-look Tigers look like?

Head coach Les Miles and his staff are forced to replace quarterback Zach Mettenberger, running back Jeremy Hill, two 1,000-yard receivers and two monster defensive tackles. 

A tough task, sure. But LSU has been in full-on reload mode even before Les Miles took over as head coach before the 2005 season.

What should you look for on Saturday in Death Valley during LSU's spring game?

 

Who's the Man?

LSU typically releases stats for its quarterbacks during scrimmages but so far this spring, information has been hard to come by. Sure, there have been some numbers released. Last week, quarterbacks combined to throw for 295 yards, as true sophomore Anthony Jennings and true freshman Brandon Harris both took snaps with the first-team offense.

In quotes released by LSU, Miles said:

Both quarterbacks threw the ball better and made improvement. I think it continues to be a very competitive situation. I think both quarterbacks show skill and there are opportunities to change things and improve. I think that is what both quarterbacks are working to do.

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
LSU QB Anthony Jennings

Vague? Yes. 

Probably on purpose.

Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron haven't allowed a ton of information to get out during spring practice, but they won't be able to control the message on Saturday when the two players take the field on the biggest stage of spring.

This won't be a case of the offensive staff hiding the offense from the outside world. They're going to want to know how each player handles the pressure that goes along with being a starting quarterback in the SEC and will likely give them as much of the playbook as possible to see how they handle it. 

It's not like Jennings has a ton of starting experience. He came in for an injured Mettenberger late against Arkansas and led the Tigers on a 99-yard game-winning drive but was less than stellar in his only career start in the Outback Bowl against Iowa.

If Harris can impress in the spring game, it will give the coaching staff plenty to think about during the summer conditioning period.

 

Men in the Middle

LSU's defense is at its best when it has two monsters controlling the line of scrimmage in the interior defensive line.

They don't have that this spring.

Rogelio V. Solis
LSU DT Christian LaCouture

Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson are gone to the NFL, and defensive coordinator John Chavis has been searching for anything to plug those holes this spring.

Who will those players be?

Junior Quentin Thomas, sophomore Christian LaCouture and freshman Maquedius Bain are just a few of the players vying for playing time.

Even in the day and age of creative offenses, the SEC is still a line-of-scrimmage league.

How will running backs Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard fare between the tackles? Can the Tigers defense get pressure up the middle? These are questions to keep an eye on this Saturday, because if LSU can solidify the interior defensive line, the rest of the pieces of the defense will fall into place.

 

Meet Me Outside

For the first time in school history LSU had two receivers go north of the 1,000-yard mark, when Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. did it last season. Now, for the first time in school history, LSU has to replace two 1,000-yard receivers from the previous season.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
LSU WR Travin Dural

Who's going to step up outside?

Sophomore Travin Dural is one likely candidate. He caught the 49-yard touchdown from Jennings to beat Arkansas and is LSU's most accomplished returning receiver. The problem, though, is that he only has 145 receiving yards for his career.

There's still plenty of talent for Cameron to work with at wide receiver, but several of those players have missed some time this spring. According to David Ching of ESPN.com, John Diarse, Avery Peterson and Kevin Spears have all been hampered by injuries this spring. Who will step up?

Keep an eye on 6'4", 175-pound senior Quantavius Leslie. His height presents matchup nightmares for opposing defensive backs, and his speed makes him a pure home run threat. A strong performance in the spring game would come on the heels of a 135-yard, three-touchdown performance in a scrimmage last week, according to B/R's Carter Bryant, and place him near the front of the pack during summer conditioning.

Quantavius Leslie highlights

 

Evolution

The most important person this offseason in LSU's program isn't a quarterback, a running back or a defensive tackle. It's offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.

Jonathan Bachman
LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron

Cameron has a track record of producing potent offenses that pound the rock and then take the top off of a defense when safeties creep up. He can still do that in 2014 at LSU, but it's going to have to look a little different.

Whether it's Jennings or Harris who wins the quarterback job, he's going to have to implement some designed quarterback runs and zone read into the playbook to fit the strengths of his two quarterbacks.

What wrinkles will Cameron put in for the spring game? How do the quarterbacks and the offensive line handle it? Can he evolve with his quarterbacks, or is LSU's offense destined to be a square peg trying to fit into a round hole?

We'll know a little bit more Saturday night.

 

* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All statistical information is courtesy of CFBStats.com.

 


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