Les Miles’ new and improved Tiger football team took the field Saturday for the annual spring game.
While it is only the spring game and conclusions should be drawn cautiously, there are a few things that can be seen in the Tigers’ 2010 offense.
Windy conditions Saturday made life difficult for starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson; but regardless of conditions, your quarterback needs to play well. Jefferson did not, but Miles and the Tigers still have faith that he will mature into an elite quarterback in the SEC.
Even if they do not believe in Jefferson, Tiger fans should not yet jump the gun and call for backup Jarrett Lee (I know I won’t). Lee, who struggled mightily two seasons ago as the starter, shockingly enough, threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown.
If Lee does beat out Jefferson for the starting job, Miles should consider playing a 10-man offense with a free safety in the backfield, to at least keep the interceptions from becoming pick-sixes.
Though quarterback play was not one of them, Saturday’s game did give Tiger fans some reasons to be excited for the upcoming season.
Running back Steven Ridley rushed for 104 yards, and Michael Ford was named as one of three Ralph Norwood Performance Award winners, which goes to the top offensive performers of spring drills.
Could it be? Could the Tigers actually run the ball in 2010? I think I speak for the majority of Tiger fans when I say, “I hope so!”
Also exciting is the fact that highly underutilized playmaker Russell Shepard saw action with both offensive units in the spring game and touched the ball four times in the first nine offensive plays.
In total, Shepard had 12 touches for 117 yards. Hopefully, the Tigers will open their eyes and their playbook and keep feeding him the ball in 2010.
Shepard is a special talent that does not come around often. His speed and skills need to be used more and new wide receiver coach and passing game coordinator Billy Gonzales seems like he is the man to do it.
Gonzales has worked with a similar player at Florida in Percy Harvin. LSU fans can look forward to Shepard being used in a similar fashion which will create more opportunities for Tiger running backs and wide receivers.
The addition of Shepard to the offense will make Rueben Randle and Terrance Toliver extremely tough on opposing defenses.
If the Tigers can solidify the quarterback position, which I firmly believe they will, look for the Tiger offense to turn some heads and put up some amazing numbers in 2010.