LSU Spring Game: What did we learn?
LSU has wrapped up its spring camp, but now what? Here’s what you can take away from the Tigers heading into the summer
By Mark ClementsPosted Apr 24, 2013
The 28,000 fans in attendance for LSU’s final fling of spring camp probably walked away from Tiger Stadium without too many answers.
The White Team, stacked with LSU’s No. 1 offense and defense, walked away with a 37-0 win against the Purple Team of reserves – and rightfully so. Had it been the other way around, Tiger fans would really have a cause for concern.
But even with the overwhelming victory, the game didn’t reveal too much that we don’t already know.
Zach Mettenberger has a cannon.
The defense is fast.
The running backs are still the backbone of the offense.
So what did the Spring Game reveal? Here’s a few things.
All the quarterbacks were calling their own plays Saturday, and as anyone could have predicted, Mettenberger got his numbers in the scrimmage.
The senior completed 12 of his 19 passes for 236 yards and two scores, which included a 79-yard bomb to Odell Beckham Jr. for a touchdown.
The reins are still clearly in Mettenberger’s hands, but the real story here are the guys playing behind the former JUCO transfer. Stephen Rivers, Mettenberger’s backup on the White Squad, finished 7-of-10 for 185 yards and two more touchdowns, but maybe even more impressive was Purple Team signal-caller and true freshman Anthony Jennings.
Jennings’ stats weren’t particularly stellar – 8-for-21 for 98 yards – but it was the intangibles that made the former four-star prospect stand out in the scrimmage.
Jennings was also the second-leading rusher for the Purple Team, compiling 26 yards on seven carries as he constantly escaped pressure against the first-team defense. The early enrollee also stood in and delivered passes as he took hits from the defense.
The kid is tough, and may just become the future for LSU at quarterback.
“Anthony had an awesome spring,” Mettenberger said. “For a guy who is supposed to be at prom right now he performed very well. If he can just keep progressing he’s going to be a really good football player for us.”
Pretty simple at this position: By all indications, Jeremy Hill is still good at football, which is good news for Tiger fans.
Hill carried the bulk of the load for the White Team on Saturday, rushing the ball 13 times for 102 yards as LSU pounded the ball, per usual.
Once senior running back Alfred Blue returns from injury, he, Hill and junior tailback Kenny Hilliard will make for an impressive trio of tailbacks. But keep an eye on fellow junior Terrence Magee.
Magee led the Purple Team with 61 yards on seven touches, including a 47-yard scamper into the first-team defense’s red zone. Magee, who worked with the wide receivers all of last season, could also be a threat catching passes out of the backfield.
Junior tandem Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry have become household names around Baton Rouge, but Tiger fans should start becoming familiar with a guy by the name of Travin Dural.
Dural is a former four-star recruit from Breaux Bridge who missed all of 2012 with a knee injury. The redshirt freshman is back in full swing this spring, and he’s impressing.
Beckham and Landry stole most of the touches, each reeling in six passes for 202 and 132 yards, respectively, with Beckham adding two touchdowns. Dural only snagged one ball in the scrimmage, but he made it count, bolting 45 yards into the end zone.
“Just to get in the endzone,” Dural said when asked what was on his mind when he caught the pass. “It was the first time since high school, so I was just trying to get in the end zone. My heart was beating so fast because this is the biggest crowd I’ve ever played in front of. I was just a little nervous, but after the first couple plays the jitters went down.”
Look for the tight ends to become a prominent part of the Tiger offense next season as well.
Logan Stokes and Travis Dickson were the two leading receivers for the Purple Team, and Dillon Gordon added a touchdown for the White Team on a 15-yard reception.
With a hefty amount of injuries, it was hard to delve too deep into the look of the big boys up front, but one definite standout was starting White Team center Ethan Pocic.
Pocic enrolled early at LSU this spring as a true freshman, stepping onto campus a highly-touted four-star offensive tackle. By the end of spring, Pocic has converted to center and was called upon to start at center for the injured Elliot Porter.
“To think that a guy that was a true freshman here in January started the Spring Game at center and handled it pretty well,” LSU coach Les Miles said after the scrimmage. “I think that Pocic really will be fine. I have no problem playing Ethan Pocic in games of significance. He’s going to be a heck of a center.”
Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson are going to be one heck of a duo in LSU’s interior. The two combined for 12 tackles, half a sack, 1 ½ tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry in the scrimmage and may finally be reaching the potential they each possessed as top prospects as couple years ago.
“Those guys are going to be probably the most important two people on the defense,” said linebacker Lamin Barrow. “I don’t know if people know it or not, but those guys work so hard and I’m counting on them to lead the defense down there.”
Ferguson said he and Johnson have the potential to become “the best duo in the country” if they continue to push themselves, but they’ll definitely need some help at the much depleted defensive end spot.
Danielle Hunter and Christian LaCouture could be the answers.
Hunter led the White squad with 8 tackles, two for loss, and two sacks on Saturday, while LaCouture continued to hassle the first-team O-line all afternoon. He would up with four tackles, 2 ½ for loss, and half a sack.
Despite losing two potential first-rounders at end, Ferguson feels like the talent pool is already being replenished.
“We came in here with a lot of haters and a lot of doubters saying we can’t do it,” Ferguson said. “I’m trying to prove the whole wrong. I’m trying to show everybody that we can bond as a unit. I feel like we have enough talent here to win a championship.”
It’s more about what we don’t know than what we do know at linebacker.
The sophomore class of backers are still around and still quick as ever, but the competition is still in full swing for the starting job at middle linebacker in place of All-American Kevin Minter.
Barrow spent some time at the Mike linebacker spot, but shared duties with DJ Welter and Lamar Louis, among others.
“I really don’t know (where I’ll be lining up in the fall),” Barrow said. “I’ve been moving back and forth in practice, so I never know. DJ has done a good job and so has Lamar, so you never know. You’ve got to go into camp and see what happens.”
LSU played without two or three starters in the secondary Saturday, so it was tough to take much away from the defensive backs.
Senior safety Craig Loston seems to have settled into a leadership role in a secondary riddled with young talents all around. Loston chalked up six tackles, an interception and a pass breakup in the scrimmage, saying he wants to lead by example for the youngsters.
He also tagged Dwayne Thomas and Corey Thompson as two standouts in the secondary this spring, as the DBs hope to replace losses like Eric Reid and Tharold Simon.
“I think we’ll be fine,” Loston said. “As long as we give energy and effort, that’s the only thing you can ask for. It’s a different defense and we’re kind of building our own team. We’re kind of leaving the past in the past and try to get ready for the future and make sure we keep it going. Those guys keep on pushing themselves and I think we’ll be fine back there.”
The competition is clearly much more confusing than anyone knows when it comes to place kicker.
James Hairston seemed to be the frontrunner for the job at the end of the 2012 campaign, but he didn’t even attempt a kick in the Spring Game.
Instead, Colby Delahoussaye and Trent Domingue took care of the duties, with Delahoussaye hitting one of two attempts – making a 29-yarder and missing on a 49-yarder. Delahoussaye also missed one extra point.
Domingue missed his only 43-yard attempt.
“I think the threesome is still in competition,” Miles said. “This summer is going to be a key time. Trent Domingue and Colby Delahoussaye are both really capable guys, and James comes in with his big leg. I think it’ll be something that we’ll have a look at through the summer and see how it goes. I like their progress. They’re young and stepping into a stadium where you have to kick it. It’s kind of fun.”
Jamie Keehn looks ready to continue the run of Aussie punter for LSU. He knocked five punts for an average of 42.4 yards Saturday.