Spring practice kicks off Thursday for the LSU Tigers down on the bayou.
LSU begins spring drills having to fill the holes left by 11 players who opted to leave early for the 2013 NFL Draft, plus several other seniors who completed their eligibility.
With the addition of Cam Cameron as the offensive coordinator, Tiger fans wonder how the new changes will impact this season’s outcome, along with the lack of experience leading the helm.
“We can age our team by giving our freshman class a spring, and we will be in more of a groove in summer,” LSU coach Les Miles said Wednesday. “When fall starts, again we will have a much improved group guys.”
Miles is giving senior Zach Mettenberger the starting job at quarterback, with sophomore Stephen Rivers starting the spring as his backup. According to Miles, Mettenberger needs to be more patient with the deep ball and make better choices on the field.
Two juniors, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, along with senior Kadron Boone are returning wide receivers for the Tigers. But newcomers, John Diarse and Avery Peterson could get some great looks during the 15 practices.
“LSU receivers need to make more plays and not have as many drops, and the Tigers also need to do a better job of protecting Mettenberger,” said Chris Low, reporter for ESPN.com. “They gave up 32 sacks in 13 games last season, which was 10th in the league.”
On the offensive line, La’El Collins will get a try at left tackle and senior Josh Williford will experiment at center. Sophmores Trai Turner and Vadal Alexander will continue where they left off at the end of last season at right guard and right tackle, respectively.
Two freshmen, Jerald Hawkins and Ethan Pocic, are quality additions for LSU on the offensive line, while juniors Elliot Porter and Fehoko Fanaika raise the bar of physicality for the Tigers.
According to Miles, bringing back both seniors, J.C. Copeland and Connor Neighbors, will give LSU depth at the fullback position.
All four returning backs for the Tigers, brings more depth at the tailback spot. Sophomore Jeremy Hill leads the way after taking over that starting role last year, followed by junior Kenny Hilliard, senior Alfred Blue, and junior Terrence Magee. LSU hopes their play will give the Tigers a more productive offense, though it probably won’t be up to the running game alone.
“One tweak, it’ll be with more production from backs in the passing game,” said Gary Laney, reporter for GeauxTigerNation. “A year ago LSU running backs accounted for 35 pass receptions and expect that number to go up.”
At the tight end position, sophomore Dillon Gordon and junior college transfer Logan Stokes will add to the offensive productivity. According to ESPN, scouts like Stokes’ agility and ball skills. Also, watch for junior Travis Dickson, who had some good grabs in limited opportunities last season.
Miles closed Wednesday’s news conference by saying, “Certainly, there is a lot to accomplish. We are by no means in position to predict a grand season. This is the style of team that if they work hard and do the things they are capable of doing, they will like other teams that have gone through here, compete for a title.”
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