Spring football means a lot of things to a lot of people. To the fans, especially LSU fans, it means there’s more football, and that’s usually all they need to hear to throw a party.
To the players, it’s an opportunity to make a statement to coaches and their teammates. It’s a time to showcase the work they’ve put in during offseason workouts. To the coaches, it’s a time to evaluate the talent they have on their roster and begin to look ahead to the upcoming regular season.
At the end of every spring football schedule, everyone should know a little bit more about their football team. So the question is, following spring practice, what do we know about the 2013 LSU football team that we didn’t know before?
One of the major issues going in was how would LSU go about replacing the majority of its starting defense from the previous season. LSU’s spring game performance may have quieted some of those concerns.
To put it simply, LSU’s defense looks fast. Really fast. Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson, both tasked with manning the starting defensive tackle positions this upcoming season, both ran down smaller and faster players during the game.
Ferguson seemed to take the concerns about the position to heart. “A lot of people said that we couldn’t do it and that we were a lot thinner of a defensive line since we lost a few people,” Ferguson said. “I had the mindset that I wanted to prove a lot (Saturday). Ferguson and the presumed starters faced a number of LSU’s second-teamers on offense but still turned in an impressive performance.
Eric Reid’s departure to the NFL left a void in the LSU secondary, but rising senior Craig Loston and rising sophomore Corey Thompson looked strong in the spring game. Loston seemed intent on making a statement early on in the game, bulldozing running back Kenny Hilliard for a big hit in the first quarter and eventually intercepting a Brad Kragthorpe pass early in the fourth. Loston is one of the lone returning starters to LSU’s defense from the 2012 season and seemed to be around the ball on every play during the spring game.
Offensively, the spring game marked the first time fans could get a glimpse of what new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s offense will look like in the fall.
Many were probably wondering what Zach Mettenberger would look like under Cameron’s tutelage and he certainly had his moments during the spring game. Mettenberger, given the freedom to call his own plays, appeared to favor receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry when looking to pass.
It certainly showed on the stat sheet as Beckham caught six passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns, and Landry tallying six catches for 132 yards. At times though, you could still see a bit of hesitance in Mettenberger’s decision making, and there were a few errant throws for him on the day. These are issues Mettenberger’s worked to improve on since he arrived in Baton Rouge and over the course of the 2012 season, he certainly made strides. It looks like he still has work to do though.
One thing you can’t deny is that the man does have an arm, and he’s not afraid to throw it deep. The Georgia native tested the Purple team’s secondary multiple times, punctuating his efforts with a 79 yard bomb to Beckham in the second quarter. Mettenberger’s development over the summer and heading into the fall under Cameron should be a major factor in LSU’s success in 2013.
Luckily for LSU, if Mettenberger falters at all during the season, it seems like running back Jeremy Hill will be there to stabilize the Tiger offense. Hill was impressive during the Spring Game, amassing over 100 yards on the ground and seemed to cut effortlessly through the Purple team’s defense, never going to the ground on the first hit. He’ll definitely be a player of interest in the fall.
One lesser known name who really seemed to shine in the spring game was Terrence Magee. The rising junior chipped in at running back, caught passes and on one play, sprung freshman quarterback Anthony Jennings for a scramble resulting in a first down. Magee may not be the most recognized of LSU’s offensive players, but he has the confidence of Les Miles, who said he won’t be afraid to play Magee in big games this upcoming season.
So what can we expect to see in the fall when LSU resumes practice?
Well, first of all, more from Cam Cameron and the offense. LSU seemed to run their offense out of a limited number of formations, hinting at the fact that Cameron’s offense will be installed and implemented over the course of the summer and into fall practice. Fortunately for LSU’s defense it seems like more of the same. The defense, while lacking some of the big names from previous seasons, appears to be quick, physical, and hungry to prove to concerned individuals that the Tiger’s defense won’t lose a step in 2013.
Even with strong performances from new defensive starters and players like Mettenberger and Hill, LSU will probably be faced with the same questions during the offseason that they’ve had to answer since their disappoint loss to Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl this past season. The Tigers certainly aren’t where they hope to be when they square off Aug. 31 against TCU in the Cowboys Classic to start the 2013 season, but this year’s Spring Game showed that the team is getting there, and they’ve got a chance to make some serious noise this fall if they do.